No other classic aquarium fish has had to put up with such a drastic renaming regarding the scientific name as the tiger barb. This is due to the fact that in earlier decades, characteristics that we now consider important species characteristics were only considered an unimportant variance. The actual tiger barb, Puntigrus tetrazona, which comes from Sumatra, has black in its fins, where our aquarium tiger barb has red. In the hobby this real Sumatran barb was practically never represented. Our aquarium fishes come from Borneo. The species P. anchisporus was already scientifically described in 1902, long before the first import of the fish for the aquarium in 1935. However, because of the small differences, which are only to be found in the living coloration, the species was considered to be identical to the P. tetrazona, which was described in 1855 from Sumatra.
The generic name Puntigrus is admittedly very young; it was coined only in 2013, when one finally went to classify the Asian small barbs correctly and according to the natural relations. Previously, one had accommodated it provisionally for centuries in so-called catch-all genera (Barbus, Puntius, Systomus), of which it was quite clear that they don’t form any natural unit. But the gigantic biodiversity of the Asian small-barbs, that is not completely grasped also today yet by far, let earlier attempts, to divide them up reasonably, fail again and again.
For our customers: the magnificent XL tiger barbs illustrating this post have code 371914 on our stocklist. Please note that we supply wholesale only.
Text & photos: Frank Schäfer