The Arulius Barb, Dawkinsia arulius, is bigger than many Aquarium barbs, growing to 12 cm (5 inches.) Other common names include Tamiraparani Barb, Aruli Barb, Silas Barb and Longfin Barb.
It comes from Asia like many other barb species. The Arulius Barb is native to the Kaveri river basin in South East India.
This fish can live for ten years under good conditions.
The Arulius Barb comes from slightly acidic water, and can tolerate a pH of between 6 and 7.5. I keep mine at 7 (Neutral.) Temperatures of from 19 – 28degrees C (66-82 degrees F) are suitable, but it will survive slightly higher temperatures. It will tolerate a wide range of hardness, but does best with the harness below 10 degrees.
This fish comes from rivers which are high in dissolved Oxygen. The water should be well filtered and ideally aerated by the high turn over of water in the filter. Frequent partial water changes are recommended.
If some hiding places are provided by some areas of dense planting as well as open areas for swimming this fish is likely to be less stressed and to show its colours better.
This is an easily fed omnivore, readily eating most flake and pellet food. It greatly benefits from the occasional feeding with live food like Daphnia and particularly mosquito larvae. Frozen blood worms or brine shrimp also add important variety to this fish’s diet.
The Arulius Barb is more peaceful than many barbs. However, it is a schooling fish and I definitely recommend a minimum of 4 in an aquarium; more would be better. This will reduce this barb’s slight tendency to nip fins. Also remember that it grows a bit bigger than most of the small, peaceful community fish; you should not expect a four inch Arulius Barb to be an ideal companion for a one inch Neon Tetra.
I would definitely not suggest this as a good companion for Guppies, Siamese Fighting Fish, or other slow swimming fish with long fins.
I suggest that some of the larger Tetra species like Columbian Tetras, Emperor Tetras and Congo Tetras as well as barbs and Corydoras Catfish are reasonable companions for this fish. Choose fish that are of similar size and temperament.
Avoid putting them with really aggressive fish like Barcoo Grunters or the more aggressive Cichlids, but they can used as a companion for the less aggressive Cichlids.
Although one of the common names is Longfin Barb, this is mainly applicable to the male rather than the female because the male has a long dorsal fin. The Males also tend to be more colourful, and the females are plumper, especially when in breeding condition. The males will have white spots round the mouth when they are ready to breed.
The Arulius Barb is an easy fish to breed and is one of those fish that will tend to breed frequently in aquariums without its owner being aware of it. Of course, in most cases all the eggs or very young babies will be eaten, either by their parents or by other fish in the aquarium. If a group of these fish were kept in a big enough aquarium with copious amounts of plants, and no other fish, it is likely that some young barbs would be produced and survive. Most of us simply don’t have enough aquarium space to do this.
If you want to raise some babies, you will usually need to set up a breeding tank. The conditions appear to be much less critical than with most fish, and they will breed in most types of water.
This is a fairly big fish, so I suggest a minimum sized aquarium of 75 litres or 20 US gallons. The females lay their eggs on plants; fine leaved ones are better, or nylon spawning mops can be used. The parents will need to be removed after spawning or you will lose most of the babies. Low light is suggested.
Although this fish can be bred in pairs, I prefer to breed them in a small school.
The eggs should hatch in about 24 hours, and become free swimming in another 24 hours. The exact hatching time is dependent on temperature and at high temperatures the eggs can hatch in as little as 18 hours.
The babies do best on infusoria at first although this can be supplemented with very fine commercial fry foods. At all stages the babies will benefit from live food of a suitable size. The babies are small at first and are likely to be about a week old before they are big enough to take newly hatched brine shrimp.
The currently accepted scientific name is Dawkinsia arulius (Jerdon, 1849). The Genus is named after Professor Richard Dawkins the evolutionary biologist for his contribution to the public understanding of science. Until recently I knew it as Puntius arulius (Jerdon, 1849). Other names that have been correctly used for this fish include Systomus arulius (Jerdon, 1849), Barbus arulius (Jerdon, 1849) and Puntius arulius arulius (Jerdon, 1849).
The IUCN Red List classes Dawkinsia arulius as an endangered fish in the wild, and the population appears to be deceasing. Although its range appears to be large, Dawkinsia arulius seems to be locally extinct in much of its former range and exists as a number of widely separated populations.
The threats to this fish include the modification of the river systems by dams and by other human activity. Some parts of this fish’s former range are now among the most polluted river stretches in the world. Uncontrolled catching of this fish for the aquarium trade is another potential threat. Nearly all Arulius Barbs sold in shops now are bred in captivity, but some may still be caught wild.
This barb certainly has the potential to damage ecosystems it is not native to. Although historically the most irresponsible introductions of foreign species have often been by governments, as aquarists we still need to be vigilant and prevent any possibility of introducing fish from other places into our native ecosystems.