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Pseudohomaloptera leonardi (HORA, 1941)

SynonymsTop ↑

Balitoropsis leonardi (Hora, 1941); Homaloptera leonardi (Hora, 1941)


Pseudohomaloptera:  From the Greek ψευδής, pseudes (= lying, false) and the generic name Homaloptera, itself from the Greek homalos (= flat, level or even) and ptera (= wing), a reference to the horizontal positioning of the pectoral and ventral fins.

leonardi:  Named for Mr. G. R. Leonard, Superintendent of the King George V National Park in Malaysia at the time the species was discovered.


Order: Cypriniformes Family: Balitoridae


Type locality is given as ‘Kuala Tahan, Pahang (King George V National Park)’ which corresponds to the village of Kuala Tahan in Pahang state, central Peninsular Malaysia.

The settlement is  located at the confluence of the Tahan and Tembiling Rivers which form part of the Pahang river basin, while the national park was renamed ‘Taman Negara’ after Malaysia regained its independance from the British in 1957.

H. leonardi is currently considered to range throughout Peninsular Malaysia and northwards into Thailand as far as the Tapi river drainage in Surat Thani province. Records from other river systems in Thailand and Cambodia, particularly the Mekong basin, are in need of confirmation.


An obligate dweller of swiftly-flowing streams and headwaters containing clear, oxygen-saturated water. Adults usually inhabit riffles and runs, and show a preference for shallower zones with substrates of gravel, rocks, boulders or bedrock, typically carpeted by a rich biofilm formed by algae and other micro-organisms.

Juveniles are often found in slower-moving stretches with gravel substrate and submerged woodt structures such as tree roots. In both cases patches of aquatic plants are only occasionally present but riparian vegetation is usually well-developed.

Maximum Standard Length

60 – 70 mm.

Aquarium SizeTop ↑

An aquarium with base dimensions of 80 ∗ 30 cm or more ought to 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 be employed to achieve the desired flow and oxygenation if 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.

Driftwood roots and branches are also suitable and although rarely a feature of the natural habitat aquatic plants from genera such as MicrosorumCrinum and Anubias spp. can be grown attached to the décor. The latter are particularly useful as Homaloptera spp. appear to enjoy resting on their leaves.

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

Temperature68 – 78 °C

pH6.0 – 7.5

Hardness18 – 215 ppm


Homaloptera spp. are specialised grazers feeding on biofilm, small crustaceans, insect larvae and other invertebrates.

In captivity some sinking dried foods may be accepted but regular meals of live or frozen Daphnia, Artemia, bloodworm, etc., are essential for the maintenance of good health and it’s highly preferable if the tank contains rock and other solid surfaces with growths of algae and other aufwuchs.

Balitorids 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 continual, easily-obtainable source of suitable foods in the absence of competitors if they’re to recover.

Behaviour and CompatibilityTop ↑

Not an aggressive fish although its environmental requirements limit the choice of suitable tankmates plus it is naturally reclusive.

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

Many loaches from the family Nemacheilidae and most from Balitoridae are also suitable although harmless squabbles may sometimes occur with the latter group in particular. Research your choices before purchase in order to be sure.

Homaloptera spp. aren’t particularly territorial towards conspecifics and seem to require their presence to thrive, meaning the purchase of four or more is recommended.

Sexual Dimorphism

Sexually mature females are usually a little larger and fuller-bodied than males.


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

NotesTop ↑

Here on SF this species was referred to as Homaloptera sp. ‘H01’ prior to establishing its identity.

Fowler (1934) described the subject species in the genus Homaloptera where it remained until Kottelat (2012, 2013) placed it in Balitoropsis.  Randall & Page (2012) considered this species a member of the putative subgenus Balitoropsis which they felt at the time was not well defined.

Homaloptera has long been considered a polyphyletic assemblage (Kottelat, 1998), and some former members were moved into the revalidated genus Homalopteroides (Fowler, 1905) by Randall and Page (2012) on the basis of their oral morphology.  Following Randall and Page (2015) the majority of members have been moved into other genera as recognized therein.

The genus Pseudohomaloptera was initially raised by Silas (1953) for the type species Homaloptera tatereganii Popta 1905.  Pseudohomaloptera was distinguished from Homaloptera by the “presence of a rostral groove and other structures associated with the mouth” (Silas 1953, p. 205).  Tan (2009) noted that all Homaloptera species have a rostral and postoral groove to some degree, and he recognized Pseudohomaloptera as a junior synonym of Homaloptera.  Kottelat (2012) also recognized this synonymy.

