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Labeo calbasu (HAMILTON, 1822)

Orangefin Labeo

SynonymsTop ↑

Cyprinus calbasu Hamilton, 1822; Cirrhine micropogon Valenciennes, 1832; Rohita belangeri Valenciennes, in Cuvier & Valenciennes, 1842; Rohita reynauldi Valenciennes, in Cuvier & Valenciennes, 1842; Labeo reynauldi Valenciennes, in Cuvier & Valenciennes, 1842; Labeo velatus Valenciennes, 1841; ? Cirrhinus affinis Jerdon, 1849; Cyprinus atratus Hora, 1933


Labeo: from the Latin labeo, meaning ‘one with lips’, in allusion to the remarkably thick, fleshy lips in members of this genus.

calbasu: from Kalbosu, a vernacular Bengali name for this species.


Order: Cypriniformes Family: Cyprinidae


This species is extremely widespread and has been recorded from major river systems in Pakistan, Nepal, most of India, Bangladesh, Myanmar and southern China.

Type locality is ‘Bengal and western provinces, India’.


Inhabits large, slow-moving or still bodies of water such as the lower reaches of major rivers, lakes and man-made reservoirs.

Maximum Standard Length

700 – 800 mm.

Aquarium SizeTop ↑

Suitable only for public installations or the very largest, highly-specialised private aquaria.


A large, mature filter system, rigorous maintenance regime comprising weekly water changes of 50-70% tank volume, and provision of highly-oxygenated water with a degree of movement should be considered mandatory.


Primarily a benthic feeder foraging on aquatic vegetation, organic detritus, small molluscs, filamentous algae, and diatoms.


Apparently spawns in shallow water during the wet season, and is also farmed in commercial hatcheries, but this is done via inducement using hormone injections.

NotesTop ↑

This species is an important food and game fish across its native range and is not a suitable subject for the home aquarium. It is known as ‘black rohu’ in some regions of India and Bangladesh.

The genus Labeo is an enigmatic grouping containg more than 100 species which is critically in need of revision. Members occur throughout much of Africa and Asia, and they are considered members of the tribe Labeonini within the putative cyprinid subfamily Cyprininae or simply the subfamily Labeoninae (name varies with author). According to the most recent phylogenetic research, this grouping is further divided into four subtribes; Labeoina, Garraina, Osteochilina, and Semilabeoina (Yang et al., 2012). Among these, Labeo is included in the Labeoina alongside Bangana sensu stricto (which includes the genus Nukta), Cirrhinus sensu stricto, Cirrhinus microlepis (which is of a different genetic lineage to other Cirrhinus species), Gymnostomus, and Incisilabeo.

Thirty Labeo species were used in the study, and the genus was found to be polyphyletic, although all were nested within the Labeoina clade (Yang et al., 2012). Labeo boggutL. bata and L. bata var. formed a clade with Incisilabeo behriSchismatorhynchos nukta, and Bangana dero (the type species of the genus) and B. sp. Salween. All other Labeo species comprised a group referred to as Labeo sensu stricto which also includes Gibelion catla, and the authors recommended that the latter be synonymised with Labeo, although this does not appear to have been widely accepted (eg. Kottelat, 2013).


  1. Hamilton, F., 1822 - Edinburgh & London: i-vii + 1-405
    An account of the fishes found in the river Ganges and its branches.
  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. 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.
  4. Yang, L. and R. L. Mayden, 2010 - Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 54(1): 254-265
    Phylogenetic relationships, subdivision, and biogeography of the cyprinid tribe Labeonini (sensu Rainboth, 1991) (Teleostei: Cypriniformes), with comments on the implications of lips and associated structures in the labeonin classification.
  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).
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