Kiunga ballochi - photo© Mark Allen
Kiunga Blue Eye
Kiunga ballochi have a mainly transparent body with a silvery coloured stomach and opercula. The scales are thinly outlined with pepper-like melanophores. The midlateral line, ventral edge of caudal peduncle, and bases of dorsal, caudal, and anal fins have dense concentrations of melanophores. The dorsal fin spines are translucent yellow; the second dorsal, caudal, and anal fins have bold black borders and yellow submarginal bands. The remaining portions of these fins are transparent except the dorsal and anal fins that have narrow strips of yellow basally and the anterior half of the anal fin has mainly yellow membranes. The pectoral fins are transparent. All fins with soft rays are faintly outlined with black. They have a moderately deep body for a blue-eye. Maximum size to about 3 cm SL.
Distribution & Habitat
Kiunga ballochi were initially collected by Gerald Allen and John Paska in 1982 from small tributaries of the Ok Smak River, about 40 kilometres north of Kiunga on Tabubil Road, Papua New Guinea. They were found in several small shallow tributary streams flowing through dense rainforest with occasional sunlit clearings. A temperature of 24-25° Celsius and a pH of 7.8 were recorded at the collecting site. However, the full extent of their distribution range is unknown. Pseudomugil novaeguineae was also collected at this location.
Kiunga ballochi was named in honour of Dr. David Balloch, a biologist with the Ok Tedi Mining Company. A few live specimens were brought back to Australia by Barry Crockford, but they were all destroyed in a tragic house fire in February 1983. Heiko Bleher visited this area in 1993 and despite sampling 37 streams along the entire stretch of road; he was unable to find any specimens. However, this species was recollected in 2007 by Mark Allen and Philip Atio.
Allen G.R. (1983) Kiunga ballochi, a new genus and species of rainbowfish (Melanotaeniidae) from Papua New Guinea. Tropical Fish Hobby 32 (2): 72-77.
Allen G.R., A.W. Storey and M. Yarrao (2008) Freshwater Fishes of the Fly River, Papua New Guinea. Ok Tedi Mining, Tabubil, PNG.
Adrian R. Tappin