New fish species discovered in Nagaland, scientist names it after collaborator

When fish scientist Dr. Praveenraj Jayasimhan received pictures of a large-sized Badis species from his collaborator in Nagaland, he did not have any inkling that this would be a new fish species.

“During November 2020, I received photographs of a colorful and large-sized Badis species from my collaborator, Dr. Limaakum, Assistant Professor and Head of the Department of Zoology at Fazl Ali College, Mokokchung, Nagaland. Due to the rapid colour-changing behaviour of this species, I requested Lima to photograph some live photos immediately upon capture so that I could get a glimpse of its original colour. It took a while to get those perfect photos, which I had requested, but I started working on the species since Dr. Lima had provided some specimens for examination. The initial set of specimens received were bleached or damaged, and I could not draw a conclusion,” Dr. Praveenraj Jayasimhan of ICAR-Central Island Agricultural Research Institute, Andaman and Nicobar Islands, told EastMojo.

Praveenraj said that in 2021, Dr. Lima conducted an excellent field trip and provided me with some of the best specimens and photographs, which were very useful in drawing a conclusion. “The species was very unique, and it had a dark black blotch on its gills, very similar to Badis assamensis described from Assam. However, the new fish completely lacked a series of blotches on the body, which is present in the latter,” he said.

“I named the species after Dr. Lima, since he was very instrumental in discovering this species, and he was also involved in discovering two new species from Nagaland last year. As a token of love and honour, I named the species ‘Badis limaakumi‘ to honour Dr. Lima,” he told EastMojo.

Speaking to EastMojo, Dr. Limaakum said he wanted to name the fish Badis milaki or milakiensis after the name of the river from where it was discovered, but Dr. Praveenraj told me that this time the fish should be named after me, so I agreed.

The study was published in the taxonomic journal called ‘Zootaxa’ after rigorous peer review. Fish from the Badis species are also called Chameleon fish due to their ability to change colour rapidly when breeding; when wanting to blend into their surroundings; or when stressed.

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The Chameleon Fish has a fairly widespread distribution throughout much of South Asia, where it is most commonly found in heavily vegetated ditches, ponds, slow-flowing streams, and swamps. Badis species are well-known in the aquarium trade and are regularly exported from India to other countries. There are 14 valid species of Badis from India, and this discovery adds one more species to the existing diversity, totaling 15. Badis limaakumi is also one of the largest Badis species, the other being Badis assamensis.

“Nagaland is one of the poorly explored states in the country in terms of fish faunal studies, and we are increasing our survey efforts for more fish species discoveries,” Dr. Praveenraj said. The fish is edible and tasty, he added.

The total number of fish species in Nagaland is now 200 after the discovery of this fish species.

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