E-Fauna BC: Electronic Atlas of the Wildlife of British Columbia

Misgurnus anguillicaudatus (Cantor, 1842)
Oriental Weatherfish
Family: Cobitidae
Photo of species

© Jeff Thorlacius  Email the photographer   (Photo ID #12595)

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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.

Species Information

Dorsal view shows the male with larger pectoral fins and the female with fuller abdomen (Ref. 44091). Body is mottled with darker greenish-gray to dark brown markings, against a yellow-brown to brown color; conspicuous adipose crests along the ventral and dorsal mid-lines of the caudal peduncle; 10 barbels; suborbital spine hidden in the skin (Ref. 27732).

Source: FishBase. Talwar, P.K. and A.G. Jhingran 1991 Inland fishes of India and adjacent countries. vol 1. A.A. Balkema, Rotterdam. 541 p.


Species Biology

Occurs in rivers, lakes and ponds. Also in swamps and rice fields (Ref. 27732, 44894). Prefers still or gently flowing water (Ref. 44894), also the muddy bottoms, where they hide in the muck and leaf litter with only their heads sticking out; prefers muddy bottoms of streams and ponds; in Hawaii, can also be found under mats of honohono (Commelina diffusa and California grass (Brachiara nuatica); feeds on worms, small crustaceans, insects, insect larvae, and other small aquatic organisms (Ref. 44091). Benthic (Ref. 58302). Tolerates temperatures between 2 and 30C, and can breathe air to supplement respiratory requirements in oxygen-depleted waters. Commonly used by anglers as live bait, so escapes may also have contributed to their spread (Ref. 44894).

Source: FishBase. Talwar, P.K. and A.G. Jhingran 1991 Inland fishes of India and adjacent countries. vol 1. A.A. Balkema, Rotterdam. 541 p.


BC Distribution and Notes

This common aquarium speciesis the most recent alien species to gain a foothold in BC (in the lower Fraser Valley). It is a native of northeastern Asia and will probably thrive in quiet water habitats in the Lower Mainland. It is a small fish and is unlikely to directly effect any of our native species.

Source: Information provided by Don McPhail for E-Fauna BC.
Global Distribution

Asia: Myanmar and Northeastern Asia and southward to Central China. This species proved successful in the aquarium fish trade and has also been introduced to other countries (Ref. 1739). At least one country reports adverse ecological impact after introduction. Potential pest.

Source: FishBase. Talwar, P.K. and A.G. Jhingran 1991 Inland fishes of India and adjacent countries. vol 1. A.A. Balkema, Rotterdam. 541 p.

Status Information

Origin StatusProvincial StatusBC List
(Red Blue List)
ExoticSNAExoticNot Listed
BC Ministry of Environment: BC Species and Ecosystems Explorer--the authoritative source for conservation information in British Columbia.

Additional Range and Status Information Links

Additional Photo Sources

General References

Recommended citation: Author, Date. Page title. In Klinkenberg, Brian. (Editor) 2021. E-Fauna BC: Electronic Atlas of the Fauna of British Columbia [efauna.bc.ca]. Lab for Advanced Spatial Analysis, Department of Geography, University of British Columbia, Vancouver. [Accessed: 2022-08-07 9:30:14 AM]
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