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Rasbora borapetensis

Red-tailed Rasbora

Classification

Cyprinidae

Distribution

Occurs in the great Mekong and Chao Phraya river drainages as well as the Mae Klong in western Thailand. It thus has an enormous natural range and has also been recorded from Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, Peninsular Malaysia and China. Its distribution extends further into the Philippines and Sunda Islands including parts of Malaysia, Indonesia, Brunei Darussalam and Singapore (introduced and non-native to the latter). Wild caught fish are increasingly rare in the hobby as it is being produced commercially in several countries.

Habitat

This species appears to be particularly hardy and adaptable and is found in polluted waters at some localities. It shows a preference for the shallow margins of gently flowing or still waters including ponds, ditches, reservoirs and canals and is rather common across the majority of its range.

Maximum Standard Length

Around 2″/5cm.

Aquarium SizeTop ↑

A tank measuring 24″ x 15″ x 12″/60cm x 37.5cm x 30cm/70.8 litres is big enough to house a small group of these.

Maintenance

Choice of decor is not especially critical although the fish tend to show better colouration when maintained in a well-planted set-up with a dark substrate. The addition of some floating plants and driftwood roots or branches to diffuse the light entering the tank also seems to be appreciated and adds a more natural feel. Filtration does not need to be particularly strong as it mostly hails from sluggish waters and may struggle if there is a fast current in the tank.

Water Conditions

Temperature: 72 – 78°F/22 – 26°C

pH: 6.0 – 7.5

Hardness: 2 – 12°H

Diet

Stomach analyses of wild specimens have revealed it to be a micropredator feeding on small insects, worms, crustaceans and other zooplankton. In the aquarium it will accept dried foods of a suitable size but should not be fed these exclusively. Daily meals of small live and frozen fare such as Daphnia, Artemia and suchlike will result in the best colouration and encourage the fish to come into breeding condition.

Behaviour and CompatibilityTop ↑

This species is very peaceful indeed making it an ideal resident of the well-furnished community tank. As it places no special demands in terms of water chemistry it can be combined with many of the most popular fish in the hobby including other small cyprinids as well as tetras, livebearers, rainbowfish, anabantoids, catfish and loaches. As always when selecting a compatible community of fish thorough research is essential and its small adult size must be a consideration. A community based around one of its native countries or river basins would also make an interesting project with possibilities from Thailand alone including various Badis, Betta, Trichogaster, Danio, Trigonostigma, Puntius, Crossocheilus, Pangio, Lepidocephalichthys and other Rasbora species amongst others.

It’s a schooling species by nature and really should be kept in a group of at least 8-10 specimens. Maintaining it in decent numbers will not only make the fish less nervous but will result in a more effective, natural-looking display. Males will also display their best colours as they compete with one other for female attention.

Sexual Dimorphism

Adult males tend to be noticeable slimmer, smaller and more intensely-coloured than females.

Reproduction

Like many small cyprinids this species is an egg-scattering, continuous spawner that exhibits no parental care. That is to say when the fish are in good condition they will spawn often and in a densely-planted, mature aquarium it is possible that small numbers of fry may start to appear without human intervention.

However if you want to increase the yield of fry a slightly more controlled approach is required. The adult group can still be conditioned together but one or more long, shallow, say 30″ x 12″ x 12″/75cm x 30cm x 30cm/71 litre containers should also be set up and half-filled with water. These should be very dimly lit and the base covered with some kind of mesh of a large enough grade so that the eggs can fall through it but small enough so that the adults cannot reach them. The widely available plastic ‘grass’-type matting can also be used and works very well. The water itself should be of slightly acidic to neutral pH with a temperature towards the upper end of the range suggested above. A small power filter can be added initially and this should be positioned so that the flow is directed down the full length of the tank.

When the adult fish are well-conditioned and the females appear full of eggs one or two pairs should then be introduced to each container. Spawning can be initiated by adding small amounts of cool water every few hours in such a way that the tank is gradually topped up and feeding small amounts of live and frozen foods. Several spawning events will usually occur before a female is spent with 5 to 12 eggs being produced each time and a typical batch consisting of 30 to 50.

