Described from the Malaysian state of Sarawak on the island of Borneo, and appears endemic to western parts of the island plus the Natuna Islands archipelago which lies off Borneo’s western coast but forms part of Riau Islands province, Indonesia.
Nhabits both fresh and brackish water, and generally restricted to lowland, coastal environments including mangrove swamps, estuaries, and tidal streams. Substrates thus tend to be composed of mud, sand and silt with overlying organic material such as leaf litter, mangrove roots, and submerged driftwood. Some populations inhabit ancient peat swamp habitats with highly-stained, tea-coloured water, very low acidity, minimal conductivity, and negligible hardness.
Should be considered essential although some specimens will learn to accept frozen alternatives. Dried products are normally ignored.
Sexually mature females often appear rounder-bodied than males, particularly when gravid. When in spawning condition males take on an overall reddish tinge with the dark bars on the body becoming paler, while the first yellow bar in females becomes brighter.
Around 100 – 200 eggs are deposited in the cave after which the female departs, leaving the male to guard and tend the clutch.
This species is among the more frequently-traded members of the genus, although confusion regarding its identification and natural distribution is commonplace and it’s often misidentified.
According to current knowledge it can be diagnosed as follows: one black band on head, three on body. First black band on body beginning opposite centre of opercle and overlapping first dorsal-fin to the extent that almost all of the fin, except a narrow margin, is black. Second black band reaching ventral midline posterior to anal-fin. Black pigment present on all rays of second dorsal-fin. Opercular scales present. Basal two thirds of ventral-fin black. Basal two thirds of pectoral-fin black.
In some specimens there is an additional black marking between the first and second body bands, and in most cases the black bands are wider than the yellow interspaces between.