Walking Fishes

 Walking Fishes

Can fishes walk on land? Sounds crazy! But these two fish can.

1.  Mudskippers are amphibious fish, presently included in the subfamily Oxudercinae, within the family Gobiidae (gobies). Recent molecular studies do not support this classification, as oxudercine gobies appear to be paraphyletic relative to amblyopine gobies (Gobiidae: Amblyopinae), thus being included in a distinct “Periophthalmus lineage”, together with amblyopines. Mudskippers can be defined as oxudercine gobies that are “fully terrestrial for some portion of the daily cycle” (character 24 in Murdy, 1989). This would define the species of the genera Boleophthalmus, Periophthalmodon, Periophthalmus, and Scartelaos as “mudskippers”. However, field observations of Zappa confluentus suggest that this monotypic genus should be included in the definition. These genera presently include 32 species. Mudskippers use their pectoral fins and pelvic fins to walk on land. They typically live in intertidal habitats, and exhibit unique adaptations to this environment that are not found in most intertidal fishes, which typically survive the retreat of the tide by hiding under wet seaweed or in tide pools.

Mudskippers are quite active when out of water, feeding and interacting with one another, for example, to defend their territories and court potential partners. They are found in tropical, subtropical, and temperate regions, including the Indo-Pacific and the Atlantic coast of Africa.

 

Mudskippers

2. Climbing Perch

The Anabantidae are a family of perciform fish commonly called the climbing gouramies or climbing perches. The family includes about 34 species. As labyrinth fishes, they possess a labyrinth organ, a structure in the fish’s head which allows it to breathe atmospheric oxygen. Fish of this family are commonly seen gulping at air at the surface of the water. The air is held in a structure called the suprabranchial chamber, where oxygen diffuses into the bloodstream via the respiratory epithelium covering the labyrinth organ. This therefore allows the fish to move small distances across land.

 

Climbing  Gourami on land
Of the four genera, Anabas is found from South Asia (they are called chemballi (Malayalam: urulan sugu/Karippidi) in Kerala, kau (odia) in Odisha, India, kawaiya in Sri Lanka), east to China and Southeast Asia. The remaining three genera are all restricted to Africa. They are primarily freshwater fishes and only very rarely are found in brackish water. As egg-layers, they typically guard their eggs and young.

Climbing gouramis are so named due to their ability to “climb” out of water and “walk” short distances. Even though it is not reliably observed, some authors mentioned about they having a tree climbing ability. Their method of terrestrial locomotion uses the gill plates as supports, and the fish pushes itself using its fins and tail.

Mudskipper video

Climbing Perch video

 

8 Replies to “Walking Fishes”

  1. Doug Thomas – Alliance, NE – I retired from nearly 36 years in a factory that produces hydraulic and industrial hoses. That is the short of it. The most interesting thing I've done is serve in the US Army as a motion picture photographer. I was stationed in then-West Germany in Kaiserslautern, Kleber Kaserne, in the 69th Signal Company (Photo). I was sent all over western Europe filming military exercises and other less interesting things. This enabled me to become a "bier kenner", someone knowledgeable about beer. Haw! I was much younger then, and could handle the wear and tear. The most interesting thing that happened to me happened in 1980, the first day of the new year: I spotted a rara avis in my backyard. A phainopepla, a member of the silky flycatcher family! It stayed around for two months, long enough for me to photograph it through a garage window not more than 2m from a birdbath to which it came each day. The photos, sent to the state ornithological organization and their rare bird report committee, established me as the first and only person to have seen this particular bird in my state. Records for my state go back to Lewis and Clarke's western expedition, so that gives you the context and perspective through which other birders view my record. You should too! It was a once-in-a-lifetime occurrence. It lead to a decade of uninterrupted bliss, tracking down birds in the field with other people of a feather. The worst thing that happened to me is called Wegener's granulomatosis. Oh dear! This is where it becomes difficult! WG is a form of vasculitis that you have for life once it develops. It has no known cause, though scientists work as I write to try to determine why it occurs. My story is long and I am tired: More details later! It is a fatal disease without proper care. With proper care, people still can die! One last detail: a weggie (pronounced "wegg-ee"), is a person with Wegener's granulomatosis. It is an Australian construction, to the best of my knowledge, and suits me better than being known in perpetuity as a "WG patient". In 2016, a Wegener's flare mostly wiped out what kidney function I still had, and I went through a two month process of hospitalization and rehabilitation before I could return home to my two cats, Andy and Dougy. My neighbors across the lane took care of them while i was gone, with a childhood friend who substituted for my neighbors when they had to be out of town. The major change brought about by the flare: I now am on dialysis three times a week. Fortunately for me, my local general hospital has a very modern, well staffed dialysis unit. With a nurse-to-patient ratio of nearly one-one, it is the best of five dialysis sites I've been in. The recliners are even heated! Since these units are typically kept ice berg cold, you can see I feel like I am in heaven! (Well, not yet, but you get the idea!)
    weggieboy says:

    Fascinating! Animals evolve amazing ways to survive in their environments, and this is one of the most amazing ones. I think it would be a bit startling to see a fish walking on land!

  2. Mudskippers are my favourite! They have them at the Cape Town aquarium. 🙂

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