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Picture of the world’s smallest fish

Picture of the world’s smallest fish

Picture of the world’s smallest fish
Rhett A. Butler,
January 26, 2006

Paedocypris progenetica, the world’s smallest fish on record, is a member of the carp family. The fish has a see-through body and a head that is unprotected by a skeleton. Photo courtesy of Maurice Kottelat, Carnol, Switzerland and Raffles Museum

Scientists have found the smallest known fish in the peat swamps of Sumatra, an island in Indonesia, according to research published in Proceedings B, a journal put out by the UK’s Royal Society.

Individuals of the Paedocypris genus—members of the carp family—can be just 7.9mm long at maturity. Paedocypris feed on plankton in pools of extremely acidic water in tropical forest swamps.

Lead researcher, Dr Maurice Kottelat of the National University of Singapore, says the species has “a very rudimentary skull”, which leaves the brain exposed. The team also found a related Paedocypris species, P. micromegethes, in Sarawak in Malaysian Borneo.

Kottelat warn that these tiny fish are at great risk of extinction die to the rapid destruction of Indonesian peat swamps for oil palm plantations. According to Dr Susan Page at the University of Leicester, at the current rate of burning, peatlands in Borneo, Sumatra and Papua New Guinea could be destroyed before 2040, releasing a vast amount of carbon into the atmosphere.

The transparent Paedocypris progenetica.

Photo by Dr Tan Heok Hui.

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