Max Size: up to 13.5 cm

Spined Loach (Cobitis taenia) Species Profile & Care Guide

The Spined Loach is a peaceful, mostly solitary and nocturnal species. Throughout the day, they like to bury themselves in the substrate with just the head and tail visible. At night the fish will sift through the substrate using their mouth and gills foraging for food.

These Loaches are not recommended for beginner aquarists as their temperature requirements are probably the most significant barrier to successfully keeping the species in home aquaria. The reason for this is because their range includes countries that experience extremely cold winters so the water will need to be far colder than can generally be provided in a current central-heated domestic home situation.

The spined loach has an elongated and thin flat-sided body, which is brownish-grey to yellow with attractive dark brown patches to the flanks which form a broken band down the upper and lower sides. The stomach of these fish is a whiteish-yellow colouration. There are six barbels around the mouth which are often challenging to see, and they sport erectile spines below the eyes which give these species their common name.

Quick Facts
Scientific NameCobitis taenia
Other NamesSpotted Weather Loach, Spiny Loach
Aquarium LevelBottom
DifficultyIntermediate - Advanced
Best kept asTrios
Lifespan3 - 5 years
Water Conditions
Water TypeFreshwater
Temperature57 - 64 ℉ (13.9 - 17.8 ℃)
PH7.0 - 8.0
GH10 - 15

Natural Habitat of the Spined Loach

You can find the Spined Loach in the Midlands and eastern England including Trent, Welland, Witham, Nene and Great Ouse in England. It is generally considered to be widely distributed within these areas, but unfortunately, detailed information is lacking.

They inhabit Slow-flowing and still waters in rivers, streams, canals, ditches, drains and lakes where they stay hidden under rocks or buried in thick layers of sand or mud. These habitats are usually covered in dense or submerged vegetation.

Unfortunately, the Spined Loach is considered to be threatened within Europe.

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In the home aquarium, Spined Loaches will accept sinking dried foods such as wafers and pellets. However, it would be best if you also offered them frequent meals of small live and frozen fares such as daphnia, blood worm, artemia and suchlike as well as the occasional algae wafer. A varied diet is essential in maintaining your fish in the most excellent health and condition.

Sexing the Spined Loach

It is somewhat challenging to differentiate male and female Spined Loaches. Males typically have a longer and thicker second ray on their pectoral fins, and an enlarged scale at its base and the females are usually much larger than the males.

Breeding the Spined Loach

The Spined Loach reaches sexual maturity at around two years old and is very challenging to breed. However, these Loaches have been produced in the home aquaria, but they require very cold water to induce spawning in warmer conditions.

Spawning season is usually from April to June, and you will know when they are in spawning as both the male and the female will swim excitedly around the aquarium and then progresses to a chase done by the male. Once their movements have become synchronised, the male will then wrap himself around the female's body, squeezing it and causing the eggs to be released.

The females may produce up to 1,500 eggs over the three month breeding season where she will lay them on stones, gravel, plants or roots which are then fertilised by the males.

The eggs will usually hatch around 4 to 6 days later where they begin as larvae.

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Date Added: 12/14/2020 - Updated: 12/14/2020 4:51:18 PM