A British man has become the first fishkeeper to report a successful spawning of the Polka dot loach, Botia kubotai.
Mark Duffill from Middlesborough in north east England reported the spawning yesterday on the website Loaches Online.
Duffill told Practical Fishkeeping that he spotted a young fish in his 250 gallon loach aquarium while feeding: "My first reaction was 'it's a sidthimunki' but I have never put any in this tank, so I quickly grabbed two nets and attempted to pick up the piece of bogwood the small fish went into.
"This bogwood is full of crevices and I noticed that what ever this fish was, it had gone into one of these. On starting to pick up the bogwood, the fish shot out of the crevice straight into the net, if it had gone the other way I probably would never have caught it again.
"I had a good idea what it was at this point but just couldn't believe it. I mean, kubotais haven't bred naturally in tanks before."
Duffill said that the spawning was a total surprise.
The parents, which were exceptionally large for kubotai, were purchased as a group in March this year and kept in a 250 gallon aquarium alongside a range of other fish including barbs, rasboras, Garra flavatra, Botia histrionica, Clown loaches and Botia udomritthiruji.
"What did seem weird", added Duffill, "was at the time was that nothing else would enter the pipe and the clowns in particular stayed towards the other end of the tank but I didn't really think anything of it.
"I think they have spawned more or less as soon as I got them, I think the fact that they were in such a large shoal in the shop may have got them into breeding condition and it was going to happen anyway."
The species is not the first loach that Duffill has had spawn in his aquariums. Last year he reported fry from another botiid, the Chain loach, Yasuhikotakia sidthimunki.
Said Duffill: "I do think that keeping any loach species in large groups is the key, I have spawned Acanthocobitis zonalternans of which I had 10 adults, Sewellia lineolata, 8 adults, and the sidthimunkis of which I had 36 adults at the time spawning took place."
Botia kubotai was discovered in 2003 and was imported into the UK shortly afterwards under various trade names including Botia sp. "Angelicus", Botia sp. "Myanmar", Botia sp. "Clouded" and Botia sp. "Polka Dot".
The species, which typically reaches around 10-12cm/4-5" is endemic to the Ataran River in Myanmar (Burma) and has been imported relatively regularly since it was first discovered and prices have dropped considerably, making the purchase of large groups much more affordable.
The original type specimens that Kottelat used to describe the fish were provided by Tom Halvorsen, a Norwegian fish enthusiast who now works in the UK aquarium trade.
The fish is named after the fish collector Katsuma Kubota who was the first to find the species and provide details of its collection locality.
Like related botiids, the colour pattern of Botia kubotai changes dramatically with age.