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Monday, March 8, 2010

The Climbing Perch

Now I'm going to tell you about this very hardy and special fellow. In Malaysia , the Climbing Perch or Puyu as we Malaysian called it is a common tropical fresh and brackish water fish of Asia and the Far East. Its scientific given name is Anabas Testudineus. During the drought period it has the ability to aestivate (hibernate) in the mud and emerge during the favorable period. Puyu a.k.a Climbing Perch is one of the most energetic freshwater fish I've ever seen. You can certainly find them in some paddy fields and small river, sometimes in some drain. Its hard scale and fin makes it easy for them to move on watery ground particularly during the rainy season where most of them will migrate by climbing river banks to find some other water source or river. The Climbing Perch are also able to survive without water for several hours. They possesses an accessory air-breathing organ called labyrinth organ above the gill enabling it to survive for several days or weeks out of water provided breathing organs can be kept moist. They also lives as a group.

The Climbing Perch has been proven to be an effective biological agent for controlling breeding of aedes mosquitoes in stagnant drains. Just release them in your drain or ponds. But a word of advice, these little guys are carnivorous in nature. So better watch out for your other fishes.

As for consumption, these guy are famous traditional food source and protein provider in Asian countries. It is highly esteemed for its fine flavor and prolonged freshness out of water. It is also believed to have medicinal properties such as disease prevention, increasing male libido and slowing down the ageing process for females (so boys and girls, pick up your fishing rod).

The Climbing Perch is not only for food but can be kept as pets. There are beliefs in the Malay community in which species are able to prevent interference spirits or bad mojo. Because of this, the Malay community have long preserved these species in their house for that purpose. It is said that here are two kinds of uses for these fishes. First, It can be used to repel 'pest-like' spirits, those of the 'weaker' kinds. Spirits that can be mischievous such as toyols and certain dwarf-like beings. Some versions of this explains that these beings are actually not afraid of the puyu at all, but uses them as 'toys' to play with. Secondly, It can also be used to repel demonic spirits, those with grosser bodies (in the case of Djinns) as these beings are said to dislike its sharp bodies. There's also a third use of these fishes. It can be used as a sacrifice for removal of cursed objects (santau) by transferring those objects into the body of those fishes (though it is not commonly practiced). Some uses the puyu as a medium to send cursed objects instead. My grandmother told me about puyu myth.. "Toyols like to plays with them" - she said. but I have no idea about it. I'm just ignored whatever she said! maybe right.. maybe wrong. I personally do not believe about its so-called mystical powers. But then, a myth may be a legend. Or it may be from some experience the local folks have gone through :-)


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