Friday, November 13, 2009

Fish that wards off intruders?

In Malaysia, particularly in Sabah and Sarawak, the locals believe that keeping this fish, Ikan Batok or Climbing Perch (Anabas testudineus) helps to ward off intruders. The fish are said to have “powers” to watch over your home and keep away thieves.

For a sample photo of this fish, click here:

Indeed, many people here do keep these in small ponds, big urns, lotus pots and aquariums in their premises.

I photographed a small aquarium full of this fish in a business joint in Sabah last year.

climbing perch 1
Climbing perch kept as “guard fish” in a business premise in Sabah.

So why are they kept as “guard fish”? The answer I got, when I asked my elders, was because this fish never sleeps. Or it seems like it never does. Fish after all do not have eyelids like us, they sleep with their eyes open!

Used to catch this fish in small slow flowing rivers, ponds and even monsoon drains. It has very sharp spines and gill coverings with sharp spikes. When disturbed or caught out of water, it raises all of its spiky extremities to defend itself.

It’s an aggressive species which feeds on smaller fish, crustaceans and insects. Put it in a tank with a snakehead (Channa sp.), another aggressive predator, and there’s bound to be casualties.

Do you keep this fish at home as a “guard fish” too? Do share!

Update: Here's a page I came across the web, the poster quoted from Yahoo Answers, about this fish and it's "mystical powers".

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