Weather Loach (Misgurnus anguillicaudatus)
Scientific Name: Misgurnus anguillicaudatus (Cantor, 1842)
Common name: Weather Loach, Dojo Loach, Oriental Weather Fish, Pond Loach.
Synonyms: Cobitis anguillicaudata, Misgurnis crossochilus, Misgurnus lividus, Misgurnus fossilis anguillicaudatus, Ussuria lepocephala.
Distribution: China, Laos, Cambodia, Thailand, Vietnam, Myanmar, Taiwan, Hong Kong, South and probably North Korea, Japan .
In SE Asia, this fish is a foodfish and this may account for the wide distribution.
Also introduced to Australia, USA, Phillipines, Hawaii, Palau and Turkmenistan.
Sexual Dimorphism: Females noticeably plumper when loaded with eggs. Males have longer pectoral fins, noticeable from above.
Maximum size: 9 to 10 inches
Care: This is a big fish when adult and often very active. The species needs adequate space to move around and a fine substrate as they like to dig, and sometimes bury themselves with just the head protruding. Avoid coarse gravel as it can damage the delicate barbels.
Feeding: Easily fed. Accepts good quality flake, sinking pellets, thawed frozen Bloodworm, Mysis Shrimp, Brine Shrimp, Earthworm, and will avidly eat snails, etc.
Water parameters: pH: 7.0-8.0. Hardness: Medium Soft to Medium. Max dh: 12
Temperature: 50- 77ºF (10 - 25ºC)
Breeding: Bred commercially as a food-fish and for the ornamental fish trade. In nature, the fish spawn during the Monsoon season during flooding. The male wraps himself around the female and eggs and sperm are released. The eggs settle in the substrate.
NotesMisgurnus anguillicaudatus is a true cold-water fish, and has survived being kept in ponds in Canada, but is so highly adaptable that escapees from commercial food-fish farms have succeeded in colonizing parts of many warmer countries.
Their adaptability has led to outright bans on their being imported or kept in certain places because of their adverse affects on local fauna. Hefty fines are imposed on culprits in Queensland, Australia.
In England, a permit is required to sell or keep "Weather Loaches", but the species actually listed is Misgurnus fossilis, a European species.
Although an adaptable species, keeping them in artificially warm aquaria is definitely not recommended. Higher temperatures stress the fish and can shorten their lives.
Also, in warmer waters Weather Loaches are more susceptible to infections.
Misgurnus anguillicaudatus is highly variable in colouring and can range from a brassy, almost metallic colour to a dull brown. Some fish are boldly marked, while others have almost no markings beyond light speckling. A "golden" variety is available, which is hypo-melanistic, with dark eyes, plus very occasionally true albinos are seen.
The fish acquired its name "Weather Fish" from their long recognized erratic behaviour during changes in barometric pressure. At these times the fish may become very active and agitated. They were kept in containers as weather predictors and historically may be one of the longest kept species of fish.
Part of the species' ability to survive poor conditions is because of its ability to swallow atmospheric air and pass it through the gut, extracting oxygen internally. Excess air is expelled via the anus. This ability has led to fish being found alive encased in mud, with no actual water present.
This somewhat "bulletproof" aspect of the fish does not mean that corners can be cut in its care in the aquarium though. Big fish such as this require excellent filtration and frequent water-changes.
They are a very peaceful fish and can become quite tame, often feeding from their owner's hand. They are also quite long-lived, and if cared for well can become quite a Pet. Because of their sociability, they should not be kept singly as they like to sit in groups when at rest. They will often sidle up against one another and feel one another with their barbels.
A group of three should be the minimum and even that small of a group will need quite a spacious aquarium. This should have a secure top as the fish are great escape artists.
Care should be taken when choosing fish in the shop. Look for signs of skin damage, odd bumps under the surface, or red areas on the body or fins. Do not choose fish that appear underweight compared to others in the tank or look obviously malnourished. Unfortunately, because this fish is so mass-produced as a food source it appears that there is less focus put on its well-being during catching and shipping than most other species for the ornamental fish trade.
Useful information on diseases specific to this species can be found here>
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