Expect the unexpected

We have discussed in other threads that observing recent escapes/releases can help to track the establishment of new introductions to an area. What isn’t necessarily discussed in those threads is that identifying such observations requires more than knowing the taxa of the given region.

Take, for example, this observation of a Three-spot Gourami in the Dominican Republic. It sat for a year and a half at “Ray-finned Fishes,” presumably, because it is unfamiliar to those who know the fishes of the region. Why should they know it? It is native to Southeast Asia! Even the Wikipedia article, which says they have been widely introduced outside their native range, only listed other Southeast Asian countries, plus Trinidad.

I am 98% certain of my ID, though. Years ago, I used to be an avid reader of books about aquarium fishes, and so I have “search images” in my mind of many fishes from parts of the world I have never visited, but which have been kept by aquarium hobbyists often enough to be featured in books about the hobby.

The same principle can apply to other hobbies. Are you or were you in the past a collector of greenhouse plants? An aviarist? A herpetoculturist? Then you just might be the one who can provide that ID of a taxon newly introduced far outside its native range. It might be worthwhile, if you feel inclined to take the time, to do a general search for “birds” (for example), and see if you see any needing ID, far from where they “should” be, that you know from an aviary hobby.


I also follow up when the distribution maps (where I expect to see Western Cape or at least South Africa) show ‘random’ obs across the world.
Often with a single ID - then I tweak up the taxonomy and leave a comment.

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I recall having this gorami species in my community aquarium as a kid. It was a commonly available species in my local pet stores, here in the U.S. … at least, I assume it’s the same species. Aquarium fish do end up released in a lot of places where they aren’t native and some do become established.


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