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Phylum Chordata > Subphylum Vertebrate > fishes
Asiatic glass perchlets
Family Ambassidae
updated Sep 2020

if you learn only 3 things about them ...
The fish is almost transparent, like glass. Look carefully to find it.
Large eyes and upturned mouths.
Sometimes stranded in pools at low tide. Watch your step!

Where seen? Groups of these silvery fishes are frequently encountered in pools at low tide near seagrasses on many of our shores. Elsewhere, they are found in mangroves, estuaries and freshwater. They form groups during the day among mangrove roots and submerged plants. They disperse at night to feed.

What are perchlets?
Perchlets belong to Family Ambassidae (previously Family Chandidae). According to FishBase: The family has 8 genera and 41 species. They are found in Asia and Oceania and the Indo-west Pacific oceans.

To about 10cm. Body nearly transparent covered with thin scales. Thus it is sometimes called the Glassfish. Mouth is upturned with a projecting jaw and large eyes. A single dorsal fin, deeply notched before the last spine. These fishes are often seen in small groups.

Kops' glass perchlet (Ambassis kopsii) are commonly seen often in a large group of many individuals. Those seen about 5-8cm, grows to about 10cm. Body silvery almost transparent. A distinctive blackish mark on the tip of the dorsal fin, which is deeply notched. Else seen in coastal and brackish waters, sometimes upstream in freshwater. It eats invertebrates. May be marketed fresh or dried and salted.

Sometimes confused with Mojarras (Family Gerreidae) which have a single dorsal fin that is not deeply notched. More on how to tell apart small silvery fishes.

Mouth upturned, large eyes.
Pulau Sekudu, Aug 04

Kops' glass perchelet (Ambassis kopsii)
Dorsal fin deeply notched, with blackish tip.
Kusu Island, Apr 05
Often seen in large schools. Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve, Nov 17
Kops' glass perchlet (Ambassis kopsii)
What do they eat? They eat tiny crustaceans such as ostracods and copepods, insects and sometimes fishes.

Human uses: Perchlets are eaten in some places and sold fresh or dried and salted. Some are used as an ingredient in making fish sauce. They are also used as bait.

Glass perchlets on Singapore shores
On wildsingapore flickr

Other sightings on Singapore shores

Pulau Semakau South, Feb 16
Photo shared by Heng Pei Yan on facebook.

Berlayar Creek, Oct 17
Photo shared by Marcus Ng on facebook.

Family Ambassidae recorded for Singapore
from Wee Y.C. and Peter K. L. Ng. 1994. A First Look at Biodiversity in Singapore.
*Lim, Kelvin K. P. & Jeffrey K. Y. Low, 1998. A Guide to the Common Marine Fishes of Singapore.
**from WORMS
+Other additions (Singapore Biodiversity Records, etc)

  Family Ambassidae (previously Chandidae) some species are freshwater
  Ambassis batjanensis
Ambassis buruensis
Ambassis gymnocephalus
Ambassis interrupta
Ambassis kopsii
Ambassis nalua
Ambassis safgha
Ambassis urotaenia
+Ambassis vachellii

Parambassis punctulatus=**Parambassis siamensis
(Non native freshwater)

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