A new species of fighting fish, Betta nuluhon, was found in Sabah’s Crocker Range area recently, the Sabah Forestry Department disclosed in a statement, here, yesterday.

Nur Syafiqah Shamsul Kamal, a research officer from the department, working in collaboration with the National University of Singapore (NUS) and local non-governmental organisation, Forever Sabah, described this new species of fighting fish as Betta nuluhon -- ‘nuluhon’ meaning ‘hill’ in the Dusun language.

"This newly identified fighting fish is typically found in shallow, running clear-water streams in western Sabah.

"With the discovery of B. nuluhon, Sabah now has five species of fighting fish, all of which are endemic to Sabah," the statement said.

According to tropical fish taxonomist, Dr Tan Heok Hui of the NUS, and co-author of the recent Zootaxa publication, Borneo is home to some 700 known species of freshwater fish, 53 per cent of which are endemic to Borneo.

He expects a few more species to be discovered in Sabah in the near future under his collaborative work with the Forest Research Centre of the Sabah Forestry Department.

Fighting fish are small freshwater fish belonging to the genus Betta, having its centre of diversity in Southeast Asia. Some 70 wild species of fighting fish have been scientifically described.