Paracobitis nanpanjiangensis, a new loach (Balitoridae:
Nemacheilinae) from Yunnan, China
Rui Min &Xiaoyong Chen &Junxing Yang
Received: 15 March 2009 / Accepted: 13 January 2010 /Published online: 11 February 2010
#Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010
Abstract A new species of the genus Paracobitis,
Paracobitis nanpanjiangensis is described from
tributaries of the Nanpanjiang River drainage in China.
It is distinguished from its congeners, except P.
oligolepis and P. wujiangensis, by body scaleless or
with rudimentary scales (caudal peduncle with several
deeply embedded scales). It can be differentiated from
P. wujiangensis by the complete lateral line (vs.
incomplete), lower dorsal crest reaching the vertical
of origin of anal fin (vs. shorter and higher dorsal crest
not reaching the base of anal fin). It is distinguished
from P. oligolepis by the following characters:
branched dorsal fin with 81/2 (a few 91/2) rays (vs.
91/2), interspaces between bars in front of dorsal fin
conspicuously thinner than those behind (vs. vermi-
form markings), dorsal head without vermiform mark-
ings or obscure (vs. clearly vermiform markings on
dorsal head), vertebrae 4+36–38 (vs. 4+ 39–41).
Keywords Paracobitis .Balitoridae .New species .
Species of Paracobitis (Bleeker 1863), are compara-
tively large-sized loaches inhabiting fresh waters of
Asia and China. There are 17 valid species in the
world, with nine valid species in China (Fishbase
2009). However, arguments about the taxonomical
assignment of Chinese Paracobitis exist. Chinese
authors (e.g. Zhu 1989) place these Chinese fishes
in the genus Paracobitis by having a long adipose
crest of uniform depth. Foreign authors (e.g., Kottelat
1990;Bǎnǎrescu and Nalbant 1995) place them in a
distinct genus—Homatula (Nichols 1925)mainly
because of the great geographic distance and a
disjunct distribution pattern between the Chinese and
the western Asian Paracobitis, but they have done so
without examining materials from both sides of the
broad geographic distribution. Before examining
materials of both China and West Asia, we follow
Zhu (1989) and use Paracobitis as the genus for the
fishes in China.
Among the Chinese Paracobitis species, there are
three blind fishes, P. longibarbatus (Chen et al. 1998),
P. maolanensis (Li et al. 2006), P. posterodarsalus
(Ran et al. 2006). Du et al. (2008) placed P.
longibarbatus in the genus Triplophysa. Romero et
al. (2009) pointed out that P. m a o l a n e n s i s was
Environ Biol Fish (2010) 87:199–204
Xiaoyong Chen and Junxing Yang have contributed equally to
R. Min :X. Chen (*):J. Yang
State key laboratory of genetic resources and evolution,
Kunming Institute of Zoology,
Chinese Academy of Sciences,
32 Jiao Chang Dong Road,
Kunming, Yunnan 650223, People’s Republic of China
Graduate University of Chinese Academy of Sciences,
10039 Beijing, People’s Republic of China
probably a species of Triplophysa and distinct from
longibarbatus;P. posterodarsalus might be a junior
synonym of T. longibarbatus. Authors agree with the
opinions above mainly because P. maolanensis and P.
posterodarsalus share the following characters with T.
longibarbatus: scaleless, no externally visible eyes,
depigmented, caudal fin deeply forked, semi-transparent
body. These characters are distinguished from the genus
Paracobitis (Du et al. 2008). Therefore, only eight
species or subspecies of Chinese Paracobitis are
included in this study, i.e. P. variegatus variegatus
(Sauvage and Dabry de Thiersant 1874), P. potanini
(Günther 1896), P. anguillioides (Zhu and Wang 1985),
P. erhaiensis (Zhu and Cao 1988), P. oligolepis (Cao
and Zhu in Zheng 1989), P. wujiangensis (Ding and
Deng 1990), P. acuticephalus (Zhou and He 1993),
P. variegatus longidorsalis (Yang et al. 1994).
Eight valid species and subspecies of Chinese Para-
cobitis are included in this study: Paracobitis varie-
gatus variegatus (Sauvage and Dabry de Thiersant
1874), Paracobitis potanini (Günther 1896), Para-
cobitis anguillioides (Zhu and Wang 1985), Para-
cobitis erhaiensis (Zhu and Cao 1988), Paracobitis
oligolepis (Cao and Zhu 1989), Paracobitis wujian-
gensis (Ding and Deng 1990), Paracobitis acuticepha-
lus (Zhou and He 1993), Paracobitis variegatus
longidorsalis (Yang et al. 1994).
