New Species Of Labeo Described From Sri Lanka


There are over 50 endemic freshwater fish species found in Sri Lanka. Most of these fishes belong to the family Cyprinidae (family). The genus Labeo within this family in Sri Lanka is represented by Labeo dussumeiri, Labeo fisheri, Labeo porcellus lankae and by Labeo rohita which was introduced to the fresh water fisheries industry.

For decades , no researches had been conducted to resolve the taxonomy of the three native Sri Lankan Labeo species. To fill this gap, a team of researchers, namely, Hiranya Sudasinghe, Tharindu Ranasinghe, Sampath Goonatilake and Prof. Madhava Meegaskumbura conducted a research based on morphological and molecular characteristics and the research paper was recently published in international scientific journal of zootaxa.

The species hitherto identified as Labeo dussumieri in Sri Lanka was distinct from the Indian population of Labeo dussumieri morphologically as well as genetically and thus described as a new species: Labeo heladiva, which is a historical Sinhala name for Sri Lanka. Further the identity of both Labeo fisheri and Labeo lankae were clarified and re descriptions for both species were provided.

Labeo heladiva (Heladiva Labeo) was recorded from lowland floodplain of both the dry and the wet zones of the island. Labeo fisheri (Sri Lankan Mountain Labeo) was recorded from the upper reaches of the Mahaweli River basin and as well as lower reaches, as far downstream as Angammedilla near Polonnaruwa. Labeo lankae (Sri Lankan Orange Finned Labeo) was recorded from Malwathu Oya basin as well as the near by river basins of Kala Oya and Parangi Aru. According to the IUCN red list criteria, Labeo lankae should be considered as Critically Endangered, Labeo fisheri as Endangered and Labeo heladiva as Least Concern (LC). All three species of Labeos occur primarily in moderately deep rivers with moderate flow and a rocky bottom. Special measures should be taken to conserve both Labeo fisheri and Labeo lankae as they are confined to one river basin only.