Red Line Torpedo Barb

Scientific Name: Puntius denisonii

Puntius denisonii, or Red Line Torpedo Barb, is a fresh water fish belonging to the family Cyprinidae. It has a restricted distribution and is endemic to three Rivers - Cheenkannipuzha, Achankovil, and Chaliyar, apart from the streams in the environs of Mundakayam town in the state of Kerala, a part of Peninsular India’s Western Ghats. It has been listed on the IUCN Redlist as Vulnerable, in 2010. This species is known to inhabit fast flowing hill streams and is often found in rocky pools with thick vegetation along river banks.

Its torpedo shaped body is covered in silvery scales and it has silvery-blue fins and a bluish tail with black and yellow tips. A long black stripe runs across the length of its body with a red stripe running above it, fading towards the middle of the body. This social fish is usually spotted in large shoals. Its diet constitutes algae, molluscs, insects, and crustaceans. It lays eggs during the months of November and January.

It has a strikingly beautiful appearance, due to which it is commonly known as Miss Kerala in the aquarium trade. Ironically, its beauty is the biggest threat to its survival, as it is highly sought-after in the international aquarium trade, constituting 60 – 65% of the total live ornamental fish exported from India. Its numbers are also decreasing owing to habitat degradation due to deforestation, mining, agriculture, urban expansion and hydro-electric projects.

The hills of Nilambur where the River Chaliyar takes its birth, is a part of the Western Ghats - Nilgiris Landscape, where WWF-India is currently working.

  1. Devi, R. & Boguskaya, N. 2007. Puntius denisonii. In: IUCN 2010. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2010.4. <>. Downloaded on 14 December 2010
© John Franklin
Puntius Denisonii are spotted in shoals in thick vegetation
© John Franklin
© River Research Centre, Kerala
Chaliyar river in the Western Ghats
© River Research Centre, Kerala
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