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Red Line Torpedo Barb

Sahyadria denisonii

This week’s Fish of the Week is a fish that hasn’t been available in the trade for very long, but has certainly made a big impact; it’s the stunning Red-Line Torpedo Barb (Sahyadria denisonii), named after the Governor of Madras (1861-66), Sir William Denison.


These fish are naturally found in only a very small number of locations in the hill streams and rivers of the Western Ghats mountain range in India.  They are supremely adapted to life in cooler, fast-flowing, oxygen-rich water.  Their torpedo-shaped bodies produce little hydrodynamic resistance, allowing them to speed through the water or to fight against strong currents.  Their colour palette is simple but striking, with a red flash on the front half of their mirror-like flanks, and yellow dashes on their tail.


Although often seen as juveniles (around 3-4cms) in shops, these fish can reach in excess of 15cm and prefer to be kept in shoals. They require a large, strongly filtered aquarium to thrive, at least 250 litres for a shoal of 6.  Ideal tank mates would be any larger community fish that will also thrive in fast flowing conditions including some of the larger Danio species and members of the Devario & Barilius groups.  Red-Line Torpedo barbs are usually a very peaceful fish if kept in groups.  As with most social species, keeping just one or two should be avoided as not only will these individuals never thrive or colour up properly, they may well become aggressive and troublesome with their tank mates.


Red-line Torpedo barbs are omnivores and will readily accept just about any food once they are settled in, although it is said that you can enhance the redness by feeding a diet rich in carotenoids such as astaxanthin.


These fish have only been around in the trade for about 20 years now and for a long while, there were concerns that the wild populations were being over exploited to meet the demands of the aquarium trade.  Thankfully, the vast majority of these fish now coming into the trade are captive bred meaning that not only has the price come down (from well over £50.00 when they first burst on to the scene, to under £10.00 now) but more importantly, the wild populations are protected and thriving again.

Image credit: Wikipedia

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