Denison’s Barb Puntius denisonii is an attractive freshwater fish, characterised by a torpedo-shaped body with horizontal red and black lines running through its middle and yellow flashes on its tail.

First exported from India in 1996, the Denison’s Barb is now one of the most popular ornamental freshwater fishes in international trade. However, owing to its popularity, this species has been exploited at unsustainable levels and has quickly become threatened in the wild.

Over the years, many efforts have been made to breed this rapidly declining species ex situ, but with very limited success. At Chester Zoo we have been fortunate enough to successfully spawn and raise the fry to maturity on two occasions.

Aquarium-breeding of Denison’s Barbs still isn’t a regular occurrence and our aquarists are working on refining the breeding methods and establishing standardised techniques for other aquarists to follow.

In time, it is hoped that the establishment of sustainable, aquarium populations will reduce demand for wild-caught fish and therefore be a major boost to the conservation of this species in the wild.

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Interesting facts

Where they live: Endemic to the Western Ghats, India

Habitat: Rocky pools and fast-flowing hill streams and rivers that have thick vegetation along the banks

Size: Up to 15cm

Threats: Over exploitation for the international aquarium trade. Habitat degradation owing to deterioration of water quality caused by deforestation, agriculture, mining, hydroelectric projects, and urban expansion. Inherent vulnerability through restricted distribution range and small population numbers.