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Iksookimia yongdokensis KIM & PARK, 1997


yongdokensis: named for Yong-dok-gun in the Yongdokoship river system, Korea, type locality of this species.


Order: Cypriniformes Family: Cobitidae


All Iksookimia species are endemic to Korea, with I. yongdokensis native to the eastern province of Gyeongsangbuk-do (North Gyeongsang), South Korea, where it’s known from the Hyongsan, Yongdokoship, Chuksan and Songcheon river drainages.

Type locality is given as ‘Yongdokoship River, Yongjeon-ri, Dalsman-myon, Yongdok-gun, Kyongsangbuk-do, Korea, 36°23’47″N, 129°15’20″E’.


Most frequently observed in sluggish, shallow(< 1 m deep) habitats with substrates of sand or pebbles in mid-to-upper sections of rivers.

It’s been collected alongside several other species including Squalidus multimaculatus, Phoxinus oxycephalus, Carassius auratus, Nipponocypris temminckii, Misgurnus anguillicaudatus and Rhinogobius brunneus.

Maximum Standard Length

120 – 160 mm.

Aquarium SizeTop ↑

An aquarium with base dimensions of 100 ∗ 30 cm should be the smallest considered.


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 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, and perhaps some driftwood roots and branches.

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 requires stable water conditions this species should never be added to a biologically immature set-up, and regular partial water changes are essential.

Water Conditions

Temperature: For general care 20 – 24 °C is recommended but it should withstand warmer conditions provided dissolved oxygen levels are maintained.

pH7.0 – 8.0

Hardness90 – 268 ppm


Chiefly a micropredator feeding on chironomid larvae and benthic inveretebrates in nature.

In the aquarium it will accept sinking dried foods but should also be offered regular meals of small live and frozen fare such as Daphnia, Artemia, bloodworm, etc. A varied diet is key to maintaining it in the best of health.

Behaviour and CompatibilityTop ↑

Iksookimia spp. are peaceful both with one another and other fishes and there exist no reports of them harming tankmates though they may prey on eggs or fry.

They fare best in the presence of conspecifics and should ideally be kept in a group of 4 or more specimens.

I. hugowolfeldi makes an excellent addition to communities of suitably-sized stream fishes. Good tankmates include  small, peaceful cyprinids plus current-loving loaches from genera such as GastromyzonPseudogastromyzonBeaufortiaSewellia, and peaceful nemacheilids.

Rheophilic gobies from genera including SicyopterusStiphodonRhinogobius, and Lentipes can also make interesting additions to this kind of community.

Territorial or aggressive bottom-dwellers such as most substrate-dwelling cichlids and some nemacheilid loaches are less-suitable companions.

Sexual Dimorphism

Adult females are typically heavier-bodied and a little larger then males. In mature males the pectoral fins become extended, particularly the second ray, and there is a thickened structure known as the lamina circularis at the base.

The size of the lamina circularis is useful in identifying this species since it’s much smaller than in other members of the genus.


Presumably a seasonal spawner in nature but hasn’t been bred in captivity as far as we know.

NotesTop ↑

This species may not yet have reached the western hobby but is sometimes traded in Korea and Japan, and is one of five currently-recognised members of the genus alongside I. koreensisI. longicorpaI. pumila and I. yongdokensis.

Among them it’s most similar to I. longicorpus and I. hugowolfeldi but can be distinguished by the following combination of characters: body patterning consisting of 9-13 dark vertical bars along the flanks plus a small dark spot at the base of the upper caudal-fin lobe; no black blotch or markings posterior to the operculum; reduced lamina circularis in males; interorbital width measures 14.7-17.8% of head width (vs. 10.7-14.3%); 13-14 gill rakers (vs. 15-17); 17-20 caudal vertebrae (vs. 20-24).

It appears that I. hugowolfeldi, I. longicorpus and I. yongdokensis form a distinct biogeographic lineage to I. koreensis and I. pumila, with the former group distributed to the south of the Taebaek and Noryeong moutnain ranges and the latter to the west.

This is further evidenced by the fact that the lamina circularis in males of the southern group is rounded in shape while that of the western species is more elongate.

Iksookimia was erected by Nalbant (1993) to accommodate five species of Cobitis from Korea. The description of I. yongdokensis in 1997 increased the number of members to six but C. choii was later reassigned to its original status.

We haven’t seen Nalbant’s paper but a brief summation by Kim and Park (1997) states that he separated Iksookimia spp. on the basis of a combination of characters including: elongate first pectoral ray; relatively stout body form; longer barbels; more developed mental lobes; reduced sub-ocular spine; scales with a larger ‘focal’ area; absence of four ‘Gambetta’ pigmentation zones on the flanks.

This analysis was supported by Kim (2009) who noted the same characters while adding that the lateral line does not extend beyond the pectoral fins and that the second pectoral ray has a ‘beak-like tip’ while also placing Cobitis pacifica into Iksookimia.

The family Cobitidae, often referred to as ‘true’ loaches, is widely-distributed across most of Eurasia with the Indian subcontinent, Southeast Asia and China representing particular centres of species diversity.

Phylogenetic analyses by Tang et al. (2006), Šlechtová et al. (2007) and Šlechtová et al. (2008) revealed that the group constitutes a separate genetic lineage to the family Botiidae (the two were previously grouped together under Cobitidae as subfamilies Cobitinae and Botiinae).

In the most recent study Iksookimia was found to represent a polyphyletic grouping comprising up to three separate genetic lineages.

The authors stopped short of rearranging the genus, instead provisionally including it in one of four generalised lineages within a ‘northern’ clade of the family Cobitidae comprising species distributed in Europe, western, northern and eastern Asia, Vietnam and Laos. These are as follows:

1) All species of Sabanjewia.
2) Microcobitis misgurnoides.
3) All MisgurnusParamisgurnus and Koreocobitis spp.
4) All Cobitis spp. plus IksookimiaNiwaëlla and Kichulchoia spp.

All cobitids possess sharp, motile, sub-ocular (below the eye) spines which are normally concealed within a pouch of skin but erected when an individual is stressed, e.g., if removed from the water. Care is therefore necessary as these can become entangled in aquarium nets and, in larger species, break human skin.


  1. Kim, I.-S. and J.-Y. Park, 1997 - Ichthyological Research 44(3): 249-256
    Iksookimia yongdokensis, a new cobitid fish (Pisces: Cobitidae) from Korea with a key to the species of Iksookimia.
  2. Kim, I.-S., 2009 - Korean Journal of Ichthyology 21 (Suppl.): 7-28
    A review of the spined loaches, family Cobitidae (Cypriniformes) in Korea.
  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. 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 A. Perdices, 2008 - Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 47(2): 812-831
    Molecular phylogeny of the freshwater fish family Cobitidae (Cypriniformes: Teleostei): delimitation of genera, mitochondrial introgression and evolution of sexual dimorphism.
  6. 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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