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July 11, 2014

Good day! I’ve recently been studying the Western Ghats mountain drainages of India. These drainages are so diverse in piscine life that I could write for hours without running out of fish we stock from these habitats. Of course, I don’t want to bore you all with too many fish (is there such a thing?), so I will leave out some of these fish, such as Barilius canarensis, Dawkinsia assimilis and Garra flavatra. If you would like me to write on these three and more next week to round out the region’s overview, please let me know and I would be more than happy to oblige! Now, we shall proceed to my selections from the fish of the Western Ghats.


What write-up of the Ghats would be complete without the absolutely stunning Puntius denisoni “Roseline Shark” or “Red Line Torpedo Barb”? This species has long been a favorite in the aquarium hobby due to is amazing coloration and peaceful nature. The body shape of P. denisoni is elongate and tapered to a very pointed snout and narrow tail; a base color similar to driftwood is accented with a thick black lateral line running from mouth to caudal peduncle. From the snout to mid-body, this black line is decorated above by a stunning cherry red stripe, the color of which is reiterated in the leading edge of the fish’s dorsal fin. Their two lobed tails are marked at the ends with bright sunflower yellow, black, and tips of white. The Roseline Shark is more at home in reasonable current. While torrential water speeds are not required, pristine water, and high levels of oxygenation are strongly advised. This beautiful fish is happy in water with temperatures anywhere between 60 and 77 degrees Fahrenheit, neutral pH and low to moderate hardness. As a schooling species, these fish are best kept in groups of five or more – smaller groups may result in conspecific aggression.


Dawkinsia rohani “Rohan’s Tear Spot Barb” is a stunning barb – it has a beautifully almond-shaped body with large eyes and a large black teardrop shaped marking along its tail. This spreads along the interior edge of the caudal fin, creating something of a Y-shaped pattern. The rest of the caudal fin, in adult specimens, is a beautiful cherry red, as is the anal fin. The dorsal fin of the male grows long filamentous extensions as he ages, each ray colored black with hints of cherry red between. Perhaps the most remarkable feature of this fish’s coloration is, despite having a rosy body color, the presence of iridescent scale edges. The adult Rohani flashes with greens, blues and yellows as it swims with its fellow barbs through a nicely planted aquarium. When the male courts a female of his choice, his cheeks and chin will flush rosy pink. These gorgeous barbs are riverine fish, preferring significant current and water between 65 and 77 degrees Fahrenheit. While the Rohan’s Tear Spot Barb can grow to nearly four inches in length, it is a perfect gentleman in a community aquarium, though very small fish should be avoided – tank mates of two inches or larger are recommended. While a school of these fish may look striking with other Dawkinsia species, there is speculation that the Dawkinsia genus can interbreed, so this is probably best avoided.


An even larger cyprinid from the area is Barilius bakeri “Royal Spotted Hill Trout”. These are gorgeous, amazingly colored five to six inch riverine fish. Their silvery blue body flashes with yellow and red tones as they swim and is marked along their lateral line with vertically elongate blue spots. Their fins transition from translucent at the edge of the body to a deep black and are tipped in brilliant white. The Royal Spotted Hill Trout should be maintained in groups of five or more as they are a shoaling species and, like P. denisoni, small groups can lead to aggression. Like the Roseline Shark, B. bakeri enjoys cool water between 65 and 78 degrees with a relatively neutral pH.


Mesonoemacheilus triangularis “Batik Loach” is a gorgeous little bottom dweller. This loach reaches two and a half inches maximum size and has the most amazing patterning – a dark brown body is marked with lighter spots bordered in fine black. The similarity of this pattern to wax-resistant dyed fabric, a technique known as batik, is the source of this loach’s common name. Its fins, head, and caudal edge are overlaid with red tones. The Batik Loach can be slightly territorial so be sure to provide plenty of hiding places with caves, driftwood and overhanging rocks. As a hillstream species, M. triangularis prefers higher currents, coarse sand or gravel substrates, and temperatures from 68 to 79 degrees Fahrenheit and neutral pH. This beautiful loach, provided feeding is done with care, would make an excellent companion to any of the above cyprinids.

It is my regret to inform you that Lia Woolf, our Sales Associate and eBay specialist for the past many months, is leaving us next week. It’s been wonderful to work with her for this time and we’re going to miss her wholeheartedly. I hope you’ll join us in wishing her a fond farewell and excellent fortune in her future.

Thank you all for reading and, as usual, comments and constructive criticism are always welcome. We’re working on a new newsletter layout to be implemented soon.

Jessica Supalla