Lamprehuela (Cobitis paludica)

Cobitis paludica
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Lamprehuela fact file

Lamprehuela description

GenusCobitis (1)

This small bottom-dwelling fish, a member of the Cobitidae, or loach family (4), has an elongated, pale body patterned with dark spots (2). The head, also dotted with small spots, bears three pairs of barbels (fleshy projections) around the mouth (2), and a forked, erectile spine sits below each eye (2) (4). Male fish are smaller than females (2).

Also known as
Cobitis haasi.
Length: up to 15 cm (2)

Lamprehuela biology

The lamprehuela is a short-lived fish in which, interestingly, females live for a year longer than males, with females living for up to five years, but males living only up to four years (2) (6). Lamprehuela mature shortly after reaching a year old (7), with spawning commencing in late March and ending in July (7). During this time, sexually mature females release hundreds of eggs, (up to 1,400 eggs), into the water (2), in a minimum of two batches (7).

Lamprehuela feed on invertebrates, particularly chironomid (non-biting midge) larvae and Ostracoda (small shrimps) (6), as well as detritus and algae (2) (8).


Lamprehuela range

The lamprehuela occurs in rivers of the central and southern Iberian Peninsula (1), but has also been introduced, presumably by fish anglers, to rivers in northern Spain (1) (5).


Lamprehuela habitat

A bottom-dwelling, freshwater fish, the lamprehuela inhabits the middle and lower parts of rivers, where there is a gentle current, sandy or gravel bottom, and submerged aquatic vegetation (1) (5) (6).


Lamprehuela status

Classified as Vulnerable (VU) on the IUCN Red List 2007 (1), and listed on Appendix III of the Bern Convention (3).

IUCN Red List species status – Vulnerable


Lamprehuela threats

This small loach faces a number of threats which have led to the reduction of formerly abundant populations (1), and local extinctions in some river tributaries (2). The extraction of gravel and diversion of water for agriculture, along with pollution and dam construction, has destroyed suitable habitat for the fish (2). The introduction of exotic fish species has also had a negative effect on populations, and the commercial trade in lamprehuela as live bait could potentially pose an additional threat to this Vulnerable species (1) (2) (5).


Lamprehuela conservation

In Spain, there is legislation which ensures the maintenance of minimum river flow, which should lessen the occurrence of destructive river alterations, such as dams. Spanish law also bans the use of live bait (2) (5), however, the commercial trade in live bait remains a potential threat in Portugal (2). To ensure the long-term survival of this threatened fish it has been recommended that the release of exotic fishes should be carefully controlled, and water flow and quality should be strictly monitored (2).

View information on this species at the UNEP World Conservation Monitoring Centre.


This information is awaiting authentication by a species expert, and will be updated as soon as possible. If you are able to help please contact:


Litter formed from fragments of dead material.
Animals with no backbone.
Stage in an animal’s lifecycle after it hatches from the egg. Larvae are typically very different in appearance to adults; they are able to feed and move around but usually are unable to reproduce.
The production or depositing of large quantities of eggs in water.


  1. IUCN Red List (June, 2007)
  2. Perdices, A. and Doadrio, I. (1997) Threatened Fishes of the World: Cobitis paludica (De Buen, 1930) (Cobitidae). Environmental Biology of Fishes, 49: 360 - .
  3. Bern Convention (June, 2007)
  4. Nelson, J.S. (1994) Fishes of the World. Third Edition. John Wiley and Sons Inc, New York.
  5. Elvira, B. (1995) Conservation status of endemic freshwater fish in Spain. Biological Conservation, 72: 129 - 136.
  6. Soriguer, M.C., Vallespín, C., Gomez-Cama, C. and Hernando, J.A. (2000) Age, diet growth and reproduction of a population of Cobitis paludica (de Buen, 1930) in the Palancar stream (southwest of Europe, Spain) (Pisces: Cobitidae). Hydrobiologia, 436: 51 - 58.
  7. Oliva-Paterna, F.J., Torralva, M.M. and Fernández-Delgado, C. (2002) Age, growth and reproduction of Cobitis paludica in a seasonal stream. Journal of Fish Biology, 60: 389 - 404.
  8. Valladolid, M. and Przybylski, M. (2003) Feeding ecology of Cobitis paludica and Cobitis calderoni in Central Spain. Folia Biologica, 51: 135 - 141.

Image credit

Cobitis paludica  
Cobitis paludica

© Juan Manuel Borrero /

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