Wednesday, 22 June 2011


Kamaruddin, I.S. and A.S. Mustafa Kamal, (2010). A survey of aquatic organisms inhabiting the Faculty of Engineering Swamp (FE Swamp) in Universiti Putra Malaysia, Serdang, Selangor. International Conference on Food Security During the Challenging Times. Universiti Putra Malaysia. 190-195.


Kamaruddin, I. S. and A. S. Mustafa Kamal*
Department of Aquaculture, Faculty of Agriculture, Universiti Putra Malaysia, 43400, Serdang, Selangor, Malaysia
*Corresponding author: E-mail:

Wetlands are land areas in between terrestrial and aquatic systems where the water-table is usually at or near the surface of the land (Cowardin et al., 1979). One example of wetlands in Malaysia is swamp water bodies. In Peninsular Malaysia, there were about 497,276 ha of swamp forest (Wyatt-Smith, 1954). Currently only about 200,000 ha of the swamp forest still exist in Peninsular Malaysia and most of this swamp is located in Pahang (Shah et al., 2006). A large portion of this area is peat and freshwater swamps and the habitat is generally considered to be wastelands with not much economic value (Zakaria et al., 1999). That is why most of these swamp areas have been converted to industrial areas and for other uses. 
Swamps are an important asset as water storage areas and refugia of rich floral and faunal biodiversity including fishes (Zakaria et al., 1999). Swamp can also be as a sediment trap and it could protect downstream lands from floods. The faculty of Engineering Swamp (FE Swamp) which is located in Faculty of Engineering, Universiti Putra Malaysia is one of the freshwater swamps that possessed these kinds of characteristics. It stores rain water mostly originating from the drainage systems of the faculty and it prevents the surrounding area from flood. At the same time, it traps all the sediments and nutrients.
A survey on aquatic organisms in FE Swamp is important because the swamp area was potential to be developed (buildings and other infrastructure) due to its strategic location near the highway. Any development in this swap area will affect the water quality of the swamp and will directly or indirectly lead to the deterioration of flora and fauna. Inland fishery management has to account for changes in terrestrial environment especially within the catchment area (Ambak and Mohsin, 1986). Deforestation of natural habitat especially at or in close proximity to the rivers and stream has a significant impact on fish diversity, fish population and fisheries (Wright and Flecker, 2004).
According to Bryce et al. (1978), biological monitoring has been used as a pollution indicator in water bodies. This includes identification of flora and fauna that live in these water bodies. However, the aquatic organisms inhabiting in this swamp area has yet to be documented. As such, the objective of this survey was to determine the aquatic organisms including fish species, macrophytes, zooplankton and phytoplankton colonised the FE Swamp. It is hoped that the results of this survey will help identify suitable and sustainable, management and conservation programmes of the swamp.   

The FE Swamp is located in Faculty of Engineering, Universiti Putra Malaysia. It is a permanent, natural, lentic water bodies that can be classified as a palustrine lake due to its shallowness. The FE Swamp lies at 3° 01’ north and longitude 101° 44’ east and the size of the swamp is about 1.9 km2. It has many shrubs and rooted plant that colonise the limnetic zones throughout the swamp. This swamp area is a nesting site for some species of birds forage foods. The swamp east shore is bordered by a highway which is cut of by the university’s fence. Although it is surrounded by fence, we still can see anglers outside the fence fishing in this swamp. The swamp is a natural landscape that can be seen from outside the Faculty of Engineering.
This survey was conducted during the month of September 2009. Three sampling stations have been set up during this survey. These stations were designated as Station A, Station B and Station C (Figure 1). Fish species were collected using gillnets measuring 100 m long with a stretch mesh size of 6.35 cm (2.5 inches) at each station. The net was set during dusk and were hauled in the next morning. All fish caught were identified for species using standard taxonomic keys. For macrophyte data, the aquatic plants that inhabit this swamp area were collected manually using hand and scissors. The macrophytes species were subsequently identified accordingly to their taxonomic characteristics.
Meanwhile, zooplankton samples were collected using a zooplankton net with a 50 cm opening diameter and with a mesh size of 50µm. The net was dipped in the surface of the water and was transferred into 500 ml sampled bottle. The samples were then preserved with 10% formalin solutions for laboratory analyses. Phytoplankton samples were collected at the swamp surface water using a vendon water sampler. The samples were transferred into 1 litre bottle samples and were preserved with 1 ml lugol’s iodine solutions for laboratory analyses. In the laboratory, the zooplankton and phytoplankton samples were identified using inverted microscope at a magnification of 20x and 40x. The zooplankton and phytoplankton species were identified into species following the standard taxonomic keys.  
Data for the water quality parameters of the swamp were collected in situ. The data comprises dissolved oxygen (D.O) (mg/l), pH, water velocity (km/h), water temperature (C), water conductivity (µs) and water turbidity (NTU). The depth of the swamp was also measured in order to know the average depth of the swamp.

