Newly discovered fish facing extinction

March 13, 2007

An aquarium species discovered in Southeast Asia in August is facing possible extinction because of intense demand for the colorful fish.

The celestial pearl danio -- Celestichthys margaritatus -- was discovered by a commercial aquarium fish dealer near the town of Hopong in Myanmar, formerly Burma, along the China and Thailand borders.

Measuring less than an inch, the fish is deep blue with pearly pink or golden iridescent spots, National Geographic News reported. It lives in heavily vegetated ponds in that remote northern area.

Initially the danio's location was kept secret, but other commercial dealers soon learned of the fish, Tyson Roberts, an ichthyologist told National Geographic. Within a few months, one Thai company alone had exported about 15,000 of the fish, Roberts said, and, since then, exportation is estimated to have reached 10 times that amount, mainly to Japan, North America, and Europe.

"Captive breeding may be the only way for the aquarium hobbyist to ensure a supply of the species in the future, since it reportedly is already nearly fished out in the area where it was discovered," Roberts said.

He detailed the discovery in last week's issue of the journal the Raffles Bulletin of Zoology.

Copyright 2007 by United Press International

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