The adults will eat any eggs they find and are best removed after a couple of days at which point the power filter should be switched for a mature sponge-type unit in order to avoid fry being sucked into the mechanism. Incubation is temperature-dependant to an extent but usually takes between 18 and 48 hours with the young free-swimming 24 to 48 hours later. Initial food should be Paramecium or similar introducing Artemia nauplii and/or microworm once the fry are large enough to accept them.

NotesTop ↑

R. borapetensis is one of the more commonly-encountered rasboras in stores and is particularly recommended for newcomers to the hobby. While it can appear a little plain or ‘washed’ of colour when seen on sale once settled and in good condition it is an eye-catching little fish that often schools quite closely. It’s sometimes sold with the alternative trade names of black-line or magnificent rasbora.

R. rubrodorsalis is a very similar-looking congener that occurs sympatrically with R. borapetensis over some of its natural range and is occasionally available in the trade. The two are easily distinguishable from one another though as R. rubrodorsalis has a bright red blotch in the dorsal fin whilst in R. borapetensis the dorsal is colourless and only the base of the caudal fin is coloured red. R. borapetensis should also have an incomplete lateral line with 10-15 perforated scales, 9 soft dorsal rays, 8 soft anal rays and no black pigmentation in the fins.

Rainboth’s ‘Fishes of the Cambodian Mekong’ characterised members of Rasbora by possession of an unbranched, non-spiny first dorsal fin ray and seven soft dorsal rays, origin of the dorsal fin in the middle of the body, five branched anal fin rays, a small mouth not extending below the eye and a lack of barbels. It’s long been recognised as a polyphyletic lineage as noted by Kottelat (1999) amongst others, and in 2010 the results of a phylogenetic analysis by T. Y. Liao et al. suggested a number of changes in order to improve the taxonomy. The authors found species of rasborin genera to actually represent a monophyletic grouping existing in six clades and erected four new genera (all containing former members of Rasbora) in order to preserve monophyly of the existing groups i.e. Boraras, Horadandia, Rasbora, Rasboroides and Trigonostigma.

According to the authors the first two clades are monotypic; R. brittani should now be referred to as Kottelatia brittani and R. dorsiocellata as Brevibora dorsiocellata. The third clade comprises Boraras brigittae, Horadandia atukorali, Rasboroides vaterifloris, Trigonostigma heteromorpha and three species previously included in Rasbora but also moved into new genera; Trigonopoma gracile, T. pauciperforatum and Rasbosoma spilocerca. The results for B. brigittae and T. heteromorpha were found to be inconclusive in some respects and further work regarding their phylogenetic position was recommended.

The fourth clade includes Rasbora semilineata, R. borapetensis, R. rubrodorsalis and an undescribed fish similar to R. beauforti. Clade five consists of R. daniconius, R. hubbsi, R. paucisqualis, R. wilpita, R. kobonensis, R. ornata and R. cf. daniconius. Clade six, meanwhile, is subdivided into two groupings. The first contains R. einthovenii, R. elegans and R. cephalotaenia and the second R. lateristriata, R. argyrotaenia, R. volzii, R. paviana, R. rasbora (plus an undescribed, similar fish), R. caudimaculata and R. trilineata. As this final clade contains the type species (see below) its members retain the generic name Rasbora as do clade five species because they don’t differ sufficiently to warrant a the erection of a new genus/genera.

Unfortunately many species weren’t included in the analysis, meaning inevitable questions are raised regarding the correct placement of the 40 or so other Rasboras, in particular. As the genus had previously been split into various ‘species groups’ (groups of closely-related species) dating back to Brittan (1972, who referred to them as ‘species complexes’) Liao et al. proposed the following arrangement whilst noting it may be subject to change with further phylogenetic studies:

