field guide to the freshwater fishes of singapore

Index of fishes
General parts of a fish
Kelvin K P Lim and Peter K L Ng
  Family Cobitidae
Asia, Europe, Morocco. Mainly small, elongate, bottom-dwelling fishes with ventrally-placed mouths fringed with short barbels.

Genus Pangio
Primarily freshwater fish; oviparous; omnivorous; usually found in large numbers at a single spot; benthic. Formerly, and better known under the genus name "Acanthophthalmus", these eel-like fishes have the habit of concealing themselves in thick clumps of vegetation, or within accumulations of leaf-litter. They seem to be nocturnal in habits, and feed on benthic organisms (e.g., worms) and detritus.

They are popularly called "Coolie Loaches", because one of the earliest known species is named P. kuhlii (from Java). The name "kuhlii" happened to rhyme with "coolie". It has nothing to do with the local male labourers which also bear the name "Coolie". Despite this fact, the name "Coolie Loach" has stuck fast!

photo of whole fish, side viewBanded Eel-loach or
Banded Coolie
Pangio semicincta
Ikan Pasir,
name in chinese characters

8 cm. Indigenous, endangered. Forest streams.

This is a well known, lively and hardy aquarium fish, pinkish with distinct brown bands throughout the length of the body.

In Singapore, it is very rare at present, and local aquarium stocks are imported, probably from Malaysia.
close-up photo of banded coolie loach
Face of Banded Coolie-Loach Photo: Tan Bee Hong
photo of whole fish, side view
Photo: Tan Bee Hong
Spotted Eel-loach or
Spotted Coolie
Pangio muraeniformis
Ikan Pasir,
name in chinese characters
8 cm. Indigenous, endangered. Forest streams.

This species was first described from the Thomson Road area in Singapore in 1933. It is different from the former species in that it is slightly more elongated and has blotches instead of bands.

Juveniles are conspicuously banded, and difficult to distinguish from the former species. However, there are usually three bands over the head in the Spotted Eel-Loach compared to two bands in the Banded Eel-Loach.
close up photo of spotted coolie loach
Face of Spotted Coolie Loach
Photo: Tan Bee Hong

diagram of young spotted coolie loach
Colour patter of young
Spotted Coolie Loach
Freshwater habitats
Fishes in Singapore
Amazing Fishy Facts
About the guidebook
From A Guide to Common Freshwater Fishes of Singapore by Kelvin K P Lim and Peter K L Ng
Published by the Singapore Science Centre and sponsored by BP

@Raffles Museum of Biodiversity Research and Singapore Science Centre