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Inlecypris auropurpurea (ANNANDALE, 1918)

SynonymsTop ↑

Barilius auropurpureus Annandale, 1918;  Devario auropurpureus (Annandale 1918);  Inlecypris auropurpureus (Annandale, 1918)


Inlecypris: from Inle, referring to Inlé Lake, Myanmar, to which the type species is endemic, and Cypris, a common suffix for cyprinid genera.

auropurpureus: from the Latin aurum, meaning ‘gold’, and purpureus, meaning ‘clothed in purple’.


Order: Cypriniformes Family: Cyprinidae


Known only from the isolated mountain lake of Inle and surrounding watershed in Shan state, eastern Myanmar.

Type locality is given as ‘Inlé Lake basin, South Shan States, Myanmar’.

Lake Inle lies in a karstic valley known as the Yawnghwe basin located almost 900m above sea level in the Shan Plateau region and is home to many endemic animals including nine species of fish and numerous gastropods.

The lake here was originally much bigger and may have contained over 90 metres of additional water depth compared with today.


The water in Lake Inle is clear, shallow (2-3 metres deep in most places) and has a very fertile, loamy substrate. It’s famed for its stilted villages and local fishermen known as Intha who row their boats using only one leg.

These people, thought to have migrated from the south of Myanmar in the late 1300s, use naturally-occurring floating ‘islands’ consisting of tangles of various plant species as gardens.

These islands form a wide raft around the lake margins and the Intha take them as required, removing the aerial leaves and cutting them into sections. Bamboo poles are added for support allowing fruit, vegetables, rice and flowers to be produced in commercial quantities.

The gardens rise and fall with the water level and have come to form the habitats of many fishes which take shelter among the tangle of roots and plant stems at their base. Submerged aquatic plants also grow densely in the crystal-clear water and include Ceratophyllum and Elodea-like species.

As the lake is situated in a karstic zone it contains neutral to slightly alkaline water with a pH value between 7.5 – 8.0. Its main outlet is a seasonal stream known as the Balu Chaung which floods over the wet season, allowing the transfer of fishes to pools and ponds close to nearby Loi Kaw.

During drier months these are disconnected, isolating small populations of several species.

We have yet to obtain detailed information regarding the precise habitats favoured by D. auropurpureus but expect some to be characterised by sluggish, clear water with dense marginal and submerged plant growth.

Unfortunately much of the land surrounding the lake has now been drained or deforested and turned over to agriculture which has resulted in the loss of many habitats and an overall shrinking of the water body.

Water quality has also been adversely affected due to run-off of fertilisers, pesticides, sewage and human waste while the grazing of livestock continues to cause erosion and sedimentation.

Maximum Standard Length

60 – 80 mm.

Aquarium SizeTop ↑

An aquarium with a base measuring 90 ∗ 30 cm or equivalent should be the minimum considered for this active species.


Best kept in a densely-planted tank and an excellent choice for the carefully-aquascaped set-up.

The addition of some floating plants to diffuse the light entering also seems to be appreciated and adds a more natural feel.

Water movement does not need to be particularly strong as it mostly hails from sluggish waters though will also do well in a hill stream-type set-up provided torrent-like conditions are avoided.

Since it naturally occurs in pristine habitats it’s intolerant to accumulation of organic pollutants, requires more-or-less spotless water in order to thrive and should never be introduced to biologically immature aquaria.

Weekly water changes of 30-50% tank volume should be considered routine, and the tank must have a very tightly-fitting cover as it’s a particularly accomplished jumper and is prone to bouts of skittish behaviour.

Water Conditions

Temperature: Temperatures in Lake Inle have been recorded to vary between 20 – 24 °C.

pH: Will tolerate slightly acidic conditions but a value of 7.0 – 8.0 is preferable.

Hardness: Best kept in medium hard water of 90 – 268 ppm.


Preys chiefly on insects and aquatic invertebrates in nature. Annandale (1918) observed it feeding on trichopterids (caddis flies) and ephemeropterids (may flies) from the surface in the evenings whereas during daylight hours insect larvae and worms were taken from the substrate.

In the aquarium it’s a largely unfussy feeder and will accept most foods.

A good quality dried product can be used as the staple diet but this should be supplemented with regular meals of small live and frozen fare such as chironomid larvae (bloodworm), Daphnia, Artemia, etc., for the best colouration and conditioning.

Behaviour and CompatibilityTop ↑

This species is peaceful but will not compete well with larger or more boisterous tankmates.

It’s also skittish and will often jump, scatter rapidly or even attempt to jam itself behind filters or décor in response to movement outside the tank, sometimes injuring itself in the process.

This behaviour is most pronounced when the fish are newly-introduced, maintained in small numbers or are the only mid-to-upper water dwellers in residence and can be minimised by the addition of floating plants plus other similarly-sized species.

It’s a schooling fish by nature so buy a group of at least 8-10 specimens which will not only help reduce nervousness but result in a more effective, natural looking display.

Ideal tankmates include other small, peaceful cyprinids, while in a planted set-up many gouramis and other non-piscivorous anabantoids are also suitable as are small loaches such as Yasuhikotakia sidthimunki and Petruichthys spp.

In a hill stream community bottom-dwelling species from genera such as Garra, Nemacheilus, Schistura, Sewellia and Rhinogobius are possibilities.

As always research potential tankmates thoroughly before purchase in order to ensure compatibility.

Alternatively a community based around fishes from Lake Inle would make an interesting project with appropriate species available in the trade including Sawbwa resplendens, Microrasbora rubescens, Pethia stoliczkana, Parambassis lala and Petruichthys brevis.

