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Barbodes kuchingensis (HERRE, 1940)

False Spanner Barb

SynonymsTop ↑

Puntius kuchingensis  Herre, 1940; Puntius lateristriga punctatus Bănărescu & Bianco, 1984


Barbodes: from the Latin barbus, meaning ‘barbel’, and Ancient Greek εἶδος (-oides), meaning ‘form, likeness’.

kuchingensis: named for Kuching division, Sarawak state, Malaysia (Borneo), from where the type series was collected.


Order: Cypriniformes Family: Cyprinidae


Described from ’18 miles east of Kuching, Sarawak state, Borneo, East Malaysia’ and apparently endemic to western Borneo with a range extending into the Indonesian province of West Kalimantan (Kalimantan Barat) where it’s known from the Kapuas River system, including the lake system of Danau Sentarum.


Predominantly found in shallow forest streams containing clear water, sometimes in the pools that form at the base of waterfalls.

Substrates may comprise smooth, water-worn rocks and boulders of varying sizes, sand or gravel, often with submerged woody structures, leaf litter, and aquatic plants from genera such as Cryptocoryne or Barclaya.

Flow rate tends to vary both with locality and time of year.

It’s also been recorded from ancient peat swamps and associated black water streams with tannin-stained water, negligible mineral content and pH as low as 3.0 or 4.0.

Typical sympatric species include Rasbora sarawakensis, Barbodes banksi, B. sealeiHemirhamphodon pogonognathusBetta taeniata, and Nemacheilus saravacensis.

Maximum Standard Length

100 – 120 mm.

Aquarium SizeTop ↑

Base dimensions of at least 120 ∗ 45 cm or equivalent are required.


Not difficult to keep in a well-maintained set-up, though we recommend aquascaping the tank to resemble a flowing stream or river with a substrate of variably-sized, water-worn rocks, sand, fine gravel and perhaps some small boulders.

This can be further furnished with driftwood roots or branches, and while the majority of aquatic plants will fail to thrive in such surroundings hardy types such as MicrosorumBolbitis or Anubias spp. can be grown attached to the décor.

Since it naturally occurs in relatively pristine habitats it’s intolerant to accumulation of organic pollutants and requires more-or-less spotless water in order to thrive.

Though torrent-like conditions are unnecessary it also does best if there is a high proportion of dissolved oxygen and moderate water movement, plus weekly water changes of 30-50% tank volume should be considered routine.

Water Conditions

Temperature20 – 28 °C

pH5.0 – 7.5

Hardness18 – 215 ppm


Wild fish are probably foragers feeding on diatomsalgaeorganic detritus, small insects, worms, crustaceans, and other zooplankton.

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 ↑

This species makes an ideal addition to a peaceful community of riverine fishes including other similarly-sized, peaceful cyprinids plus botiid, nemacheilid, or robust balitorid loaches.

If geography isn’t an issue it can actually be combined with most peaceful fish of a size too large to be considered food and that have a bold enough disposition to not be intimidated by its size and active nature.

As usual, thorough research is the best way to avoid problems when selecting compatible fish communities.

It’s gregarious by nature so ideally 8-10 specimens should be purchased.

Maintaining it in decent numbers will not only make the fish less skittish but result in a more effective, natural looking display.

In addition, any aggressive behaviour will normally be contained as the fish concentrate on maintaining their hierarchical position within the group.

Sexual Dimorphism

Adult males develop a more intense colour pattern than females and exhibit noticeable tubercules on the head when in spawning condition.

Adult females tend to grow a little larger, are heavier-bodied, and less colourful.



NotesTop ↑

This species is rarely-exported for the aquarium hobby but is available on occasion.

The name B. kuchingensis is frequently misapplied, however, with subadult forms of B. everetti and some populations of the geographically-variable B. lateristriga regularly traded as such.

The latter was described from Java and may represent a complex containing several as yet unnamed species.

Though closely-affiliated with and superficially very similar to B. lateristriga, B. kuchingensis sensu stricto can be told apart by presence of a prominent row of dark spots along the lateral line, plus a short, horizontally-orientated streak extending from the upper part of the operculum as seen in the images here.

In B. lateristriga the lateral markings usually form a solid stripe and there is no streak extending from the operculum.

This species was formerly included in the genus Puntius which was for a number of years viewed as a polyphyletic catch-all containing over 100 species of small to mid-sized cyprinid 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 (subsequently amended to Haludaria), and Pethia erected to accommodate 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 could no longer be considered members.

Kottelat (2013) published a comprehensive nomenclatural update for Southeast Asian fishes in which this species was among a number of former Puntius transferred into the genus Barbodes. Members are told apart from related genera by the following aspects of ontogeny and colour pattern: small juveniles have 3-5 dots along the midlateral scale row, including one at middle of caudal- fin base, and an additional one at dorsal-fin origin; with increasing size, the spots on midlateral row may become more numerous and may fuse to form a stripe or broad band, and the spot at dorsal-fin origin may become a large blotch or a broad bar.

In addition, the following characters are useful in identification of Barbodes spp.: last simple dorsal-fin ray serrated posteriorly; rostral barbels present (except in B. aurotaeniatus); maxillary barbels present; lips smooth and thin, postlabial groove interrupted medially; lateral line complete or not, with 22–32 scales on lateral line row on body; ½4/1/4½ scale rows between dorsal-fin origin and ventral midline in front of pelvic-fin base; 12 circumpeduncular scale rows; 12–15 gill rakers on first gill arch.


  1. Herre, A. W. C. T., 1940 - Bulletin of the Raffles Museum No. 16: 5-26
    New species of fishes from the Malay Peninsula and Borneo.
  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. Kottelat, M. and E. Widjanarti, 2005 - Raffles Bulletin of Zoology Supplement 13: 139-173
    The fishes of Danau Sentarum National Park and the Kapuas Lakes area, Kalimantan Barat, Indonesia.
  4. Pethiyagoda, R., 2013 - Zootaxa 3646(2): 199
    Haludaria, a replacement generic name for Dravidia (Teleostei: Cyprinidae).
  5. 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).
  6. Roberts, T. R., 1989 - Memoirs of the California Academy of Sciences 14: i-xii + 1-210
    The freshwater fishes of western Borneo (Kalimantan Barat, Indonesia).
  7. Tweedie, M. W. F., 1961 - Bulletin of the Raffles Museum No. 26: 178-182
    Notes on Malayan Fresh-water Fishes. 9. Regional differentiation in the colour pattern of Puntius lateristriga.

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