The tropical Asian cyprinid genus Puntius, which contains some 120 valid species, has long been suspected to be polyphyletic. Here, through an examination of external morphology, osteology, and analysis of 16S ribosomal RNA and cytochrome b gene fragments from 31 South Asian species hitherto referred to Puntius, we show that these fishes represent at least five lineages recognisable as genera. Puntius sensu stricto has the rostral barbels absent; last unbranched dorsal-fin ray weak or strong, smooth; and lateral line complete, with 22-28 pored scales. Systomus possesses maxillary and rostral barbels; last unbranched dorsal-fin ray stiff (‘osseous’), serrated; and lateral line complete, with 27-34 scales. Three new genera are proposed: Dawkinsia (type species Leuciscus filamentosus) is distinguished by lacking rostral barbels; having the last unbranched dorsal-fin ray smooth; lateral line complete, with 18-22 scales; and a juvenile colour pattern that includes three black bars on the body. Dravidia (type species Cirrhinus fasciatus) is distinguished by having both rostral and maxillary barbels present; lateral line complete, with 18–26 pored scales; dorsal fin with 4 unbranched and 8 branched rays, last unbranched dorsal-fin ray smooth; infraorbital 3 deep, partly overlapping the preoperculum; and free uroneural and postepiphysial fontanelle absent. Pethia (type species Barbus nigrofasciatus) is distinguished by having the last unbranched dorsal-fin ray stiff, serrated; infraorbital 3 deep, partially overlapping preoperculum; rostral barbels absent; maxillary barbels absent or minute; a black blotch on the caudal peduncle; and frequently, black blotches, spots or bars on the side of the body. The identities of Puntius sophore and Systomus immaculatus are clarified through the designation of neotypes; a lectotype is designated for Neolissochilus bovanicus; and precedence is given to the spelling bovanicus over bovianicus.
Pethiyagoda, R., M. Meegaskumbura and K. Maduwage. 2012. A synopsis of the South Asian fishes referred to Puntius (Pisces: Cyprinidae). Ichthyological Exploration of Freshwaters. 23(1): 69-95