Vertebrate fauna of SE Asia
  

 

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Text and photos by Nick Baker, unless otherwise credited.
Copyright ゥ Ecology Asia 2020

 
 
     
   
   

 

   
   
 
Kelah or Malayan Mahseer
   
   

Fig 1


Fig 2


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Order : Cypriniformes
Family : CYPRINIDAE
Species : Tor tambroides
Maximum Length : 100 cm

The Kelah (Malayan Mahseer, Thai Mahseer) inhabits pristine rivers flowing through undisturbed lowland forest. It has an iconic status in parts of Southeast Asia, and is an excellent indicator of the ecological health of lowland rivers as it avoids silted water wherever possible.

Typically, Kelah lurk in deep pools downstream of gravel and boulder beds, sometimes in large shoals. These fish migrate upstream to spawn in smaller streams.

Kelah feed on a variety of organic matter - mainly forest fruits which have fallen into the water, sometimes supplemented with animal matter.

Adults are streamlined in shape, and vary in colour from yellowish brown to pinkish, with dark fins. The tail fin is deeply forked and the dorsal fin large.

The species ranges from Burma, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam through Peninsular Malaysia to Sumatra, Java and Borneo. The species is unlikely to have occurred in Singapore as the country does not have large, fast-flowing rivers.

In many river systems Kelah are becoming increasingly scarce due to loss of habitat (often related to dam building), over-fishing and pollution.


Fig 1 : A pair of Kelah at Sungai Relau - a clear, lowland river at Taman Negara, Peninsular Malaysia.

Fig 2 : Sungai Relau - a typical lowland river passing through pristine dipterocarp forest in the heart of Peninsular Malaysia.


References : fishbase.org