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Barbonymus gonionotus (BLEEKER, 1849)

SynonymsTop ↑

Barbus gonionotus Bleeker, 1849; Barbus javanicus Bleeker, 1855; Barbus koilometopon Bleeker, 1857; Puntius jolamarki Smith, 1934; ? Puntius viehoeveri Fowler, 1943


Barbonymus: from the generic name Barbus, to which members of this genus were previously assigned, and Ancient Greek ἀνώνυμος (anṓnumos), meaning ‘anonymous’, since this group of fishes had previously lacked a proper generic name.

gonionotus: from the Ancient Greek γωνία (gōnía), meaning ‘angle’, and νῶτον (nōton), meaning ‘back’, in reference to this species arched lateral profile.


Order: Cypriniformes Family: Cyprinidae


This‚ species‚ is currently accepted to have an enormous distribution that covers much of Southeast Asia including Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, Vietnam, Singapore, and Indonesia (Java and Sumatra). It is present in several major‚ river‚ systems including the Mekong, Mae Klong, and Chao Phraya, and appears to have been introduced to the Terengganu and Perak river systems in Peninsular Malaysia.

Type locality is ‘Indonesia: Java: Kalimas River [Brantas] in Surabaya’.


Mostly inhabits larger, slow-moving‚ river‚ channels that are prone to flooding during the wet season as well as their surrounding floodplains, but increasingly found in man-made canals and lakes. The fish move into inundated riparian areas and forests during wet periods to feed and‚ spawn, returning to the rivers as the water begins to recede.

Maximum Standard Length

250 – 300 mm.

Aquarium SizeTop ↑

An aquarium‚ with base dimensions of 210 ∗ 60 cm should be the minimum considered.


Choice of décor is not as critical as water quality and the amount of open swimming-space provided; we have seen very healthy-looking specimens being maintained in completely bare set-ups for example.

An enormous external-style filter or two are going to be needed in order to provide the desired levels of oxygen, flow and surface area for bacterial colonisation. Be sure to fit the tank with a heavy, tightly-fitting cover as it can be quite skittish at times and has a powerful leap.

Water Conditions

Temperature: 20 – 26 °C

pH: 6.0 – 8.0

Hardness: 36 – 268 ppm


Omnivorous‚ and something of an opportunist although studies suggest it is primarily a‚ herbivore; wild fish have been observed feeding on invertebrates,‚ algae, smaller fish, plant matter both‚ aquatic‚ and terrestrial and even carcasses of dead animals. In the‚ aquarium‚ it is easily-fed and will accept just about anything offered.

Ideally, offer regular meals of small live and frozen foods such as‚ chironomid larvae (bloodworm),‚ Daphnia‚ and‚ Artemia‚ along with good quality dried flakes, granules and plenty of vegetable matter. Shelled peas, blanched courgette, spinach and chopped fruit all make good additions to the menu. Larger specimens will also take chopped earthworm, prawn, mussel etc., but take care not to overfeed.

Behaviour and CompatibilityTop ↑

Not aggressive‚ species‚ but will eat small fishes and can upset slow-moving/more timid tankmates with its constant activity and rather vigorous feeding behaviour. It is therefore only appropriate for very large tanks containing‚ robust, similarly-sized tankmates. There are lots of suitable choices including many cichlids, catfish, other cyprinids and characins. As always when selecting a compatible‚ community‚ of fish proper research is essential.

This‚ species‚ is found swimming in large schools in nature and some individuals can become skittish or even aggressive if kept in insufficient numbers in the‚ aquarium, meaning a group of six or more should be the smallest considered. You will be rewarded with a much more natural-looking display plus interesting behaviour from the fish as they interact with conspecifics.

Sexual Dimorphism

Mature‚ females are usually deeper-bodied than males, especially when gravid. Otherwise there are no obvious external differences.


Not known to have been bred in private aquaria but is cultured in some numbers as a food fish in both its‚ native‚ countries and further afield. In Hawaii it is used in‚ aquaculture‚ projects with spawning induced via the use of hormone stimulation, for example. Like others in the‚ genus‚ it is an‚ egg-scatterer that exhibits no‚ parental care‚ and produces large broods, a single female being capable of releasing thousands of eggs in a single‚ event.

A serious attempt by the hobbyist would not be a tempting prospect as it would require a method of preventing the adults eating the eggs, an enormous‚ aquarium,‚ plus the facilities and contacts to raise and sell on hundreds of fish that are unsuitable for the vast majority of aquaria.

NotesTop ↑

Kottelat (1998) discussed the defining external characteristics of Barbonymus species‚ and stated that B. goniotus can be told apart from congeners by possession of plain grey caudal and dorsal fins, pale yellow pelvic and anal fins, and 6-7 branched anal-fin rays.

The‚ taxon‚ Barbonymus‚ was erected by Kottelat in 1999 and contains former members of‚ Barbus and Barbodes‚ from Southeast Asia.

Most other members are‚ rare‚ in the ornamental trade, and all have previously been included in the genera‚ BarbusPuntius‚, and Barbodes‚, so you may see them listed with one or more of these names in older literature.


  1. Bleeker, P., 1849 - Verhandelingen van het Bataviaasch Genootschap van Kunsten en Wetenschappen. 23(12): 1-23
    Bijdrage tot de kennis der ichthyologische fauna van Midden- en Oost-Java, met beschrijving van eenige nieuwe species.
  2. Freyhof, J., D. V. Serov and T. N. Nguyen, 2000 - Bonner Zoologische Beiträge 49(1-4): 93-99
    A preliminary checklist of the freshwater fishes of the River Dong Nai, South Vietnam.
  3. Kottelat, M., 1998 - Ichthyological Exploration of Freshwaters 9(1): 1-128
    Fishes of the NamTheun and Xe Bangfai basins, Laos, with diagnoses of twenty-two new species (Teleostei: Cyprinidae, Balitoridae, Cobitidae, Coiidae and Odontobutidae).
  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. Parenti, L. R and K. K. P. Lim , 2005 - The Raffles Bulletin of Zoology Supplement 13: 175-208
    Fishes of the Rajang Basin, Sarawak, Malaysia.
  6. Rainboth, W. J., 1996 - FAO, Rome: 1-265
    FAO species identification field guide for fishery purposes. Fishes of the Cambodian Mekong.
  7. Tan, H. H. and M. Kottelat, 2009 - Ichthyological Exploration of Freshwaters 20(1): 13-69
    The fishes of the Batang Hari drainage, Sumatra, with description of six new species.

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