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Paracanthocobitis mooreh (SYKES, 1839)

SynonymsTop ↑

Cobitis mooreh Sykes, 1839; Acanthocobitis mooreh (Sykes, 1839); Nemacheilus sinuatus Day, 1870; Noemacheilus moreh [sic] Menon, 1987.

Nemacheilus aureus Day, 1872, considered synonymous by Kottelat (2012b) is removed from synonymy and raised to distinct species as Paracanthocobitis aurea (Day, 1972) by Singer and Page (2015).


Paracanthocobitis: from the Greek παρά (para), meaning ‘close beside,’ and the genus Acanthocobitis from the Greek ἄκανθος ‎(ákanthos), meaning ‘thorned’, in reference to the spine beneath the eye in the type species A. longipinnis, and κωβιός ‎(kōbiós), meaning ‘a kind of small fish’.

mooreh: from ‘mooreh’, the native vernacular name for this species.


Order: Cypriniformes Family: Nemacheilidae


Known only from the Godavari, Krishna, and Kaveri (Cauvery) river systems in western and southern India

Type locality is given simply as ‘Dukhun [Deccan], India’, in reference to the Deccan Plateau which forms much of the southern part of the country and is enclosed by the Western Ghats, Eastern Ghats, Satpura, and Vindhaya mountain ranges. This was later updated to ‘Mota Mola River at Poona’ by Sykes (1841).


Displays a preference for stretches of streams and small rivers where leaf litter and other debris collects over substrates of open sand, mixed cobbles, rocks, and boulders.

Maximum Standard Length

55 – 75 mm.

Aquarium SizeTop ↑

Base dimensions in excess of 75 ∗ 30 cm are sufficient.


Should thrive in most well-maintained aquaria if plenty of cover is provided, and should not harm softer-leaved plants.

A biotope-style arrangment set-up designed to resemble a slow-moving or marginal section of a stream or river could comprise a sandy substrate and perhaps a few water-worn boulders. This can be further decorated with driftwood roots and branches arranged to form some shaded spots, plus a few handfuls of dried leaves of a suitable type. Aquatic plants could be grown attached to the décor and bright lighting would promote the growth of aufwuchs which would add to the natural feel.

Although a high level of water movement is not essential for its well-being, this species should also thrive in a mature hill stream-type set-up with a rocky aquascape.

Water Conditions

Temperature: 20 – 26 °C

pH: 6.0 – 7.5

Hardness: 36 – 215 ppm


Probably a micropredator feeding on insect larvae and suchlike in nature.  Singer and Page (2015) report that stomach contents examined during their study were larval chironomids and ephemeropterans.

In the aquarium it will accept sinking dried foods but should also be offered regular meals of small live or frozen fare such as Daphnia, Artemia, chironomid larvae (bloodworm), etc.

Behaviour and CompatibilityTop ↑

Generally non-aggressive and can be maintained alongside many of the more popular species in the hobby, although fishes from one of its native rivers perhaps represent the ideal choices.

Peaceful, similarly-sized, schooling cyprinids and other loaches such as Lepidocephalichthys and some Nemacheilus spp. represent excellent choices. In a hill stream set-up it can also be housed with rheophilic genera such as Gastromyzon, Pseudogastromyzon, Beaufortia and Sewellia, but more aggressive nemacheilids such as most Schistura spp. are best avoided.

Sexual Dimorphism

Adult males should be noticeably slimmer than females.



NotesTop ↑

P. mooreh can be distinguished from congeners by the following combination of characters: lateral line incomplete, ending near pelvic-fin origin; axillary pelvic lobe absent; colour pattern comprising small, mostly vertical blotches along lateral line, equal to or narrower than interspaces and connected to dorsal saddles, becoming more distant from one another posteriorly; caudal-fin with 4-5 dark bands.

The genus Acanthocobitis was described by Peters (1861) with Acanthocobitis longipinnis designated as the type species.  The placement and status of this species was questioned by several authors beginning with Menon (1987) who considered it a junior synonym of Cobitis botia Hamilton, 1822.  Grant (2007) compared the holotype of A. longipinnis with live specimens of A. botia and found the two species to be easily distinguished.  He noted that A. longipinnis is distinguished from all other Acanthocobitis species in having a pointed caudal fin, vertically oriented suborbital flap, slender body, long dorsal fin, anus closer to anal-fin insertion than to pelvic-fin insertion, and greenish colouration.

