Why Datnioides associated to tigers and how it has been considered another monster underwater. 

Datnioides or ‘Dat’ for short are also known as ‘tigers’ not only because of their stripes but also because they often sneak up on their prey and gulp them whole. They are carnivorous, and though they don’t have teeth like most predatory fish, they instead stretch their mouths and suck in their food.

There are five types of Tigers:

1. Indonesian Tiger (IT, Datnioides microlepis): Most common Dat; found in Indonesia, particularly rivers, lakes, and canals in Borneo and Sumatra; slowgrowing and takes several years to attain a size of 12’ (inches).

2. Northern Thailand Tiger (NTT, Datnioides undecimradiatus): Originated in Southeast Asia’s Mekong river basins; can grow up to 16’ (inches) in size; prone to SDS or Sudden Death Syndrome—the reason for this is unknown.

3. American Tiger (AT, Datnioides quadrifasciatus): Also known as the Silver datnioide; smallest of the five; widespread natural distribution, recorded in India, Bangladesh, Myamnar, Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, and New Guinea; found in landlocked freshwater but mainly inhabits coastal, brackish habitats incuding estuaries, lagoons, and mangrove swamps; has a silverish body; grows up to 12’.

4. New Guinea Tiger (NGT, Datnioides campbelli): One of the most sought after tigers; originates in Asia and Oceania— but is restricted to the Gulf of Papua drainages and the coastal waters of New Guinea; can be seen in brackish river mouths, coastal lagoons, and rivers above tidal influence; can grow to a maximum length of 32 centimeters (cm) or 13’.

5. Siamese Tiger (ST, Datnioides pulcher): Considered the holy grail in tiger keeping because of its beauty and rarity in the market; can be seen in fresh water and the light brackish rivers of Southeast Asia, specifically the Mekong and Chao Phraya river basins; can grow up to 24 inches; are currently considered critially endangered.

Making your Datnioides stable is not easy and is very challenging. You need to consider these factors:

1. Water conditions, as bad water quality will stress the tiger;

2. Tankmates, as carefully selected tankmates will boost the stability of the tiger;

3. Tank background, as some tigers do well in black backgrounds, some in blue, and others in bare tanks. It’s just a matter of experimenting to find out which suits your tiger best;

4. Size of tiger. In my experience, tigers become more stable when they are bigger.

5. Tank transfer; you must refrain from transferring them from one tank to another as it will stress them;

6. Water wave maker, as the water current helps make them more stable since they will swim and play against the water current;

7. Lighting; try switching on the light 24/7 for them to adapt to the lighting and to lessen stress.

Caring for Tigers

After buying a Datnioide, you must know where to house them; a juvenile tiger needs a tank at least 3” (feet) in length. Proper filtration is also necessary. It is recommended to use a bare tank since the tiger can produce a lot of waste. Water conditions are also very important; try to maintain a pH of 7.07.5, and keep it slightly acidic or alkaline. Water parameters (e.g., pH, ammonia, nitrate, nitrita) should be monitored weekly. Maintain temperatures between 24-28 degrees Celsius. They can consume market prawns, frozen bloodworms, meal worms, super worms, chicken meat, chicken hearts, beef hearts, pellets, and live feeder fish like guppies, goldfish, and kataba. (With editing by CFB)

This story appeared in Animal Scene’s January 2016 issue.