Maximum size : 7.5 cm

Mahecola Barb - Puntius mahecola : Complete Fish Profile & Care Guide

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Mahecola Barbs (Puntius mahecola) is a peaceful and captivating species that makes excellent additions to a community aquarium. While uncommon in the aquarium trade, these Barbs are highly sought after by hobbyists who collect native species from India. These fish are relatively hardy and can coexist with various other species, making them a versatile choice for aquarists.

To fully appreciate the beauty of these fish, it is recommended to keep them in groups of eight or more, as they are a schooling species. When maintained in adequate numbers, Mahecola Barbs will be less stressed, and their natural behaviours will be more apparent. Additionally, keeping them in large groups encourages competition between males for female attention, resulting in vibrant displays of colouration.

Mahecola Barbs will thrive in aquariums with soft sand or fine gravel substrate, good oxygen levels, and plenty of free swimming space. In addition, these fish prefer dim lighting and enjoy a moderate current flow. Regarding tank mates, Rainbowfish, Tetras, Livebearers, Gouramis, Catfish, Loaches, and other Cyprinids can all coexist harmoniously with Mahecola Barbs. 

During their juvenile stages, Mahecola Barbs possess a fusiform body with dual prominent pigmented markings; however, as they progress into adulthood, they undergo a transformation wherein the secondary spot gradually diminishes, eventually becoming exclusive to the caudal peduncle situated posterior to the anal fin. In contrast, the caudal fin displays a notable bicoloured pattern, characterized by a singular red and a solitary black line.

Mahecola Barb Photos

Sexual Dimorphism

Distinguishing between male and female Mahecola Barbs is a relatively simple process. Typically, adult males are smaller and slimmer than their female counterparts, exhibiting more vibrant and pronounced patterns of colouration.

Quick Facts

Scientific NamePuntius mahecola
Year Described1844
Other NamesNone
Max Size7.5 cm
Aquarium LevelBottom - Middle
DifficultyBeginner - Intermediate
Best kept asGroups 8+
Diet & FeedingOmnivore
ReproductionEgg Depositor
LifespanUp to 5 Years

Water Parameters

Water TypeFreshwater
pH 6.0 - 7.5
GH 2 - 15
TDS 90 - 268
Ideal Temperature
64 - 75
17 - 23

Natural Habitat

Mahecola Barbs are a unique and fascinating species found in South India, specifically in the rivers that drain the Western Ghats mountain range, spanning the states of Kerala, Tamil Nadu, and Karnataka. These fish are typically found in shallow, slow-flowing rivers, characterized by mud or sand substrates and dense vegetation along their banks.

In addition to natural lakes and lagoons, Mahecola Barbs are also known to inhabit artificial lakes created by damming rivers. Their ability to thrive in such varied aquatic environments is a testament to their adaptability and resilience as a species, making them a fascinating subject of study for ichthyologists and aquarists alike.


Regrettably, there are currently no documented cases of successful breeding of Mahecola Barbs within the confines of a domestic aquarium, and there is limited information available regarding breeding methodologies for this species. However, it is plausible to speculate that their breeding behaviour may bear similarities to other members of the Puntius genus.

Diet & feeding

When kept in a domestic aquarium, Mahecola Barbs are a relatively simple species to feed. However, to ensure optimal health and colouration, providing these fish with a varied diet that includes frequent meals of small live and frozen fare, such as artemia, bloodworm, and daphnia, is recommended. Supplementing these meals with high-quality dried granules and flakes incorporating algal or plant content can also be beneficial. By offering a well-rounded and diverse diet, you can help ensure your Mahecola Barbs remain in excellent health and condition, displaying their best colours and vibrancy.

Frequently asked questions

Mahecola Barbs are relatively easy to maintain as long as a dedicated maintenance routine is followed. The decor can be down to personal taste. You can use a substrate of gravel or sand for a natural-style design adding some larger smooth rocks, twisted roots, branches or driftwood. \r\n\r\nThe lighting can be somewhat subdued, and you can add lower lighting plants if you want. The temperature of your aquarium should be somewhere between 64 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit, the pH level should be somewhere between 6.0 and 7.5, and the water hardness should be somewhere between 90 and 268 ppm.\r\n\r\nAlthough choppy water conditions are not required, Mahecola Barbs do better when the water is well-oxygenated with some degree of flow. Therefore, using an oversized external filter or two is suggested. You should perform weekly water changes of around 30 to 50 per cent.

Mahecola Barbs are generally a peaceful species and make excellent residents of a well-researched community aquarium. As they place no particular demands when it comes to water chemistry, you can combine these Barbs with plenty of the most popular fish in the hobby, such as other small Cyprinids, Anabantoids, and Livebearers, as well as Tetras Rainbowfish, Catfish, and Loaches.

Mahecola Barbs are, in fact, schooling, not shoaling species that you should keep in groups of 8 or more individuals. Sustaining these Barbs in suitable numbers will not only make the fish less timid but will also result in a more efficient, natural-looking display. Males will also display their best colours as they compete with one other for the female's attention.

It is pretty easy to differentiate male from female Mahecola Barbs. Adult males are usually slightly smaller, slimmer, exhibit more intense colour patterning, as well as having longer dorsal fins. Also, when in breeding condition, the males form spawning tubercles on their opercula. In contrast, females are somewhat larger than males and are relatively plain.

Mahecola Barbs are endemic to Mahe and Kerala in India. Still, they are also currently considered to occur in rivers draining much of the Western Ghats mountains in Karnataka, Kerala, and Tamil Nadu states. These Barbs inhabit shallow, slow-flowing parts of rivers over substrates of mud or sand; however, water volume and flow rate are likely to alter depending on the time of year and increase significantly during the annual monsoons.\r\n

Other Barbs of interest