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Books Featuring Loaches

by Martin Thoene last modified Feb 19, 2008 06:13 PM



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Note: Due to numerous nomenclature changes in recent years many of these books do not reflect current correct names. Knowledge of aquarium husbandry of Loaches has leapt forward greatly from the times when most of these books were published.

Anything published pre-2004 will have inaccurate Botiid nomenclature.


Many of these books may only be obtainable now second-hand.


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Now available!'Loaches' book cover

TFH Publications



A book co-written by the Loaches Online team.


Managing Editors:

Mark Macdonald and Martin Thoene.

Contributing Editors:

Robin Lynn, Barbara McEntee, Michael Ophir, James Powers and Shari Sanford. 

Loaches Natural History and Aquarium Care

US/CAN $34.95
8 ½” x 9 ¼”

256 pages
Over 150 full-color photos and illustrations
ISBN: 978-0-7938-0620-1
UPC: 0-18214-10620-3

From TFH's catalogue:

The popularity of loaches is on the rise as they become increasingly available at pet stores and aquarium shops, both large and small. Despite this surge in accessibility, they remain a relatively little-known group of freshwater fishes.

Loaches is the first book of its kind to give extensive focus to this diverse family of aquarium fish. Experts from nine countries contribute their knowledge, experience, and photographs to this user-friendly guide. It delves into the natural history and husbandry of over 60 species of loaches, including the specialized brook and hillstream loaches, in both their natural and aquarium habitats. It also contains technical information on providing for the care of specialized loaches, including water chemistry and tank design, a comprehensive description of disease and treatment options, and descriptions of the first successful in-tank breeding of certain species.

If you or someone you know is considering inviting loaches into your tropical aquarium, or if you own loaches but are in need of information to ensure proper care, Loaches provides expert information and guidance to one of the world’s most popular types of aquarium fish.



"I have owned and operated an aquarium specialty store in Vancouver, B.C. for almost 30 years. When one of my customers informed me that they were participating in the writing of a book about loaches I have to admit that I felt a tiny bit proud, actually enormously proud of them. I have just finished reading the book Loaches: Natural History and Aquarium Care, and what a pleasure it was to read. No longer will I have to wonder if my supplier gave me the right information about the loaches I ordered or even if the name was correct. There is detailed information of four separate families of loaches and over 60 different species. I look forward to increasing the selection of loaches for sale in my store now that I know so much more about them.

"Did you know that clown loaches have retractable weapons hidden in pouches beneath their eyes? How cool is that! I will no longer be stumped by questions my customers ask about loaches. No, they are not all scale less and yes, they can breathe oxygen through their skin and their stomachs. This book will be a permanent fixture in the reference section of my aquarium store for my staff to access as well as for customers to purchase.

"I find it totally fascinating that this book was created by loach enthusiasts from around the world thanks to email and the Web and that the proceeds from the book are to be donated to the World Wildlife Fund’s Living Mekong Initiative. It is immensely important to protect the environments of tropical fish and other living creatures from around the world and learn as much as possible about their natural environments so that if they do become extinct they can at least be bred in captivity.

"I would recommend Loaches: Natural History and Aquarium Care to anyone interested in tropical fish regardless of their experience with loaches. If they don’t have loaches in their collection they surely will after reading this. The information on design, care and maintenance, stress management, quarantine and disease are pertinent to anyone who keeps any type of tropical fish. Often I read information in fish books and I have to wonder if the writer has actually ever had an aquarium. It is quite obvious that the writers of this book have looked after hundreds of aquariums. There are useful tips and suggestions that I am eager to try. This book is a must read for anyone in the retail or wholesale aquarium business."

