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Schistura kodaguensis (MENON, 1987)

SynonymsTop ↑

Noemacheilus kodaguensis Menon 1987; Nemacheilus kodaguensis Menon 1987


Schistura: from the Greek schizein, meaning ‘to divide’, and oura, meaning ‘tail’, in reference to the caudal-fin shape of many species.

kodaguensis: named for Coorg (aka Kodagu) District in Karnataka state, southern India, where this species was discovered.


Order: Cypriniformes Family: Nemacheilidae


Type locality is ‘Kotu Hola, near Merkara, Karnataka, India’ which corresponds to Kootu Hole near Madikeri in Coorg District within the Western Ghats mountains of southwestern Karnataka.

Its wider distribution is unclear, with the single confirmed locality a tributary stream in the Cauvery (Kaveri) River system.


Inhabits a shallow streams with gravel substrate.

Maximum Standard Length

The largest specimen known measured 36 mm.

Aquarium SizeTop ↑

An aquarium with base dimensions of 60 ∗ 30 cm or equivalent should be the smallest considered.


Should not prove difficult to maintain under the correct conditions. We strongly recommend keeping it in a tank designed to resemble a flowing stream or river with a substrate of variably-sized rocks, sand, fine gravel, and some water-worn boulders.

This can be further furnished with driftwood branches arranged to form a network of nooks, crannies, and shaded spots, thus providing broken lines of sight. While the majority of aquatic plants will fail to thrive in such surroundings hardy types such as MicrosorumBolbitis, or Anubias spp. can be grown attached to the décor.

Though torrent-like conditions are unnecessary it does best if there is a high proportion of dissolved oxygen and some water movement in the tank meaning power filter(s), additional powerhead(s), or airstone(s) should be employed as necessary.

Like many fishes that naturally inhabit running water it’s intolerant to accumulation of organic pollutants and requires spotless water in order to thrive, meaning weekly water changes of 30-50% tank volume should be considered routine.

Water Conditions

Temperature20 – 25 °C

pH6.0 – 7.5

Hardness36 – 215 ppm


Schistura species are omnivorous although the bulk of their diet consists of small insects, worms, crustaceans, and other zooplankton with only relatively small amounts of plant matter and other organic detritus consumed.

In the aquarium they will accept dried foods of a suitable size but should not be fed these exclusively. Daily meals of small live and frozen fare such as DaphniaArtemiabloodworm, etc., will result in the best colouration and condition.

Behaviour and CompatibilityTop ↑

Fishes which inhabit similar biotopes in nature constitute the best options, especially small,  peaceful cyprinids since the presence of one or two schools in the upper levels can help make benthic species less reclusive.

Other possibilities include rheophilic loaches from genera such as GastromyzonPseudogastromyzonBeaufortia, and Sewellia plus grazing cyprinids like Crossocheilus and Garra.

Some similarly-shaped relatives such as other NemacheilusAcanthocobitis, and Schistura spp. are excessively territorial or otherwise aggressive, although a combination may work in larger aquaria.

Sexual Dimorphism

Nuptial males appear to be significantly more colourful than females.

Sexually mature females should be deeper-bodied than males, particularly when gravid.



NotesTop ↑

This species is not a well-known aquarium fish but is maintained by a number of Indian enthusiasts.

It can be told apart from related species by the following combination of characters as per Sreekantha et al. (2006): pectoral-fin rays 10; absence of black spot at base of dorsal-fin; presence of rows of spots on caudal-fin; lateral line incomplete; caudal-fin slightly emarginate; 11-14 vertical bars on the body.

S. nilgiriensis, also native to the Western Ghats, is very similar-looking but possesses a black spot at the base of the dorsal-fin and lacks spots in the caudal-fin.

Schistura is the most species-rich genus among nemacheilid loaches with some 190 members and it continues to grow with over 100 having been described since 1990. It may represent a polyphyletic lineage and is often arranged into a number of loosely-defined species ‘groups’, some of which are quite dissimilar to one another.

Among these are an assemblage in which some or all of the body bars are vertically split and another which exhibit reductions in body size (adult size <50 mm SL), the number of pelvic and pectoral-fin rays and often the number of caudal-fin rays and lateral line length, for example.

Some species, such as S. geisleri, also appear to be unrelated to any of the others.

Most inhabit flowing streams or areas close to waterfalls where there naturally exist high concentrations of dissolved oxygen, and a handful are troglobytic, i.e., cave-dwelling, in existence. The latter have reduced pigmentation and are completely blind in many cases.

Schistura spp. are distinguished from other nemacheilids by a combination of morphological characters which include: a moderately arched mouth which is 2-3.5 times wider than it is long; a median ‘interruption’ in the lower lip which does not form two lateral triangular pads and can vary from smooth to furrowed in texture; diverse colour pattern but usually dark with relatively regular bars; usually a black bar at the caudal-fin base which can be broken into two spots or smaller bars; one or two black markings along the base of the dorsal-fin; lack of acuminate scales on the caudal peduncle; caudal-fin shape variable from truncate to forked but usually emarginate; presence or absence of a median notch in the lower jaw; clear sexual dimorphism in some species.

The family Nemacheilidae is widely-distributed across most of Eurasia with the Indian subcontinent, Southeast Asia and China representing particular centres of species diversity.


  1. Bănărescu, P. M. and T. T. Nalbant, 1995 - Travaux du Muséum d'Histoire Naturelle 'Grigore Antipa' 35: 429-495
    A generical classification of Nemacheilinae with description of two new genera (Teleostei: Cypriniformes: Cobitidae).
  2. Kottelat, M., 2012 - Raffles Bulletin of Zoology Supplement 26: 1-199
    Conspectus cobitidum: an inventory of the loaches of the world (Teleostei: Cypriniformes: Cobitoidei).
  3. Sreekantha, [no initial], K. V. Gururaja, K. Rema Devi, T. J. Indra and T. V. Ramachandra, 2006 - Zoos' Print Journal 21(4): 2211-2216
    Two new species of the genus Schistura McClelland (Cypriniformes: Balitoridae) from western Ghats, India.
  4. Tang, Q., H. Liu, R. Mayden, and B. Xiong, 2006 - Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 39(2): 347-357
    Comparison of evolutionary rates in the mitochondrial DNA cytochrome b gene and control region and their implications for phylogeny of the Cobitoidea (Teleostei: Cypriniformes).
  5. Šlechtová, V., J. Bohlen and H. H. Tan, 2007 - Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 44(3): 1358-1365
    Families of Cobitoidea (Teleostei; Cypriniformes) as revealed from nuclear genetic data and the position of the mysterious genera Barbucca, Psilorhynchus, Serpenticobitis and Vaillantella.

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