- General characteristics
- The most common loach
- Interesting Features
- Exotic loaches in the aquarium hobby
- Botsia the clown
Loaches are distributed throughout the world, but unevenly. There are they in Central Asia, Europe (with the exception of North), Africa and Southeast Asia. Loaches are not found in Australia, in both Americas, in the rivers of the Arctic Ocean basin. True, species are constantly migrating, and the situation could change.
Freshwater fish of Russia were described in detail by the famous zoologist and popularizer of the 19th century L.P. Sabaneev. We know about the habits, lifestyle and some specific features of loaches from his works.
Loaches belong to a large order of cyprinids. In turn, the family is divided into three subfamilies: loach-like, loach-like and boci-like. The loach-like ones include the loaches themselves, including the most common in our country - the common one, as well as loaches. There are about 15 genera of goltsopodobnye; this subfamily demonstrates the greatest "breadth of views": some representatives of the groupprefer cold fast-flowing mountain rivers, others (blind loaches) prefer stagnant cave waters.
Botsia-like loaches are widespread in Thailand, Indonesia, Vietnam. It is in these countries that the oldest representatives of loaches were found. Boats and leptobots are supplied to Europe as aquarium fish. The famous clown belongs to the genus Botsiev, which can be found in any pet store. In general, the loach family is not very numerous, but ichthyologists continue to discover new species to this day.
Loaches live and feed at the bottom. This feature determines the appearance of loaches: all members of the family have an elongated body, squared or ribbon-like, sometimes a slightly flattened head. The loach's mouth is located below. The dorsal fin is short. The scales are predominantly very small and thoroughly covered with mucus, which protects the loach's body from mechanical damage. However, there are also completely naked fish. The eyes are small. In some species, they are covered with transparent skin (again, for protection). An obligatory attribute of each member of the family is antennae. They can be from 3 to 6 pairs. The nostrils of loaches are elongated tubes. Loaches and bots have retractable under-eye spikes. A prick of such a thorn can cause inflammation. The undereye spike is a relatively effective measure against birds of prey.
The fish of the loach family does not like bright light and is activated closer to the night. In general, loaches are inactive and secretive (this does not apply only to some fights). Many members of the family tend toburied in mud or sand. There they not only hunt small crustaceans and larvae, but also wait out bad times - for example, drought.
This is what Misgurnus fossilis, or loach, looks like. The photo gives a good idea of the location of the tactile whiskers:
The most common loach
Misgurnus fossilis, which lives in silted reservoirs and swampy rivers in many European countries, is the most famous representative of the family. Sabaneev wrote that Russian fishermen mostly neglected it because of its small size (about 25 cm), although in some provinces (for example, Minsk), loach was popular as a tasty and easily accessible ingredient for fish soup. In Germany, it was customary to boil it in beer or vinegar. Also loaches were dried for the winter.
In fact, the loach is not only shallow, but also not particularly attractive: it is covered with mucus and, when pulled out of the water, wriggles and squeaks furiously. All fish of the loach family have the ability to breathe atmospheric air, taking it in their mouths and passing it through the posterior intestine. The latter is an auxiliary respiratory organ. When the air comes out, a specific sound is heard, similar to a squeak. Thanks to intestinal respiration, loaches are very hardy: they can exist for more than a week in a bucket of stale water if it is covered with hay. Therefore, loaches are often stored for future use as bait for large fish: catfish, burbot, pike, eel.
Actually loach reallytasty: its meat is soft, fatty and quickly cooked. Asians (Japanese and Indonesians) not only harvest, but even breed some types of loaches for food. In Europe, loaches and loaches are caught with a line (in summer) and traps (in winter). Loach family fish prefer animal food: small crustaceans, caddis larvae, caviar, worms and mollusks. By the way, the loach does an excellent job with mosquitoes (or rather, with their larvae): if you dig a pond in your summer cottage and populate it with loaches, you will no longer have to suffer from annoying insects.
And finally, loach is widely used as a barometer. He is sensitive to changes in atmospheric pressure: he floats to the surface, protrudes from the water and, in general, behaves restlessly, which is not typical for him. Vyun can even "predict" earthquakes.
Exotic loaches in the aquarium hobby
In the 19th century, it became fashionable to keep fish at home, arrange exhibitions and share experiences. The peasants caught ordinary river fish and delivered them alive to Moscow and St. Petersburg. However, as you know, freshwater fish in Russia are relatively few in number. Aquarists wanted more variety. So there was a demand for exotic fish. But Asian loaches appeared in Russia only in the second half of the 20th century. The first were acanthophthalmuses (the loach-like subfamily) and bots (the bots-like subfamily). Like their European relatives, the "Asians" are distinguished by the variegated coloration characteristic of bottom fish. Its most common variant is a combination of yellow and black (gray) spots orbands.
Here is a typical acanthophthalmus, a worm-like striped loach. The photo is not the best, but all the signs of loaches (variegated color, mustache, body shape, short dorsal fin) are evident:
Botsia the clown
The most famous ornamental fish of the loach family is the clown loach (apparently named for its bright, "peppy" striped coloration and agile nature). The homeland of this fish is the islands of Kalimantan and Sumatra. The body of the clown is unexpectedly short, compact for a loach, torpedo-shaped, with triangular reddish fins. Usually its length is no more than 17 cm. Outwardly, clowns resemble South American catfish-corridors - due to a similar lifestyle.
These bots have antennae and an undereye spike, they are omnivorous, cheerful and peaceful. Although these fish are also capable of intestinal respiration, they are more than European loaches dependent on the purity of water and its saturation with oxygen. Also, they cannot be settled with territorial, aggressive fish (for example, cichlids) and treated with copper preparations. But in general, the clown loach is an unpretentious fish.