In 1994, a medium-sized loach was collected in the
Niujie River, a tributary of Nanpanjiang River,
Yunnan, China. In this study we describe it as a new
species and compare it to the other eight species and
subspecies of the genus Paracobitis in China.
Materials and methods
Measurements were made point to point with dial
calipers to 0.1 mm. All measurements and counts
followed Kottelat (1990). X-ray films were used to
count vertebrae and fin rays. Species of Paracobitis
examined belonged to the collections of the Kunming
Institute of Zoology (KIZ), and the Chinese Academy
of Sciences. We compared Paracobitis erhaiensis and
P. wujiangensis based on the initial description
because of the absence of reference specimens.
Abbreviations used in this paper are: D, number of
dorsal fin rays; A, number of anal fin rays; V, number
of ventral fin rays; P, number of pectoral fin rays; C,
number of caudal fin rays.
Paracobitis nanpanjiangensis sp. nov. (Fig. 1)
Holotype: KIZ 1994000023, 1 ex., 86.4 mm SL; from
Niujie River (24°57′46.9″N; 104°13′09.2″E), a
tributary of Nanpanjiang River, at Niujie village,
Luoping County, Qujing City, China, 1994, collected
by Li Weixian.
Paratypes: KIZ 1994000018–1994000022,
1994000024–1994000037, 19 ex., 64.7–89.4 mm
SL, data as for the holotype.
Etymology: From Latin, refers to the Nanpanjiang
Diagnosis: Differs from all congeners, except P.
oligolepis and P. wujiangensis, in having a nearly
scaleless body. It can be further distinguished from P.
wujiangensis by having a complete lateral line (vs.
incomplete), lower dorsal crest extending to the
vertical line of the anal-fin origin (vs.higher and
shorter dorsal crest not reaching to vertical line of anal-
fin base); it is further distinguished from P. oligolepis
by a less slender caudal peduncle (10.0–13.0 vs.9.0–
10.0), regular bars on the body (vs.clearly vermiform
markings), branched dorsal fin rays 81/2 (a few 91/2)
(vs.91/2), vertebrae 4+36–38 (vs.4+39–41).
Description: General body features are shown in
Fig. 1. Morphometric data are given in Table 1. Body
elongated, anterior portion cylindrical, posterior com-
pressed. Dorsal profile slightly convex; ventral profile
almost straight. Anus close to anal fin base, one eye-
Head slightly depressed. Snout pointed. Anterior
nostril forming a valve, appressed posterior nostril.
Eye ovoid, horizontal axis longest; midway from tip
to posterior margin of operculum, slightly close to tip.
