Matt Clarke looks at Osteobrama belangeri, a rare cyprinid which has recently started to make an appearance in the trade.
Scientific name: Osteobrama belangeri
Origin: Most museum specimens have been collected in the Myanmar area. However, this species is also known from India and the Yunnan state in China. Extinct in Manipur.
Size: Up to 38cm/15" in the wild.
Diet: Not known, but other Osteobrama such as O. cotio cotio feed primarily on insect larvae and vegetable matter. Aquaculture trials have been undertaken to assess the use of Azolla-based diets.
Water: Well oxygenated, running water with a neutral pH is ideal.
Aquarium: If possible, keep in a small group in a spacious aquarium furnished with bogwood and smooth rocks. Fairly non-aggressive, so safe to mix with other fishes of similar size.
Breeding: O. belangeri is probably an egg-scatterer, like other cyprinids.
Notes: This is a rare fish. Habitat destruction from damming may have led to the extinction of the species in Manipur, a state in India on the border with Myanmar. However, it has not yet been listed on the IUCN red list for fishes, suggesting that it may be more abundant elsewhere. Farmed for food, so these fish may be captive-bred.
Similar species: There are nine species of Osteobrama - alfrediana, bhinensis, vigorsii, feae, bakeri, dayi, neilli, belangeri and cotio. O. cotio includes three sub-species: O. c. cotio, O. c. cunma and O. c. peninsularis. Many species look similar to belangeri. You'll need to do some fin ray counts to make a proper ID.
Identification: Osteobrama are rare and not easy to identify. I keyed this species out as O. belangeri on the basis of its seven branched anal rays and the lack of barbels. Some others have one or two pairs of barbels, and most others have
more than 20 branched rays in the anal fin.
Availability: On sale at Wholesale Tropicals in Bethnal Green earlier this year. These are very rare and are probably a first for the UK.
Price: Expect to pay 10-20.