RNDr. Roman Slaboch
Translate: Eli Slabochova
One of the most bizarre and also
the most beautiful livebearers is Halfbeak harlequin (Nomorhamphus
liemi liemi /Vogt, 1978/). It is one of the few “breed able” species of
the Hemiramphidae tribe, which are over 110 in 14 species. They live
entirely in southeastern Asia and Indonesia. N. l. liemi
(mentioned above) lives on
Females are approximately
twice as big as males and they occupy mostly the
vegetation under the surface. Males are sometimes by
the bottom, which they leave because of females and
food. The food are ideally insects and everything
alive moving on the surface or close to the surface.
Other food they take only tentatively and with
bigger time interval, so that feed the shoal of 10
adult with scratched meat is work at least for one
hour. They like to eat living bloody worms (like most fish does) but they eat them only
from the surface or coming down at the moment.
Feeding on the bottom is unusual. I turned out well
to let bloody worms dry-up to stay longer on the
surface. Unfortunately, I didn’t succeed in this
with meat because dried-up edges become hard and
halfbeak reject them. They seldom
pick food felt on the bottom and if they do it, they
are adult and males. I often saw that they even take
tiny snails (less than 5 mm). The problems of
feeding are also the main problems of breeding. I
there is no living food available (insects on the
surface or insect grubs floating in water), it takes
a long time to feed them and hardly anybody has the
patience to take care of it, then the fish suffer
from the underfeeding and breed with difficulty.
Number of the young is
contentious – it depends on the information source.
There are mostly featured limits of 30 pieces, but I
have read even about the litters of over 100 young.
If we consider the size of the young (about 2–2,5
cm), so it is surely extreme. Females that I have
bred littered less than 20 young. The young are not
very movable in first days and it takes about one
week till they start to eat properly. Then is their
breed easy. (In the first, under mentioned
information source there is an advice to breed them
with the young of more aggressive and more movable
Dermogenys pusillus, which will "teach" them
to diet more quickly. I trust it, because if I have
placed them with the litter of other livebearers,
they grew distinctively quicker.)
Regarding to their size,
they need bigger and rather lower well grown
aquarium with the clear part of the surface. If you
were lucky to set this aquarium on the place
well-lightened by the sun, males can show amazing
iridescence, which you could never seen by the other
livebearer and actually by hardly any freshwater
For male imposing, there is
characteristic the flapping motion of the butterfly
flight; and their caruncle ("neb") on the mandible
certainly affects their sexual fruitfulness. But
there is unexpected cause and consequence: I got
off, that the stateliest males have had always neb
before they were physically ripe. Males, which never
have the caruncle, stay tiny and females refuse
them. Males with the neb (even though they are tiny)
get credit and than easier access to food, so they
amplify quickly and others don’t have any
This implies that males
don’t have neb because they are strong, but they are
strong because they have neb.
Fish aren’t exacting on the
water temperature, 25 °C is adequate. If you afford
them pH 7 to 8, they will be resistant to diseases.
The only things that I have ever had to get off were
Diplozoon and Dactylogyrus.
Except the problems with
feeding (especially the females), there is another
handicap –long– lasting maturation of males. It takes
about 2-3 years until they will reach for the rich
color and grow up to the best bizarre monstrosity.
But you needn’t worry about it. Regarding to their
relative longevity (5–6 years), you will enjoy them
Dokoupil, N., Zemánek, L., (1988): O
polozobánkách rodu Nomorhamphus, Akvárium Terárium 3/str.3, Panorama, Praha.
Kempkes, M., Schäfer, F., (1998): Alle Lebendgebärenden der Welt. Mörfelden-Walldorf,
A.C.S. (Aqualog), 352 ss.
Májsky, J., (1995): Polozobánka ze
Sulawesi, Akvárium terárium 5/str.13, Panorama, Praha.
Wischnath, L.,(1993): Atlas of
Livebearers of The World, T.F.H. Publications, Inc.; USA, 336 ss.