Red-lined torpedo barb under threat in wild

by Owen James

The red-line torpedo barb is a stunning aquarium fish

The red-line torpedo barb is a stunning fish for larger aquariums

The red-lined torpedo barb, Puntius denisonii, is one of the most stunning new aquarium fish to be discovered in recent years. When I first saw them, I actually thought they’d been dyed with flourescent ink!

Practical fishkeeping is reporting however that the barb is threatened with extinction in its Southern Indian homeland, due to demand from aquarium keepers. This despite the fact it’s being bred commercially in Malaysia:

A study undertaken in 2000, which examined the freshwater fishes of Kerala State, found that Puntius denisonii was “rare”. A 2006 study by Kurup and Radhakrishnan recorded the species as “very rare”.

In 2004, a study by Sudhi claimed that the population was dwindling at an annual rate of 70%.

The good news is that commercial breeding will amost certainly see the end of the wild caught trade once economies of scale kick in. In the PFK article, Matt Clarke argues consumers need to demand captive bred fish, but this wasn’t required to get everything from angelfish and discus to panda corydoras being bred and supplied in volume by South East Asian fish farms, and I don’t see why it will be required for the red-lined torpedo barb.

None of which is to say we should be complacent. Rarer, slower-reproducing freshwater fish (such as certain catfish) can certainly be affected by the fish trade, and it will take many more advances before marine fish are bred commercially in volume.

Check out Katy's Tropical Fish Guide for more aquarium info.

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