Jeannie Lister
Master Aquarist, Owner of Aquariums West

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Borneo Suckers

The Borneo Suckers: Revision of the Torrent Loaches of Borneo (Balitoridae: Gastromyzon, Neogastromyzon)

Natural History Publications (Borneo)

Dr. Tan Heok Hui

© 1 July 2006

ISBN: 983-812-105-3


The systematics of the genera Gastromyzon, Hypergastromyzon and Neogastromyzon of the family Balitoridae, all of which are endemic to Borneo, are revised. These genera possess an increased number and enlarged size in the pectoral and pelvic fins, fused pelvic fins and dorso-ventrally flattened bodies. They live in the headwater and hillstreams, typically in fast-flowing water over a rocky substratum. All type material of the 21 known species of Gastromyzon is re-described, with another 15 new species described. The genus Gastromyzon, now with 36 species, is divided into 11 artificial species groups: Gastromyzon borneensis group, G. punctulatus group, G. fasciatus group, G. contractus group, G. ctenocephalus group, G. lepidogaster group, G. ridens group, G. danumensis group, G. pariclavis group, G. ocellatus group and G. auronigrus group. The status of G. borneensis and G. lepidogaster is resolved with fresh topotypical material. The taxonomy of G. borneensis, G. danumensis, G. fasciatus, G. lepidogaster and G. punctulatus is clarified with fresh material and material from a wider distribution. A lectotype is designated for G. monticola. The life colouration of 26 species of Gastromyzon is illustrated, together with line drawings of juveniles of 15 species.

The genus Neogastromyzon is also revised and the identities of the two known species clarified and another four new species are described. All type material is illustrated, with life colouration of 3 species. A brief diagnosis of Hypergastromyzon is also included. An artificial key is provided for all species of Gastromyzon, Hypergastromyzon and Neogastromyzon. The biogeographical, ecological observations and biology of these balitorids are compiled and presented.

Dr Tan Heok Hui, who obtained his doctorate degree in fish systematics from the National University of Singapore in 2003, has had a strong interest in animals and plants since a very young age. He started to keep fishes as a hobby when he was nine. After entering the National University of Singapore in 1992, he started to study the science of fish in a more serious manner. With encouragement and support from his supervisor (Prof. Peter Ng) and mentor (Maurice Kottelat), his family and friends, this interest was nurtured and further cultivated. Having taken part in numerous field trips in Southeast Asia during the last 13 years, Dr Tan is constantly amazed at the diversity of fish in Borneo. The many interesting fishes of the hill streams and headwaters of Borneo provided an interesting topic for his doctorate research work, which is published here as a taxonomic monograph. Dr Tan has published more than 30 internationally refereed scientific papers, describing more than 50 species of freshwater fishes new to science, including the world’s smallest fish species (Paedocypris progenetica) from the peat swamp forests of Indonesia. His other interests include scuba diving, nature and underwater photography, unique flora and herpetology. Most of the photographs in this book were taken by Dr Tan, whose interest in photography was begun by his father.

Dr Tan is currently an Instructor at the Raffles Museum of Biodiversity Research, National University of Singapore.

Review by Jim Powers:

Dr. Tan's book is certainly a "must have" for all hillstream loach fanatics. The main section of the book contains detailed descriptions of the known Gastromyzon, Neogastromyzon and Hypergastromyzon species native to Borneo. Also included are maps and map coordinates of the native streams of each species, detailed drawings of mouth parts, and black and white photos of preserved specimens. The field notes include stream conditions of some of the collections sites as well as other species found during collection.

The last twenty pages of the book include numerous color pictures of the beautiful natural habitat of Borneo's hillstream loaches. And, more important to hobbyists, color photographs of many of the interesting species covered in the text.

The large amount of detailed material in this book, along with the line drawings and photographs should help eliminate the identification problems that have plagued these genera for years.


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Ornamental Aquarium Fish Of India Ornamental Aquarium Fish of India

TFH Kingdom Books

Kishori Lal Tekriwal & Andrew Arunava Rao

© 1999

ISBN: 185279117-9


Review by Martin Thoene:

The authors are both long-time prominent leaders of the ornamental fish industry in India and therefore well placed to write this book.

The book concentrates on what they term "aquarium worthy" species and is well illustrated with mainly clear photographs.

There is a lot of concentration on nomenclature and taxanomic description, plus information on fishes' habits. An interesting part of the book is its description of the development of the Indian aquarium fish industry in the context of its geography and population.

