Maharaja barb, Puntius sahyadriensis

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Matt Clarke looks at the recently imported Maharaja or Khavli barb, Puntius sahyadriensis, a lovely barb from India.

Common name: Khavli barb, Maharaja barb

Scientific name: Puntius sahyadriensis

Origin: India. Found in the Yenna River (particularly around Mahabaleshwar) in the Satara district of Maharashtra and also recorded from the Western Ghats mountain range in Karnataka, India.

Size: Around 6cm/2".

Water: There's no data for this species. However, it comes from hill streams of the Yenna River, so you would expect it to prefer slightly cooler, well oxygenated water with a bit of flow. Neutral or slightly acidic water is probably preferable, but these were looking good in hard, alkaline tapwater.

Diet: Accepts most foods, including flakes, bloodworms and brineshrimp.

Aquarium: These should be fine in most community tanks. They do not appear to be nippy. I would go for a group of six fish, with a mixture of males and females, in a planted aquarium of 75cm/30" or more.

Breeding: An egg-scatterer like other barbs. These are wild fish, but they shouldn't be too difficult to spawn in the aquarium. Males are much more colourful than females, especially during courtship, and develop longer finnage.

Identification: Some other Puntius species have previously been mis-sold as sahyadriensis but the real one is rather rare. It should have: no barbels; a complete lateral line with 22-25 scales; 8-12 predorsal scales; a weak, articulated dorsal spine with the fin inserted opposite or slightly behind the pelvic fin base, and seven vertical blotches on the body.

Availability: These were imported by wholesaler Tom Halvorsen Ltd (07977 098127).

Price: Around 6.00 each.