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Oriental Weather Loach – Invasive Species – Part 69

Invasive Species in USA Waterways - Part 69

Oriental Weather Loach

Misgurnus anguillicaudatus

The Oriental Weather Loach is an invasive species of freshwater fish in the Cobitidae family. While, the loach is native to East Asia from Siberia south to northern Vietnam and Japan. Another name is the Pond Loach. The name weather loach comes from their ability to detect changes in barometric pressure swimming frantically or standing on end.

Invasive Species Definition

The definition of an invasive species is any species that is not native to our ecosystems and cause harm when introduced to the ecosystems. Furthermore, these may include amphibians, plants, insects, fish, fungus, bacteria and more. Impacts on the environment may cause economic loss or affect human health.

While, Invasive species tend to grow and reproduce quickly and spread aggressively with the potential to cause harm on the environment, economy or even human health. Therefore, given the label “invasive”.

Description of the Oriental Weather Loach

Oriental Weather Loach

Slender, eel-like fish that can vary in color from yellow to olive green to a common light brown or grey with lighter ventral sides. However, they may be Pink, Orange, Grey or Albino in color. While, having marbled markings dorsally on their bodies. Generally, reach about 12 inches in length.

While, the mouth is surrounded by three sets of barbels, which they use to sift through silt or pebbles to find food. Meanwhile, used to dig under gravel and sand to conceal itself out of nervousness or defense. Therefore, enabling them to survive out of water for long periods of time. The lips are thick and fleshy.

Meanwhile, they have a short spine and lateral line that does not exceed the length of the pectoral fin. Further, the dorsal fins origin is above the pelvic fin. 9 dorsal rays are present with 6 – 7 pelvic rays and 7 – 8 anal rays. Meanwhile, the female is longer than the male.

Biology of the Oriental Weather Loach

Inhabit muddy or silty substrates in low-gradient, shallow water. Generally, in aquatic macrophyte beds. Meanwhile, they can survive in oxygen-poor waters through long periods of drought by burrowing into soft substrates. While, using their intestine as a respiratory organ. Able to tolerate extreme conditions and withstand desiccation and starvation for more than 80 days. Furthermore, capable of surviving in poor water conditions.

Distribution of the Oriental Weather Loach

Further, introduced to other areas of Asia, Europe, North America and Australia.

Effect on the Ecosystem

Compete with native fish species for food sources including aquatic insects. As well as, habitat, breeding grounds and cover. While, the population explosion and their ability to without unfavourable water conditions give them an advantage over the native fish species. Further, causes significant reduction in macroinvertebrate numbers. While, increasing the turbidity and nitrogen levels in standing water.

Introduction to the USA

Descended from populations that have escaped from local goldfish farms as early as the 1930's. While, other populations have escaped by the means of the aquarium trade where they are possibly released into waterways. Or, having escaped from fish farms or imported as a food source. Meanwhile, the spread of the fish is farther assisted by means of them being used as bait fish and possibly escaping.

Non-native occurrences in Alabama, California, Florida, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Louisiana, Maryland, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Tennessee or Washington.

Management of the Oriental Weather Loach

The establishment and farther dispersal of the Weather Loach is urged by fisheries managers. While, some areas have banned the importation of the fish. However, the most successful method to prevent spread is to involve the public. Therefore, public awareness and education on various invasive species is paramount. Furthermore, including the Oriental Weather Loach spread. However, should you detect or suspect a detection of this species in our native waterways, do not hesitate to contact the wildlife department.

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