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Male Dwarf Gourami

The word anabantoid is derived from the Greek word meaning to 'travel up'. This refers to the fish making a visit to the water surface to take a breath of air.

Anabantoids are fish that have a special breathing organ called the 'Labyrinth' organ. This organ* consists of lots of folded membranes Because the structure resembles a complicated maze, it has been dubbed the labyrinth organ. that are rich in blood that allow the transfer of oxygen from the water to the animals blood stream and the carbon dioxide from the fish to the water.

This type of fish is also called 'Labyrinth fish'. The Labyrinth fishes are the families Anabantidae, Belontiidae, Osphronemidae, Helostomatidae and Luciocephalidae.

*The labyrinth organ is a much-folded suprabranchial accessory breathing organ found in labyrinth fish, of the Anabantoidei family. Formed by vascularized expansion of the epibranchial of the first gill arch.

By having this organ the fish can survive in very poor quality water that is low in oxygen.

  • Most anabantoids have adapted so well to this type of breathing that if they were not allowed access to the surface they would in fact drown.
  • They also use this organ to hold air which they then spit out covered with a oily substance to make their bubblenests.

Typical anabantoids are Betta splendens (Bettas), Paradise Fish and many Gourami species.