The book includes some photographs of natural habitats and scenery. If one was going to be critical of it I would say that although the fish pictures are generally clear, they do appear to be of fish in photographic tanks and the fish sometimes look stressed with reduced colouring. It is however very useful for identification purposes although one or two of the loach species identifications are now questionable.

The book covers fish from high-altitude mountain streams right down to estuarine brackish-water species, so is very broad in scope. It features 38 loach or loach-like species in amongst all the other families it covers.



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Hobbyist Guide To Catfish And Loaches :
Aquarium Digest International - Collector's Edition

Dr. P.V. Loiselle
Dr. D. Pool

© 1993 Tetra-Press

ISBN 3-89356-138-2

Hardback, 144 pages : 12-29 on Loaches, 30-end on Catfish

Purchased at

Hobbyist Guide To Catfish And Loaches
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The Freshwater Fishes of Western Borneo The Freshwater Fishes of western Borneo (Kalimantan, Barat, Indonesia)

Tyson R Roberts

©  1989 California Academy of Sciences

ISBN 0-940228-21-1



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  Sharks And Loaches	   

Sharks and Loaches

Braz Walker

© 1974 T.F.H. Publications, Inc. Ltd.

ISBN 0-87666-161-4

Paperback, 160 pages : 7-121 on Loaches, 122-end on Sharks

Purchased at

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Catfish and Loaches: The Bottom Dwellers - Collector's Edition

Dr. Paul V. Loiselle - "Co-ordinating Editor"

© Tetra Press (Date not listed in book - perhaps late 1970's?)

ISBN 3-89356-074-2

61 pages : 6-12 on Loaches, 12-61 on Catfish.

Catfish and Loaches: The Bottom Dwellers - Collector's Edition


Review by Mark Macdonald:

This book compiles many of the same articles as the newer "Hobbyist Guide To Catfish and Loaches" as listed above. Credit is given to Paul V. Loiselle as the "Co-ordinating Editor," but all the other text aside from his introduction are brief articles from (mainly German) aquarists. Typos and misspellings appear in the same spots in both books, but this may be attributable to translation.

The text does not discuss individual loaches in any encyclopedic way, but simply includes short articles on general aspects of loach groups: "All About Loaches" by Dr. Paul V. Loiselle; "The cleaning habits of Acanthophthalmus" by Lothar Schmitz; "Having Fun with Loaches" (not kidding) by J.V. Diggelon; "The Clown Loach Spawned!" by Werner Novak; "Unusual loaches from Asia - the families Homalopteridae and Gasteromyzontidae" by G. Ott.

Available for purchase at

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Ihr Hobby, Prachtschmerlen Ihr Hobby, Prachtschmerlen, bede-Verlag, Ruhmannsfelden, Germany.

 K. Gernhard and J. Schmidt


ISBN: 3933646480

Purchased at

Review by Hans Beiderbeck:


This is a book exclusively about loaches of the genus Botia, the main topic, of course, being the Clown Loach. It`s divided into three parts. The first part (obviously by K. Gernhard) is about behavioral studies on the Clown Loach in aquariums, the second part (by J. Schmidt) contains again some more information about the Clown Loach but also about B. modesta and B. sidthimunki. In the third part some of the other Botias are covered in short paragraphs. Species in this part are: B. almorhae, beauforti, berdmorei, dario, eos, geto, helodes, hymenophysa, histrionica, lecontei, lohachata, macracanthus, modesta, morleti, nigrolineata, robusta, and striata.

After reading the book my first impression was that it was obviously finished in a hurry. It seems that both authors contributed their parts to it without knowing the part of the other author. Inevitably this leads to the same information being given twice or more (for example the book tells four or more times that the Clown Loach is native to Sumatra and Borneo). The first part on the behavioral studies of B. macracanthus contains a lot of brilliant and detailed observations on this loach. Everything is covered, from the "graying-out"-syndrome to the "sleeping on the side." Also there are lots of very good tips on how the perfect Clown Loach tank should be. In the second part there is additional information on the Clown Loach, and more detailed descriptions of B. modesta and sidthimunki. It is worth mentioning is that one of the authors (J. Schmidt) had sids spawning in his tank and there are even pictures of that event. There's also a chapter on loach breeding in general. With the help of hormones Clown Loaches are bred in Eastern European countries on a regular basis and some weird color variations have already been created.

