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Barilius bendelisis (HAMILTON, 1807)

SynonymsTop ↑

Cyprinus bendilisis Hamilton, 1807; Cyprinus chedra Hamilton, 1822; Cyprinus tila Hamilton, 1822; Leuciscus branchiatus McClelland, 1839; Cyprinus apiatus Valenciennes, 1840; Barilius howesi Barman, 1986


Order: Cypriniformes Family: Cyprinidae


Type locality is given as ‘Cedawáti [Vedawati] stream, headwaters of Krishna River near Heriuru, Mysore, India’, with the species currently considered to occur throughout India, Bangladesh, Nepal, and probably Bhutan.

It’s also been recorded in Pakistan, Myanmar, Thailand and Sri Lanka although some or all of these reports may refer to other species.

As with many widely-distributed freshwater fishes it exhibits a degree of variation across its range and some populations have been described as distinct species, e.g., B. chedra (Hamilton, 1822; currently considered synonymous with B. bendelisis), B. cocsa (Hamilton, 1822), and B. arunachalensis (Nath et al., 2010).


Inhabits well-oxygenated, low-to-high gradient, moderate to fast-flowing rivers and streams with substrates of gravel, cobbles, larger boulders and exposed bedrock.

At one locality in the Indrawati River basin, Nepal, it was collected from a pristine, fast-to-torrential flowing river with a substrate of cobbles and boulders and a gravel shoreline.

Sympatric species included Botia almorhae, Barilius vagra, B. barnaSchizothoraichthys sp., Schizothorax richardsoniiTor putitoraTurcinonemacheilus himalayaMyersglanis blythii, and Pseudecheneis cf. crassicauda.

Maximum Standard Length

180 – 200 mm.

Aquarium SizeTop ↑

Requires a large aquarium with minimum surface area of 180 ∗ 60 cm or equivalent.


The aquarium should ideally be designed to resemble a flowing stream or river with a substrate of variably-sized rocks, sand, fine gravel, and some larger water-worn boulders.

This can be further furnished with driftwood roots and branches if you wish but be sure to leave plenty of open swimming space.

While the majority of aquatic plants will fail to thrive in such surroundings hardy genera such as Microsorum, Bolbitis, or Anubias spp. can be grown attached to the décor.

Like many fishes that naturally inhabit running waters it’s intolerant to the accumulation of organic wastes and requires spotless water at all times in order to thrive.

It also does best if there is a high proportion of dissolved oxygen and moderate degree of water movement so external filters, powerheads, airstones, etc., should be employed as necessary.

As stable water conditions are obligatory for its well-being this fish should never be added to biologically-immature aquaria and weekly water changes of 30-50% aquarium volume should be considered mandatory.

A tightly-fitting cover is also essential as Barilius spp. are prodigious jumpers.

Water Conditions

Temperature18 – 26 °C

pH6.0 – 8.0

Hardness36 – 268 ppm


Barilius spp. are near-exclusive surface-feeders preying mostly on flying insects in nature with some small fishes and benthic invertebrates probably taken as well but in the aquarium they’re largely unfussy and will accept most foods.

Good quality dried products can be offered but should be supplemented with regular meals of live and frozen fare such as bloodwormArtemia, chopped earthworms, etc., for the best colouration and conditioning.

Drosophila fruit flies and small crickets are also suitable provided they’re gut-loaded prior to use.

There exists anecdotal evidence to suggest that B. bendilisis may also graze or forage from submerged rocky surfaces, and stomach contents of wild individuals have included algae such as Cladophora, Spirogyra, Volvox and Sphaerocytis spp., plus larval worms, insect larvae, parts of insects, daphniids, copepods and sand particles.

Behaviour and CompatibilityTop ↑

Unsuitable for the general community due to its environmental requirements and likely to outcompete or intimidate slow-moving and less bold species at meal times since it’s an extremely fast swimmer and vigorous feeder.

Much smaller fishes should also be omitted as they may be predated upon.

The best tankmates are similarly-sized, robust, open-water dwelling cyprinids such as Dawkinsia, other Barilius or larger Devario and Rasbora spp. while bottom-dwellers could consist of Garra, Crossocheilus, Botia and Schistura spp., for example.

We suspect many characids and loricariid catfishes would also work well but be sure to perform thorough research before purchase.

Although gregarious by nature this is a shoaling rather than schooling species which develops a distinct pecking order and therefore should always be maintained in a group of five or more.

If only two or three are purchased the subdominant fish may be bullied incessantly whereas solitary specimens can become aggressive towards similar-looking species.

Sexual Dimorphism

Adult females are less-brightly-coloured, tend to grow a little larger and are thicker-bodied than males, especially when gravid.

Nuptial males also develop prominent tubercules on the head and exhibit reddish pigmentation on the body.


Unreported as far as we know.

NotesTop ↑

This species is occasionally available in the aquarium trade and may be sold as ‘Indian hill trout’ or ‘Hamilton’s baril’.

