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Maximum size : 13.5 cm

Spined Loach - Cobitis taenia : Complete Fish Profile & Care Guide

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The Spined Loach (Cobitis taenia) is a fascinating and peaceful, mostly solitary and nocturnal species. During the day, these fish tend to bury themselves in the substrate, with only their head and tail visible. However, at night, they emerge to sift through the substrate using their mouth and gills to forage for food. While not recommended for beginner aquarists, the Spined Loach is a remarkable species to keep for those willing to meet their specific requirements. Unfortunately, the fish's temperature needs can be a significant obstacle to maintaining them in domestic aquaria. As they come from regions that experience extremely cold winters, their water must be much colder than typical central-heated domestic settings can provide. The Spined Loach boasts an elongated, flat-sided body ranging from brownish-grey to yellow. Dark brown patches decorate their flanks, forming a broken band down their upper and lower sides. The fish's stomach has a whiteish-yellow colouration, and they possess six barbels around its mouth, which can be challenging to see. Additionally, they sport erectile spines below their eyes, which gives them their common name. Overall, the Spined Loach is a captivating species that can add interest and intrigue to any aquarium. With their unique characteristics and specific needs, these fish are an excellent choice for those seeking a challenge and a rewarding experience.

Spined Loach Photos

Sexual Dimorphism

Distinguishing between male and female Spined Loaches can be a relatively demanding task. Typically, males exhibit a more extended and thicker second ray on their pectoral fins, accompanied by an enlarged scale at its base. Conversely, females tend to be larger than their male counterparts.

Quick Facts

Scientific NameCobitis taenia
Year Described1758
Other NamesSpotted Weather Loach, Spiny Loach
OriginsUnited Kingdom United Kingdom
Max Size13.5 cm
Aquarium LevelBottom
DifficultyIntermediate - Advanced
Best kept asTrios
Lifespan3 - 5 years

Water Parameters

Water TypeFreshwater
PH7.0 - 8.0
GH10 - 15
57 - 64
13.9 - 17.8

Natural Habitat

The Spined Loach is a species native to England's Midlands and eastern regions, including rivers such as Trent, Welland, Witham, Nene, and Great Ouse. While generally considered to be widespread in these areas, detailed information on their distribution remains limited. These elusive fish prefer to inhabit slow-moving or still waters, such as rivers, streams, canals, ditches, drains, and lakes. They tend to stay concealed under rocks or buried in thick layers of sand or mud, with their habitats often featuring dense or submerged vegetation. Despite their prevalence in certain areas, the Spined Loach, unfortunately, faces threats to its survival throughout Europe and as such, requires conservation efforts to help maintain its population. The importance of protecting this unique and fascinating species cannot be overstated.


The Spined Loach attains sexual maturity at approximately two years of age, and breeding this species can prove to be exceedingly challenging. However, successful breeding has been accomplished in domestic aquaria, albeit requiring a significantly low water temperature to induce spawning during warmer conditions. Typically, the spawning season for Spined Loaches occurs between April to June. During this time, both male and female individuals display heightened activity levels within the aquarium. A chase sequence ensues, initiated by the male, as their movements become synchronized. The male then proceeds to wrap itself around the female's body, applying pressure to facilitate the release of eggs. Over a three-month breeding period, the female can produce up to 1,500 eggs. These eggs are typically deposited on stones, gravel, plants, or roots and are fertilized by the males. After 4 to 6 days, the eggs will hatch, and the larvae will begin their development.

Diet & feeding

In a domestic aquarium setting, Spined Loaches are known to readily consume sinking dried foods like wafers and pellets. However, to maintain optimal health, providing them with a diverse diet that includes frequent meals of small live and frozen fare, such as daphnia, bloodworms, and artemia, is recommended. In addition, the occasional inclusion of algae wafers in their diet can also prove beneficial. Offering a varied diet is essential in promoting the Spined Loaches' overall health and well-being, allowing them to thrive in a home aquarium setting. By taking proper care to provide a well-rounded diet, you can help ensure your fish remain in optimal health and condition.

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