Kelvin K P Lim and Peter K L Ng
About the family in general
Primary freshwater fish; oviparous; omnivorous; mainly gregarious. Asia. Rhomboidal-shaped fishes, usually with at least one pair of barbels at the mouth.
Some aquarium books have used Puntius, Barbus and Capoeta for a variety of Asian species. The tendency however is for Capoeta to be used for large Middle East taxa and Barbus for large European and Mediterranean taxa. The genus Puntius is probably still heterogeneous and will have to be revised. We have used the better known name here purely for convenience.
Common Barb or
18 cm; near-bottom to midwater dweller. Indigenous, common. Forest streams, some rural streams and drains. Young fishes are rather attractive, being slender with scattered black markings. Larger animals tend to be more uniformly silvery-grey with a distinct blotch beneath the dorsal fin. There may be a smaller blotch on the caudal peduncle, and sometimes, a rather faint dark lateral bar along the sides of the body. The diagram on the right show the stages of growth and change in colour pattern of the Common Barb.
Spanner Barb or T-Barb
20 cm; midwater to near-bottom dweller. Indigenous, endangered. Forest streams. This distinctively marked fish has attractive dark markings on the sides which looks like the shape of a spanner, or a capital-letter 'T' lying on its side. It is sometimes sold for aquaria, but tends to eventually grow too large and boisterous for the average community tank.
Five-banded Tiger Barb
Ikan Pelampong Jaring,
6 cm; midwater dweller. Feral, common. Some forest streams, ponds and reservoirs. It is not known exactly when this popular aquarium species was introduced, but this was probably in the late sixties or early seventies as it was not recorded here prior to 1966. This active little fish abounds in many of our catchment reservoirs (e.g., MacRitchie) at present, and has even penetrated some forest streams. This fish is native to Peninsular Malaysia, Thailand and Indo-China.
Four-banded Tiger Barb
Ikan Pelampong Jaring,
7 cm; near-bottom dweller. Feral, uncommon. Another recently introduced and closely related species is the Four-Banded Tiger Barb, Puntius tetrazona. This originally Sumatran fish can however be distinguished by its more intensely red fins, and the third bar on the body more or less meeting the dark bar extending from the dorsal fin.
Green Barb or Chinese Barb
Ikan Tompok Tujoh,
7 cm; near-bottom dweller. Feral, uncommon. Disturbed forest streams, rural streams and ponds. This small, greenish-gold fish with several short, black bars on the sides, seems to have been imported with pond-culture carp fingerlings from southern China, like the Striped Chinese Minnow. Records seem to suggest that the fish might have been introduced in the early 1900s.
Fishes in Singapore
Amazing Fishy Facts
About the guidebook
From A Guide to Common Freshwater Fishes of Singapore by Kelvin K P Lim and Peter K L Ng
Published by the Singapore Science Centre and sponsored by BP
@Raffles Museum of Biodiversity Research and Singapore Science Centre