Inlecypris auropurpurea

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Matt Clarke manages to finally get hold of some Inlecypris auropurpurea - a beautiful danio-like cyprinid from Myanmar's Inle Lake.

Common name: Inle minnow, Tiger rasbora, Inle danio

Scientific name: Inlecypris auropurpurea (Annandale, 1918)

Origin: This species is believed to be endemic to the Inle Lake basin in Myanmar (formerly Burma) were it occurs in influent rivers and streams as well as the lake itself.

Size: A slender 6-7cm.

Water: Values for other fishes found in Inle Lake suggest a pH of 7.0-8.0, hardness 10-25 and temperature of 18-25C - a little cooler than most tropicals. Mine definitely look best at around 20C and the aquarium is unheated over the summer.

Diet: These are predominantly surface-dwelling fish and probably feed on terrestrial insects and aquatic insect larvae. In captivity they readily accept anything that hits the surface, including flakes.

Aquarium: These are peaceful shoaling fish and should be kept in groups of six or more in a spacious aquarium, as they are very fast and active swimmers. They mix well with most peaceful tropical freshwater fishes - mine are mixed with various danionins, loaches and Garra. They're easy to keep in pollution-free water with frequent water changes. It can be very jumpy, so make sure you use a tight fitting cover on the aquarium! The stripes will go purple-blue when the fish is in good condition and after a cool water change.

Breeding: PFK contributor Pete Cottle has bred this species and has written a Fact Sheet on breeding it on the Strood Aquarist Society website. He recommends spawning the fish in a small 45cm/18" aquarium fitted with a false-bottom mesh to prevent the fish from consuming their eggs. Broods can number up to 200 fish but the offspring grow quite slowly.

Notes: This fish was originally described as Barilius auropurpureus by Annandale in 1918, but was later moved to a new genus - Inlecypris - which was erected by the late Gordon Howes of the Natural History Museum following his 1980 study of the Barilius genus which showed that the fish was not a member of the group. The fish is a member of the cheline cyprinid subfamily and Howes says its closest living relative is the genus Chela, which is found elsewhere in south east Asia.

Identification: There is only one other species described from the genus, I. jayarami. This fish is very difficult to distinguish from Danio shanensis and maetaengensis - all three of which can be easily confused with one another. Indeed, I. jayarami was originally described as a Brachydanio before the danionins were split into Danio and Devario. Some authors have suggested jayarami and shanensis are the same fish, but danionin authority Fang Fang says that I. jayarami is distinct. Both Inlecypris species have a keeled belly, while the Danio species do not.

Availability: I've been looking for some of these for ages and only recently tracked down a batch at Wildwoods in Middlesex. However, the species has been becoming more readily available in the trade for the past year or so. I think these have great commercial potential as a community fish.

Price: Expect to pay £1.50-4.00 depending on size and availability.