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







Saddle Barb

Fig 1

Fig 2

Fig 3

Fig 4

Fig 5

Fig 6



Order : Cypriniformes
Species : Barbodes sellifer
Maximum Length : 14.1 cm

Barbodes sellifer (Saddle Barb) was described as a new species in 2021 (Kottelat & Lim, 2021); formerly it was considered to be part of Barbodes banksi from western Borneo. The holotype (i.e the type specimen) was acquired in 1990 from freshwater swamp forest in Singapore.

This species occurs in the Malay Peninsula from Penang Island in the north to Singapore in the south. It also occurs in Indonesia, in the Riau, Anambas and Natuna island groups and central Sumatra (Riau province). 

In the field adults are identified by a large, dark, triangular to rectangular patch below the dorsal fin; sometimes smaller dark patches can be discerned (one on the flanks above the anal fin and another at the base of the tail). Juveniles have 3-5 spots on the flanks.

Its body colour is silvery to brownish, and the dorsal, anal and caudal (tail) fin are reddish.

Barbodes sellifer typically inhabits unpolluted, well shaded, forest streams and freshwater swamp forest, where it may occur in large shoals of tens of individuals, sometimes mixed with Barbodes lateristriga (Spanner Barb) and Rasbora elegans (Two-spot Rasbora).

The distinctive dark patch is larger than that of Barbodes rhombeus (Indochinese Spotted Barb), a species that has been introduced in parts of the Malay Peninsula (including some rural and/or concretised streams in Singapore).

Fig 1 : Part of a large shoal of Saddle Barb in clear, shallow water in freshwater swamp forest, Singapore.

Fig 2 : Example from Singapore, with its two pairs of barbels extended forwards.

Fig 3 : The dark blotch near the dorsal fin is well developed in this 8 cm specimen from Singapore.

Fig 4 : Barbodes sellifer often swims in mixed shoals with other barbs; in Singapore mixed shoals with Barbodes lateristriga (Spanner Barb) are sometimes seen.

Fig 5 : Part of a small shoal from a clear stream in freshwater swamp forest in southern Johor, Peninsular Malaysia.

Fig 6 : Juvenile from a quiet stream in Singapore's central forests.

References :

Maurice Kottelat & Kelvin K. P. Lim. (2021). Two new species of Barbodes from the Malay Peninsula and comments on 祖ryptic species in the B. binotatus group (Teleostei: Cyprinidae). Raffles Bulletin Of Zoology. 69: 522-540.