Fig. 1 Paracobitis nanpanjiangensis (holotype KIZ
1994000023, 86.4 mm SL): alateral and bdorsal views
200 Environ Biol Fish (2010) 87:199–204
Table 1 Counts and morphometric characters of Paracobitis fishes
P. nanpanjiangensis P. oligolepis P. v. longidorsalis
P. v. variegatus
P. anguillioides P. acuticephalus P. erhaiensis
P. potanini P.
n=20 n=4 n=32 n=146 n=11 n=1 n=19 n=5 n=7
Total length (mm) 77.0–104.2 88.1–129.4 81.4–162.9 119.9 66.5–91.5 62.9–85.5 52.0–87.0
(93.5, 8.1) (103.8, 17.8) (110.3, 17.0) (73.1, 9.4)
Standard length (mm) 64.7–89.4 75.5–114.2 70.0–139.0 55.0–148.5 69.1–144.6 106.5 76.2–100.6 42.0–72.0
(80.5, 6.9) (90.3, 16.7) (95.5, 24.1) (86.9, 10.5)
D IV, 81/2–91/2 III, 91/2 III, 91/2 III, 81/2–91/2 III–IV, 81/2 III, 81/2 IV, 71/2–81/2 III, 81/2 IV, 81/2
AII–III , 51/2 II, 51/2 III, 51/2 III, 51/2 III–IV, 51/2 III, 51/2 IV, 51/2 III, 51/2 IV, 51/2
P I,10 I,10 I,10–11 I, 9–11 I, 9–10 I, 10 I, 9–10 I, 9–10 I, 8–9
V I, 7 I, 6–7 I, 7 I, 6–7I,6–7 I, 7 I, 6–7I,6–7I,5
C 9+8 9+8 9+8 9+8 9+8 9+8 14–17 9 +8
Vertebrae 4 + 36–38 4 +39–41 4+ 42–44 4 +41–44 4+ 40 4+ 40–42 4 + 37–38 4+35–36 4 + 33–34+1
In % standard length (SL)
Head length (HL) 22.0–25.0 22.0–25.0 18.3–23.9 15.5–22.7 20.0–24.0 21.0 22.5–24.1 23.0–26.0 22.7–25.0
(23.3, 0.7) (23.5, 1.3) (21.4) (17.6) (21.8, 1.0) (23.3) (24.2, 1.3)
Body depth (BD) 12.0–15.0 13.0–13.0 11.4–14.4 9.7–14.6 13.0–17.0 15.0 15.6–19.0 15.0–17.0 14.7–17.9
(13.1, 0.9) (12.9, 0.1) (13.0) (11.9) (14.8, 1.1) (16.9) (16.1, 0.5)
Depth of caudal peduncle (DCP) 10.0–13.0 9.0–10.0 10.4–12.3 8.6–12.7 10.0–14.0 9.0 13.0–16.0 12.5–16.4
(10.9, 0.7) (9.4, 0.5) (11.5) (10.4) (11.3, 1.0) (14.5, 1.2)
Length of caudal peduncle (LCP) 17.0–21.0 16.0–20.0 18.3–23.7 18.2–24.6 17.0–25.0 19.0 15.4–19.0 13.0–16.0 11.1–12.5
(18.7, 0.9) (17.3, 1.7) (19.6) (20.9) (19.6, 2.2) (17.2) (14.7, 1.0)
In % HL
Snout length (LS) 40.0–48.0 40.0–44.0 37.3–40.0 34.6–42.0 40.0–50.0 44.0 36.4–43.5 40.0–45. 35.7–47.6
(44.6, 2.1) (41.7, 1.6) (38.4) (39.2) (44.2, 2.7) (40.0) (42.5, 2.5)
Interorbital width (IW) 16.0–23.0 19.0–23.0 23.2–27.3 18.6–30.3 26.0–30.0 23.0 27.0–30.0 29.4–31.3
(19.4, 1.8) (21.4, 1.9) (25.0) (24.2) (27.6, 1.2) (29.0, 1.1)
Eye diameter (ED) 14.0–18.0 15.0–17.0 13.7–17.2 11.5–16.7 12.0–17.0 14.0 15.3–20.2 12.0–13.0 17.9–19.2
(16.1, 1.0) (16.1, 0.9) (14.9) (14.5) (13.8, 1.5) (17.2) (12.6, 0.5)
DCP/LCP 50.0–70.0 51.0–57.0 45.5–66.7 38.2–66.7 54.0–63.0 49.0 40.0–55.6 90.0–106.0 47.6–55.6
(58.3, 5.1) (54.5, 2.8) (59.2) (57.9, 2.5) (47.6) (99.1, 7.9)
from Yang et al. (1994)
from Zhu and Cao (1988)
from Ding and Deng (1990)
The mean and SD (standard deviation) are in parentheses
Environ Biol Fish (2010) 87:199–204 201
Mouth inferior. Upper jaw with a processus dentiformis
(defined by Kottelat 1990), lower jaw with an
undeveloped notch. Three pairs of barbels. Inner
rostral barbels extending to mouth corner, not reaching
anterior margin of eyes; outer rostral barbels, extend-
ing to vertical line of anterior nostril or posterior
nostril. Maxillary barbels extending to vertical line
from middle to posterior margin of eye.
Body scaleless (in 20 specimens, only one having
several pieces of embedded scales on caudal peduncle
near lateral line). Lateral line complete and straight.
Vertebra 4 + 36–38 (20 specimens).
Dorsal fin rays iv, 8 1/2–9 1/2. Dorsal-fin margin
convex. Tip of the dorsal fin extending beyond
vertical line of anus but not reaching anal-fin origin.
Pectoral-fin rays i, 10. Tip of pectoral fin longer than
halfway from its origin to pelvic-fin origin. Origin of
pelvic fin at vertical of 1st or 2nd branched dorsal fin
ray. Tip of pelvic fin more than half of the distance from
its origin to anal-fin origin, but not reaching anus (a few
specimen surpassing anus). Anal-fin origin closer to
pelvic-fin origin than to caudal-fin base.
