RSS Facebook Twitter YouTube




Archive for April 2013

New names for aquarium fish

April 30th, 2013 — 6:44pm

Betta hendra is a member of the B. coccina species group within the genus. © Gustav Eek

Two fish species previously referred to as Betta sp. ‘Sengalang/Palangkayara’ and Apistogramma sp. ‘masken’ in the aquarium hobby have been described on an official basis in the last couple of weeks. Continue reading »

Category: New Species, News | Tags: , , , , | Comment »

SF Spring Break – see you in 10 days!!

April 19th, 2013 — 4:48pm

Aphanius anatoliae exists in several different colour forms within our study area © Barbara Nicca

There won’t be any news, articles or species updates for the next 10 days or so since we’re off on a field trip to central Turkey to look for some of the endemic freshwater fishes and other creatures to be found there! Continue reading »

Category: Announcements, News | Tags: , , | 5 comments »

Coelacanth genome reveals lungfish to be closer tetrapod relative

April 18th, 2013 — 10:29am

The new study shows that lungfish are more closely-related to tetrapods than the coelacanth © Klaus Rudloff

An international team of researchers has decoded the genome of a creature whose evolutionary history is both enigmatic and illuminating: the African coelacanth. Continue reading »

Category: News, Science | Tags: , , , , | Comment »

Three new loaches of the genus Cobitis Linnaeus, 1758

April 16th, 2013 — 10:05am

C. sp. 1 was initially imported as Misgurnus anguillicaudatus © Thomas Frank

Thomas Frank introduces three recent additions to the aquarium hobby…

For loach-lovers 2008 was certainly not the worst year. It started in the middle of the year, when small loaches arrived in Aachen under the name Misgurnus anguillicaudatus but which could easily be identified as members of the genus Cobitis.

They came from the Dutch ornamental fish wholesaler Ruinemans and I was unable to establish the precise identity and origin of the fish so designated them Cobitis sp. 1.

Only later I stumbled upon the website http://blog.xuite.net/snakejoan/snake/28724172 where some undefined Taiwanese Cobitis are depicted which appeared very similar to mine. From Matt Ford I received an additional pointer that some loaches very similar to mine are included in Chen and Chang (2005), this time with the name Cobitis cf. sinensis.

The origin of these loaches should thus almost certainly be Taiwan and this was confirmed in Spring 2009 when Aqua-Global of Seefeld imported some specimens originating from Taiwan under the name Cobitis sinensis.

Some of these animals arrived to the company Schwabenaquaristik in Aulendorf, who thankfully granted my request for a photograph of them very quickly. These loaches also seemed identical to mine, so I assumed that the fish from all of these different sources were the same species.

The males have a rounded lamina circularis (as far as I can tell) and the typical extended second pectoral spine, and the sexes in cobitids can typically be told apart in this pretty clear and simple way. It is a rather small loach with the largest female around 8 centimeters and the biggest male not much more than 6 centimetres in total length.

C. sp. 2 has been traded as Cobitis chinensis in the past © Thomas Frank

The fish have already bred in my aquarium and I will provide details about this in a later report.

At the end of the year the ornamental fish wholesaler Mimbon Aquarium in Cologne joined the ‘loach spotlight’ in which two Cobitis species were imported for the retail sector at the same time (one of them in smaller numbers as bycatch).

This time China was clearly stated as the origin from the time of import and later Hans-Georg Evers (2009) specified them to be collected in Guangdong Province.

The animals were traded as ‘chinensis’ but unfortunately this name has never officially been used within the genus Cobitis, not even as a synonym, and they may even represent an undescribed species (here they are referred to as Cobitis sp. 2).

The fish have an unusual colour pattern which differs quite clearly from other Cobitis spp., so different in fact that at first I thought it may eventually prove not to be a member of Cobitis and perhaps be assigned to the genus Iksookimia.

The pattern of spots arranged along the sides of the body is highly variable and ranges from almost symmetrical rectangles to narrow, vertical stripes or ‘drops’.

Female of C. sp. 3 © Thomas Frank

Here too the males have a rounded lamina circularis and due to the size of the fish it is easy to see that the second pectoral-fin ray is extended and bent slightly upwards.

I was not pleased with the sex ratio of my new loaches, though, because among the group of 18 animals I could see only 2 males and, accordingly, 16 females.

I was able to add two more males to my already more-than-sufficiently large group from Aqua-Tropica in Cologne, and I also took the last remaining females from there.

The most striking character about these fish was their size which was quite impressive for a loach. At time of purchase all of them measured at least 10 centimetres with the largest thirteen centimetres TL. The height of the body is around 15 millimetres. After around 2½ years of maintenance I could no longer detect any growth.

A second species from Mimbon (Cobitis sp. 3) was as already mentioned imported as byctach alongside the ‘chinensis’ fish. They are considerably less deep in the body than the ‘chinensis’ but have a similar length and a typical pattern of spots on the flanks.

In comparison with other Cobitis species the dorsal-fin is placed quite far back on the body, though not to the extent as seen in weather (Misgurnus) or kuhlii (Pangio) loaches. I originally managed to pick up just three of these ‘cobitid bycatch’, all females, but on my aforementioned visit to Aqua-Tropica I was fortunate to find a male and additional female.

Male of C. sp. 3 © Thomas Frank

I have not yet been able to observe a lamina circularis in the male, but at present I am unable to say whether it really doesn’t exist or I am yet to discover it.

