The Polka dot loach, Botia kubotai, is one of many new discoveries from Myanmar. Matt Clarke explains its needs.
Common name: Polka dot loach, Clounded botia, Botia sp. Myanmar, Botia sp. Clouded, Botia sp. Polka Dot
Scientific name: Botia kubotai
Origin: Endemic to the Ataran River basin in Myanmar, Asia. This relatively new species is known from the headwaters of the Ataran and was found in a stream called "Chon Son". This doesn't appear on maps, but is believed to be in the Megathat Chaung area. The habitat consists of clear, fast-flowing streams with a stony substrate.
Size: Around 10-12cm/4-5".
Notes: This fish, which was originally sold in the UK trade as Botia sp. "Myanmar", was described by Maurice Kottelat very recently (early 2004). It was been named in honour of Katsuma Kubota who was the first to find this species and provide details of its collection locality. Tom Halvorsen, whose fish I have featured several times in Interesting Imports, provided Maurice Kottelat with the original specimens used to describe this species and gets a mention in the acknowledgements of this paper.
Identification: Botia kubotai dramatically changes colour as it gets older and no two fish appear to share the same colour pattern. Juveniles have three black stripes and five black bars, along with what Kottelat describes as "four pairs of elongate yellow blotches". As the fish ages, the bars and stripes widen, the yellow bits get narrower and spots extend into the bars. There is a very good series of images in the original description for this fish which emphasises the extent of the ontogenetic colour change seen in the species. It is most likely to be confused with histrionica when small and almorhae (sold as lohachata) when older.
Availability: This species is already becoming a popular aquarium fish and should be obtainable from most specialist retailers.
For more details on this and other species of botiine loach, check out my other article.