In the third part the other Botias that are usually available in the aquarium trade are covered. Information is provided in short paragraphs Baensch-Atlas-style. After reading it, IMHO this book is a wasted chance. Especially the first part contains lots of useful information but everything is presented in a poor and unprofessional way which makes it sometimes difficult to read. If the publisher had given the authors a chance to compare their material and a professional editor was hired it could have been an excellent book. As it is I can recommend this book to people whose main interest is the Clown Loach, because of the first section. Information from the other sections are less useful if not plain wrong (for example B. helodes and B. modesta are called peaceful fish whereas B. striata is considered quite aggressive(!); this might have been the case in the authors tanks, as loach behavior can be unpredictable, but in the generalized way it`s presented here it`s quite dangerous. Dangerous at least for the tankmates, as some reader who doesn't know better might add to that the peaceful Tiger Loach.


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Schmerlen im Aquarium. Tetra Verlag, Bissendorf-Wulften, Germany (192 p.).

Gerhard Ott


ISBN: 3-89745-128-X

Purchased at

Schmerlen im Aquarium.

Review by Hans Beiderbeck:

At first glance this is a book which has a strong emphasize on the biology of loaches, so anybody looking for an Aquarium Atlas for loaches will be disappointed. For people with a deeper interest in the fish they keep this book has a lot to offer.

Chapters include:

  • The history of loaches in ichthyology and fishkeeping
  • Biology of loaches in nature and consequences for their care
  • Physical characteristics
  • Behavioral patterns
  • Fishkeeping practice
  • Setup of the tank
  • Food
  • Diseases
  • Tankmates
  • Breeding

These topics are discussed on pages 12-128. Afterwards follows a species index of 46 species with short descriptions Baensch Atlas style. The choice of the fish is of course influenced by the availability of the fish in Germany. All the loaches I've ever seen are included besides B. modesta. Afterwards this comes a bibliography of 10 pages.

As I said unlike the Baensch Atlases which you grab to look something up this is a book that you can actually *read*. The chapters on biology offer an invaluable amount of info useful for drawing your own conclusions for the care of these fish or just to read out of pure interest. It has a lot of tips and suggestions for their care and breeding. Personally I'm a bit disappointed with the species index. E. g. I'm missing B. modesta and the pic of lecontei is quite bad. The same goes for the pics of B. macracanthus (in front of an ugly plastic background) and H. orthogoniata (fish is partly covered by plants). But that's from the view of a person that knows Loaches ON-LINE...:). Maybe he fact that the same author is working on a Loach Atlas indeed explains some minor drawbacks in this part. Nevertheless this book is a definite "must have" for any loach enthusiast and it's probably setting standards for years to come.

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The Fauna of India and the Adjacent Countries, Pisces Vol. IV, Teleostei-Cobitoidea, Part 1 Cobitoidae: Homalopteridae

A. G. K. Menon

© 1987

Zoological Survey of India (Ed.), Calcutta.

Pisces, Vol IV, Teleostei - Cobitoidea, Part 1, Homalopteridae


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Pisces Vol. IV, Teleostei-Cobitoidea, Part 2 Cobitidae.

 The Fauna of India and the Adjacent Countries, Pisces Vol. IV, Teleostei-Cobitoidea, Part 2 Cobitoidae.

A. G. K. Menon

© 1992

Zoological Survey of India (Ed.), Calcutta.

