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Garra qiaojiensis WU & YAO, 1977


Garra: vernacular Gangetic name for a particular species of “sand-digger,” which Francis Buchanan-Hamilton applied as a generic name for bottom-dwelling cyprinids “with no affinity to another genus”.

qiaojiensis: named for Qiaojie, Yunnan Province, China, from where the type series was collected.


Order: Cypriniformes Family: Cyprinidae


Known only from a handful of localities within the upper Irrawaddy (Yiluowadi Jiang) river basin in Yunnan province, China, although it may also occur in northern Myanmar.

Type locality is ‘Qiaojie, Yunnan Province, China’.


Collected from clear, flowing mountain streams with substrates of rock and gravel.

Maximum Standard Length

150 – 175 mm.

NotesTop ↑

G. qiaojiensis can be differentiated from closely-related congeners by the configuration of its proboscis, which is quadrate (1.6-1.8 times wider than long), reflected downwards against the snout and heavily tuberculated anteriorly, and the relative size of its mental disc which measures 48.7-55.9 % HL.

It is similar to the congener G. rotundinasus in that both species possess 12 circumpeduncular scales and a broadly rounded snout with a single lobed proboscis, but differs by its longer head length (21.8-23.9 % SL vs. 19.7-21.7 % in G. rotundinasus), deeper body (depth 21.6-25.6 % SL vs. 18.5-21.0 %), and a more posteriorly-positioned anus (anus to anal-fin distance 22.8-28.3 % pelvic-fin to anal-fin distance vs.32.1-39.2 %).

The genus Garra is a particularly enigmatic grouping with new taxa described on a regular basis, while many of the existing ones may represent cases of misidentification or synonyms of other species. Some of the revisions have also been called into question, which has added further confusion. A full generic review would be ideal but is unlikely to materialise given the extensive distribution of its members which range from southern China across much of southeast Asia, India and the Middle East as far as north/central Africa.

Instead a number of less-extensive works published in recent years have resulted in a gradual, but continuing, improvement in knowledge, and it remains possible that the genus will be broken up into smaller taxa since the current assemblage is almost certainly polyphyletic.

Garra species are usually included in the subfamily Labeoninae/Cyprininae or tribe Labeonini (name varies with author) which by recent thinking is further divided into four subtribes; Labeoina, Garraina, Osteochilina, and Semilabeoina (Yang et al., 2012). The putatively monophyletic Garraina comprises a number of genetic lineages including Garra sensu stricto (which also includes Horalabiosa, Phreatichthys and possibly other genera), a small clade comprising Garra cambodgiensis and G. fascicauda (thus rendering Garra polyphyletic), Paracrossocheilus, and Gonorhynchus (which includes Akrokolioplax).

Two Garra species, G. imberba and G. micropulvinus, are placed in the Semilabeoina assemblage, and the generic name Ageneiogarra Garman, 1912 has been suggested for them, although this does not appear to have been widely followed (e.g. Kottelat, 2013). In addition, some genera which were previously considered to be close relatives of Garra species such as DiscogobioDiscocheilus and Placocheilus, are now also placed in this subtribe.

All genera currently included in Garraina possess a lower lip modified to form a mental adhesive disc, allowing the fish to cling to surfaces in turbulent conditions. In most species the upper lip is almost entirely reduced and both the upper and lower jaw margins are keratinised, i.e., horny, and used to scrape food items from the substrate.

Garra species are distinguished from other Garraina members by the first two pectoral-fin rays usually being thickened, fleshy and unbranched, possession of 10-11 dorsal-fin rays, and a combination of internal characters. Some species have evolved particular environmental specialisms such as highly reduced eyes in hypogean forms or the ability to survive in thermal springs.


  1. Wu, H.-W., R.-D. Lin, Q.-X. Chen, X.-L. Chen and M.-Q. He , 1977 - People's Press, Shanghai
    Barbinae. Pp. 229-394. In: H.-W. Wu (ed.) Zhongguo like yulei zhi. [The cyprinid fishes of China] Volume 2.
  2. 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.
  3. Li, F.-L., W. Zhou and Q. Fu, 2008 - Zootaxa 1743: 62-68
    Garra findolabium, a new species of cyprinid fish (Teleostei: Cypriniformes) from the Red River drainage in Yunnan, China.
  4. Stiassny, M. L. J. and A. Getahun, 2007 - Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society 150(1): 41-83
    An overview of labeonin relationships and the phylogenetic placement of the Afro-Asian genus Garra Hamilton, 1922 (Teleostei: Cyprinidae), with the description of five new species of Garra from Ethiopia, and a key to all African species.
  5. Yang, L., M. Arunachalam, T. Sado, B. A. Levin, A. S. Golubtsov, J. Freyhof, J. P. Friel, W-J. Chen, M. V. Hirt, R. Manickam, M. K. Agnew, A. M. Simons, K. Saitoh, M. Miya, R. L. Mayden, and S. He, 2012 - Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 65(2): 362-379
    Molecular phylogeny of the cyprinid tribe Labeonini (Teleostei: Cypriniformes).
  6. Zhang, E., 2005 - Zoological Studies 44(1): 130-143
    Phylogenetic relationships of labeonine cyprinids of the disc-bearing group (Pisces: Teleostei).
  7. Zhang, E., 2006 - Raffles Bulletin of Zoology 54(2): 447-453
    Garra rotundinasus, a new species of cyprinid fish (Pisces: Teleostei) from the Upper Irrawaddy River basin, China.
  8. Zhang, E., 2005 - Raffles Bulletin of Zoology Supplement 13: 9-15
    Garra bispinosa, a new species of cyprinid fish (Teleostei: Cypriniformes) from Yunnan, southwest China.
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