fish Easy level

Triplophysa stolickai (Steindachner 1866)

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Tibetan stone loach

The world’s record of the highest-living fish appears to belong to the Tibetan Stone Loach, Triplophysa stolickai, an abundant and very widely distributed nemacheilid loach that occurs in mountain streams and springs in Iran, Pakistan, India, Bhutan, China, and Tibet.

Austrian ichthyologist Franz Steindachner described the species as Cobitis stoličkai in 1866 from specimens collected from streams in the Tsumureri Lake system of western Tibet, at 4740 m. In 1980, Chinese scientists reported the loach from Tibetan hot springs near Lungmu Lake at 5200 m, the highest-known altitude of any fish.

Steindachner named the loach in honor of paleontologist Ferdinand Stoliczka (1838-1874), who collected the type. His orthography has caused some confusion over the years.

Steindachner placed the species in the catch-all loach genus Cobitis. It is now placed in Triplophysa, coined by Swedish zoologist and artist Hialmar Rendahl (1891-1969) in 1933. The name translates as triplos, thrice and physa, bladder, referring to how swim bladder of Triplophysa hutjertjuensis appears to consist of three parts, a “bony encapsulated diverticulum” and “two elongated bubbles”.

Distribution: Asia. Indus, Ganges, Tarim and Yangtze River basins – Iran, Pakistan, India, Bhutan, China including Tibet.

Habitat: freshwater.

Submitted by
Heiko Bleher
37.7177086, 73.5554276
Geographical region
Central Asia
Drainage Basin
Amudarya River
River catchment
Panj River
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Type locality
Streams in Tsumureri Lake system, Rupshu Province, western Tibet, elevation 15550 feet.
Conservation status/IUCN Red List
Extinct (EX)

Water Chemistry

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Fresh water
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Group fish
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Day active
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