Habitat: we only caught Cobitis in these two tiny ponds, one of which was filthy. Maximum depth was about a metre:
The rest of this river looks mostly like the following pics. We tried netting in half a dozen or so more pools but no Cobitis were caught. In the background of the top pic is the bridge under which the loaches can be found:
Aphanius baeticus (male at top, female below). I have to be honest and say that this highly-threatened killifish is the real reason I was netting here, but to find the Cobitis too really made my day. Both species are on the IUCN Red List although the Aphanius is by far the most at risk. These ponds are one of only around half-a-dozen places where it can still be found... Judging by how well-established the terrestrial plants are in the dessicated riverbed it seems that both species could disappear from here sooner rather than later. The river clearly hasn't held much water for a long time...
Crayfish, possibly an introduced Procambarus clarkii?:
These tiny shrimp were the only other species in these ponds..loads of them though!
Edit - Sigh....I've done it again with the enormo-pics...Apologies!
as they are endangered, are you allowed to take any to breed from? that pond didnt look like a very hopefull long term home for those cute little fish.
Andre and Jim, I was as surprised as you are to find Cobitis here. There were plenty of them though and yes they must be super-hardy as the temperature fluctuation in such shallow water should be incredible over the course of the year. The day before we visited the air temperature was in excess of 100F but this is the Atlantic coast so gets quite chilly in winter.
Emma, Helen and Mister Green. Both the Cobitis and Aphanius are protected species and it is illegal to remove any from their native waters without a licence. I have started to get involved with the Iberian Cyprinodontid Conservation Programme (I have a link to their website if I'm allowed to post it?) and will look into bringing back some loaches on my next visit to the south. I have a feeling they could go outdoors on my balcony all year round and I'd love to try breeding some.
Blue and Andy/piggy (it is you, right?), thanks! It was just a very pleasant surprise to catch Cobitis this time but I'm hoping to get up near the Pyrenees on a dedicated mission to find the species that live up here in the north soon. Got some photey tanks on order from England so hopefully will get some better pics next time too!
Ps - I unashamedly nicked the idea of using a leaf for pics from the guys on Petfrd but the fish really do sit more still!
If you come back over here, maybe you can join us for our much-talked-about-but-not-yet-acted-upon LOL camping trip to search for Cobitis taenia!
East of the Sun, West of the Moon.
The website only deals with the Spanish species but the guys that run it are also involved in breeding endangered Aphanius from other countries, too. I'm getting groups of a Turkish species and an Algerian one that is extinct in the wild later this month.
I'm genuinely hopeful I'll be allowed to collect some Cobitis next time. As you say, it's not like there are any measures in place to protect that particular locality at present. Would love to come to collect C. taenia with you guys. Give me an advance warning though as I can't see myself moving back to England anytime soon.
it would be great if you could get collect some of these fish to try and preserve the species
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