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Menon (1992) considers that structural details of the bony covering of the swimbladder and the nature of the scales are only of use at the generic level.Lip structures, fin positions relative to one another and secondary sexual characteristics in males are important characters in differentiating species in India.An early Oligocene route also existed between the Anatolian landmass and Central Asia (Tang et al., 2008) and cobitids may have invaded the Euro-Mediterranean zoogeographic subregion at least five times independently based on cytochrome b data.Some members of this family can live in oxygen-poor waters.The body form is fusiform to rounded or elongate; the mouth is subterminal and has 3-6 pairs of barbels; the mental lobes of the lower lip have two parts: the anterior which is usually short and sometimes divided into lobules, and the posterior which is flap-like and longer and sometimes divided into 2 or more barbel-like extensions; there is 1 row of pharyngeal teeth; and there is an erectile spine in a groove below the eye (anterior in a non-Iranian genus).Iranian species have one pair of rostral barbels and a rounded or slightly emarginate caudal fin and belong to the subfamily Cobitinae.These loaches often bury themselves in mud to overwinter or escape predators.The spine under the eye when erected is an anti-predator device, discouraging swallowing by other fishes and birds.
A number of species are popular aquarium fishes, including the coolie or kuhli loaches and the weatherfish.
This family of loaches, sometimes called sting-loaches, is found in Eurasia and Morocco and has about 28 genera with about 236 species (Berra, 2001; Nelson, 2006; Eschmeyer and Fong, 2011).
Berra (2001) does not indicate the more southern distribution of this genus in Khuzestan and Fars provinces of Iran. Anonymous (1988a) places Cobitidae on the Official List of Family-Group Names in Zoology (rather than the grammatically correct but unused Cobitididae) and Cobitis taenia is designated as the type species for the genus Cobitis (see also Kottelat (1986) for further information).
Males have 1-2 laminar projections on the dorsal surface of the anterior pectoral fin rays known as the laminae circularis or Canestrini's scales.
Hybrid lineages are known, produced by gynogenesis and are nearly all-female.