Garra, or doctor fish, have increased in popularity lately. This urge in interest is partly due to the fad of “spa fish” treatments,
where dead skin is removed from the body by Garra rufa. Garra is
a wide-ranging genus; I have captured wild specimens from Turkey
to Egypt and in many areas in Asia. This most spectacular Garra
species is imported out of Thailand. Currently unidentified, the fish
combines bright colors and a unique face. Garra sp. redtail is not all
looks, however—similar to the other Garra spp., they make useful
and thorough algae eaters for the home aquarium.
I have learned from a reliable source that these Christmas-colored
fish were first discovered in the Kasat River in Western Thailand in
April 2006. Obviously the most distinctive feature is the horn that
grows out of the snout of the mature adults. The size of this horn
seems dependent on the dominance of the individual fish. Adult
males 5 inches in length will show the greatest development in the
proboscis (mouth area). It is rumored that redtail Garra use these
horns as weapons in sparring, but I have not noticed this behavior in
my own captive specimens. When young, Garra sp. redtail is silvery
gray with only a slight pink tinge to the caudal fin. At around 2
inches in length, their coloration intensifies, and by 3 inches, well-cared-for subjects will be fully colored.
Redtail Garra Garra sp.
Rainbow loaches have recently been offered by Frank Greco f Frank’s Aquarium. Their delicate, iridescent green and red
coloration is unique among loaches. Both Traccatichthys taeniatus and
its close cousin T. pulcher are a rarity in the western ornamental fish
Named in honor of the Japanese scientist Yasuhiko Taki is the genus Yasuhikotakia. Thisgroupoffishesincludessomeoftheall-timefavorite
loaches for the home aquarium. The redtail/yellowtail botia Y. modesta and
the skunk loach Y. morleti are the species most often encountered by
aquarists. It was not too long ago that photos of the gorgeous splendid botia
graced the Loaches Online species index ( www.loaches.com). This Laotian
species rocketed to the most-wanted list of most loach enthusiasts and was
thought to be one of those unattainable holy-grail fish!
It is my great pleasure to introduce this truly striking species to Western
hobbyists. Initially Y. splendida could easily be misidentified as common
skunk botias. Upon closer inspection, the glorious coloration and patterns
of this loach will be apparent. The most distinguishable feature is that
Yasuhikotakia splendida lacks the black “skunk stripe” along its nape and
possesses big, bold black spots on the yellow tail. These spots are much
more striking than on either Y. morleti or Y. caudipunctata.
All members of Yasuhikotakia are scrappy and aggressive fish for the home
aquarium. The sun botia Y. eos and the skunk loach Y. morleti are the most
Splendid Botia Yasuhikotakia splendida
There are several species currently being imported as Garra sp.
redtail. Look for a rounded or blunt head when searching for this
enchanting species. Young specimens behave peaceably in the
aquarium, but they become more aggressive as they mature.
Caring for these fish presents no challenges. I prefer to keep them
in a stream aquarium, which contains flowing, oxygenated water
decorated with smooth river stones. All foods are eagerly accepted.
These fish are adept at catching food in midwater or feeding off of
the bottom substrate. I include algae discs in their daily diet.
Rainbow Loach Traccatichthys taeniatus
trade. In Xi’an, China, I observed tankloads of Traccatichthys offered
for sale in retail fish shops. It is hoped that more specimens will make
it to our shores, as the list of virtues for the rainbow loach is long.
This is a fairly peaceful and exceedingly playful species. Rainbows
are not shy and are usually found front-row center, cavorting and
chasing one another. Other species are largely ignored by them.
Like so many other loach species, this is a gregarious lot that
fares better if kept in groups of at least four. The owner of a single
specimen would surely miss out on the antics and puppy-like
playfulness of Traccatichthys. To tell T. pulcher and T. taeniatus apart
is simple: T. taeniatus lack the black streaks on the dorsal and caudal
fins that can be found on T. pulcher.
Traccatichthys taeniatus hails from cool mountain streams in Laos,
Vietnam, and China. A stream-designed aquarium containing cooler
water should be employed for their maintenance. Feeding is easy, as
all tropical fish fare is eagerly accepted. Rainbows top out at around
4 inches in length.
aggressive species in the group. Y. splendida may be a bit mellower, but it
is still feisty and tankmates—especially bottom-dwelling ones—should be
selected with care. In nature, these 3½-inch fish are found in clearwater
streams, so their aquarium should be highly oxygenated and with good
flow. Splendid botias demand sky-high prices at this time. Luckily, for those
who make the splurge, they will possess a tough-as-nails rarity in adapting
readily to captive life.
Tropical Fish Hobbyist www.tfhmagazine.com