Myanmar Freshwater Fish Families

Makararaja chindwinensis Robert, 2007

Previously, there were three genera of stingrays which were available in inland water of Asia (Compango and Roberts,1982), but now one more genus was discovered in 2007, and this genus is “Makararaja Roberts, 2007” and Makararaja chindwinensis Robert, 2007 a New Genus and Species of Freshwater Dasyatidid Stingray from Upper Myanmar. The new genus, Makarraraja, recently erected by Roberts, is related to the genus Pastiachus. The outstanding characters of the genus Makararaja is nearly round disc, and dorsal surface with very small pearl organs and denticles. The tail is long, and with low-lying fin fold.

The meaning of the scientific name of the genus Makararaja comes from Sanskrit, Makara which means jaw of crocodile, and Latin word, raja means skate or rayfish. The only species of the genus, Makararaja in Myanmar is, “Makararaja chindwinensis” and its type locality is Chindwin River, upper Myanmar. The meaning of the specific name chindwinensis refers to the locality of the new species of he rays, Chindwin River.


Family Dasyatidae


Scleropages formosus (Schlegel & Muller, 1844)
The Asian Arowana (Myanmar)

Pictures by Ye Hein Htet (Hein Aquarium)


There is no firm evidence in scientific literature for Scleropages formosus (Asian Arowana) as an indigenous species of Myanmar. In some ornamental fish book, it is expressed as,” There is some doubts regarding the existence of wild population of Scleropages formosus (Asian Arowana) in Myanmar.” Last two years ago, the author got the information that some baby fish of Scleropages formosus, collected in Myanmar were available in the retailer shops in Yangon.

The opening season of the year, 2005 some collectors of Scleropages formosus (Myanmar) contacted to some aquarium fish retailers from Yangon and distributed these fish to sell all over the local market as the Scleropages formosus, imported from Thailand, Malaysia, or Singapore. This is an illegal trade as our country is the member of countries those signed for CITES. It should take care to protect our valuable underwater treasure. At that time I noticed that the Department of Fisheries should take action for the illegal collection of this fish along Taninthayi River and drainages immediately; otherwise the valuable species will be extinct soon.

Myeik (Formerly known as Mergui) is the capital of Taninthayi Division, and it is quite closed to locality of Scleropages formosus (Myanmar). In Myeik, some aquarium fish hobbyists keep Scleropages formosus (Myanmar) and they name this fish as, “Chaung Phya Lucky Fish” which means “Lucky Fish from head of stream”. In native of this fish, it is commonly known as ,”Mi Chaung Hmwe”.

Asian Arowana (Myanmar) has very distinct color of scales compared to other variety of Asian Arowana. The color of the scales is pinkish and there are floral arabesques on each scale .

Even though Asian Arowana is expected to become popular and promising for the aquarium fish market, Hein Aquarium didn’t try to collect and breed the fish, because of two main reasons:

– Hein Aquarium didn’t want to trade illegally for the restricted fish.
– Hein Aquarium has no experience to breed such a fish which will need a proper water quality of at least 30 to 50 numbers of the tank size (10 m x 20 m x 1.5 m).

In the year, 2012 Asian Arowana (Myanmar) was published as the new species of the genus, Scleropages, it scientific name is Scleropages inscriptus and the author is Robert R. Tyson. (Robert, 2012). However some molecular fish scientists do not agree that Myanmar specimens are new one, but it is variety of Scleropages formosus. The author thinks that the identification for new species for the variety of Scleropages formosus needs more abundant specimens for molecular analysis to study thoroughly.


Family Notopteridae


The fishes in this family have deep and strongly compressed body, their abdomen are serrated before pelvic fins. Their eyes are large, dorsolateral in position. Mouths of the fishes are wide and no barbels. Dorsal fin is small and slender, anal fin is long and narrow, and confluent with a reduced caudal fin. Pelvic fins very small. Scales are very small, and lateral line complete.

In Asia and Southeast Asia, there are two genera for the family, Notopteridae, and they are: Chitala and Nototerus. Myanmar has only one species, which belong to the genus, Notopterus.

Notopterus notopterus (Pallas, 1769)
Grey feather back (OR) Knife Fish

Picture by Ye Hein Htet (Hein Aquarium)


Family Anguillidae (74)-freshwater eels

Anguilla bengalensis (Gray, 1832)

Pictures by Ye Hein Htet (Hein Aquarium)

In Myanmar there are two species of genus, Anguilla. They are: Anguilla bengalensis and Anguilla bicolor. Commonly known as long-fin freshwater eel and short-fin freshwater eel. Here, in the picture is Long-fin Freshwater Eel. The maximum length is about 1 meter total length. Very popular as edible fish.