Species recovery action plan and reintroductions (to extirpated locations) are recommended for this species. The species is widely commercially captive bred but this stock may not be genetically suitable for re-introductions so a conservation specific ex-situ conservation breeding programme is recommended.
This species is endemic to Thailand, where it is known from the lower Mae Khlong, Chao Phraya and Bangpakong basins. Formerly it was thought to be Extinct in the Wild, but recent information confirms that the species is still extant (C. Vidthayanon pers. comm.), but very localised, in the Chao Phraya. It is reported to be extirpated in the Mae Khlong and Bangpakong basins but this needs further investigation.
It is reported that the species has disappeared from many parts of its range. Large numbers are exported annually from Thailand, all now from captive bred sources.
The reasons for the decline in the wild population of the species are not well known. The aquarium fish trade has been accused of driving the species to local extirpation because of very selective overfishing (over the past 40 years), but there is no documented evidence for this (Kottelat and Whitten 1996). Habitat modification may be the more likely cause of population declines in this case (M. Kottelat pers. comm. 2011). In the 1970s, many dams were constructed in Thailand and these probably severely impacted several large basins in the region. Large swamp areas have also been drained. Habitat degradation and change (including pollution from farmland and domestic sources, infrastructure development such as road building and dams causing loss of habitat and changing in flow regimes and siltation due to agriculture) are now the main threats to this species.
IUCN Red List Account Link
Photo credit: Dr Nonn Panitvong