Sexual Dimorphism

Sexually mature females are rounder-bellied, less colourful and a little larger than males.


An egg-scattering free spawner exhibiting no parental care.

When in good condition they will spawn often and in a well-planted, 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 a smaller tank 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 wool 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.

If ready spawning usually taking place within 24 hours, signified by the female appearing noticeably slimmer.

After 48 hours the adults should be removed whether spawning has occurred or not.

Incubation is temperature-dependant to an extent but typically lasts 50-60 hours with the young free-swimming a few days later.

Initial food should be Paramecium or similar, introducing Artemia nauplii, microworm, powdered dry foods, etc., once the fry are large enough to accept them.

NotesTop ↑

Originally described as a member of Barilius (Annandale, 1918) but Howes (1980a) considered it more closely related to cheline cyprinids (Chela and Laubuca spp.) based on morphological characters and erected the genus Inlecypris for it (Howes, 1980b).

Fang (2003) supported Howes’ conclusions in her 2003 phylogenetic study of the genus Danio, hypothesising that Inlecypris and Chela together form a sister group to Devario.

In a more recent phylogenetic work by Fang et al. (2009) I. auropurpurea was found to be most closely-related to the similarly-patterned Devario maetaengensis and D. shanensis, thus rendering Devario paraphyletic.

Inlecypris was therefore synonymised with Devario, a decision ratified by Tang et al. (2010), but this was reversed by Kottelat (2013) on the basis that Inlecypris species are very distinct in terms of appearance. In doing so, he noted that phylogenetic evidence suggest the existence of two genetic lineages within Devario. The first contains the species with prominent lateral stripes, which leaves the remaining members of uncertain taxonomic placement. Two of the latter grouping are currently referred to as ‘Inlecypris‘ maetaengensis and ‘I. shanensis, respectively, in order to retain monophyly of Inlecypris, but will probably be moved into a separate genus at a later date, where they may be joined by Devario apogon and D. chrysotaeniatus.


  1. Annandale, N., 1918 - Records of the Indian Museum (Calcutta) 14: 33-64
    Fish and fisheries of the Inlé Lake.
  2. Fang, F., 2003 - Copeia 2003(4): 714-728
    Phylogenetic Analysis of the Asian Cyprinid Genus Danio (Teleostei, Cyprinidae).
  3. Fang, F., M. Norén, T. Y. Liao, M. Källersjö and S. O. Kullander, 2009 - Zoologica Scripta 38(1): 1-20
    Molecular phylogenetic interrelationships of the south Asian cyprinid genera Danio, Devario and Microrasbora (Teleostei, Cyprinidae, Danioninae).
  4. Howes, G. J., 1980b - Bulletin of the British Museum (Natural History) Zoology series 38: 171-173
    A new genus of cheline cyprinid fishes.
  5. Howes, G. J., 1980a - Bulletin of the British Museum (Natural History) Zoology series 37: 129-198
    The anatomy, phylogeny and classification of bariliine cyprinid 2006 fishes.
  6. Kottelat, M., 2013 - 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.
  7. Mayden, R. L., K. L. Tang, K. W. Conway, J. Freyhof, S. Chamberlain, M. Haskins, L. Schneider, M. Sudkamp, R. M. Wood, M. Agnew, A. Bufalino, Z. Sulaiman, M. Miya, K. Saitoh, S. He, 2007 - Journal of Experimental Zoology, Molecular Development and Evolution 308B: 642-654
    Phylogenetic relationships of Danio within the order Cypriniformes: a framework for comparative and evolutionary studies of a model species.
  8. Pramod, P. K. , F. Fang, K. Rema Devi, T.-Y. Liao, T. J. Indra, K. S. Jameela Beevi and S. O. Kullander, 2010 - Zootaxa 2519: 31-47
    Betadevario ramachandrani a new danionine genus and species from the Western Ghats of India (Teleostei: Cyprinidae: Danioninae).
  9. Sanger, T. J. and A. R. McCune, 2002 - Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society 135: 529-546
    Comparative osteology of the Danio (Cyprinidae: Ostariophysi) axial skeleton with comments on Danio relationships based on molecules and morphology.
  10. 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).

One Response to “Inlecypris auropurpurea (Devario auropurpureus, Barilius auropurpureus)”

  • Kayleyface

    I have maintained a small school (5) of these fish for the past three years. At the time I bought all that were available. Only now are fish from the school starting to die off; I would guess from old age. Unlike what the article says, even my smallest fish is bigger than 80mm/3″. My biggest is almost as long as my full grown boesemani rainbows.

    Mine have never been particularly nervous and only slightly skittish. What I mean by that, is they are sensitive to motion outside the tank, but they’ll only dart a few inches and then calm down immediately. I did have one jump out of the tank on me, but it was while someone was tank-sitting for me, so I’m not entirely sure of the circumstances. I’ve never personally seen them try to jump.

    They are the most tolerant danio I’ve ever kept (and I’ve kept 13 distinct species). They were housed completely safely with celestial pearl danio, emerald dwarf rasbora, and gold ring danio, which are all under an 1″ long. They would even let the other small fish school with them. That being said, they primarily seem to be interested in their own species. I was given another single danio from Lake Inle (Devario Jayarami) who slipped in with the batch and they seemed more interested in her than most other species.

    I have had them spawn a few times for me, but have never had the resources to save the eggs and raise the fry. My males do have a deeper color than my females. They also seem to have deeper dorsal and anal fins.

    If I could ever find this species again, I’d buy them in a heartbeat. They’re beautiful, incredibly peaceful, and make the best dither fish I’ve ever seen.

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