Purchasing a redtail garra, an algae-eating fish, is as simple as a few mouse clicks. But obtaining details about its biology proves to be more challenging. Despite its popularity in the aquarium world since the early 2000s, this species remained unidentified scientifically until recently.
While researchers were vaguely aware of the redtail garra, formal recognition of a new species demands scientific documentation based on specimens from their natural habitat. These fish were believed to inhabit a narrow river stretch on the Thailand-Myanmar border.
Larry Page, the ichthyology curator at the Florida Museum of Natural History, has been researching fishes in Thailand annually since 2007. On a recent expedition to the Kasat River, which flows into Myanmar’s Ataran River, he came across some redtail garras.
Given its aquarium popularity, Page assumed the fish would be common in Myanmar. However, he discovered its habitat is limited to the Ataran River basin.
In the Zootaxa journal, Page and his team introduced the species officially. Redtail garras now join nearly 200 other species within the Garra genus. This genus is among the most varied and geographically spread fish groups worldwide. Gara species thrive in water bodies stretching from western Africa, the Middle East, India, and parts of southern and eastern Asia, including some Chinese regions. Surprisingly, despite their global presence, in-depth research about them remains sparse.