The fish that breathes out of water

This is not the title of a self-help book. Environmental engineer Heinz Arno Drawert researched the novel animal. It was christened ‘Moema juanderibaensis’. What is it? It is the fish that breathes out of water.

Drawert is an environmental engineer and discovered the new species native to the Bolivian lowlands. “There’s a group of these killifish which have adapted to seasonal water bodies. They last only a few months, during times of rain or flood. They lay their eggs inside the mud. Then the ecosystem can dry out, but the eggs have the ability to survive the drought.”

The fish that breathes out of water comes from Bolivia.
The fish that breathes out of water comes from Bolivia.

Amphibian life

They are the vertebrates that reach sexual maturity the fastest. In a matter of 15 to 20 days they already begin to reproduce. “They lay drought-resistant eggs. They bury them in the mud, where they can stay for up to four years, waiting for a heavy rain to cause them to hatch.”

The moema “prefers to live in puddles with a depth of five to 10 centimeters, very shallow water.” Under the sun, its habitat can exceed 30 degrees Celsius. Fish that require little oxygen live in warm water. Therefore, Moema juanderibaensis “can switch to an amphibious lifestyle. Breathing is no longer through gills but through dermal respiration, similar to that of frogs, salamanders and toads.”

Their main dish is mosquito larvae, which generally inhabit their pools. Also, these fish “are very adept at jumping. They catch some flying insects, such as mosquitoes or small moths.”

The researcher did arduous work to document them.
The researcher did arduous work to document them.

Famous fish

In 2021, the environmental specialist was able to collect the necessary samples to make the corresponding description of the species. “It involves taking photographs, measuring each specimen, noting its morphometric measurements. We count scales, fin radius, and identify their sensory organs”.

The fish that breathes out of water took a long time to become known. In 2022, the process of scientific publication of the new species began. It went through several reviews by other researchers until its discovery was validated. “It was on the cover of the New Species 2022as a featured species. And it began to circulate in the international press,” he said.

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