Tuesday, May 10, 2011


Deep in a cave in Zaire lives a small, blind fish, while deep in shady forest streams in Sri Lanka lives a beautiful, cherry-colored jewel-like fish. Their whiskers tell scientists that they are cousins.

The whiskers—known as barbels—are not the only features that link the blind cave barb and the cherry barb.They share other similarities, not just between them, but with several hundred other species that form a group of mostly small fish known as barbs. Scientists do not all agree about which fish should be called barbs. The largest barb
grouping includes a wide range of species, such as the tinfoil barb, which is both an aquarium fish and a food fish, and the European barbel, which is often fished for by anglers.

Colorful Shoalers
Barbs are mostly active fish that live in shoals. Although they are not particularly aggressive, males constantly display toward each other. They show off their best colors and let each other know who is dominant, especially during the breeding season. Females are usually less colorful than males. They are also less aggressive toward each other. Sadly, many barbs are under threat in the wild. Fortunately, though, a lot of species are popular asaquarium fish and, over the years, large numbers have been bred in captivity.

This has proved so successful that numerous color and fin varieties of many species have been produced specifically for home aquariums; among them the cherry barb. At least one barb, the Odessa barb, is exclusively an aquarium fish—the species is not known to exist in the wild.


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