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Panda Garra

Scientific Name: Garra flavatra
Family: Cyprinidae, Subfamily Labeoninae

About the Panda Garra

Species Type: Freshwater Fish
Category: Cyprinids

Care Level: Moderate. May tolerate only a narrow range of water parameters, have specific dietary requirements including frozen or even live foods, may have behaviors that severely limit potential tankmates or may require a specialized aquarium setup.

Origin: SE Asia, endemic to streams and rivers in western Myanmar. Collected during the dry season when the fish was found in loose aggregations in slow-flowing streams in pools. During the wet season the streams and rivers swell and move much faster.

Compatibility/Temperament: Fairly peaceful; best in a small group of 4-5 in which case a hierarchy will form. Without the group, other similar-looking fish may be bothered. Tankmates can include any of the peaceful danio, devario, rasbora, etc; see additional comments under Description.

Description

This species first entered the hobby in 2005, shortly after it had been described and named in a paper including six other Garra species (Kullander & Fang, 2004). Dr. Kullander along with Dr. Ralf Britz had collected the first specimens in 1998.

Most Garra--and there are presently 110 valid species in this genus [Fishbase]--occur in fast-flowing waters. As noted in the Origin data, the type specimens of the subject species were collected from very still waters. Dr. Kullander explains that this was during the dry season, the only time when fish collecting is practical, and during the wet monsoon season the rivers are much deeper and faster flowing.

Maintaining this species in the aquarium is much more successful when there is a good water current. The lower lip is such that the fish can cling to rocks and wood in flowing water, and aquarium observations have confirmed that this is favoured by the species. A substrate of sand or fine gravel, with rounded chunks of river rock and some bogwood, would make a perfect aquascape. Most substrate plants would find it very difficult to survive in such an environment, and to be authentic, there were no plants observed in the collection sites. Floating plants would be suitable to provide the benefit of live plants and also shade for the fish. Tankmates must be able to manage in the strong water flow essential for this species.

The tank must be well covered to prevent the fish from escaping. It will manage to enter small of openings, requiring a suitable screen on the filter intake.

Males are slimmer than females, and also (during the breeding period) develop tubercules on the head.

The genus Garra was originally erected by F. Hamilton in 1822 as a subgenus of Cyprinus, and subsequently raised to genus status by Karaman in 1971. The name is that of a Burmese fish and means "big nose." The species epithet is from the Latin flavus [= yellow] and ater [= black], a reference to the stripe patterning.

References:

Kullander, Sven O. & F. Fang (2004), "Seven new species of Garra (Cyprinidae: Cyprininae) from the Rakhine Yoma, southern Myanmar," Ichthyological Exploration of Freshwaters, Volume 15, No. 3, pp. 253-278. Available online:
http://www.pfeil-verlag.de/04biol/pdf/ief15_3_06.pdf

Matt Ford, article in Practical Fishkeeping (October 2009), which included an interview with Dr. Kullander.

Fishbase, online.

Panda Garra Diet

Although it does graze algae, this species is not primarily herbivorous. Prepared sinking foods containing algae/spirulina/kelp along with shrimp, worms, etc. should be fed. Live or frozen daphnia, small worms, artemia. Vegetables such as blanched spinach, cucumber, yams, etc.

Size

Attains 9cm/3.5 inches.

Minimum Tank Suggestion

3 feet in length.

Ideal water parameters for Panda Garra

Soft to moderately hard (< 12 dGH), pH 6.5 to 7.5, temperature 22-27C/72-80F.

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