June 2016 Biodiversity Spotlight

Horse-face Loaches (Acantopsis)

This fish specimen is Acantopsis thiemmedhi. The specimen is about five inches long, and comes from the Wang River in Thailand.  Photo by Zachary S. Randall.

Species of Acantopsis (Cobitidae) are fishes with the English name of horse-face loaches and are known in Thailand and other Southeast Asian countries as banana-root fishes.  They range from India to Laos and south to Borneo and Java, occupying sandy stretches of rivers where they bury in sand leaving only their eyes and trademark snout exposed.  Acantopsis use their distinctive mouth barbels to forage for and feast upon nematodes and other small invertebrates living in the sand. Species reach between three and eight inches in length, and males can be distinguished from females by their enlarged pectoral fin rays. Acantopsis are common throughout much of their range and are sold in markets to be deep-fried and eaten, much like French fries (but with a decidedly fishy flavor and crunch).


Contributed by David Boyd and Larry Page from the Florida Museum of Natural History