The Drape fin barb


Matt Clarke on an unusual barb that has been becoming more common in imports from India and Thailand.

Common name: Drape fin barb, Indian high fin barb

Scientific name: Currently undescribed. FishBase incorrectly shows images of this species on the record for Oreichthys cosuatis, which has led to some confusion over the identity of the fish. It has also been referred to as Oreichthys sp. "High Fin", but it may actually be a Puntius and not a member of the Oreichthys genus.

Origin: According to experts at this new species is found only in a couple of streams within the Buxar Tiger Reserve in the Volga Range near the small town of Barobisha close to the West Bengal - Assam State border in India. The similar looking O. cosuatis is found in streams and rivers in India, Bangladesh, Myanmar and Thailand and is imported from India.

Size: Fish over 5cm/2" are uncommon in captivity.

Water: These fish don't always travel well and seem sensitive to poor water conditions. They appear to do best in neutral, slightly alkaline water with a pH of around 7.0 and a moderate hardness.

Diet: Frozen bloodworm, Daphnia, brineshrimp and flakes are taken.

Aquarium: Fine for the average community aquarium. The fish are peaceful with other fish, but do squabble a little with each other. A mixed shoal containing a large group of females with a few males seems to work well.

Sexing: The body shape of females is strikingly different to that of males. Males also develop a very long dorsal fin which drapes back over the caudal fin. The dorsal of the female is smaller and more rounded. Females become rotund when in breeding condition.

Notes: These fish were on sale as Puntius arunavi - a made-up trade name we assume, as it's not an official synonym for this species. It may be a species of Puntius, though.

Similar species: Due to the error on Fishbase, we originally misidentified this fish as O. cosuatis when this article was originally published in the magazine (June 2004). There are only two species in the genus: O. cosuatis and O. parvus. O. cosuatis has a bigger dorsal fin, and often a black edge to the scales. O. parvus is more slender and elongated and less colourful. The real cosuatis lacks the black spot on the caudal peduncle and is a much slimmer looking fish.

Availability: These fish have been turning up occasionally in imports from India over the past few years, but still aren't commonly seen. These were photographed at Manor Aquatics, London.

Price: Around 2-3 depending on size and availability.

This article was first published in the June 2004 issue of Practical Fishkeeping.