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Kottelatlimia hipporhynchos KOTTELAT & TAN, 2008


Kottelatlimia: named for icthyologists Maurice Kottelat and Kelvin K. P. Lim, the authors who originally described K. katik, type species of the genus.

hipporhynchos: from the Greek hippos, meaning ‘horse’, and rhynchos, meaning ‘snout, muzzle’, in reference to the long, horse-like snout of large specimens.


Order: Cypriniformes Family: Cobitidae


Known only from Kalimantan Tengah (Central Kalimantan) province, Indonesian Borneo where it’s been collected from the Kahayan, Sampit, and Kapuas river drainages.

The latter does not refer to the much larger system of the same name in Kalimantan Barat (West Kalimantan) province despite being spelled identically.

Type locality is given as ‘backwater stream at kilometer 80 on road from Palangka Raya to Tumbang Telakian, 1°37.324’S, 113°37.569’E, Kahayan River drainage, Kalimantan Tengah, Borneo’.


Most commonly found in slow-moving forest streams with clear, tannin-stained water and substrates of white sand but has also been observed in blackwater peat swamps.

Such habitats are typically shaded from the sun by marginal vegetation and the dense tree canopy above. The water generally has a negligible dissolved mineral content, is poorly buffered and tea-coloured due to the gradual release of tannins and organic acids from decaying plant material.

According to Kottelat and Tan (2008) it occurs sympatrically with K. pristes in some localities but whereas that species inhabits patches of leaf litter and other organic material K. hipporhynchos was observed ‘resting on the sand substrate or diving into it’.

In mixed lowland heath forest and peat swamps of the Kahayan river system near the town of Palangkaraya, Central Kalimantan it’s been collected alongside a number of other fish species including Osteochilus pentalineatus, O. spilurus, O. bleekeri, Rasbora cephalotaenia, R. patrickyapi, Sundadanio sp., ‘Puntiusrhomboocellatus, ‘P.johorensis, ‘P.trifasciatus, Kottelatlimia pristes, Nemacheilus sp., Ompok supernus, Silurichthys phaiosoma, Hemirhamphodon chrysopunctatus, Nandus nebulosus, Betta anabatoides, B. foerschi, Luciocephalus pulcher, Sphaerichthys selatanensis, Channa bankanensis and Macrognathus circumcinctus.

Maximum Standard Length

The largest specimen known measured 52.3 mm.

Aquarium SizeTop ↑

An aquarium with base dimensions of 60 ∗ 30 cm or more is recommended.


Must be provided with a soft, sandy substrate since some of its time is spent completely buried, or with only eyes protruding. When coarser gravel is used it may become stressed or damage itself trying to dig, and feeding behaviour can be inhibited.

Other décor is not essential but could include water-worn rocks or driftwood branches and tree roots. These should be added prior to the substrate to prevent them being toppled by digging activity, and be sure leave open patches of sand between for the fish to move around in.

Lighting can be quite dim unless you intend to grow plants, which should ideally be of species able to grow attached to items of décor, while a few handfuls of dried leaf litter would complete the natural effect and provide additional cover.

Like many fishes that hail from pristine natural habitats it’s intolerant to accumulation of organic wastes and requires spotless water in order to thrive. For this reason it should never be introduced to biologically immature set-ups and adapts most easily to stable, mature aquaria.

Provided oxygenation is adequate water movement is unimportant although this species is also likely to do well in a river tank-style arrangement if the substrate is fine enough for it to dig.

Water Conditions

Temperature23 – 26 °C

pH4.0 – 6.5

Hardness0 – 179 ppm


Chiefly a micropredator sifting mouthfuls of substrate through the gills from which insect larvae, small crustaceans and suchlike are extracted.

In captivity it’s not difficult to feed but offer a varied diet comprising sinking dried foods plus live and frozen Artemia, Tubifex, Daphnia, bloodworm, etc.

Behaviour and CompatibilityTop ↑

Not especially robust and shouldn’t be kept with much larger or more competitive fishes. Diminutive schooling cyprinids are ideal as are anabantoids such as Sphaerichthys or Parosphromenus spp.

If geography isn’t an issue many smaller, blackwater-dwelling characins should also work, while other substrate-dwelling loaches could include PangioAcanthopsoides or smaller Lepidocephalichthys spp.

Some nemacheilids are also suitable but proper research is essential as some can be excessively territorial or otherwise aggressive, require different water conditions or simply grow too large.

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

Sexual Dimorphism

In mature males the first branched pectoral-fin ray is enlarged with a series of broad, contiguous posterior projections forming a blade-like structure.

Adult females are typically heavier-bodied and a little larger then males.


Unrecorded in aquaria.

NotesTop ↑

This species is available in the aquarium trade on a sporadic basis.

It differs from congeners in the presence of papillae covering the mouthparts (lips, barbels, and lobes) which are absent in other species.

It’s also the largest member of the genus and the posterior projections on the first branched pectoral-fin rays in males form a broad, contiguous blade-like structure as opposed to a series of 8-11 pointed, anteriorly-orientated serrae in K. pristes, or 6-7 fine, narrow serrae in K. katik.

The genus Kottelatlimia was erected by Nalbant (1994) to accommodate K. katik which had previously been assigned to Lepidocephalichthys but differs in various aspects including: relatively small adult size; scaleless head; small eyes; enlarged second pectoral ray in males; possession of nasal barbels.

Lepidocephalichthys pristes was later moved by Kottelat and Whitten (1996) and the grouping currently contains three species following the description of K. hipporhynchos by Kottelat and Tan (2008).

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 Lepidocephalichthys was not found to be as closely-related to Pangio, Lepidocephalus or Kottelatlimia as previously hypothesised though unfortunately the authors stop short of proposing an alternative theory.

All cobitids possess sharp, motile, sub-ocular 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 with larger species even break human skin.


  1. Kottelat, M. and H. H. Tan, 2008 - Zootaxa 1967: 63-72
    Kottelatlimia hipporhynchos, a new species of loach from southern Borneo (Teleostei: Cobitidae).
  2. 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.
  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. Kottelat, M. and K. K. P. Lim, 1992 - Raffles Bulletin of Zoology 40(2): 201-220
    A synopsis of the Malayan species of Lepidocephalichthys, with descriptions of two new species (Teleostei: Cobitidae).
  5. Nalbant, T., 1994 - Travaux du Muséum d'Histoire Naturelle 'Grigore Antipa' 34: 375-380
    Studies on loaches (Pisces: Ostariophysi; Cobitoidea). I. An evaluation of the valid genera of Cobitinae.
  6. Roberts, T. R., 1989 - Memoirs of the California Academy of Sciences 14: i-xii + 1-210
    The freshwater fishes of western Borneo (Kalimantan Barat, Indonesia).
  7. Tan, H. H., 2009 - The Raffles Bulletin of Zoology 57(2): 505-509
    Rasbora patrickyapi, a new species of cyprinid fish from Central Kalimantan, Borneo.
  8. 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).
  9. 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.
  10. 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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