Saturday, February 21, 2009

Trekking Across the Singapore Central Catchment Nature Reserve, C. griffithii found

I went for a hiking trip around the Central Catchment Nature Reserve in Singapore yesterday with Zane and Jwuog from AQ forum. We met at an MRT station at 0830hrs, took a cab to our intended start point and started our journey armed with a compass and an overview map printed from google earth as a guide.

We past by our first stream near to a water treatment facility. Water was gushing out of the facility from a concrete drain into the forest stream which probably eventually lead to the reservoir. The water faintly smelled of chlorine to me and other than a few adult channas, we did not see any other fishes inside this stream.

We did however spotted a copper cheek frog (Hydrophylax raniceps) perching on a tree branch overhanging the stream. The frog did not try to escape when bombarded by the flashes from our cameras, maybe it could smell the chlorine too? I trust that someone must have conducted sufficient test and maybe have added tonnes of aquarium water conditioner before releasing treated water through our forest to ensure the safety of all the aquatic life in the nature. "How I wished I could have such natural and effective biological filter system too."

There were many species of pitcher plants which could be found in Singapore forest, we spotted a few species on our trip, can anyone help in the identification so that I can include their ID here? (1st photograph: Nepenthes gracilis? 2nd photograph: Nepenthes ampullaria? 3rd photograph: ? 4th photograph: Nepenthes gracilis?)

We found the remains of a gigantic turtle buried deep in the forest as well as that of a smaller one near to the reservoir edge. Which species could the large shell possibly belonged to, the carapace length is possibly about 60cm judging from the scale as compared to my friend's size 9 shoes. I searched the "Wild Animal of Singapore" guide book and the only featured species that could grow to such large size is the Asian Softshell Turtle (Amyda cartilaginea). Any expert views on this?
After a while, we trekked out of the forest into the open land near to the reservoir edge. It is quite clear from the soft muddy substrate and edge vegetation details that during rainy season when the water level is high, this entire open area will be flooded under water. It is a serene and beautiful area and we took a break for lunch here.

We found many bumble bee gobies (Brachygobius xanthomelas) along the edge of the reservoir, the substrate is sandy and the pH is close to 6. We also managed to see a large freshwater lobster (about one palm length) along the small stream in the middle of the above area as shown above.
We heading back into the forest after our lunch break and crossed a couple of other streams during the entire journey. We saw spanner barbs (Systomus lateristriga), wild forest bettas (Betta pugnax), Channa sp, halfbeaks, harlequin rasboras (Trigonostigma heteromorpha), etc as well as this large freshwater crab which has lost one of its pincer (ID anyone?).

This is a photograph of the natural habitat of harlequin rasbora, the base of the stream is covered with a thick layer of fallen leaves and the pH is about 5.5 to 6.

And of course, being a cryptocoryne enthusiast, the trip would not be complete without locating cryptocorynes right at the end of our journey. It is C. griffithii growing in a small stream rooted among the fine roots of adjacent plants. The substrate at the edge of the stream is muddy and the pH of this locality is about 5.5. We saw bettas, freshwater shrimps and even freshwater crabs hiding beneath the submersed leaves of the cryptocorynes.

We ended our adventure at about 1700hrs, tired but satisfied with what we managed to locate and see.


仕轩 said...


The description of your entire trip is pretty interesting. Did you manage to collect this cryptocoryne species or any other fish species that you found?

with regards,
Shi Xuan

illumbomb said...

Hi Shi Xuan,

The fishes found are common fishes that can be bought off the shelf of our local fish shop in Singapore easily and cheaply, we therefore did not collect them. It is however a great experience to be able to visit and understand their natural habitat to learn how we could try to re-create such favourable factors artificially in our tanks to provide a more conducive environment for them to live in.

I think that area is also part of the Central Catchment Area in Singapore where permission is required to be sought from the National Parks Board of Singapore before collection can be allowed so be careful......

T S Wang