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Text and photos by Nick Baker, unless credited to others.
Copyright ゥ Ecology Asia 2024



Indochinese Spotted Barb

Fig 1

Fig 2

Fig 3

Fig 4

Fig 5

Fig 6





Order : Cypriniformes
Species : Barbodes rhombeus
Maximum Length : at least 6.5 cm

Barbodes rhombeus (Indochinese Spotted Barb) occurs in the Chao Phraya river basin in Thailand, and the huge Mekong river system which passes through southern China, Myanmar, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam (Kottelat, 2000). 

The species has been introduced to the Malay Peninsula; in Singapore it occurs, for example, in the Mandai area, Bukit Brown, Venus Drive (now Windsor Nature Park) and Pandan river (Tan et al, 2020). It also once occurred in the former Lentor Stream, which is now gone (Fig. 5).

Fishes which appear similar to Barbodes rhombeus (in photographs) are also present in parts of southern Thailand and Peninsular Malaysia (Figures 1 and 2).

This species inhabits shallow streams where it appears to prefer relatively open, sunlit habitats (or parts of forest streams where sunlight breaks through the canopy). In its native range such streams are present in the hills.

In the field this species is identified by the small black marking below the dorsal fin (smaller than that of the similar Saddle Barb Barbodes sellifer). Another black marking may be visible at the base of the tail fin, as well as a faint dark line along the flanks.

Fig 1 : This pair of barbs, from Ton Sai Waterfall, Phuket, southern Thailand, appear similar to Indochinese Spotted Barb.

Fig 2 : A small shoal of barbs in the stream issuing from Gua Tempurung, a limestone cave near Ipoh, Perak, Peninsular Malaysia. These are tentatively identified as Indochinese Spotted Barb.

Fig 3 : Indochinese Spotted Barb from Venus Drive (now Windsor Nature Park), Singapore.

Fig 4 : Part of a shoal of around 20 fish, in a shallow, open-country stream at Bukit Brown, Singapore.

Fig 5 : Example from the former Lentor Stream, Singapore.

Fig 6 : Sun-dappled rural stream with sandy substrate at Lentor, Singapore, which once supported a population of Barbodes rhombeus and other aquatic fauna. (This stream was infilled in 2017, and the surrounding secondary forest was cut down to make way for private housing.)

References :

Kottelat, M. (2001). Fishes of Laos. WHT Publications Ltd., Colombo 5, Sri Lanka. 198 pp.

Tan Heok Hui, Kelvin Lim Kok Peng, Liew Jia Huan, Low Bi Wei, Rayson Lim Bock Hing, Jeffrey Kwik Teik Beng & Darren C.  J. Yeo. (2020). The non-native freshwater fishes of Singapore: an annotated compilation. Raffles Bulletin Of Zoology, 68: 150-195.

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