Habitat Expert: Botia kubotai

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Heiko Bleher tells us about the natural habitat of the stunning Polka dot loach or Clouded botia, a relatively new botiid loach species that was first introduced into the hobby from Myanmar (Burma) about five years ago. Heiko claims he first collected this species in Myanmar in 1986.

What is Botia kubotai?

This loach was only described recently. Dr Maurice Kottelat named it in 2004, but it had been available in the hobby for several years before that.

I collected it for the first time in 1986 during a trip to Myanmar. It is sold as the Polka dot loach in UK shops. Botia kubotai can reach up to 15cm/6” in total length, including the tail.

Where is it found?

It lives in rocky habitats and over fine sand bottom in hill streams of the north of Myanmar, but also in lowland rivers of the Salween basin where it is mainly found over only sandy ground.

How do I set up a biotope tank for it?

In aquaria it is best to have white or beige sand on the bottom and some round rocks. It lives only rarely in habitats with aquatic vegetation.

When it is found in vegetated habitats local plants include Ludwigia helminthorrhiza, Ceratophyllum, and rarely Nymphaea and/or Nymphoides in some lowland habitats.

If you keep it, please aim to keep it only with tank mates from the Salween basin. There are quite a few of those available in the hobby now.

What other fish come from this area?

In recent years many of Myanmar’s oldest fish discoveries have entered the hobby. Some of these are real beauties.

In the 1980s and 1990s very few importers, retailers, fishkeepers or scientists paid much attention to these. But now the available species include many Microrasbora (or Microdevario), Channa, Danio species and it includes several loaches like Botia histrionica and this beautiful species, which is very similar to Botia rostrata.

This item was first published in the September 2009 issue of Practical Fishkeeping magazine. It may not be reproduced without written permission.