Ghora muikkha, Labeo pangusia


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Labeo pangusia is a rarely seen cyprinid from India, Nepal and Pakistan, as Matt Clarke explains.

Common name: Ghora muikkha
Scientific name: Labeo pangusia (Hamilton, 1822)
Origin: Found in rivers, lakes and ponds in India, Nepal and Pakistan. These specimens are believed to be from the Barak River in Jiribam, Manipur, India.
Size: Rather massive at up to 90cm/36". It is a popular food fish.
Diet: This grazer has specially adapted lips for sucking off algae, diatoms and aufwuchs from rocks and submerged objects. These small fish were happily accepting flakes and frozen foods.

Water: Probably neutral or slightly soft water is preferable, but these are very adaptable and were doing fine in hard alkaline water.
Aquarium: Although this species is unlikely to hit maximum size in an aquarium, its large adult size and active swimming behaviour merits it a very large tank. You ought to consider something of at least 150 x 60 x 60cm/5' x 2' x 2' for a sub-adult.

These young fish were happily living alongside each other in close proximity, but it is unusual for large Labeo to get on with each other (or some other similar-looking fish) as they mature. Large Labeo can be quarrelsome with larger fish, but generally mix OK with smaller and non-territorial species. It's found in quite fast moving water apparently, so some powerful filtration would be good.

Identification: These ones had me stumped for a while. Dr Heok Hee Ng gave me some handy pointers on the superb forums for identifying this Labeo, which I'd first incorrectly keyed-out as L. fisheri. L. fisheri is superficially similar, but pangusia has a slightly smaller eye and a distinct fold in the lip.

Andrew Rao, collector, exporter and Indian fish guru from Malabar Tropicals told me: "I think these are the ones I exported! These were collected from the Barak River at Jiribam, a small border town of Manipur State and Cachar District of Assam. L. pangusia could be mistaken for L. angra. In pangusia the lips are not much fringed but thick, whereas in angra both lips are fimbriated. Both of these fish are found in peninsular India, but there is a form in the north east, which was collected by me last year, some of these were shipped to the UK, too. There are two black spots just above and below the lateral line which were there in my specimens."

Notes: Some surveys have previously classed this species as critically endangered. However, it did not make the 2004 IUCN Redlist. Since it doesn't reproduce until it is around 14 years old, it is not a particularly resilient species to the effects of fishing. According to Rao, it is not a common species in India.
Availability: These fish were imported by The Goldfish Bowl but hadn't been identified by the supplier to anything below genus level.
Price: Expect to pay about £10-20 each.

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