The results of this survey showed that five species of fish were captured and identified. The species are Notopterus notopterus (Belida), Oreochromis niloticus (Tilapia), Channa striatus (Haruan), Trichogaster trichopterus (Sepat ronggeng) and Trichogaster pectoralis (Sepat siam) (Table 1). The number of fish species present in the FE Swamp is low if compared to the big swamp-lakes such as Tasik Bera and Tasik Paya Bungor in Pahang. Furtado and Mori, (1983) found that Tasik Bera was inhabited by 95 fish species meanwhile Ambak and Mohsin (1986) found that Tasik Paya Bungor consisted of 43 species of fish and it was dominated by cyprinids. The high complexity of habitats in these two swamp-lakes might be the reason in the high number of fish species available if compared to the FE Swamp. However, there has been limited information documented on the ichthyofauna of the floodplain and freshwater swamp forest in Malaysia (Zakaria et al., 1999).
This survey found that FE Swamp was dominated by fish from the family Anabantidae (Sepat ronggeng and Sepat siam) comprising 45.5% of the total fish catch. Anabantid fish species such as T. trichopterus and T.  pectoralis are considered popular aquarium fish species. This was confirmed by Khairul Adha and Yuzine (2006), stating that the fish species from the genera Rasbora, Puntius, Trichogaster and Sphaeritchys have been traded as ornamental fish species in Malaysia. The D.O range in FE Swamp which can fluctuate to a minimum reading of 4.25 mg/l could be the reason in the dominance of these Anabantidae. According to Mohsin and Ambak (1983), the most obvious organ characteristic in this fish species is the presence of an additional respiration organ known as labyrinth. The labyrinth organ allows anabantid fish to live in a water consisted low oxygen concentration.
Other species like Haruan are also able to live in the water with low dissolved oxygen content. The Haruan is a wild species found in small rivers, lakes, pools and shallow water bodies and their natural habitats can survive in harsh environments with low dissolved oxygen and high ammonia (Marimuthu and Haniffa, 2007). The presence of Haruan in the FE Swamp could be the main attraction to the sport fisherman fishing in this swamp. According to Ambak and Jalal (2006) Haruan is one of the major sport fish species caught by anglers in Malaysian reservoirs. 
Seven species of macrophytes were identified within this survey area. These species were categorised under 3 categories of macrophytes which were; submerged macrophytes (Hydrilla verticillata and Utricularia aurea); floating macrophytes (Eichorrnia crassipes, Nymphoides indica and Ipomoea sp.); and terrestrial macrophytes (Cyperus sp. and one species of Pteridophyta). Three species of macrophytes were found to be present in all stations which were H. verticillata, U. aurea and E crassipes. Mansor (1996) has classified E. crassipes as one of the problematic weeds that is widely distributed throughout Malaysia. The tropical climate and suitable environmental factors have led to the growth of the species. In this survey, E. crassipes was found in abundance at all stations. The tropical range of temperatures in this survey (31.1 to 32.4 ºC) might be the main reason for the presence of these floating macrophytes and other aquatic fauna.
The zooplankton species identified in this swamp comprise of 4 species of rotifer which were Polyartha vulgaris, Lecane stichaea, Lecane stenroosi and Anuraeopsis coelata. The other single species of zooplankton was indentified as Copepod nauplii. There were no cladocerans identified in this survey. Meanwhile, the phytoplankton community living in this swamp area were classified under five categories comprising; Bacillariophyta (Diatoma sp., Nitzschia navicula., Stephanodiscus sp. and Tabellaria flocculosa); Euglenophyta (Euglena sp. and Phacus sp.); Cyanophyta (Anabaena sp., Oscillatoria sp. and Cylindrospermopsis sp.); Dinophyta (Peridinium sp.); and Chlorophyta (Cosmarium sp., Closterium sp., Scenedesmus acuminatus, Protococcus sp., Pleurotaenium sp., Eudorina sp. and Ankistrodesmus sp.). This survey found that Chlorophyta was the most abundant in terms of number of species identified with 7 species. The high diversity of Chlorophyta in the FE Swamp has some similarities with study in Tasik Paya Bungor done by Fatimah et al. (1984).
The water quality parameters at all stations in the FE Swamp were shown in Table 2. The FE Swamp mean water temperature was recorded at 31.54 ± 0.41. The mean pH reading was at 7.60 ± 0.47, and the D.O mean reading was 5.96 mg/l ± 1.13. In Tasik Chini, Suhaimi-Othman and Lim (2006) reported that the lake mean water temperature, pH and D.O was at 29.73 C ± 0.44, 6.63 ± 0.24 and 6.08 mg/l ± 0.88 respectively. Meanwhile, in Tasik Bera, according to Ikusima et al. (1982), the water temperature and pH readings ranged from 23.7 to 31.2 C and 4.45 to 6.83 respectively. However, Tasik Bera has low D.O range from as low as 1.36 to 4.00 mg/l. The results of this survey on these three water quality parameters showed some similarities with the results of the study in Tasik Chini and Tasik Bera. Except for the D.O in Tasik Bera where it was low when compared with D.O in the FE Swamp.
The depth of this swamp at all stations ranged from 42.00 cm to 63.00 cm. The mean depth was recorded at 54.38 cm ± 7.33. According to Suhaimi-Othman and Lim (2006), Tasik Chini is considered a shallow lake due to it average depth of less than 3 meters. From here, we can conclude that the FE Swamp is a shallow swamp-lake with average depth less than 60 cm. With these results, it is confirmed that the swamp is a palustrine lake and the swamp has only two ecological zones which are the limnetic zone and littoral zone, but this water body stands without the profundal zone.  

