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Dawkinsia filamentosus

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Family: Cyprinidae, Subfamily Barbinae

Common Name: Filament Barb, Blackspot Barb

Origin and Habitat: Endemic to southwestern India. Most common in coastal floodplains where it occurs in both fresh and brackish waters of rivers, estuaries, reservoirs and marshes.

Compatibility/Temperament: Generally peaceful but may be somewhat aggressive if not maintained in groups of at least eight. An active fish, it can be maintained with other similarly-sized non-aggressive active fish such as the larger barbs, rasbora and loaches.

Filament Barb Diet

Omnivorous by nature (feeding on insects, worms, crustaceans and plant matter), most prepared foods like flakes and granules are accepted; frozen bloodworms, mysis and river shrimp are relished.


Attains six inches though normally between 5 and 6 inches.

Minimum Tank Suggestion

4 feet in length.

Water parameters for Filament Barb

Soft to moderately hard (hardness to 15 dGH), slightly acidic (pH 6 to 7) fresh or brackish water, temperature 20-25C/68-76F.


The attractive larger barb is sometimes seen under the common name Blackspot Barb. Given its larger size and active swimming behaviour, it requires a 4-foot tank at minimum, and should be kept in a group to curtail any aggression. A gravel substrate with small rocks and some plants along the sides and back would provide a suitable environment. Reported to live up to 8 years.

Juveniles are difficult to sex. Males are larger and more colourful than the rounder females, and have a filamented dorsal fin when sexually mature; when in spawning condition they also have a cluster of small white 'nodules' on their noses. Spawning happens at any time of day or night and can last for hours. The males chase the females in wild swim patterns involving sharp turns and steep dives; eggs are scattered by the female and the male swims into the cloud of eggs fertilising them.

This species shares very similar colouration and patterning with (currently) six other species; these were differentiated thoroughly by Pethiyagoda and Kottelat (2005). The authors also included information on the natural habitat of this species.

This fish is sometimes encountered under the scientific names Barbus filamentosus, Systomus filamentosus, Leuciscus filamentosus, and Systomus maderaspatensis. When originally described by A. Valenciennes in 1844 it was named Leuciscus filamentosus, until being assigned to Puntius in 1987 by C. Selvaraj and M. Abraham. These names are now all invalid synonyms. Pethiyagoda et al. (2012) assigned this species to their newly-erected genus Dawkinsia, named for Richard Dawkins in recognition of his contribution to the public understanding of science and, in particular, of evolutionary science. The species epithet filamentosus is Latin and refers to the filamented dorsal fin.

The genus Puntius was erected in 1822 by F. Hamilton for the spotted barbs, and some 139 species have recently been included; the name Puntius comes from the Bangla term pungti (small cyprinids). Some ichthyologists do not recognize all member species as such and believe that a full revision is needed. Rainboth (1996) suggested that the old demised genus Systomus should be reinstated as valid because Puntius currently appears to be a polyphyletic grouping of species. [Polyphyletic means the taxon is composed of unrelated organisms (here, fish species) descended from more than one ancestor, i.e., not from a common ancestor.] Rainboth described physiological differences between certain species in Puntius to support his proposal. The revision by Pethiyagoda et al. (2012) considering the species native to Southern Asia (the Indian subcontinent) has moved six species into the resurrected genus Systomus, and erected three new genera, Dawkinsia, Pethia and Haludaria [originally Dravidia in the paper, but subsequently changed] for several other species respectively.


Pethiyagoda, Rohan (2013), "Haludaria, a replacement generic name for Dravidia (Teleostei: Cyprinidae)," Zootaxa (correspondence), 3646(2), p. 199.

Pethiyagoda, R. and M. Kottelat (2005), "A review of the barbs of the Puntius filamentosus group (Teleostei: Cyprinidae) of southern India and Sri Lanka," The Raffles Bulletin of Zoology Supplement No. 12, pp. 127-144.

Pethiyagoda, R., M. Meegaskumbura, and K. Maduwage (2012), "A synopsis of the South Asian fishes referred to Puntius (Pisces: Cyprinidae)," Ichthyological Exploration of Freshwaters, volume 23 (no. 1), pp. 69-95.

Rainboth, Walter (1996), "The taxonomy, systematics, and zoogeography of Hypsibarbus, a new genus of large barbs (Pisces, Cyprinidae) from the rivers of southeastern Asia," Volume 129 of the University of California publications in Zoology (1996).

Taki, Y., T. Urushido, A. Suzuki and C. Serizawa (1978), A comparative chromosome study of Puntius (Cyprinidae: Pisces). I. Southeast Asian species.

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