Look closely among shipments of assorted loaches from the Far East and you could spot some unusual fish. Matt Clarke recently spotted this species for sale in Buckinghamshire.
Scientific name: Schistura (Nemacheilus) notostigma
Origin: This species is endemic to Sri Lanka and has been collected from the Kanneliya Forest and Gin Gana in the Upper Nanikita Ela, the Sabaragamuwa province and Teldeniya.
Size: Around 6-8cm/2"-3".
Habitat: Lives in pebble-bottomed streams with shallow, fast-flowing water. It is said to be able to swim against rapid flow and is found at fairly high altitudes.
Water: Seems quite adaptable and looked happy in hard, alkaline water. They come from cool, well-oxygenated water, so don't let the tank get too warm.
Aquarium: Add lots of smooth, rounded pebbles and small boulders and install some powerful internal filters to provide plenty of flow. Should
mix OK with other loaches and any fast-moving fishes such as danios or Barilius, but might nip the fins of anything with long, flowing finnage.
Identification: Unlike some other nemacheilines, scales are present although the lateral line is incomplete. The dorsal should have a straight leading edge and eight branched rays. There are usually 10-14 dark vertical bands on the body, plus a dark mark on the base of the caudal and a black spot on the base of the anterior rays of
the dorsal fin.
Notes: Like some other species of nemacheiline loach, this one can sometimes be a little territorial.
Availability: This species usually comes in as bycatch in shipments of other species of loach, and is unlikely to be offered under its real name. We spotted these for sale at Towcester Aquatic Centre.
Price: About 2-3 each.
This article was first published in the August 2004 issue of Practical Fishkeeping magazine.