The results of this survey clearly showed that it is important to conserve the pristine and serene FE Swamp. It supports various species of fish, macrophytes, planktons and other aquatic and non-aquatic organisms. The FE swamp itself and all of the organisms living in it have their own roles that impact the environment and some of them have a high economic value.  These baseline data are hoped to provide some useful inputs for the FE Swamp management. 

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Table 1: Different fish species captured and their percentage composition at FE Swamp during the survey in September 2009.
Common name
Total fish captured (%)
Notopterus notopterus
Oreochromis niloticus
Channa striatus
Trichogaster trichopterus
Sepat ronggeng
Trichogaster pectoralis
Sepat siam


Table 2: Table shows the water quality parameters of FE Swamp during the survey in September 2009.
Water Quality Parameters
Mean ± SD
Dissolved oxygen (mg/l)
5.96 ± 1.13
7.60 ± 0.47
Water velocity (km/h)
9.55 ± 6.03
Temperature (C)
31.54 ± 0.41
Conductivity (µs)
123.08 ± 9.59
Turbidity (NTU)
18.39 ± 4.45

Figure 1: Map of FE Swamp in Faculty of Engineering, Universiti Putra Malaysia, Serdang, Selangor, with the sampling stations designated as Station A, Station B and Station C.

The poster presentation:

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