Tip of anal fin reaching about midway of the
distance from anal-fin origin to caudal-fin base.
Caudal fin slightly emarginated. Ventral and dorsal
adipose crests supported by rudimentary rays, dorsal
crest long, extending to the vertical of anterior origin
of anal-fin base.
Color patterns (preserved in 75% alcohol):
Body brown. Dark brown bars present along lateral
body surface, bars in front of dorsal fin tending to
twisted ‘X’shaped which formed two bars, and
usually two neighboring bars united in pairs at their
upper extremity and divided vertically on the lower
part of body; those behind dorsal-fin double wider
and regular, almost as wide as interspaces; width of
interspaces increasing from head to caudal.
Habitat: Slow flowing stream.
Distribution: Paracobitis nanpanjiangensis sp.
nov. is presently only found in a tributary of the
upper Nanpanjiang River drainage, Niujie River (24°
57′46.9″N; 104°13′09.2″E), at Niujie village,
Luoping County, China, (Fig. 2).
Paracobitis fishes are widely distributed in China.
The new species and P. variegatus longidorsalis,P.
oligolepis occur in the same drainage—the Nanpan-
jiang River. The new species is clearly different from
P. v. longidorsalis and P. oligolepis in morphology.
Fig. 2 Distribution of Chi-
tis nanpanjiangensis sp.
nov. (★), Paracobitis oligo-
lepis (▲), Paracobitis vari-
egatus variegatus (△),
longidorsalis (▼), Paraco-
bitis wujiangensis (○), Par-
acobitis potanini (□),
Paracobitis erhaiensis (●),
(◆) and Paracobitis anguil-
lioides (■). ‥—‥National
boundaries, - - - - - - - - -
202 Environ Biol Fish (2010) 87:199–204
Paracobitis nanpanjiangensis has a scaleless or
rudimentary body, the same as P. oligolepis. It differs
from P. oligolepis in having a less slender caudal
peduncle 10.0–13.0% SL vs.9.0–10.0%; vertebrae
4+36–38 vs.4+39–41; surface of pectoral fin and
dorsal fin without spots vs.spots present on dorsal
side; longer outer rostral barbels, extending to anterior
nostril vs.not; origin of pelvic fin under vertical line
of 1st or 2nd branched dorsal-fin rays vs.2nd or 3rd;
body with regular bars vs.vermiform markings;
dorsal head without vermiform markings or obscure
vs.with clear vermiform markings.
It can be further distinguished from P. v. long-
idorsalis by the following characters: lower jaw with
an undeveloped notch vs.smooth; anterior nostril
forming a valve vs.a short tube; axillary pelvic lobe
without a pointed tip undivided from body vs.a point
tip divided from body; origin of pelvic fin under
vertical line of 1st or 2nd branched dorsal fin rays vs.
origin of pelvic fin under vertical line of dorsal-fin
origin; maxillary barbels reaching vertical line of
middle or posterior margin of eye vs.reaching vertical
line of anterior or middle margin of eye; interspaces
between bars in front of dorsal fin conspicuously
thinner than those behind vs.quite uniform width; LS
40.0–48.0 % HL vs.37.3–40.0%; IW 16.0–23.0 %
HL vs.23.2–27.3%; vertebrae 4+36–38 vs.4+42–44.
Key to species of the genus Paracobitis in China*.
1(14) Lateral line complete, extending to caudal-
peduncle base; maxillary barbels short, extending
from anterior to posterior margin of orbital;
2(5) Body scaleless or with rudimentary scales
present at caudal peduncle.
3(4) Body and head with vermiform markings,
dorsal fin and pectoral fin covered by small spots
on both sides; tip of pelvic fin quite far away
from anus, branched dorsal-fin rays 91/2, depth
of caudal peduncle 9.0–10.0% standard length,
vertebrae 4+39–41, Yangzonghai Lake, Yunnan
Province......Paracobitis oligolepis (Cao & Zhu)
4(3) Body with regular vertical bars, and bars in
front of dorsal fin conspicuously thinner than those
behaind; no vermiform markings on parietal area or
obscure; tip of pelvic fin closing or reaching anus,
branched dorsal-fin rays 81/2 (a few 91/2), depth of
caudal peduncle 10.0–13.0% standard length,
vertebrae 4+36–38, Nanpanjiang basin around
Luopin County, Yunnan Province..…….............
