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Puntius vittatus DAY, 1865

Greenstripe Barb

SynonymsTop ↑

Barbus vittatus (Day, 1865)


vittatus: from the Latin vittatus, meaning ‘striped, banded’.


Order: Cypriniformes Family: Cyprinidae


Described from ‘Cochin, India’ which corresponds to the city of Kochi in Ernakulam district, Keral state, southwestern India and according to current thinking is widely distributed in India with additional populations in Pakistan and Sri Lanka.

In India records exist from the states of Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Chattisgarh, Goa, Gujarat, Jharkand, Karnataka, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Orissa, Pondicherry, Punjab, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, and Uttar Pradesh, and it’s apparently most abundant in southern parts of the country.

It varies somewhat in appearance and additional study is apparently required to determine whether or not the species as currently recognised represents one or a complex of closely-related taxa or not.


Most commonly occurs in lowland streams, minor tributaries, pools, irrigation channels, and rice paddies, displaying a preference for substrates of mud or silt.

Given the extent of its range it would seem sensible to assume that it inhabits various habitat-types which also vary in water depth, flow, and turbidity depending on the time of year.

Maximum Standard Length

40 – 45 mm.

Aquarium SizeTop ↑

Base dimensions of at least 75 ∗ 30 cm or equivalent are required.


Choice of décor is not especially critical though it tends to show better colouration in a heavily-planted set-up with a dark substrate.

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

Filtration does not need to be particularly strong though it does seem to appreciate a degree of water movement and will also do well in a hill stream-type set-up.

Water Conditions

Temperature: 18 – 26 °C

pH6.0 – 7.5

Hardness36 – 215 ppm


Likely to be a foraging omnivore feeding on worms, insects and other small invertebrates, as well as plant material and organic detritus.

In the aquarium it’s easily-fed but the best condition and colours offer regular meals of small live and frozen foods such as bloodwormDaphnia, and Artemia, alongside good quality dried flakes and granules, at least some of which should include additional plant or algal content.

Behaviour and CompatibilityTop ↑

Generally very peaceful making it an ideal resident of the well-researched community aquarium.

Fishes inhabiting similar biotopes in nature, especially comparably-sized, open water-dwelling cyprinids  perhaps constitute the best choices but other potential options include balitorid, cobitid, and nemacheilid loaches as well as benthic cyprinids such as Crossocheilus and Garra species.

Try to buy a mixed-sex group of at least 8-10 specimens, include other schooling fishes to provide security, and you’ll be rewarded with a more natural-looking spectacle.

The interaction between rival males is fascinating to watch and they will display their best colours when competing for female attention or hierarchical position.

Sexual Dimorphism

Adult males are noticeably slimmer and more colourful than females, especially in the unpaired and ventral fins, and nuptial individuals develop rows of tiny tubercules on the dorsal surface of the pectoral fins.


Like most small cyprinids Puntius spp. are egg-scattering free spawners exhibiting no parental care.

When in good condition they will 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 a smaller aquarium 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 ↑

Though widely-distributed in nature this species is not an especially popular aquarium fish and is sometimes referred to as ‘kooli barb’.

It can be told apart from similar-looking congeners such as P. crescentus and P. muzaffarpurensis by the following combination of characters: barbels absent; lateral line incomplete with up to 5 pored scales; 20-22 lateral line scales; 8 predorsal scales; dorsal-fin with a vertically-orientated black streak and a black tip with orange markings; a dark spot at the base of the caudal peduncle.

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. vittatus was tentatively retained in Puntius sensu stricto based on the fact it possesses the following external diagnostic characters: adult size usually less than 120 mm SL; rostral barbels absent; last unbranched dorsal-fin ray smooth; 8 branched dorsal-fin rays; post-epiphysial fontanelle present.

No species from Indochina, China, or Indonesia were included in the study meaning a significant number of former Puntius are currently classed as incertae sedis, i.e., of uncertain taxonomic placement, and this also applies to a number of South Asian species of unresolved status.

These are perhaps best referred to as ‘Puntius‘ for the time being whereby the genus name is surrounded by quotation marks to denote its questionable usage, and that is the convention used here on SF at the moment.


  1. Day, F., 1865 - Proceedings of the Zoological Society of London 1865 (pt 1): 286-318
    On the fishes of Cochin, on the Malabar Coast of India. Part II. Anacanthini.
  2. Kullander, S. O. and F. Fang, 2005 - Copeia 2005(2): 290-302
    Two new species of Puntius from northern Myanmar (Teleostei: Cyprinidae).
  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).
  5. Yazdani, G. M. and D. F. Singh, 1994 - Journal of the Bombay Natural History Society 91(2): 107-109
    Puntius crescentus, a new cyprinid fish from south India with observations on the taxonomic status of some related species.

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