The maintenance of these loaches is unproblematic and care only needs to be taken when keeping them alongside other fishes. Cobitids tend to eat slowly and the two large examples presented here are no exception, so any tankmates must be chosen with this in mind.

Moreover, one must not give a lot of thought if wishing to keep these fish in an aquarium. A heater is not always required although higher temperatures are tolerated well.

Two practical examples: I maintained a group of the fish first-exported as ‘C. chinensis’ for two years in a cement tub in temperatures of around 15 °C on average. The temperature only rose above 20 °C on some warm days, and the fish spent winter in the basement at around 5 °C. The other group lives in an aquarium at room temperature.

With prolonged summer heat the aquarium temperature may rise to approximately 30 °C but I there were no losses in either group and all now live together in an aquarium.

A soft, sandy substrate, within which the fish will bury themselves at times, plus several flat stones arranged to form hiding places and some submerged roots complete the set-up. Even plants are not damaged or uprooted by the fish as they forage.

C. sp. 1 is probably collected in Taiwan © Thomas Frank

That said, I tend to keep nothing except cryptocorynes in my loach tanks since with larger stem plants there could be problems, especially in combination with larger and stronger cobitids.

Regarding food the only consideration is that it must sink to the bottom with live black mosquito larvae ideal for cobitids, although they also accept frozen varieties with enthusiasm.

White mosquito larvae are less useful for these fish since they live more in open water plus the defrosted remains tend to float on the surface. Both live and frozen bloodworm or Tubifex are very suitable foods, though.

I feed only live Tubifex because some of them bury into the sand and serve as a more constant source of food for the loaches. Often the loaches are still feeding on the Tubifex the following day, some of which have become deeply buried in the sand, so the fish must perform a ‘headstand’ to find them!

Sinking dried tablets and granules designed for benthic fishes and of a suitable size for their mouths are also happily taken by my Cobitis.

All in all these are easy loaches to keep but as with many other loach genera they do not have a large fan-base.


Evers, H.-G. (2009): Schmerlen aus China. Amazonas, 5 (3): 72-73

Chang, I.-S. & Chen, Y.-C. (2005): A Photographic Guide to the Inland-Water Fishes of Taiwan: Volume 1: Cypriniformes 254-259

NB: this is a translation of the article “Drei neue Steinbeißer der Gattung Cobitis” which was originally published in the BSSW-Report 3/12.

Category: Articles, Freshwater Fishes | Tags: , , , | One comment »

New tetra from the upper rio Tapajós, Brazil

April 15th, 2013 — 10:15pm

Hyphessobrycon peugeoti © Ingenito et al.

A new tetra of the genus Hyphessobrycon has been described from affluents of the middle rio Juruena, itself a tributary in the upper rio Tapajós basin, Mato Grosso State, Brazil. Continue reading »

Category: New Species, News | Tags: , , , , , , | 2 comments »

Superb book offer from Freshwater Biotopes!

April 9th, 2013 — 7:51pm

The books contain beautiful underwater photography © Rune Evjeberg

For fans of Mexican fishes, especially livebearers, the two books written and self-published by the ‘Freshwater Biotopes’ team of Rune Evjeberg and Kai Qvist are essential reading.

Book 1 is extensive and covers numerous habitats in the states of Coahuila, San Luis Potosi, Hidalgo, Michoacán, Quinatana Roo and Campeche, whereas Book 2 is concerned with the highly diverse Yucatan Peninsula.

Focussing not only on the fishes inhabiting the biotopes each locality-specific section also includes information regarding water chemistry, flora, insects, reptiles, mammals and birds to be found at the various localities.

Production quality is high with lavish colour photography throughout, including some memorable underwater images, and overall these books represent an irresistible insight into some of the most beautiful freshwater habitats in the world.

Mexico is a haven for livebearers such as Poecilia latipunctata © Rune Evjeberg

A total of 163 endemic freshwater fish species are known from Mexico and some of them are highly-endangered. In order to assist around 20 % of the cover price of each book is donated to the Fish Ark Project based at the Aqualab, Universidad Michoacána, Morelia.

The Aqualab maintains a number of species in danger of extinction or which are already extinct in the wild, including goodeids and other livebearers, so by buying these books you’re also supporting a worthy cause!

Not only that, SF readers can get a 10% discount by ordering the books from www.freshwater-biotopes.org and entering the discount code ‘SF10‘.

The offer is only valid for a limited period and the first book is now back in stock after the first print run sold out (and at a lower price than before too) so we advise getting in there quickly to avoid missing out this time!

Category: SF Offers | Tags: , , , , , , | 2 comments »

Sex ratio in kribensis influenced by environment

April 3rd, 2013 — 6:29pm

Adult male; red operculum morph (?) © Tino Strauss

Scientists from the University of Alberta, Canada, have ascertained that the pH of water influences both sex ratio and male phenotype in the kribensis, Pelvicahromis pulcher. Continue reading »

Category: News, Science | Tags: , , , , | 3 comments »

Surf the FishNet!

April 3rd, 2013 — 11:56am

Global distribution of records in the FishNet2 database with yellow circles indicating the locations of participating institutions

FishNet2 is the latest incarnation of a collaborative project initiated by the University of Kansas, United States in the late 1990s and currently administrated by Tulane University. Continue reading »

Category: Articles, Science | Tags: , , , | Comment »

Back to top