Paracobitis nanpanjiangensis sp. nov
5(2) Scales clearly present, covered posterior of
body at least.
6(9) Body depth extremely decreased posterior of
7(8) Head and belly in front of dorsal-fin
origin without scales; tip of pectoral fin
surpassing the half of the distance from its
origin to pelvic-fin origin; vertebrae 4+37–38,
Erhai Lake, Yunnan Province……...……..…..
Paracobitis erhaiensis (Zhu & Cao)
8(7) Whole body covered by scales except head;
tip of pectoral fin not reaching the half of
distance from its origin to pelvic-fin origin;
vertebrae 4+40–42, Haixihai Lake, Yunnan
Paracobitis acuticephalus (Zhou & He)
9(6) Body depth quite uniform from head to tail.
10(13) Scales only present at posterior of body.
11(12) Anterior nostril situated at a valve; branched
dorsal-fin rays 81/2 (a few 91/2); maxillary barbels
reaching the vertical of middle or posterior margin
of eye; 1–4 vermiform markings on parietal area or
obscure, Jinshajiang basin, Weihe basin...….....…..
Paracobitis variegatus variegatus (Sauvage &
12(11) Anterior nostril situated at a short tube;
branched dorsal-fin rays 91/2; maximum barbels
reaches the vertical from anterior margin to middle
of eye; numerous vermiform markings on top of
head, Nanpanjiang basin around Yiliang County
and Zhanyi County, Yunnan Province....…..…
Paracobitis variegatus longidorsalis (Yang, Chen
13(10) Scales covered whole body except head,
snout blunt, wide head with inflated cheeks,
vertebra 4+ 40, Mekong basin, Salween basin
around Yunnan Province…………...................
Paracobitis anguillioides (Zhu & Wang)
14(1) Lateral line incomplete, stop at the vertical
of dorsal fin; maxillary barbels long, mostly
surpassing the posterior margin of orbital; verte-
15(16) Scales present, covered whole body
except head and belly; dorsal crest high and
long, from dorsal-fin base to caudal-fin base,
Environ Biol Fish (2010) 87:199–204 203
………….............Paracobitis potanini (Günther)
16(15) Body scaleless or with rudimentary scales,
dorsal crest high and shot, upper crest not
reaching the posterior point of anal-fin base,
.............Paracobitis wujiangensis (Ding & Deng)
* Modified based on Chen (1999)
Paracobitis acuticephalus, holotype, KIZ 784141, 1
ex., 106.5 mm SL, collected in Lake Haixihai, Eryuan
County, Dali City, Yunnan Province, China in 1978.
Paracobitis anguillioides, KIZ 2005012635–
2005012639, 5 ex., 86.8–137.8 mm SL, collected in
Lincang City, Yunnan Province, China in 2005;
2008006532, 2008006534, 2008006535,
2008006539. 2008006542, 2008006543, 6 ex., 69.1–
144.6 mm SL, collected in Eryuan County, Dali
Prefecture, Yunnan Province, China in 2008.
Paracobitis oligolepis, KIZ 1985000829, 1 ex.,
169.7 mm SL, 774557–774560, 4 ex., 75.5–
114.2 mm SL, collected in Zhanyi County, Yunnan
Province, China in 1985, 1977.
Paracobitis potanini, KIZ 200800645–
2008006549, 5 ex., 62.9–85.5 mm SL, collected in
Yibin City, Sichuan Province, China in 2008.
Paracobitis variegatus longidorsalis,KIZ
874042–874043, 874045–874048, 874050, 874198–
874216, 26 ex., 46.1–89.5 mm SL, collected in
Yiliang County, Yunnan Province, China in 1987.
Paracobitis variegatus variegatus, KIZ 82101110–
8210117, 82101120–82101127, 82101134–82101145,
28 ex., 63.0–119.0 mm SL, collextec in Yanjin and
Weixin County, Yunnan Province, China in 1982.
Acknowledgement We are deeply indebted to Li Weixian for
collecting specimens. The authors are grateful to Du Lina for her
valuable suggestions that greatly improved the manuscript. This
work was supported by National Basic Research Program of
China (2007CB411600), the National Natural Science Foundation
of China (30730017), and the Knowledge Innovation Program of
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