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Schistura schultzi (SMITH, 1945)

SynonymsTop ↑

Noemacheilus schultzi Smith, 1945; Nemacheilus schultzi (Smith, 1945)


Schistura: from the Greek schizein, meaning ‘to divide’, and oura, meaning ‘tail’, in reference to the caudal-fin shape of many species.

schultzi: named for Dr. Leonard P. Schultz, curator of fishes at USNM (United States National Museum, now the National Museum of Natural History; Smithsonian Institution; Washington, DC) when this species was described.


Order: Cypriniformes Family: Nemacheilidae


Type locality is ‘Huey Melao on Doi Hua Mot, northern Thailand’ and the full extent of its range is unclear.

It’s been recorded from tributaries within the Mekong watershed in Chiang Rai and Loei provinces, northern Thailand where it may also occur in the Mae Nam Nan river system, while it can probably also be found in Bokeo province, Laos.


Likely to inhabit shallow, narrow, branches of streams with substrates of sand, gravel or stone and flowing, well-oxygenated water.

Maximum Standard Length

At least 93 mm.

Aquarium SizeTop ↑

Base dimensions of 120 ∗ 30 cm or equivalent should be the smallest considered.


Should not prove difficult to maintain under the correct conditions. We strongly recommend keeping it in a tank designed to resemble a flowing stream or river with a substrate of variably-sized rocks, sand, fine gravel, and some water-worn boulders.

This can be further furnished with driftwood branches arranged to form a network of nooks, crannies, and shaded spots, thus providing broken lines of sight. While the majority of aquatic plants will fail to thrive in such surroundings hardy types such as MicrosorumBolbitis, or Anubias spp. can be grown attached to the décor.

Though torrent-like conditions are unnecessary it does best if there is a high proportion of dissolved oxygen and some water movement in the tank meaning power filter(s), additional powerhead(s), or airstone(s) should be employed as necessary.

Like many fishes that naturally inhabit running water it’s intolerant to accumulation of organic pollutants and requires spotless water in order to thrive, meaning weekly water changes of 30-50% tank volume should be considered routine.

Water Conditions

Temperature16 – 24 °C

pH6.0 – 8.0


Schistura species are omnivorous although the bulk of their diet consists of small insects, worms, crustaceans, and other zooplankton with only relatively small amounts of plant matter and other organic detritus consumed.

In the aquarium they will accept dried foods of a suitable size but should not be fed these exclusively. Daily meals of small live and frozen fare such as DaphniaArtemiabloodworm, etc., will result in the best colouration and condition.

Behaviour and CompatibilityTop ↑

Aquarium behaviour is currently unknown though it certainly appears to be a robust fish and we wouldn’t recommend combining it with slow-moving, long-finned, or very placid tankmates.

Sexual Dimorphism

Unknown, although sexually-mature females should appear rounder-shaped than males, especially when gravid.



NotesTop ↑

This species may not yet have appeared in the aquarium trade.

It can be told apart from congeners by the following characters as per Kottelat (1990): processus dentiformis present on upper jaw; lateral line complete or almost complete; 8½ branched dorsal-fin rays; 9+8 branched caudal-fin rays, axillary pelvic lobe present; no sexual dimorphism; eyes small (measurig 2.4-3.5 % SL, 1318 % HL, fitting 2.5-3.0 times in the interorbital width); body with 13-18 relatively thin dark bars, slightly irregular, not very distinct anteriorly.

There appears to be some discrepancy between Smith’s original description and Kottelat (1990) in that Smith states the fish is a member of a group of species lacking an ocellus at the upper caudal-fin base, whereas Kottelat mentions the presence of ‘a black spot at upper extremity of caudal-fin base, surrounded by a whitish area’.

Schistura is the most species-rich genus among nemacheilid loaches with some 190 members and it continues to grow with over 100 having been described since 1990.

It may represent a polyphyletic lineage and is often arranged into a number of loosely-defined species ‘groups’, some of which are quite dissimilar to one another.

Among these are an assemblage in which some or all of the body bars are vertically split and another which exhibit reductions in body size (adult size <50 mm SL), the number of pelvic and pectoral-fin rays and often the number of caudal-fin rays and lateral line length, for example (the latter is the group ‘B’ mentioned above).

Some species, such as S. geisleri, also appear to be unrelated to any of the others.

Most inhabit flowing streams or areas close to waterfalls where there naturally exist high concentrations of dissolved oxygen, and a handful are troglobytic, i.e., cave-dwelling, in existence. The latter have reduced pigmentation and are completely blind in many cases.

Schistura spp. are distinguished from other nemacheilids by a combination of morphological characters which include: a moderately arched mouth which is 2-3.5 times wider than it is long; a median ‘interruption’ in the lower lip which does not form two lateral triangular pads and can vary from smooth to furrowed in texture; diverse colour pattern but usually dark with relatively regular bars; usually a black bar at the caudal-fin base which can be broken into two spots or smaller bars; one or two black markings along the base of the dorsal-fin; lack of acuminate scales on the caudal peduncle; caudal-fin shape variable from truncate to forked but usually emarginate; presence or absence of a median notch in the lower jaw; clear sexual dimorphism in some species.

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


  1. Smith, H. M., 1945 - Bulletin of the United States National Museum No. 188: i-xi + 1-622
    The fresh-water fishes of Siam, or Thailand.
  2. Bănărescu, P. M. and T. T. Nalbant, 1995 - Travaux du Muséum d'Histoire Naturelle 'Grigore Antipa' 35: 429-495
    A generical classification of Nemacheilinae with description of two new genera (Teleostei: Cypriniformes: Cobitidae).
  3. Kottelat, M., 1990 - Verlag Dr. Friedrich Pfeil, München: 1-262
    Indochinese nemacheilines. A revision of nemacheiline loaches (Pisces: Cypriniformes) of Thailand, Burma, Laos, Cambodia and southern Viet Nam.
  4. Kottelat, M., 2012 - Raffles Bulletin of Zoology Supplement 26: 1-199
    Conspectus cobitidum: an inventory of the loaches of the world (Teleostei: Cypriniformes: Cobitoidei).
  5. Kottelat, M., 2001 - WHT Publications, Colombo: 1-198
    Fishes of Laos.
  6. Kottelat, M., 2013 - Raffles Bulletin of Zoology Supplement No. 27: 1-663
    The fishes of the inland waters of southeast Asia: a catalogue and core bibiography of the fishes known to occur in freshwaters, mangroves and estuaries.
  7. 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).
  8. 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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