R. semilineata species group: R. semilineata, R. borapetensis, R. rubrodorsalis.
R. trifasciata species group: R. trifasciata, R. amplistriga, R. api, R. bankanensis, R. dies, R. ennealepis, R. hubbsi, R. johannae, R. kluetensis, R. meinkeni, R. nodulosa, R. paucisqualis, R. rutteni, R. sarawakensis, R. taytayensis, R. tobana, R. truncata, R. tuberculata.
R. daniconius species group: R. daniconius, R. armitagei, R. dandia, R. kobonensis, R. labiosa, R. microcephalus, R. ornata, R. wilpita.
R. einthovenii species group: R. einthovenii, R. cephalotaenia, R. elegans, R. jacobsoni, R. kalochroma, R. kottelati, R. nematotaenia, R. patrickyapi, R. tubbi.
R. argyrotaenia species group: R. argyrotaenia, R. aprotaenia, R. aurotaenia, R. baliensis, R. borneensis, R. bunguranensis, R. dusonensis, R. evereti, R. hobelmani, R. hossi, R. lateristriata, R. laticlavia, R. leptosoma, R. philippina, R. septentrionalis, R. spilotaenia, R. steineri, R. tawarensis, R. tornieri, R. volzii.
R. sumatrana species group: R. sumatrana, R. atridorsalis, R. calliura, R. caudimaculata, R. dorsinotata, R. notura, R. paviana, R. rasbora, R. subtilis, R. trilineata, R. vulgaris.

Not classified: R. beauforti, R. chrysotaenia, R. gerlachi (validity in question), R. lacrimula (said to compare most closely with R. dies and R. semilineata which are members of the R. trifasciata and R. semilineata groups, respectively) R. kalbarensis, R. reticulata, R. vulcanus (possibly not Rasboras) and R. zanzibarensis (identity in question).

NB – this list has been amended from that published in Liao et al. to reflect subsequent new species descriptions and taxonomical changes.

Shortly afterwards a paper investigating systematics of the subfamily Danioninae was published by Tang et al. (2010) Their results differed wildly from those of Liao et al. and the four new genera plus Boraras and Trigonostigma were synonymised with Rasbora based on an incomplete knowledge of relationships within the group, an approach they describe as ‘more conservative’. Though perhaps neither conclusion is satisfactory we decided to adopt the system of Liao et al. pending future studies, if only because we prefer to retain Boraras and Trigonostigma.

The identity of the type species, often given as R. rasbora in the past, is no longer in question; when Bleeker first referred to the name Rasbora in 1859 only four nominal members were included of which R. cephalotaenia (known as Leuciscus cephalotaenia at the time) should be considered the type. Howes (1980) suggested the separation of a number of species into the new genus Parluciosoma with type species P. (Rasbora) argyrotaenia but the monophyly of that grouping was not recovered by Liao et al..

References

  1. www.fishbase.org
  2. KOTTELAT, M. 1999 - Raffles Bull. Zool. 47(2): 591-600.
    Nomenclature of the genera Barbodes, Cyclocheilichthys, Rasbora and Chonerhinos (Teleostei: Cyprinidae and Tetraodontidae), with comments on the definition of the first reviser.
  3. Liao, T. Y., Kullander, S. O. and F. Fang. 2010 - Zoologica Scripta 39: 155-176
    Phylogenetic analysis of the genus Rasbora (Teleostei: Cyprinidae).
  4. Mayden, Richard L.; Tang, Kevin L.; Conway, Kevin W.; Freyhof, Jörg; Chamberlain, Sarah; Haskins, Miranda; Schneider, Leah; Sudkamp, Mitchell; Wood Robert M.; Agnew, Mary; Bufalino, Angelo; Sulaiman, Zohrah; Miya, Masaki; Saitoh, Kenji; He, Shunping. 2007 - J. Exp. Zool. (Mol. Dev. Evol.) 308B: 1–13.
    Phylogenetic relationships of Danio within the order Cypriniformes: a framework for comparative and evolutionary studies of a model species.
  5. Rainboth, W.J. 1996 - FAO, Rome, 265 p.
    Fishes of the Cambodian Mekong. FAO Species Identification Field Guide for Fishery Purposes.
  6. Tang, K. L., M. K. Agnew, W. J. Chen., M. V. Hirt, T. Sado, L. M. Schneider, J. Freyhof, Z. Sulaiman, E. Swartz, C. Vidthayanon, M. Miya, K. Saitoh, A. M. Simons, R. M. Wood and R. L. Mayden. 2010 - Molecular phylogenetics and evolution 57(1): 189-214
    Systematics of the subfamily Danioninae (Teleostei: Cypriniformes: Cyprinidae).

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