In my last column (TFH Jul/Aug 2017), we began an outline of benthic, or bottom-dwelling, fishes from South Asia, and I concentrated on the catfishes
from that region. This month, we’ll discuss
a group that we very often do not think
of as bottom-dwellers, the minnows.
Technically, the fishes we call minnows (or
carps, if you prefer) are classified in the
order Cypriniformes, which includes nearly
5,000 species of fish divided among about
a dozen families, including Cyprinidae,
which comprises the true minnows.
While the majority of these fishes are
fairly typical minnows—our familiar
danios, barbs, rasboras, and so forth—there
are a large number that can definitely be
found at the bottom of the tank playing a
crucial role eating algae. The most familiar
of these algae-eating minnows are the
members of the genus Crossocheilus.
Spread throughout the continent,
Crossocheilus comprises 16 valid species,
several of which are found in the hobby.
Two of these, the Siamese algae eater (C.
oblongus) and the crosshatch algae eater (C.
reticulatus), are relatively common in the
hobby, and are also quite good algae eaters.
Both, however, are found in Southeast Asia.
The only commonly encountered member
of the genus found in South Asia is C.
latius, the stoneroller (not to be confused
with the American fishes of the same
common name). Stonerollers sometimes
come in mixed with wild shipments of
other members of the genus.
C. latius has a similar body shape to other
Crossocheilus species, but other than that,
it is nondescript. With a drab olive-bronze
hue, they’re actually pretty ugly. However,
they do make excellent algae eaters and will
thrive in a fast-flowing tank. They’ll rapidly
wipe out diatoms and other pest algae in a
way that other Crossocheilus cannot. Their
diet should be supplemented with a high-quality spirulina-based pellet, and high-protein foods should be avoided. Keep in
mind that the stoneroller is a schooling fish,
so if you are able to find any, buy the lot.
The genus Garra is fairly well represented
in this region, although it is widely spread
throughout Asia and Europe. The most
familiar of these is Garra rufa, from the
Mediterranean, famous for its use in spa
pedicures. Among the South Asian species
of interest to aquarists (and on-topic for
this column), the panda garra (G. flavatra)
is well established. This is a pretty little
fish, with a pattern like a bumblebee’s. They
tend to actually become prettier as they
mature, with the yellow deepening and the
fins turning orange.
from South Asia
bottom of the tank
Joshua Wiegert is a well-known hobbyist
with an eclectic love of fish, spanning
all continents and major divisions. While
his main focus is on oddball freshwater
fishes, especially Apistogramma species
and bettas, he maintains everything from
corals and marine fishes to large cichlids
and livebearers. He is a familiar face
at many national aquarium events and
speaks at aquarium clubs throughout the
country. His commercial enterprise has
become known for truly unusual fishes,
and Joshua currently maintains in excess of