By Aquarium India*

Inland and marine waters in India possess a rich diversity of ornamental fish, with over 195 indigenous varieties reported from North-East Region and Western Ghats and nearly 400 species from marine ecosystems. Among the 195 reported fish species from the North-East Region, 155 species are of ornamental value. The region also exhibits exceptional biodiversity and high degree of endemism with respect to freshwater ornamental fishes. Prominent among them are Loaches, Eels, Barbs, Catfish, and Goby. On the other hand, the Western Ghats of India is one of the 34 ‘Biodiversity Hotspot’ Areas of the World. Among the total freshwater fishes reported from the Western Ghats, 40 are of ornamental value of which 37 species are endemic to the Western Ghats.

In the aquarium trade, few of these come regularly in the markets and many of the hobbyists are completely unaware of them. In this article, we will have a detailed look at 5 Indigenous ornamental fishes…

Arulius Barb – Puntius arulius

  • Size: 12 cm
  • pH: 6.0- 8.0
  • Temperature: 19-25° C (66-77°F)

The Arulius barb is a large fast moving barb. It originates from India where it is found in the Tambraparni River basin. This is a comparatively small river basin in the state of Tamil Nadu in southern India. The Aurulius barb is a very hardy species that will adapt to most aquarium conditions as long as the water quality is kept high. It does however show a more vivid colouration in aquariums that contain at least a few hiding places. The aquarium should ideally be decorated in such a way that there are areas with dense vegetation as well as open areas for this fast moving fish to swim around in. A few shaded regions among roots are also appreciated.

This species is the ideal choice for any community aquarium containing mid-size species that appreciate the same environment. Arulius barbs will not harm or harass fish that are too big to eat. They should however not be kept with timid species that might be spooked and/ or stressed by this fast moving species. Aurulius barb is a shoaling species and it should always be kept in shoals of 8 or more fish. If they are kept in smaller groups they will not feel secure and will not show their true colours. They might harass other fish species if kept in too small groups.

Dawkinsia filamentosa – Puntius filamentosus

  • Size: 18cm
  • pH: 5.5-7.0
  • Temperature: 22-29° C (72-84°F)

Native to India. Occurs in Goa, Karnataka, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, and Maharashtra. Dawkinsia filamentosa is a peaceful, lively fish that needs a lot of free swimming space. The aquarium should be set up on the sides and background with fine leaved plants. It is a schooling fish but now and then he leaves the school to swim on his own. They like to swim some hours of the day in direct sunlight.

The Filament Barb is unique because it comes in different colours depending on where it comes from. These fish are generally easy to keep in the home aquarium and they make great additions to the community tank. Filament Barbs are a schooling species and they prefer tanks that are lushly planted and decorated with rocks and driftwood roots and branches.

They do not require very special water and are in fact, very undemanding as long as the water is kept clean and nitrate levels kept low. They are a shoaling species and are best maintained in groups of at least 6 specimens, and preferably more. The aquarium should be well-filtered with a high flow rate, and frequent partial water changes should be carried out to keep nitrate levels at a minimum.

Odessa Barb – Pethia padamya

  • Size: 10 cm
  • pH: 6 -7.0
  • Temperature: 23-26° C (74-79°F)

The Odessa Barb, scientifically known as the Pethia padamya, is an omnivorous freshwater tropical fish native to SouthEast Asia and the Himalayas. This fish can be found in countries such as China, India, Nepal, and Thailand in shallow freshwater streams. This vibrant Barb has been given the name Scarlett Barb due to its iridescent colourful scales that scatter its body. The Odessa Barb is so well known and loved for its silly playful nature and zipping all around its tank.

The Odessa Barb is a hardy fish with a lifespan of three to five years in its natural habitat as well as in captivity. In order to allow your Odessa Barb to live the longest healthiest life, pristine consistent water conditions must be kept as this fish is quite sensitive to frequent changes in their water conditions. This tiny fish can grow up to three to four inches long, and with amazing water conditions may even reach five inches long. The Odessa barb grows quite quickly considering its size. This fish will be full-grown in about three to four months with a proper diet and proper water conditions. The Odessa Barb is a small quick-growing fish that with a proper diet and pristine water conditions will be an entertaining companion for years to come.

Yoyo Loach – Botia almorhae

  • Size: 10 cm
  • pH: 6 -7.0
  • Temperature: 23-26° C (74-79°F)

The yoyo loach is an interestingly coloured loach that brings energy and activity to your tank. Their dark bands with light blue tint contrast against their silver bodies creating a really interesting look. They do well with other fish that are peaceful and can even stand their own with more aggressive fish.

These fish are active during the day and will constantly be looking for food. This energy brings a lot of life to the bottom of your tank. These inquisitive fish however will keep to themselves, this is the reason that they will do so well with so many fish. They are known to be semi-aggressive to members of their own species but this doesn’t mean they cannot be kept together. Like with other species that show dominance, having a group of 5 or 6 individuals will mean that no one fish will be bullied to the point of harm.

Honey Gourami – Trichogaster chuna

  • Size: 10 cm
  • pH: 6.5 -7.5
  • Temperature: 21-28° C (70-82°F)

These fish originate from Bangladesh and India and can often be found in slow-moving water that’s rich with plants and vegetation. Most of the time these waters will have a very low amount of oxygen in them too. Colour is the first and most obvious thing to mention when it comes to the appearance of honey gouramis. The entire body of adult males is primarily a light orangish yellow. The exceptions to this are on their throats and fins.

The honey gourami is without a doubt one of the most beautiful freshwater fishes out there. But they’re more than a great looking fish, they’re also a fantastic species to own for other reasons as well! They also have a peaceful temperament and can get along with a wide range of different tank mates. This means you have a lot of flexibility if you’re set on getting one. The honey gourami also prefers heavy foliage and tends to stay near fallen trees or wherever there is more leaf litter.

These are just 5 of the popular Indian origin ornamental fishes. Apart from these, there are many varieties such as Glassfish, Black knife fish, Zebrafish, Rosy barb etc in the trade but are relatively unknown. Also apart from freshwater fishes marine fishes like Pomacentrus caeruleus, Ostracion cubicus, Scarus ghobban, Odonus nigre and Narcine timlei are indigenous and are seen in the aquariums.

Happy Fish Keeping!!!

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