Frail gourami: Ctenops nobilis
Frail gourami: Ctenops nobilis

Systematic position
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Actinopterygii  (Ray-finned fishes)
Order: Perciformes (Perch-likes)
Family: Osphronemidae (Gouramis)
Sub-family: Luciocephalinae
Genus: Ctenops
Species: C. nobilis

Common/local names
English: Frail gourami and Indian paradise fish
Bangladesh: Neftani (নাফতেনী); Madhumala (মধুমালা), Napte khoira (নাপতে খয়রা), Napte kolisha (নাপতে খলিসা), Naftani (নাপতানী) (Shafi and Quddus, 2001)
India: Indian paradise fish, Koleehona (Assam) (Talwar and Jhingran, 1991)

Synonym: Osphronemus nobilis (McClelland, 1845)

Distribution: Bangladesh and India (IUCN Bangladesh, 2000); India north eastern Bengal and Assam (Shafi and Quddus, 2001); India: north eastern Bengal, Bihar, Assam and Sikkim and Bangladesh (Talwar and Jhingran, 1991).

Conservation status: Endangered in Bangladesh due to habitat loss (IUCN Bangladesh, 2000).

Morphology: Body elongate, relatively compressed. Head acute and depressed. Lower jaw longer and somewhat pipe-shaped. Eyes prominent. Mouth moderate-sized. The posterior extremity of the intermaxillaries reaches the front edge of the eye. Pre-orbital large and coarsely serrated. Lower edge of opercle serrated. Teeth on jaws. A superbranchid labyrinthine auxiliary respiratory organ present. Lateral line slightly recognizable; irregularly piercing scales; 28 to 33 scales in longitudinal series.

Strong dorsal and anal spines. Dorsal originates above the last third of anal. Pelvic with one spine and five soft rays and inserted well back on body. Pelvic fins thoracic. Anal commences immediately behind pelvic fin, sepperated from caudal, caudal rounded.

Scales ctenoid. Lateral line when present is a simple orifice at centre of each scale. 28 to 33 scales in longitudinal series (Rahman, 1989 and 2005).

Head 3.5-4.0 in total length. Height 2.3-3.0 in standard and 3.0-3.3 in total length. Eye 3.5, snout and interorbital longer than eye-diameter (Rahman, 1989 and 2005).

Brown with a silvery white band (generally interrupted), from the eye to the base of caudal. Similar stripes of series of oblong spots below. Sometimes a black light-edged ocellus at upper base of caudal.

Fin Formula:
D. V-VI/7-8; P1. 12; p2. 1/5;  A. V/23-25 (Rahman, 1989 and 2005)
D IV-VI 6-8; IV_V 23-28; P13; V 15 (Talwar and Jhingran, 1991)
D IV-VI/6-8, P1 12, P2 I/5, A IV-V/23-28 (IUCN Bangladesh, 2000)
D. V-Vi/7-8; P. 12; V. I/5; A. IV-V/23-25; C. 16 (Shafi and Quddus, 2001)

Maximum length: 10 cm (IUCN Bangladesh, 2000; Shafi and Quddus, 2001).

Habitats: Beel, jheel, haor, baor and pond. Found mostly in clean water with  bladderwort and a small quantity of water hyacinth. They never live in bottom water but feel comfortable to live in surface water. During winter season they abundantly found in roots of water hyacinth (Shafi and Quddus, 2001)

Rivers, ponds, beels and other water areas of Bangladesh (Rahman, 2005 and 2005)

Food and feeding habit: Larvivorous (IUCN Bangladesh, 2000)

Importance: As food fish in Bangladesh. May also be used as ornamental fish in aquarium.



IUCN Bangladesh. 2000. Red book of threatened fishes of Bangladesh, IUCN- The world conservation union. xii+116 pp.

McClelland J. 1845. Description of four species of fishes from the rivers at the foot of the Boutan Mountains. Calcutta Journal of Natural History v. 5 (no. 18): 274-282. [Issue for July 1844, possibly published in 1844.]

Rahman AKA. 1989. Freshwater Fishes of Bangladesh, 1st edition, Zoological Society of Bangladesh, Department of Zoology, University of Dhaka, Dhaka-1000, pp. 282-283.

Rahman AKA. 2005. Freshwater Fishes of Bangladesh, 2nd edition, Zoological Society of Bangladesh, Department of Zoology, University of Dhaka, Dhaka-1000, pp. 307-308.

Shafi M and Quddus MMA. 2001. Bangladesher Matsho Shampad (Fisheries of Bangladesh) (in Bengali), Kabir publication. Dhaka, Bangladesh. pp. 301-302.

Talwar PK and Jhingran AG. 1991. Inland Fishes of India and Adjacent Countries, Vol. 2, Oxford & IBH Publishing Co. Pvt. Ltd. New Delhi-Calcutta, pp. 1001-1002.


Md. Shafiur Rahman (Bangladesh Army) for his photograph of Frail gourami, Ctenops nobilis


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Frail gourami, Ctenops nobilis McClelland, 1845

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S.M. Abu Naser

MS Student, Department of Fisheries, University of Rajshahi, Rajshahi-6205, Bangladesh. Email:; More...

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