It can be distinguished from congeners by the following combination of characters: lateral line complete; 2 pairs of barbels present, maxillary pair longer than rostral pair; 8-12 bluish vertical bars on body; 18-20 predorsal scales; anal-fin short with 7-8 soft rays; 2 black spots at the base of the caudal-fin; in adults a blue-black spot on each individual body scale.

The generic placement of Barilius spp. has been open to question since Howes (1980) concluded that the grouping was not monophyletic and identified two separate lineages.

The first group contained B. barila, the type species, plus B. bendelisisB. radiolatusB. vagra, and B. shacra, while the second included all other species, and initially these were referred to the subdivisions ‘group i’ and ‘group ii’ within Barilius itself.

The composition of these groups is confusing since in a later work Howes (1983) included B. evezardi and B. modestus in ‘group i’ whilst omitting B. bendelisisB. radiolatus, and B. shacra, apparently without explicitly stating why.

Rainboth (1991) assigned the members of Howe’s ‘group ii’ to the revalidated generic name ‘Opsarius‘ based on the fact it was the oldest available with ‘group i’ species retaining the name Barilius due to the presence of the type species.

This system has been followed by some subsequent authors, e.g., Tang et al. (2010), Collins et al. (2012) though does not appear to have found wider usage since most species are still referred to Barilius in both scientific and aquarium literature.

These issues were discussed by Tang et al. (2010) relative to the results obtained in their phylogenetic analysis of the putative subfamily Danioninae in which that assemblage was found to comprise three main lineages or ‘tribes’ of which Barilius and Opsarius were included in the tribe Chedrini.

However, since no specimens of the type species of either Barilius or Opsarius (B. barila and O. tileo, respectively) were included in the study the taxonomic status and composition of both groupings remains undetermined.

The authors did conclude that Opsarius sensu Rainboth represents a polyphyletic assemblage in that putative members of the genus appeared in three different places in their phylogenetic tree, although all were recovered within Chedrini.

Specifically Rainboth’s O. koratensis was recovered as sister group to all other members of the tribe Chedrini except Malayochela and Nematobramis spp.

A second group was formed by his O. bakeri, O. canarensis, and an undescribed species listed as O. cf. bakeri with all other species, including O. bendelisis, forming a third cluster.

Depending on the results of additional taxon sampling and the phylogenetic position of O. tileo new names may be required for two of these lineages, therefore all of them are referred to Barilius here on SF pending confirmation of their correct placement.


  1. Hamilton, F., 1807 - T. Cadell and W. Davies, London: i-iv + 1-479
    A journey from Madras through the countries of Mysore, Canara, and Malabar, performed under the orders of the most noble the Marquis Wellesley, governor general of India, for the express purpose of investigating the state of agriculture, arts, and commerce; the religion, manners, and customs; the history natural and civil, and antiquities, in the dominions of the rajah of Mysore, and the countries acquired by the Honourable East India company (1807).
  2. Arunkumar, L. and H. Tombi Singh, 2000 - Journal of the Bombay Natural History Society 97(2): 247-252
    Arunkumar, L. and H. Tombi Singh
  3. Collins R. A., K. F. Armstrong, R. Meier, Y. Yi, S. D. J. Brown, R. H. Cruickshank, S. Keeling, and C. Johnston, 2012 - PLoS ONE 7(1): e28381
    Barcoding and border biosecurity: identifying cyprinid fishes in the aquarium trade.
  4. Dishma, M., and W. Vishwanath, 2012 - Journal of Threatened Taxa 4(2): 2363-2369
    Barilius profundus, a new cyprinid fish (Teleostei: Cyprinidae) from the Koladyne basin, India.
  5. Howes, G. J., 1980 - Bulletin of the British Museum (Natural History) : Zoology series 37(3): 129-198
    The anatomy, phylogeny and classification of bariliine cyprinid fishes.
  6. Liao, T-Y, S. O. Kullander, and F. Fang, 2011 - Journal of Zoological Systematics and Evolutionary Research 49(3): 224-232
    Phylogenetic position of rasborin cyprinids and monophyly of major lineages among the Danioninae, based on morphological characters (Cypriniformes: Cyprinidae).
  7. Nath, P., D. Dam, and A. Kumar, 2010 - Records of the Zoological Survey of India 110(3): 19-33
    A New Fish Species of the Genus Barilius (Cyprinidae: Rasborinae) from River Siang, D'Ering Memorial Wildlife Sanctuary, Arunachal Pradesh, India.
  8. Selim, K. and W. Vishwanath, 2002 - Journal of the Bombay Natural History Society 99(2): 267-270
    A new cyprinid fish species of Barilius Hamilton from the Chatrickong River, Manipur, India.
  9. Tang, K. L., M. K. Agnew, W. J. Chen., M. V. Hirt, T. Sado, L. M. Schneider, J. Freyhof, Z. Sulaiman, E. Swartz, C. Vidthayanon, M. Miya, K. Saitoh, A. M. Simons, R. M. Wood, and R. L. Mayden, 2010 - Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 57(1): 189-214
    Systematics of the subfamily Danioninae (Teleostei: Cypriniformes: Cyprinidae).

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