The Oriental Weatherfish, a.k.a. the weather loach, is an introduced freshwater fish species that is native to northeastern Asia where it is reported from Siberia (Tugur and Amur drainages), Sakhalin, Korea, Japan, China south to northern Vietnam (FishBase 2011
). It is introduced in several regions, including in the Rhine and Ticino (Italy, north of Milano) drainages, Aral Sea basin, North America, Australia and Hawaii (FishBase 2011). In the United States, it is found in California, Florida, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Louisiana, Michigan, North Carolina, Oregon, Tennessee and Washington (Nico and Fuller 2009
). In Canada, it is found in British Columbia (see below) and in streams and creeks in the Great Lakes region (Lake Huron) (NOAA 2011
). It is reported in British Columbia in the Lower Fraser Valley (see below). The Oriental Weatherfish is a popular aquarium fish and may have arrived in BC through aquarium dumpings.
This is a highly adaptable, slender, eel-like, cold-water fish species that reaches lengths of 9-10 inches. It has a small mouth surrounded by six barbels and thick, fleshy lips (Nico and Fuller 2009). Colour is variable, from brown to yellow-brown with mottled greenish-gray or dark brown markings. Native habitat is in shallow water areas with silty or muddy substrates, with aquatic vegetation, in streams and creeks (Nico and Fuller 2011, NOAA 2011). Spawning in its native range is during the Monsoon season, during flooding. It is known to bury itself in sandy silty substrates with only its head showing. This is a biologically interesting species. Loches Online (2011) says: "Part of the species' ability to survive poor conditions is because of its ability to swallow atmospheric air and pass it through the gut, extracting oxygen internally. Excess air is expelled via the anus. This ability has led to fish being found alive encased in mud, with no actual water present."
The Oriental Weatherfish gets its name from its behaviour during barometric pressure changes: it reacts to the pressure change by agitated behaviour and standing on its head.
This species is bred as a food fish, and, because of its high adaptability, escapees have easily colonized other regions (Loaches Onliine 2011). It is also used in aquaculture and as a bait fish (Nico and Fuller 2009)
View photos of this species at Loaches Online.
View a video of the Oriental Weatherfish.