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Barbodes dunckeri (AHL, 1929)

Clown Barb

SynonymsTop ↑

Barbus dunckeri Ahl, 1929; Puntius dunckeri (Ahl, 1929)

Etymology

Barbodes: from the Latin barbus, meaning ‘barbel’, and Ancient Greek εἶδος (-oides), meaning ‘form, likeness’.

dunckeri: named for Dr. Georg Duncker (1870-1953), ichthyologist and curator at the Zoological Museum of Hamburg (Zoologischen Museum Hamburg).

Classification

Order: Cypriniformes Family: Cyprinidae

Distribution

Described from ‘Bukith Timah, Singapore’ and also occurs throughout Peninsular Malaysia though may now be extirpated in Singapore.

Its range in Peninsular Malaysia is also unclear with records scarce, and fish entering the ornamental trade appear to be farm-raised.

Habitat

Unconfirmed but likely to display a preference for forest streams as with related species (see ‘Notes’).

Maximum Standard Length

100 – 120 mm.

Aquarium SizeTop ↑

An aquarium with base measurements of at least 120 ∗ 45 cm or equivalent should be the smallest considered for long-term care.

Maintenance

Not difficult to keep in a well-maintained set-up, though we recommend aquascaping the tank to resemble a flowing stream or river with a substrate of variably-sized, water-worn rocks, sand, fine gravel and perhaps some small boulders.

This can be further furnished with driftwood roots or branches, and while the majority of aquatic plants will fail to thrive in such surroundings hardy types such as MicrosorumBolbitis, or Anubias spp. can be grown attached to the décor.

Since it naturally occurs in relatively pristine habitats it’s intolerant to accumulation of organic pollutants and requires more-or-less spotless water in order to thrive.

Though torrent-like conditions are unnecessary it also does best if there is a high proportion of dissolved oxygen and moderate water movement, and weekly water changes of 30-50% tank volume should be considered routine.

Water Conditions

Temperature18 – 28 °C

pH6.0 – 7.5

Hardness36 – 215 ppm

Diet

A foraging omnivore likely to feed on a variety of worms, insects, crustaceans, plant material, and other organic debris in nature.

In the aquarium it’s easily-fed but a balanced diet comprising regular meals of small live and frozen foods such as bloodwormDaphnia, and Artemia alongside good quality dried flakes and granules will being about optimal condition and colours .

Behaviour and CompatibilityTop ↑

This species makes an ideal addition to a peaceful community of riverine fishes such as similarly-sized PuntiusRasboraDevario, or Barilius species plus many botiid, nemacheilid and balitorid loaches.

If geography isn’t an issue it can actually be combined with most peaceful fish of a size too large to be considered food and that have a bold enough disposition to not be intimidated by its size and active nature.

As always, thorough research is the best way to avoid problems when selecting compatible fish communities.

It’s a schooling species by nature so ideally 6 or more specimens should be purchased.

Maintaining it in decent numbers will not only make the fish less skittish but will result in a more effective, natural looking display.

In addition, any aggressive behaviour will normally be contained as the fish concentrate on maintaining their hierarchical position within the group.

Sexual Dimorphism

Adult males develop a more intense colour pattern than females and exhibit noticeable tubercules on the head when in spawning condition.

Adult females tend to grow a little larger, are heavier-bodied, and less colourful.

Reproduction

Like most small cyprinids this is an egg-scattering free spawner exhibiting no parental care.

When in good condition it should spawn often and in a mature aquarium it’s possible that small numbers of fry may start to appear without intervention.

However if you want to maximise yield a more controlled approach is required.

The adult group can still be conditioned together but an aquarium with a base measuring 80 cm x 30 cm should also be set up and filled with mature water.

This should be very dimly lit and the base covered with some kind of mesh of a large enough grade so that the eggs can fall through but small enough so that the adults cannot reach them. The widely available plastic ‘grass’-type matting can also be used and works well, as does a layer of glass marbles.

Alternatively filling much of the tank with a fine-leaved plant such as Taxiphyllum spp. or spawning mops can also return decent results.

