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Puntius kamalika SILVA, MADUWAGE & PETHIYAGODA, 2008

Kami's Barb


Puntius: from the Bengali pungti, a vernacular term for small cyprinids.

kamalika: named in honour of Dr. Kamalika Abeyaratne (1934 – 2004).


Order: Cypriniformes Family: Cyprinidae


Endemic to Sri Lanka where it is widely distributed in the southwestern ‘wet zone’ of the island, between and including the Kelani and Gin river basins.

Type locality is ‘Kalu River at Walandure near Kuruwita, 6°46’N, 80°23’E, Sri Lanka, elevation 120 meters’.


Common throughout its range and has been collected from rivers, streams, and marshland.

Maximum Standard Length

65 – 75 mm.

Aquarium SizeTop ↑

An aquarium with base dimensions measuring at least 120 ∗ 30 cm or equivalent is likely to be required.

NotesTop ↑

Prior to its description P. kamalika was referred to as P. amphibius, a putatively valid species probably restricted to western India.

It differs from all congeners in the following combination of characters: 4½/1/2½ scales in a transverse line between the mid-dorsal scale row and pelvic-fin origin; absence of prominent markings on the body and fins.

In addition, it can be distinguished from similar-looking species from Sri Lanka and India as follows: head length 28.8–31.2% SL (vs. 26.4–28.3% in P. amphibius sensu stricto); eye diameter 7.7–10.2% SL (vs. 6.6–7.3% in P. amphibius sensu stricto); maxillary barbels 3.7–5.3% SL (vs. 3.1% P. amphibius sensu stricto); 16+14 vertebrae (vs. 17+14 in P. amphibius sensu stricto); maximum standard length 72 mm (vs. 89 mm in P. mahecola, 133 mm in P. dorsalis); absence of prominent markings on body and fins (vs. a black blotch, larger than eye, across about 3½ scales of the caudal peduncle in P. mahecola, black blotches on base of dorsal and caudal fins in P. dorsalis).

The genus Puntius was viewed as a polyphyletic catch-all containing over 100 species of small to mid-sized cyprinid for a number of years 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, and Pethia erected to accomodate 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 are no longer members.

It subsequently became clear that the name Dravidia was preoccupied by a genus of flesh fly, therefore the replacement name Haludaria was made available by Pethiyagoda (2013).

P. titteya was retained in Puntius sensu stricto (but see below), of which members are defined by the following combination of characters: adult size usually less than 120 mm SL; maxillary barbels absent or present; rostral barbels absent; 3-4 unbranched and 8 branched dorsal-fin rays; 3 unbranched and 5 branched anal-fin rays; last unbranched dorsal-fin ray weak or strong and unserrated; lateral line complete with 22-28 pored body scales; free uroneural present; gill rakers simple and acuminate (not branched or laminate); no antrorse predorsal spinous ray; post-epiphysial fontanelle usually present; 4 supraneurals; infraorbital 3 slender; 5th ceratobranchial narrow; pharyngeal teeth 5 + 3 + 2; 12-14 abdominal and 14-16 caudal vertebrae; colour pattern including a (sometimes faint) blackish spot on the caudal peduncle.

However P. titteya and P. bimaculatus differ from this definition in  lacking a postepiphysial fontanelle, possession of only 7 branched dorsal-fin rays, 3½ (vs. 4½-5½) scale rows between dorsal-fin origin and lateral-line row, lateral line incomplete and in P. bimaculatus, occasionally interrupted. Both species also have a male colour pattern including a broad, reddish body stripe.

Although these two could therefore be placed in their own genus to do so would render Puntius paraphyletic, and the authors stated that analysis of a wider range of specimens is therefore required before any definitive conclusion can be drawn at the moment.

No species from Indochina, China, or Indonesia were included in the study meaning some former Puntius are currently classed as incertae sedis, i.e., of uncertain taxonomic placement. Several of these issues were resolved by Kottelat (2013) who raised new genera for a number of Southeast Asian species.


  1. Silva, A., K. Maduwage, and R. Pethiyagoda, 2008 - Zootaxa 1824: 55-64
    Puntius kamalika, a new species of barb from Sri Lanka (Teleostei: Cyprinidae).
  2. 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.
  3. Pethiyagoda, R., 2013 - Zootaxa 3646(2): 199
    Haludaria, a replacement generic name for Dravidia (Teleostei: Cyprinidae).
  4. 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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One Response to “Puntius kamalika – Kami’s Barb”

  • andy rushworth

    I have to say when SriLanka shipments where available I did come across this fish on a couple of occasions ,though I never referred to it as Amphibius , the fish we used to think was Amphibius is a different fish !which is depicted in Pethiyagodas book FW Fishes Of Sri Lanka as Amphibious it was a plainish silery grey fish which lacked dark edged scales but when in condition would show a beautiful red fused lateral line band ,they grew to around 70mm roughly ,so I suppose the question remains what was that fish ?
    I’m pretty sure this fish [ Kamalika ] came in on a couple of occasions as a bycatch , I never assumed any name really ? but having since kept P. mahecola from India [got some now :)] I was struck on how similar that Kamalika looked like Mahecola in both shape and colouration ?
    One or two little notes on Pethiyagodas book reguards the Barbs , the fish illustrated as Chola is actually P.dorsalis , the fish depicted as Dorsalis is Kelumi , but in fairness was possibly mistaken as both Kelumi and Dorsalis share the long nosed profile , Dorsalis was rarer in shipments and usually came in as bycatch with Kelumi !

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