Sungai Bebar, Southeast Pahang Peatland Forest, Malaysia (Credit: GEC)

Blackwater Fish Species in Sungai Bebar, Pahang, Malaysia

Author: GEC  |   February 22, 2023  |   Community   |   Location

Tropical peat swamp forest (PSF) is a crucial and dynamic ecosystem providing carbon storage for flood mitigation, for fire prevention and as a source of fish produce to the local community. Malaysia’s Southeast Pahang Peat Swamp Forest (SEPPSF) is one of Pahang’s largest remaining PSF area in Pahang. The PSF is of global conservation significance due to its rich biodiversity. The unique ecosystem provides tangible benefits and services for the livelihood of the local communities including subsistence and for economic trade.

GEC and Universiti Malaysia Terengganu’s survey of blackwater fish species at Sungai Bebar, Pahang (Credit: GEC)

Sungai Bebar or locally known as The Blackwater Jewel is the main river within SEPPF and stretches over 40 km long through at the heart of SEPPSF. Large sections of peat swamp remain intact with pandanus species bordering the upper sections of the river. However, the majority of riverine habitat is adversely affected by pollution caused by human activities.

Trichopodus tricopterus
Belontia hasselti
Betta tomi
Betta tussyae

Fishes species that inhabiting Sungai Bebar, Pahang, Malaysia
(Credit: UMT)

The river’s ecosystem is supported by a variety of colourful fish species, living within the river’s blackwater or murky coloured water. Unlike freshwater fish, species living that live within this river has have high tolerance to acidity and dissolved oxygen (DO) enabling it to have a rather high survival rate even within extreme conditions. Betta species such as Betta tussaye and Betta tami which has gained the interest of collectors are wild species that can be found in this river and cannot be commercialised. There are also several barb species and gourami species living within the habitat.

Hence, peatland is crucial for maintaining as a climate change buffer, for carbon storage, fire prevention and to provide local community livelihood, while providing habitat for fish species genetic pools. These species are found to be more resilient than any other fresh water species locally.

This article is aimed to raise public awareness and understanding on the importance of unique fish species within in SEPPSF.

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