The water itself should be of slightly acidic to neutral pH with a temperature towards the upper end of the range suggested above, and an air-powered sponge filter or air stone(s) should also be included to provide oxygenation and water movement.

When the adults are well-conditioned and the females appear gravid one or two pairs should then be introduced, and spawning should take place the following morning.

An alternative is to spawn the fish in a group with half a dozen specimens of each sex being a good number, although a larger aquarium may be necessary.

In either situation the adults will probably eat the eggs given the chance and should be removed as soon as any are noticed.

These should hatch in 24 – 48 hours with the fry free swimming around 24 hours later.

They should be fed on an infusoria-grade food for the first few days until large enough to accept microworm, Artemia nauplii, or suchlike.

NotesTop ↑

Although sometimes referred to by the vernacular name ‘big spot barb’ this species is better known in the aquarium hobby as ‘clown barb’.

It has been widely misidentified as the congener B. everetti, a distinct and uncommonly-traded species from Borneo and therefore appears under that name in the majority of aquarium literature.

The two are quite easy to tell apart, with B. everetti an overall less colourful fish possessing relatively small dark body markings, a distinctive dark blotch at the posterior base of the dorsal-fin, and 3½ scales above the lateral line.

In B. dunckeri the dark body markings are significantly larger, there is no blotch at the posterior of the dorsal-fin base, and there are 4½ scales above the lateral line.

This species was formerly included in the genus Puntius which was for a number of years viewed as a polyphyletic catch-all containing over 100 species of small to mid-sized cyprinid until Pethiyagoda et al. (2012) published a partial review covering South Asian members.

The majority of sub-Himalayan Puntius species were reclassified and new genera Dawkinsia, Dravidia (subsequently amended to Haludaria), and Pethia erected to accommodate some of them, with the remainder either retained in Puntius or moved to the existing Systomus assemblage, though the definition of the latter was altered meaning some Southeast Asian species formerly placed there could no longer be considered members.

Kottelat (2013) published a comprehensive nomenclatural update for Southeast Asian fishes in which this species was among a number of former Puntius transferred into the genus Barbodes. Members are told apart from related genera by the following aspects of ontogeny and colour pattern: small juveniles have 3-5 dots along the midlateral scale row, including one at middle of caudal- fin base, and an additional one at dorsal-fin origin; with increasing size, the spots on midlateral row may become more numerous and may fuse to form a stripe or broad band, and the spot at dorsal-fin origin may become a large blotch or a broad bar.

In addition, the following characters are useful in identification of Barbodes spp.: last simple dorsal-fin ray serrated posteriorly; rostral barbels present (except in B. aurotaeniatus); maxillary barbels present; lips smooth and thin, postlabial groove interrupted medially; lateral line complete or not, with 22–32 scales on lateral line row on body; ½4/1/4½ scale rows between dorsal-fin origin and ventral midline in front of pelvic-fin base; 12 circumpeduncular scale rows; 12–15 gill rakers on first gill arch.

References

  1. Ahl, E., 1929 - Teil 3. Das Aquarium Oct. 1929: 165-169
    Übersicht über die lebend eingeführten asiatischen Arten der Gattung Barbus.
  2. Alfred, E. R., 1966 - Zoologische Verhandelingen 78: 1-68
    Fresh-water Fishes of Singapore.
  3. Boulenger, G. A., 1894 - Annals and Magazine of Natural History (Series 6) v. 13(75): 245-251
    Descriptions of new freshwater fishes from Borneo.
  4. Kottelat, M., 2013 - The Raffles Bulletin of Zoology Supplement 27: 1-663
    The fishes of the inland waters of southeast Asia: a catalogue and core bibiography of the fishes known to occur in freshwaters, mangroves and estuaries.
  5. Pethiyagoda, R., 2013 - Zootaxa 3646(2): 199
    Haludaria, a replacement generic name for Dravidia (Teleostei: Cyprinidae).
  6. Pethiyagoda, R., M. Meegaskumbura, and K. Maduwage, 2012 - Ichthyological Exploration of Freshwaters 23(1): 69-95
    A synopsis of the South Asian fishes referred to Puntius (Pisces: Cyprinidae).

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