Re: Extinct killies in the hobby? (fwd)

Kai Erik Witte (kai at
Thu, 03 Oct 1996 15:28:02 +0100

Les <lesk at BIO.BU.EDU> wrote:
>Jay, ruby barb, not cherry barb for Sri Lanka. Andrews I think has the dope
>on that one. Peter, did you check with Minck?

No, Puntius nigrofasciatus [= ruby barb?] isn't especially endangered too.
12 native localities in Pethiyagoda (1991); again, this does not represent
all known localities/populations: "Status. Endemic. Populations of the more
colorful varieties are said to have diminished significantly during the
past few years. NOT YET RARE." [emphasis mine]

Another quote from Pethiyagoda (1991):
"The First Schedule under Section 12 of the Fisheries Ordinance prohibits
the export of Belontia signata, Rasbora vaterifloris, Puntius titteya, P.
cumingii and P. nigrofasciatus without goverment sanction. It is perhaps
not coincidental that all these are rather attractive and popular aquarium
fishes. (While B. signata is classified as 'rare', the last four species
are listed as 'threatened' by the IUCN (Anon. 1988)). This legislation is
not in fact applied or policed, and there are in practice no restrictions
on the indiscriminate capture or destruction of fishes. Significantly, the
Fisheries Ordinance provides for exclusive fishing rights to be granted for
trout, perch, tench and gourami, all of them exotic species."
[1 paragraph omitted]
"While the truly rare fishes of Sri Lanka (designated with an abundance
value of 1 in column 17 of Table 2.1) have hardly ever been commercially
exploited, exports have had two beneficial indirect effects, first in the
breeding of 'difficult' species abroad (and therefore the accumulation of
knowledge of captive breeding techniques) and secondly in the discovery of
hitherto unknown species with very restricted ranges (and thus extremely
sensitive to habitat degradation)."
"It is ironic that none of the officially protected species is really at
risk, there being seven other species with an abundance rating of 1 and 13
species with a rating of 2." [6 and 7 of these species are endemic,

Except for Rasboroides vaterifloris, all these species can be easily bred
in large quantities. Although overfishing adult fish for export can
severely limit the abundance in attractive and accessible populations, it
is unlikely to endanger species inhabiting several river basins (even if
endemic to SW Sri Lanka). Habitat degradation is certainly the most
important threat for all Sri Lankan fishes. Imposing well monitored export
regulations for heavily seeked wild fish might be a economically wise
option for the Sri Lankan gov't but this does not relate to species
conservation but to sensible use of natural resources.

Let's forget all status symbols as Scleropages formosus and concentrate on
those many species which are really at the verge of extinction!


Kai Erik Witte <kai at> [Fax +49-7071-601-384]
Max-Planck-Institute for Developmental Biology
Spemannstrasse 35/III
D-72074 Tuebingen