Grant (2007) considered Acanthocobitis longipinnis to be a junior synonym of A. pavonacea and proposed the subgenus Paracanthocobitis (type species C. zonalternans) to include all other species since he regarded A. pavonacea to be taxonomically unique.  Kottelat (2012a) remarked that the identity of A. longipinnis required verification and later (Kottelat, 2012b) classed Paracanthocobitis as a questionable synonym of Acanthocobitis.

Singer and Page (2015) recognize Paracanthocobitis as a genus, differing from Acanthocobitis as diagnosed by Grant (2007, 2008), although the two genera are most likely sister taxa based on the unique papillated pad on either side of a medial interruption on the lower lip.  Fourteen species including five new species described therein are assigned to Paracanthocobitis, with Acanthocobitis treated as monotypic, containing only A. pavonacea, a species restricted to the Brahmaputra and Ganges river basins of northern India and Bangladesh.  Acanthocobitis longipinnis is considered to be a synonym of A. pavonacea (Grant, 2007); however, the only available specimen of A. longpinnis is the poorly preserved holotype.  Collection of fresh material may show the two forms to be distinguishable from one another.  [Singer and Page, 2015, p. 398]

Paracanthocobitis is distinguished from all other genera in the family by the combination of lower lip with a large papillated pad on either side of a medial interruption; upper lip with 2–5 rows of papillae and continuous with lower lip; conspicuous black spot with white outline (an ocellus) on upper half of caudal-fin base.

Paracanthocobitis is distinguished from Acanthocobitis in having an emarginate or truncate (vs. pointed) caudal fin; 9 and 1/2 –15 and 1/2 (vs. 17 and 1/2 –19 and 1/2) branched dorsal-fin rays; rounded (vs. more triangular-shaped) head in lateral view; horizontally (vs. vertically) oriented suborbital flap or groove; papillated pad on either side of narrow (vs. wide) medial interruption in lower lip; anus closer to pelvic-fin insertion than to anal-fin insertion (vs. closer to anal-fin insertion).  [Singer and Page, 2015, p. 380]

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

Thanks to Steven Grant and Rahul Kumar.


  1. Sykes, W. H., 1839 - Proceedings of the Zoological Society of London 1838 (pt 6): 157-165
    On the fishes of the Deccan.
  2. Day, F., 1870 - Proceedings of the Zoological Society of London 1870 (pt 2): 369-374
    Notes on some fishes from the western coast of India.
  3. Grant, S., 2007 - Ichthyofile No. 2: 1-9
    A new subgenus of Acanthocobitis Peters, 1861 (Teleostei: Nemacheilidae).
  4. Grant, S., 2008 - BSSW-Report 20(3): 49-52
    Schmerlen der Gattung Acanthocobitis Peters, 1861.
  5. Kottelat, M., 1990 - Verlag Dr. Friedrich Pfeil, München, Germany: 1-262
    Indochinese nemacheilines. A revision of nemacheiline loaches (Pisces: Cypriniformes) of Thailand, Burma, Laos, Cambodia and southern Viet Nam.
  6. Kottelat, M., 2012a - Zootaxa 3327: 45-52
    Acanthocobitis pictilis, a new species of loach from Myanmar and Thailand (Teleostei: Nemacheilidae).
  7. Kottelat, M., 2012b - Raffles Bulletin of Zoology Supplement 26: 1-199
    Conspectus cobitidum: an inventory of the loaches of the world (Teleostei: Cypriniformes: Cobitoidei).
  8. Singer, R. A. and L. M. Page, 2015 - Copeia v. 103 (no 2): 378-401
    Revision of the zipper loaches, Acanthocobitis and Paracanthocobitis (Teleostei: Nemacheilidae), with descriptions of five new species.
  9. Sykes, W. H., 1841 - Transactions of the Zoological Society of London v. 2: 349-378
    On the fishes of the Dukhun.
  10. 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).

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