Puntius is a genus of ray-finned fishes in the family Cyprinidae of the order Cypriniformes. Fishes of this genus are known as the spotted barbs for the predominant pattern, though many have vertical black bands instead. Also, the Spotted Barb proper is one particular species, Puntius binotatus. The name Puntius comes from pungti, a Bengali term for small cyprinids. The type species is the Pool Barb (Puntius sophore), first described as Cyprinus sophore by Hamilton in 1822. Fishes of the genus Puntius are prolific and are known to occupy all niches (Jayaram 1999). These fishes have been well studied and have been exploited for the aquarium trade and transported throughout the world.
The majority of sub-Himalayan Puntius species were reclassified and new genera Dawkinsia, Dravidia, and Pethia erected to accomodate some of them, with the remainder either retained in Puntius or moved to the existing Systomus assemblage, though the definition of the latter was altered meaning some Southeast Asian species formerly placed there are no longer members. No species from Indochina, China, or Indonesia were included in the study meaning a significant number of former Puntius are currently classed as incertae sedis, i.e., of uncertain taxonomic placement, and this also applies to a number of South Asian species of unresolved status.
Genus: Puntius F. Hamilton, 1822
Historically, many species of Puntius have been classified in several genera, including Barbus. Despite the reclassifications, the specific epithet remains the same in these – except in cases of homonymies –, as Barbus and Puntius have the same grammatical gender. The closest living relatives of the spotted barbs are the Cyprinion barbs, the Assamese Kingfish (Semiplotus semiplotus), and perhaps the Capoeta barbs. These and the other "typical" barbs and barbels were formerly often separated as subfamily Barbinae, but this group is highly paraphyletic with regards to the Cyprininae and better merged there at least for the largest part (including Puntius). In particular the genus Barbonymus, containing the Tinfoil Barb and its relatives, – for some time included in Puntius – appears to be a kind of carp that has evolved convergently with barbs
Fishes of the genus Puntius are found in Southeast Asia and India, including Sri Lanka. The maximum size for an adult of this genus is less than 25 cm (10 in), typically 15 cm (6 in), and many species only achieve around 5 cm (2 in) adult length. In appearance they may resemble miniature carp and are often brightly coloured or patterned. These fishes are omnivorous; their diet includes small invertebrates and plant matter. Breeding is by egg scattering and takes place close to the bottom, near or within areas of dense plant growth. They do not show parental care, and adults may eat the young.
Commonly-kept Puntius species in aquarium include:
There are currently 134 recognized species in this genus: