Hong Kong has had a fish named after it following the discovery that the species - which was thought to be the same as one found in Vietnam - is unique to the territory. The breed of freshwater black paradise fish, previously thought to be Macropodus spechti, has now been classified as an endemic species in Hong Kong and renamed Macropodus hongkongensis. It is the first time a fish species has been named after Hong Kong. The discovery followed a comparison by German researchers Joerg Freyhof and Fabian Herder earlier this year of living specimens of the fish. Previous comparisons of dead fish failed to show the colour differences between those from Hong Kong and Vietnam, said Professor David Dudgeon, head of Hong Kong University's department of ecology and biodiversity. 'This endemic species is new to science,' Professor Dudgeon said, urging prompt government protection of the precious fish species which he fears could be wiped out by uncontrolled developments in Hong Kong's wetlands. The Hong Kong species had already been found in an SAR-wide biodiversity survey released last year by Professor Dudgeon and researcher Bosco Chan Pui-lok, but consultation with overseas fish experts then had failed to establish they were a species exclusive to Hong Kong. In his previous survey, Professor Dudgeon established that Hong Kong had Asia's richest stream fish habitat, with 118 species on record. He said it was vital that Macropodus hongkongensis was listed as a protected species like the famous Romer's tree frog, as the fish was similarly endemic to Hong Kong and rare in the world. He said its habitat was wetlands in the North District, Sai Kung and Tai Po. Its population was unknown, but 'not very big', he said. A spokeswoman for the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department said it had no plans to list the new species as protected or endangered, saying many habitats were now sufficiently protected as country parks or other scientific sites. But Professor Dudgeon warned: 'There is a real threat as the fish occurs mainly in lowland freshwater wetlands that are threatened by development - most lie outside country parks and receive no protection.'