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Beaufortia szechuanensis (FANG, 1930)

SynonymsTop ↑

Gastromyzon szechuanensis Fang, 1930


Beaufortia: named for Dr. Lieven F. de Beaufort.

szechuanensis: named for Sichuan, formerly Szechuan, province, southwestern China, where this species was discovered.


Order: Cypriniformes Family: Gastromyzontidae


Native to the Upper Yangtze River (aka Chang Jiang) basin, Sichuan province, southwestern China where it’s been recorded from various tributary systems including the Qing, Ming, Wu and Da Ning He rivers.

Type locality is ‘Omei-shien, western Szechuan, China, elevation 1900 feet’.


Beaufortia spp. are obligate dwellers of shallow, fast-flowing, highly-oxygenated headwaters and minor tributaries characterised by stretches of riffles and runs broken up by pools or cascades in some cases.

Substrates are normally composed of smaller rocks, sand and gravel with jumbles of boulders, and while riparian vegetation and patches of submerged leaf litter are common features aquatic plants aren’t usually present.

The most favourable habitats contain clear, oxygen-saturated water which, allied with the sun, facilitates the development of a rich biofilm carpeting submerged surfaces.

During periods of high rainfall some streams may be temporarily turbid due to suspended material dislodged by increased (sometimes torrential) flow rate and water depth.

Maximum Standard Length

The largest officially recorded specimen measured 69 mm.

Aquarium SizeTop ↑

An aquarium with base measurements of 75 ∗ 30 cm or equivalent should prove sufficient.


Most importantly the water must be clean and well-oxygenated so we suggest the use of an over-sized filter as a minimum requirement.

Turnover should ideally be 10-15 times per hour so additional powerheads, airstones, etc. should also be employed as necessary.

Base substrate can either be of gravelsand or a mixture of both to which should be added a layer of water-worn rocks and pebbles of varying sizes.

Aged driftwood can also be used but avoid new pieces since these usually leach tannins that discolour the water and reduce the effectiveness of artificial lighting, an unwanted side-effect since the latter should be strong to promote the growth of algae and associated microorganisms.

Exposed filter sponges will also be grazed, and some enthusiasts maintain an open filter in the tank specifically to provide an additional food source.

Although rarely a feature of the natural habitat aquatic plants can be used with adaptable genera such as MicrosorumCrinum and Anubias spp. likely to fare best. The latter are particularly useful as their leaves tend to attract algal growth and provide additional cover.

Since it needs stable water conditions and feeds on biofilm this species should never be added to a biologically immature set-up, and a tightly-fitting cover is necessary since it can literally climb glass.

While regular partial water changes are essential aufwuchs can be allowed to grow on all surfaces except perhaps the viewing pane.

Water Conditions

Temperature16 – 24 °C

pH6.5 – 8.0

Hardness36 – 268 ppm


Much of the natural diet is likely to be composed of benthic algae plus associated micro-organisms which are rasped from solid surfaces.

In captivity it will accept good-quality dried foods and meatier items like live or frozen bloodworm but may suffer internal problems if the diet contains excessive protein.

Home-made foods using a mixture of natural ingredients bound with gelatin are very useful since they can be tailored to contain a high proportion of fresh vegetables, Spirulina and similar ingredients.

For long-term success it’s best to provide a mature aquarium with a plentiful supply of algae-covered rocks and other surfaces.

If unable to grow sufficient algae in the main tank or you have a community containing numerous herbivorous fishes which consume what’s available quickly it may be necessary to maintain a separate tank in which to grow algae on rocks and switch them with those in the main tank on a cyclical basis.

Such a ‘nursery‘ doesn’t have to be very large, requires only strong lighting and in sunny climates can be kept outdoors. Algal type is also important with diatoms and softer, green varieties preferred to tougher types such as rhodophytic ‘black brush’ algae.

Gastromyzontids are often seen on sale in an emaciated state which can be difficult to correct.

A good dealer will have done something about this prior to sale but if you decide to take a chance with severely weakened specimens they’ll initially require a constant source of suitable foods in the absence of competitors if they’re to recover.

Behaviour and CompatibilityTop ↑

Beaufortia spp. aren’t aggressive fishes although their environmental requirements somewhat  limit the choice of suitable tankmates.

Species inhabiting similar environments in nature include Barilius, Garra, Devario, some Rasbora, Rhinogobius, Sicyopterus and Stiphodon gobies plus catfishes like Glyptothorax, Akysis and Oreoglanis.

Many loaches from the family Nemacheilidae, Balitoridae and Gastromyzontidae are also suitable although harmless squabbles may occur with the latter group in particular.

Research your choices before purchase in order to be sure and please note that although usually sold as such members of this genus make poor companions for goldfish.

Sexual Dimorphism

Unrecorded. In the closely-related B. kweichowensis the most obvious external characteristics are the shape of the head and body when viewed from above.

Females are comparatively broad and heavy-framed, and the rounded snout is almost continuous with the pectoral fins.

Males are slighter and the snout is much squarer in shape with the pectoral fins emerging almost at right-angles.


Presumably a seasonal spawner in nature but nothing has been recorded in aquaria as far as we know.

NotesTop ↑

Although there exist almost 20 described members of the genus only B. kweichowensis is well-known in the aquarium trade with B. szechuanensis unlikely to have been exported.

According to Chen, Huang and Yang (2009) it can be distinguished from similar congeners by the following suite of characters: 1 branched and 17-20 simple pectoral-fin rays; 98-106 lateral line scales; origin of pectoral-fin in front of eye; origin of dorsal-fin slightly posterior to the middle of the pectoral-fin base; pelvic fins not reaching anus.

Beaufortia spp. have specialised morphology adapted to life in fast-flowing water. The paired fins are orientated horizontally, head and body flattened, and pelvic fins fused together.

These features form a powerful sucking cup which allows the fish to cling tightly to solid surfaces. The ability to swim in open water is greatly reduced and they instead ‘crawl’ their way over and under rocks.

The family Gastromyzontidae is currently considered valid as per Kottelat (2012).

It contains a number of genera which had formerly been included in several families and subfamilies, most recently Balitoridae, of which the most well-known in the aquarium hobby include Beaufortia, Formosania, Gastromyzon, Pseudogastromyzon, Hypergastromyzon, Liniparhomaloptera, Sewellia, and Vanmanenia.


  1. Chen, Z.-M., Y.-F. Huang, and J.-X. Yang, 2009 - Acta Zootaxonomica Sinica 34(3): 639-641
    A new species of the genus Beaufortia from Yunnan Province, China (Cypriniformes, Homalopteridae).
  2. Endruweit, M., 2010 - World Wide Web electronic publication www.aquariophil.org : accessed on 2010.06.26
  3. Kottelat, M., 2012 - Raffles Bulletin of Zoology Supplement 26: 1-199
    Conspectus cobitidum: an inventory of the loaches of the world (Teleostei: Cypriniformes: Cobitoidei).
  4. Tan, H.H., 2006 - Natural History Publications (Borneo), Kota Kinabalu: 245 p.
    The Borneo suckers. Revision of the Torrent Loaches of Borneo (Balitoridae: Gastromyzon, Neogastromyzon).
  5. 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).
  6. Šlechtová, V., J. Bohlen and H. H. Tan, 2007 - Molecular Phylogenetics and Evol.ution 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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