Randall and Page (2015) revalidated Pseudohomaloptera as a distinct genus, containing the species Pseudohomaloptera tatereganii (Popta 1905), P. sexmaculata (Fowler 1934), P. leonardi
(Hora 1941), P. yunnanensis (Chen 1978), P. vulgaris (Kottelat & Chu 1988), and P. batek (Tan 2009).

Pseudohomaloptera is distinguished by the following combination of characters: without reddish tints on fins in life; dorsal-fin origin anterior to or above pelvic-fin origin; 8½ branched dorsal-fin rays; 8–9 branched pelvic-fin rays; forked caudal fin; keeled scales; 50–61 total lateral-line scales; 13–19 predorsal scales; anus closer to anal-fin origin than to pelvic-fin insertion; no adipose keel on caudal peduncle; large rostral cap; 2 thick rostral barbels in close proximity to one another; thick and triangular/crescentic upper lip; fleshy pad between lateral portions of lower lip.

Pseudohomaloptera is morphologically very similar to Balitoropsis, and may be distinguished from the latter by having the anus closer to anal-fin origin than to pelvic-fin insertion.  According to Randall & Page (2015), the relationships within Pseudohomaloptera are unknown.

P. leonardi is very similar to P. sexmaculata but can be told apart since it possesses 6 simple and 11 branched pectoral-fin rays (versus 2 simple and 12-14 branched rays). Both of these species are sometimes misidentified as H. yunnanensis which has 7 simple and 12 branched pectoral-fin rays.

All species make fascinating aquarium inhabitants and are often referred to as ‘lizard’ loaches due to their behaviour and appearance. Like all balitorids they have morphology specialised for life in fast-flowing water, i.e., the paired fins are orientated and extended horizontally, head and body flattened, belly depressed.

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 appear to crawl and hop their way over rocks and other surfaces.

The family Balitoridae as recognised by Kottelat (2012) is widely-distributed across much of the Indian subcontinent, Southeast Asia and China.


  1. Hora, S. L., 1941 - Bulletin of the Raffles Museum 17: 44-64
    Notes on Malayan fishes in the collection of the Raffles Museum, Singapore. Parts 2 and 3.
  2. Beamish, F. W. H., P. Sa-ardrit and V. Cheevaporn, 2008 - Journal of Fish Biology 72 (10): 2467–2484
    Habitat and abundance of Balitoridae in small rivers of central Thailand.
  3. 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.
  4. Kottelat, M., 1998 - Ichthyological Exploration of Freshwaters 9(3): 267-272
    Homaloptera yuwonoi, a new species of hillstream loach from Borneo, with a new generic name for H. thamicola (Teleostei: Balitoridae).
  5. Kottelat, M., 2001 - WHT Publications Ltd., Colombo 5, Sri Lanka: 1-198
    Fishes of Laos.
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    Conspectus cobitidum: an inventory of the loaches of the world (Teleostei: Cypriniformes: Cobitoidei).
  7. Kottelat, M., 2013 - Raffles Bulletin of Zoology Supplement 27: 1-663
    The fishes of the inland waters of southeast Asia: a catalogue and core bibliography of the fishes known to occur in freshwaters, mangroves and estuaries.
  8. Kottelat, M. and X.-L. Chu, 1988 - Cybium 12(2): 103-106
    The genus Homaloptera (Osteichthyes, Cypriniformes, Homalopteridae) in Yunnan, China.
  9. Rainboth, W. J., 1996 - Rome, FAO: 1-265
    FAO species identification field guide for fishery purposes. Fishes of the Cambodian Mekong.
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    Resurrection of the genus Homalopteroides (Teleostei: Balitoridae) with a redescription of H. modestus (Vinciguerra 1890).
  11. Randall, Z. S. and L. M. Page, 2015 - Zootaxa 3926(1): 57-86
    On the paraphyly of Homaloptera (Teleostei: Balitoridae) and description of a new genus of hillstream loaches from the Western Ghats of India.
  12. Tan, H. H. and P. K. L. Ng, 2005 - Ichthyological Exploration of Freshwaters 16(1): 1-12
    Homaloptera parclitella, a new species of torrent loach from the Malay Peninsula, with redescription of H. orthogoniata (Teleostei: Balitoridae).
  13. 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).
  14. 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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