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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.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).The composition of Iranian species has not been investigated throroughly.The earliest fossil record is from the middle Miocene about 15MYA with divergence of Sabanejewia and Cobitis at 12-13MYA (Ludwig et al., 2001).Maximum size is about 40 cm but most are much smaller.
Lip structures, fin positions relative to one another and secondary sexual characteristics in males are important characters in differentiating species in India.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.This name is not repeated under each Species Account. This genus is characterised by an elongate and compressed body, a usually bifid, erectile spine below the eye (sometimes hidden under the skin), 3 pairs of short barbels (4 at the snout tip and 2 at the mouth corners), minute scales cover the body (as many as 200 but they are seldom counted accurately), lateral line faint or indistinct, dorsal and anal fins small, caudal fin rounded or truncate, and swimbladder in a bony capsule with a free portion visible.Males have bony extensions of their pectoral fin rays, known as lamina circularis or scale of Canestrini, and no swellings of their body sides.