Laotian yellow tiger loach, Syncrossus sp.

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Matt Clarke looks at the newly imported Laotian yellow tiger loach.

Common name: Laotian yellow tiger loach

Scientific name: Syncrossus sp. Yellow tiger loach

Origin: Laos. It's probable that further details regarding the collection locality are being kept under wraps to protect the commercial interests of the collectors.

Size: No precise data, as this fish is so new and only juveniles are being traded. However, other Syncrossus can reach a good 15-20cm/6-8", so this is likely to be large when adult.

Diet: They seem to feed readily and take frozen bloodworms, brineshrimp and flakes readily. Newly imported specimens can be a bit skinny, so you may need to feed them heavily initially to get them to regain lost weight. There's a possibility that weight loss could also be attributed to internal worm infections; the prescription antibiotic Levamisole (Ergamisol) is popular with loach enthusiasts for this job.

Water: Again there's no data, but they're being kept in hard, alkaline conditions, so they appear very adaptable.

Aquarium: Although the ones in the shops at the moment are small, colourful and cute, I'd recommend keeping them out of the community tank. They're going to be boisterous and chunky fish when adult. Like other Syncrossus, they can be nippy and quarrelsome, so take care what you mix them with. It would be advisable to keep them only with robust species later on.

I'd go for a group of six or more in a spacious tank with a sand or smooth gravel substrate, furnished with smooth, water-worn rocks and bogwood. Most botiines appreciate water movement, so add powerful filtration.

Identification: The Syncrossus genus currently contains six species, including: S. helodes, S. berdmorei, S. beauforti, S. helodes, S. reversa and S. hymenophysa. It's not yet known whether this represents a new species, or a regional variant of one of the existing Syncrossus species.

The lack of adult specimens also hampers identification, as it's quite likely that the adult coloration looks completely different to the vivid patterning seen in these young fish. Taxonomist Heok Hee Ng told me: "I believe that the fish labelled as Yellow Tiger are juvenile individuals of the S. berdmorei/S. beauforti complex. But it is hard to get a definite ID without some idea of exact locality."

Availability: Quite a few shops have recently had these in stock, so there are fairly large numbers in the UK at present. We photographed these at Wildwoods, but Maidenhead Aquatics at Peterborough and Wholesale Tropicals in London have also received imports.

This article was first published in the February 2008 issue of Practical Fishkeeping magazine.