Puntigrus tetrazona
Puntigrus tetrazona
(tiger barb)
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Puntigrus tetrazona (Bleeker, 1855)

Common name: tiger barb

Synonyms and Other Names: Sumatra barb, partbelt barb, Barbodes tetrazonaBarbus tetrazonaCapoeta tetrazona, C. sumatranus, Puntius tetrazona.

Identification: Distinguishing characteristics were given by Kottelat et al. (1993). The color pattern is nearly identical to that of S. anchisporus, but S. tetrazona differs in having an incomplete lateral line and a more elongate body (Roberts 1989). Color photographs appeared in Axelrod et al. (1985) and in Kottelat et al. (1993); illustrations were provided in Petrovicky (1988), including examples of several of the color variants that exist in the aquarium trade.

Size: 7 cm TL.

Native Range: Tropical Asia - Borneo and Sumatra (Roberts 1989).

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Nonindigenous Occurrences: Two specimens, a sexually mature pair, were taken from a small stream flowing from Warm Springs Sanctuary in Owens Valley, Inyo County, California in July 1973 (Naiman and Pister 1974; Dill and Cordone 1997). A single large specimen was collected at Perrine Wayside Park in Perrine, Dade County, Florida, prior to 1979 (Courtenay and Hensley 1979). Probably a reference to the same record, the species was reported from a small roadside borrow pit south of Miami (Shafland 1976).  Found in eastern Puerto Rico since 2005 (F. Grana, personal communication).  Several specimens were collected from Cy Miller Pond, Brazos Co. Texas in June 1995 (Howells 2001). This species was collected from Kelly Warm Springs, Wyoming, in 1990 (M. Stone, personal communication).

Ecology: Tiger barbs are generally omnivorous, consuming phytoplankton, aquatic and terrestrial insects, and other aquatic invertebrates (Shiraishi et al. 1972). They are a schooling fish, but will form temporary pair bonds during spawning. Eggs are deposited on submerged aquatic vegetation, with up to 500 eggs released per spawning event (Tamaru et al. 1997)

Means of Introduction: Probably aquarium releases. Dill and Cordone (1997) concluded that the California fish were presumably introduced by an aquarist or fish dealer wishing to use the spring as a brood pond.

Status: Failed in California, Florida, Texas, and Wyoming. Shapovalov et al. (1981) stated that no additional specimens had been taken from the California site since 1961, despite repeated collecting efforts; Hubbs et al. (1979) did not consider this fish established in that state. Repeated collecting at the Texas site offered no more specimens.  Established in Puerto Rico since at least 2005 (F. Grana, pers. comm.).

Impact of Introduction: Unknown.

Remarks: This species is a popular ornamental aquarium fish found for sale in every pet store. Tiger barbs are aggressive fish, leading to concern that the fish found in California might adversely affect one of only two known populations of Owens pupfish Cyprinodon radiosus (Naiman and Pister 1974). The two tiger barbs collected from Owens Valley were a male and a female, both in breeding condition. Voucher specimens: California (ASU 6239).

Rainboth (1996) provided the first usages of Systomus as a valid genus, and several recent works have assigned tiger barbs to this genus (e.g., Pethiyagoda et al. 2012).

References: (click for full references)

Axelrod, H.R., W.E. Burgess, N. Pronek, and J.G. Walls. 1985. Dr. Axelrod's atlas of freshwater aquarium fishes. Tropical Fish Hobbyists Publications, Inc., Neptune City, NJ.

Courtenay, W.R., Jr., and D.A. Hensley. 1979. Survey of introduced non-native fishes. Phase I Report. Introduced exotic fishes in North America: status 1979. Report Submitted to National Fishery Research Laboratory, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Gainesville, FL.

Dill, W.A., and A.J. Cordone. 1997. History and status of introduced fishes in California, 1871-1996. California Department of Fish and Game Fish Bulletin, volume 178.

Howells, R.G. 2001. Introduced non-native fishes and shellfishes in Texas waters: An updated list and discussion. Texas Parks and Wildlife Management Data Series 188. Austin TX.

Hubbs, C.L., W.I. Follett, and L.J. Dempster. 1979. List of the fishes of California. Occassional Papers of the California Academy of Sciences 133:1-51.

Kottelat, M., A.J. Whitten, S.N. Kartikasari, and S. Wirjoatmodjo. 1993. Freshwater fishes of western Indonesia and Sulawesi. Periplus Editions, Ltd., Republic of Indonesia.

Naiman, R.J. and E.P. Pister. 1974. Occurrence of the tiger barb, Barbus tetrazona, in the Owens Valley, California. California Fish and Game 60:100-101.

Pethiyagoda, R., M. Meegaskumbura, and K. Maduwage. 2012. A synopsis of the South Asians fishes referred to Puntius (Pisces: Cyprinidae). Ichthyological Exploration of Freshwaters 23(1):69-95.

Petrovicky, I. 1988. Aquarium fish of the world. Hamlyn, London, England.

Rainboth, W.J. 1996. Fishes of the Cambodian Mekong. FAO Species Identification Field Guide for Fishery Purposes. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, Rome. http://www.fao.org/docrep/010/v8731e/v8731e00.htm.

Roberts, T.R. 1989. The freshwater fishes of Western Borneo (Kalimantan Barat, Indonesia). Memoirs of the California Academy of Sciences 14:1-210.

Shafland, P.L. 1976. The continuing problem of non-native fishes in Florida. Fisheries 1(6):25.

Shiraishi, Y., N. Mizuno, M. Nagai, M. Yoshimi, and K. Nishiyama. 1972. Studies on the diel activity and feeding habit of fishes at Lake Bera, Malaysia. Japanese Journal of Ichthyology 19(4):295-306.

Shapovalov, L., A.J. Cordone, and W.A. Dill. 1981. A list of freshwater and anadromous fishes of California. California Fish and Game 67(1):4-38.

Other Resources:
FishBase Fact Sheet

Author: Leo Nico, Pam Fuller, Matt Neilson, and Bill Loftus

Revision Date: 3/11/2013

Citation Information:
Leo Nico, Pam Fuller, Matt Neilson, and Bill Loftus. 2017. Puntigrus tetrazona. USGS Nonindigenous Aquatic Species Database, Gainesville, FL.
https://nas.er.usgs.gov/queries/FactSheet.aspx?speciesID=635 Revision Date: 3/11/2013

This information is preliminary or provisional and is subject to revision. It is being provided to meet the need for timely best science. The information has not received final approval by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and is provided on the condition that neither the USGS nor the U.S. Government shall be held liable for any damages resulting from the authorized or unauthorized use of the information.

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Citation information: U.S. Geological Survey. [2017]. Nonindigenous Aquatic Species Database. Gainesville, Florida. Accessed [6/29/2017].

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