Botia (indian loachs)

Botia (Indian loaches) is a genus of freshwater fish in the loach family (Botiidae). It was a large genus with about 20 species. In 2004 Maurice Kottelat proposed in his paper (along with the description of Botia kubotai,  to divide the genus into four related genera based on fish appearance and locality:

  • Botia for Indian loaches (shorter body).
  • Chromobotia for clown loach.
  • Syncrossus for tiger loaches (elongated body).
  • Yasuhikotakia for Mekong loaches (shorter body).

Another genus, Parabotia, was considered a separate genus earlier. It has an elongated body quite similar to Syncrossus, but with its range mostly restricted to China. With all these as separate genera, Botia species are restricted to South Asia (including Burma).

A listing of Botia (Indian loachs)

Botia acanthocobitis Botia macracantha Noemacheilus scaturigina
Botia dario Botia modesta Schistura balteata
Botia geto var Botia morleti Schistura mahnerti
Botia helodes Botia rostrata Schistura nicholsi
Botia histrionica Botia striata Schistura poculi
Botia hymenophysa Lepidocepalichthys furcatus Schistura savona
Botia kubotai Lepidocephalus gunthea Tuberoschistura arakanensis
Botia lecontei Nemacheilus binotatus Yunnanilus sp
Botia lohachata Noemacheilus fasciatus

The fish in these genera possess a pair of razor-sharp spines under their eye sockets. These spines normally lie flat, but may be extended when the loach feels threatened. This behavior is rarely observed when the fish is swimming, but care must be taken when catching botia in fishnets — the projecting spines may become entangled, causing injury to the fish and/or damage to the net. Care must also be taken when transporting the larger botia, as their subocular spines may puncture the enclosing polyethylene bags that are normally used for this purpose.

One special characteristic of this loach group is the ability to produce a loud “clicking” noise, which is commonly heard during feeding time. This noise stems from a special type of pharyngeal teeth that are used to extract snails from their shells. For aquarists, this gives the botia a practical application, as they can be used to fight a snail infestation.

Another peculiarity of botia is that they are often seen resting on their side or in other strange positions. While this can be normal, healthy behaviour for botia, it is rarely observed in other types of fish. The unusual habit often causes needless panic for the inexperienced aquarist, who mistakenly assumes their fish is ill.