Mottled loach: Acanthocobitis botia
Mottled loach: Acanthocobitis botia

Systematic position (Nelson 2006)
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Actinopterygii (Ray-finned fishes)
Order: Cypriniformes (Carps)
Family: Balitoridae (River loaches)
Subfamily: Nemacheilinae
Genus: Acanthocobitis
Species: A. botia

Botia nebulosa Blyth, 1860
Cobitis botia Hamilton, 1822
Nemacheilus botia (Hamilton, 1822)
Nemacheilus botia botia (Hamilton, 1822)
Nemachilus mackenziei
Chaudhuri, 1910
Noemacheilus botia (Hamilton, 1822)

Common/local names
English: Mottled loach
Bangladesh: Balichata (বালিচাটা), Biltari (বিলতারি) and Natwa (নটোয়া)

Distributions: Bangladesh; northern India (Brahmaputra and Ganga basins) and Pakistan (Indus basin) (Talwar and Jhingran 1991).

Conservation status: Data Deficient in Bangladesh (IUCN Bangladesh 2000).

Morphology: Body elongate and slender. Body depth 4.5-5.9 times in SL (Talwar and Jhingran 1991). Eyes are not visible from ventral portion of body. Semi-circular mouth with moderately fleshy lips. Caudal slightly emarginated. Lateral line usually complete. Often ending beyond anal fin base (Talwar and Jhingran 1991). 4 rostral and 2 maxillary barbels.

Body color olive to yellowish-orange. 12-16 blackish cross-bands of turns and twists, descending below the lateral line. These bands are interrupted in young and half-grown specimens (Talwar and Jhingran 1991); scattered irregularly on flanks of adults (Talwar and Jhingran 1991). 5-6 zig-zag narrow bands on dorsal and caudal with 5-7 ‘>’-shaped dark bands (Talwar and Jhingran 1991). A black ocellus  at the upper portion of caudal base.

Fin formula:
D. 13 (2/11); P1. 10; P2. 8 (1/7); A. 6 (1/5) (Rahman 1989 and 2005)
D iii 9-11; A iii 5; P i 11; V i 7 (Talwar and Jhingran 1991)
D. 12-14 (2/10-12); P. 11; V. 8; A. 7 (2/5); C. 17 (Shafi and Quddus 2001)

Maximum lengths: 6.2 cm (Rahman 1989 and 2005), 7 cm SL (Talwar and Jhingran 1991) and 15 cm TL (Shafi and Quddus 2001).

Habitats: Inhibits submontane zones (Talwar and Jhingran 1991). Also found in canals, beels and rivers (Shafi and Quddus 2001). Found in hills streams and clear water creeks of Sylhet, streams of Mymensingh, Dinajpur and Rangpur (Rahman 1989 and 2005). Recorded from the Chalan Beel (Galib et al 2009 and 2010) and Halti Beel (Imteazzaman and Galib 2013).

Fishery info: Of no interest to fisheries (Talwar and Jhingran 1991). Used as food fish in Bangladesh.



Blyth E (1860) Report on some fishes received chiefly from the Sitang River and its tributary streams, Tenasserim Provinces. Journal and Proceedings of the Asiatic Society of Bengal 29(2): 138-174.

Chaudhuri BL (1910) Description of a new species of Nemachilus from northern India. Records of the Indian Museum (Calcutta) 5(3): 183-185.

Hamilton F (1822) An account of the fishes found in the river Ganges and its branches. Edinburgh & London. An account of the fishes found in the river Ganges and its branches.: i-vii + 1-405, Pls. 1-39.


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Mottled loach, Acanthocobitis botia (Hamilton, 1822)

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Shams Galib

Shams works in freshwater ecosystems, primarily on fish diversity in terms of their availability, and richness; he is also interested in aquatic invasive species and their impacts on ecosystem. Email: More...

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