The Spined Loach (Cobitis taenia) is a freshwater fish.

By day they bury themselves before expelling sand striped of nutrients from its gills. This process continues through the night for the the fish to be able to gain enough nutrients to survive. When levels of oxygen int he water are low, they resort to intrestinal breathing. At the waters surface, swallowed air brings oxygen into the intestine.


The Spined Loach typically reaches an adult length of 8–10 cm, although females may grow up to 12 cm. Adults weigh between 20–60 g. Their backs feature a yellow-brown colouring interspersed with many small grey or brown scales on the spinal ridge. The scales on the belly are pale yellow or orange. The body overall is long and thin. There are 6 barbels around the mouth. Under the eyes there is a two-pointed spike, with which the fishes can inflict a painful sting.

Distribution and relationshipsEdit

It is found from Siberia to Spain. Generally it occurs across much of temperate Eurasia north of the Alpide belt, with the exceptions of Ireland, Scotland, Wales and northern Scandinavia. Some population are also found just south of the Alpides, and at the eastern end of its range it reaches China.

Ecology and behaviourEdit

Clear oxygen-rich water is preferred by the spined loach, be it slowly flowing brooks, rivers or still water. They are found near flat and sandy or stony areas, frequently in large numbers. The spined loach is often kept as an ornamental fish in aquaria.

During the day, they bury themselves in the bed of the body of water, leaving only the head and tail exposed. At night, when the loach is most active, sand on the riverbed is consumed, and with it small animals and other organic material. Sand, stripped of nutrients, is ejected through the gills. This process must continue all night for the fish to get enough calories to survive.

Spined loaches possess the ability of intestinal breathing. This stop-gap measure sustains the spined loach when the water around it is oxygen-poor. At the water's surface swallowed air brings oxygen into the intestine. The expended air is expelled through the anus.

The spawning season is from April to June. The females produce between 300 and 1,500 eggs close to the ground: on stones, roots or plants. The eggs are then fertilized by the males. The larvae hatch in 4 to 6 days.

The spined loach's lifespan is between 3 and 5 years, with the maximum reached in captivity being 10 years.

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