A new species of barb, christened the ‘Puntius madhusoodani’ has been reportedly discovered from the Manimala River in Pathanamthitta district during a River Fish Monitoring Programme of the State Bio-diversity Board.

The programme, conducted by K. Krishna Kumar, F.G. Benno Pereira and K.V. Radhakrishnan, resulted in the collection of four specimens, which they said could not be readily assigned to any of the known species under the fish genus Puntius, following which a detailed analysis was done and the fish was described as a new species, the ‘Puntius madhusoodani’.

The results of the analysis have hence been published in ‘Biosystematica’, an international peer reviewed biannual journal on animal taxonomy, diversity, ecology and zoogeography. As per the study, the new species could be distinguished from all its congeners by the presence of one pair of short maxillary barbells; a smaller snout; a dorsal fin nearer to tip of the snout; absence of an ubiquitous spot at the dorsal fin base; and the branched rays of the dorsal and anal fin that were tinted with black.

The Puntius genus has over 140 species, comprising small to medium sized barbs found in stagnant pools to fast flowing streams of tropical Asia and which, due to their attractive appearance, are popular as aquarium pets and are extensively traded. Currently, over 60 species of the Puntius genus are known from India, including the ‘Puntius Denisonii’, popular as ‘Miss Kerala’.

A recent increase in taxonomic studies of the genus led to the description and re-validation of several species, especially from the southern Western Ghats, and as part of which the recent River Fish monitoring programme was held.

The new species has been named after B. Madhusoodana Kurup, honouring his contribution to taxonomy and conservation of freshwater fishes in Kerala. Currently known only from the Manimala River, further studies are awaited for more details on the prevalence of the Puntius madhusoodani’.