In Southeast Asia a group of freshwater puffers exists that is extremely difficult to tell apart on a specific level. They are called the Eyespot-Puffers or the Pao-leiurus-complex. These puffers live in streams and rivers, some also in ponds and lakes, always in pure freshwater.
Among the most enigmatic species is Pao abei, which has been described scientifically in 1998 from the Mekong river in Laos. Preserved specimens are very dark, almost black, with tiny yellow or orange spots. This was exactly how the freshly collected fish looked on the photos that were sent to us by our supplier from Thailand! But the very same fish he sent look very different when kept in aquaria. This is the tricky thing with freshwater puffers: they can change their coloration very fast and very drasticallly. Additionally every individual has a slightly different pattern. There are only very few constant anatomical features that allow a determination, most of them overlap in the different species. So, do the fish we could recently import – they have a size of 7-10 cm – really belong to the species Pao abei? Who knows… Anyway, they are beautiful and interesting fish!
For our customers: the fish have code 461245 on our stocklist. Please note that we exclusively supply the wholesale trade.
Text & photos: Frank Schäfer