Kelvin K P Lim and Peter K L Ng
It is highly appropriate that the Singapore Science Centre should publish this booklet about the freshwater fishes of Singapore and draw popular interest to a little known aspect of our natural heritage.
Studies on the taxonomy, ecology and distribution of the freshwater fishes of Singapore have been well documented in scientific journals and it is significant that even as early as the 1930s, decreasing fish populations had already been noted. The major factor leading to their depletion was the destruction of the original vegetation which took place in the last century, mainly as a result of shifting cultivation. By 1880, more than half the forests had been destroyed. Removal of this protective cover not only promoted rapid run-off but also resulted in increasing water temperatures. Forest insects, which are an important food for many species of fishes, no longer become available.
The vulnerable freshwater ecosystem has long been in danger of total habitat destruction. More recently, the accidental or wilful release of exotic species associated with the aquarium fish trade could pose a threat to the native species by competing with the latter for food and space. Interestingly though, the Guppy which found its way into local fresh waters more than 90 years ago, lives in highly polluted localities and occupies a niche that is toxic to the native species.
On 1st September 1975 a significant development took place when government passed the Water Pollution Control and Drainage Act (No 29 of 1975). Monumental efforts have since been undertaken in cleaning up our waterways and fishes now abound in the inland estuaries. Perhaps cyprinids and anabantids will begin to flourish where once thrived the ubiquitous Guppy.
Eric R Alfred
Fishes in Singapore
Amazing Fishy Facts
About the guidebook
From A Guide to Common Freshwater Fishes of Singapore by Kelvin K P Lim and Peter K L Ng
Published by the Singapore Science Centre and sponsored by BP
@Raffles Museum of Biodiversity Research and Singapore Science Centre