Review by Hans Beiderbeck:

My first impression when I opened the book was some sort of disappointment. The layout and print quality is quite poor and the few color photographs show only dead fish. But don`t get fooled by this! The book is clearly not aimed at people who just want to know how to keep loaches but at people who want to get more background information. It covers all known loaches from India and the adjacent countries (Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Burma...). For every species, precise data are supplied (fin ray counts, measurements of body parts and their ratios etc...) making identification possible unambiguously. Furthermore, the author provides maps showing the natural distributions of the fish. If necessary (and possible) the author mentions close related species and shows how to distinguish them. If known, he also mentions striking behavior features of the fish (eg. if the fish moves up rivers to spawn). However, info on this is quite short. Also, I miss more detailed habitat descriptions (pH, current..). Overall it`s a book I can recommend for people who want deeper information about their fish than the usual aquarium books supply. Especially the taxonomic info is of use for fishkeepers, too. E. g. he confirms the following rumors: B. lohachata = B. almorhae, B. geto = B. dario.

Genera covered are (I mention only the Botia sp.):

  • Botia

    B. almorhae, birdi, dario, histrionica, striata, berdmorei

  • Misgurnus

  • Lepidocephalus

  • Enobarbichtys

  • Acanthophthalmus (=Pangio)

  • Neoeucirrhichtys

  • Somileptus

  • Acantopsis

I got this book from Vedams Books, however if you want to get it, too, you must be patient. It took me approximately four months to get it.


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Keeping Loaches in the Home Aquarium


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The Loaches of the Subfamily Nemacheilinae in China (Cypriniformes: Cobitidae)

  • By Zhu Songquan
  • © 1989
  • Hardback, 150 pages
  • Written in Chinese

90 different loaches are described and shown with line drawings. It's under foreign language books, but with 90 pics of loaches probably the most of us have never seen.


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Indochinese Nemacheilines  


  • by M. Kottelat
  • Published by Dr. Friedrich Pfeil, München
  • © 1990
  • Paperback, 262 pages, 180 figures, 33 tables


Review by Hans Beiderbeck


Similar to the book by Menon, this book is clearly not aimed at the fishkeeping community but towards scientists. It focuses on taxonomic issues of loaches of the subfamily Nemacheilinae. The members of this subfamily from the Irrawaddy, Salween and Mekong basins South of the Chinese border, in the Mae Nam Chao-Phraya basin, in the Malay peninsula and basins in between are revised. However for the more specialized fishkeeper this book has got something to offer, too.

First the taxonomic information, of course is of interest for fishkeepers. With many discussions in The Forum about Schistura (definitely with a "c"!), Nemacheilus and Acanthocobitis in mind this book delivers some help in determining the genus of your fish at last. Since many fish are exported from Thailand to the aquarium trade chances are good that you can even determine the species of your fish. However the author himself points out that the taxonomy of Nemacheilinae is in a mess, especially the genera Schistura and Nemacheilus will probably split in the future. He calls them "vague defined waste basket names". The genera Schistura and Nemacheilus can be distinguished by the structure of the lower lip, so it`s difficult to do so with a living fish. For good reasons this book doesn't provide a complete review of all Nemacheilinae. This wouldn't make sense because many areas in the distribution range of this subfamily are inaccessible for political reasons (Burma, Cambodia) and most likely new species will live there.

Another thing interesting for aquarists are the habitat descriptions, which could provide new ideas for hillstream tanks especially since fish cooccuring with these loaches are also mentioned. I would recommend this book for the specialized aquarist with a deeper interest in Nemacheilines. Many of the taxonomic problems described here are still not solved to my knowledge. Here you get a good overview without having to read a lot of articles.

One thing worth mentioning is that the first edition of this book was just 450 (!) copies. So you better hurry.


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  • by Gerhard Ott
  • published in 1988 by the Landbuch Verla


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The Complete Encyclopedia of the Freshwater Aquarium

  • by John Dawes.
  • Pages 226- 231 cover loaches, including: Clowns, Kuhli, Dojo, Spined Weather Loach, Horsedface, Chain, Orange-Finned, Baned, Pakistani, Stone, Saddled Hillstream and Myer's Hillstream, along with the Chinese Sailfin Sucker and the Algae Eater.

Review by Austin Ruffer :

  • Date: October 14th, 2002

    The descriptions are great, and provide photographs for about 95% of the species. Included are accurate sizes, temperature regulations, and feeding requirements. Also, this book doesn't focus on the "common" loaches as much as other books.


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