Meruvambayi River – Western Ghats, India
Biotope from the Meruvambayi River, Western Ghats, Kerala, India
Habitat: This biotope is very beautiful and still not as much polluted and destroyed as many other aquatic habitats in this part of India. It has clear water with a slight flow and in some areas it is rich in aquatic vegetation – also along its shoreline. This is why I was able to find a large variety of species living here in harmony. They have a place to find micro organisms, aquatic insects and terrestrial ones, and such untouched biotope offers ample breeding ground for many species (and protection for their young). In addition I found no aquatic predator in this river biotope, as shown. Its bed was full of reddish gravel.
Fishes: Barilius sp.*(10) (a new species), Puntius sp. 1 (12), Puntius sp. 2 (6), Puntius sp. 3 (4), Puntius narayani (12), Puntius chalakkudiensis**(12), Devario malabaricus (6),Danio cf. rerio (6) (probably new), Garra gotyla (12), Nemacheilus cf. fasciatus (20),Carinotetraodon travancoricus (30), Monotrete (Tetraodon) conchinchinensis (6) and Aplocheilus sp. from the lineatus group (5).
Plants: Limnophila aquatica, Eleocharis acicularis, Hydrocotyle sibithorpioides, Hygrophyla stricta, also Myriophyllum and Nymphaea species live here.
Heiko’s comments: This river which comes from the higher regions in the Western Ghats is still intact although in India – and specially in Kerala – there is an incredible housing-boom and rivers are dredged for construction purpose. Still this one was not much damaged, similar as the Chalakkudy river (not shown), from where the Puntius chalakkudiensis** is (and were it lives endemic). The latter is often confused with the smaller P. denisonii. I placed P. chalakkudiensis here to show its difference from P. denisonii (not shown), and because denisonii is widely distributed in Kerala and I found it in the Meruvambayi river. The second species absent from this Kerala habitat is the (possibly) new Barilius. I collected it in a small mountain creek, high up and placed it here, as it is similar to the here living Barilius bakeri (not shown).
The chemical water parameters in this biotope were pH 6.61, the conductivity between 51µS/cm and temperatures from 28.4°C (in winter a little less).