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April 19, 2013

Welcome to India, my friend! I know, I know. Three days at home really wasn’t much time to catch your breath, but we have work to get done. Trust me, there was nothing more than I wanted to do myself but to sit down and take a moment to relax. It’s been 7 years of me doing this now, and it gets tiring after a while. Yes, April 16th was my 7 year anniversary of working for the best fish store in the Pacific Northwest, The Wet Spot Tropical Fish! It seems like only yesterday I was scrubbing algae off the side of the tanks in the store. Originally, I had taken the job as part-time work. I was only looking for something that I could fill in my weekends with, and learn more about my new favorite hobby.

At any rate, we are in Barkur to make an attempt to collect Barilius canarensis “Royal Hill Trout” in its natural habitat. Our guide will be taking us along the Suti River in order for us to collect some specimens. With any luck, we’ll be pulling these “salmon-like” cyprinids in with our cast nets. It appears the lower portion of this river seem to be somewhat turbulent, and we both feel that the river should get a little more shallow the further up we go. So let me tell you a little bit about the Royal Hill Trouts. They are also imported under the trade names ‘Jerdon’s Baril’, ‘Mirror Fish’, or Blue Gold Mirror Fish’. The males of this Barilius can grow to around 5” well the females stay slightly smaller. You can sex the fish by the elongated anal fin found on the male. Typically, the males will display an orangish colored chest and are slightly smaller compared to the bulkier females. The Royal Hill Trout is an agile swimmer and vigorous when it comes to feeding time; because of this behavior, smaller or slow-moving tank-mates should be avoided.

Barilius canarensis

Well it looks like our guide says we should try this spot on the river. There appears to be a good school formed in that calm area right above this rock pile. I think that would provide us with a little bit of cover as we throw our cast nets. I’ll take the left, and you can take the right. Are you in position? Here we go! Ok, let’s see what our nets pulled in. Not only did we get a good cluster of some young Royal Hill Trouts, but there appears to be another cyprinid-like animal in these nets. Why, if it isn’t some juvenile Dawkinsia tambraparniei “Trade Arulius Barbs”!

Dawkinsia tambraparniei juvenile

These fish are often imported under the false name Dawkinia arulius, which is actually a completely different fish that is rarely exported from India. The “false” Arulius Barb will grow to be about as large as our Royal Hill Trout’s, reaching about 5”. Young fish show this “stripe” pattern you see here, but as the fish mature these bars turn into three vertical stripes that look like a black lightning bolt on the body. As the males hit maturity, the dorsal fin grows these incredible long extensions. The face becomes covered with all of these bumps called tubercules. The back half of the body becomes a red hue that fades into a blue to purple color covering the shoulder of the fish.

Dawkinsia tambraparniei male

I can tell age must be catching up with me. My bones are getting all but tired, and the sun is getting ready to set anyway. I’d say it’s time to get the generator going and set up camp. We can head further north in the morning. There are a few more things on our list that we need to acquire before the boss will give the word to come on home.

It’s hard to believe that after 7 years I would not only find myself still here, but starting to give fish talks to some of the clubs around the U.S. This last year as brought me so many great opportunities, and I could not be more thankful. I especially need to give Joe Middleton, president of our local Greater Portland Aquarium Society, a big thank you. If it wasn’t for him I wouldn’t be offered other chances to teach fellow hobbyists about some of my favorite fish. Our local club was certainly hurting on attendance, and his will power to bring back the club is starting to make an impact. Myself, and all of us at The Spot, would like to encourage that if you’re in the area to please join us this Thursday for our annual plant auction. You can find the details on our website, and through Facebook. More importantly, I need to thank my managers for their growing and continuing support. Over the years they have become family to me. I look forward to another 7 years with them. Thank you all so much!

I’ll see you all back on the road!

Anthony Perry
Sales Manager