The Hill trout, Barilius barna

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Barilius barna, and its close relatives, have recently starting turning up in the UK's fish stores. But as Matt Clarke explains, it's not actually a trout at all...

Scientific name: Barilius barna

Origin: Fairly widespread. Has been recorded in India, Myanmar, Nepal, Laos, Bangladesh and as far south as the Mekong basin.

Habitat: Fast-flowing hill streams.

Size: Usually 10-15cm/4"-6".

Aquarium: These fish are active swimmers, so a tank of at least 90cm/36" is required. Furnish the tank with smooth rocks and use power filters to increase flow and oxygen. Plants are usually left alone.

Diet: These fish have surprisingly large mouths, so don't keep them with tiny fishes such as danios.

Identification: Barilius aren't the easiest to identify - we used a dichotomous key to the genus to identify this fish. Unlike most others, B. barna lacks barbels. There are usually seven to nine vertical bars on the flanks.

Similar species: B. gatensis and B. ornatus also lack barbels, but have more than 12 bars on the flanks. B. gatensis has 39-41 scales in the lateral series, while B. ornatus has 45. The more common B. bakeri has spots on the flanks rather than bars.

Availability: These fish were spotted at the Aquatic Design Centre, London, but we've seen others on sale recently around the UK as well as several other species of Barilius, particularly B. bakeri. They may be incorrectly labelled as Zacco species.

Price: Expect to pay 5-10 each.

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