Schistura spiesi

Vidthayanon and Kottelat 2003

CypriniformesCobitoidei Nemacheilidae


Schistura aff reidi  Borowsky and Vidthayanon 2001




Holotype: NIFI 3150 male 98.4mm SL. Paratypes: NIFI 3151 (11 specimens, 45.3-119.1mm SL), CMK 17294 (2 specimens, 61.6-75.4mm SL), NIFI 3077 male 78.4mm SL, NIFI 3078 2 females and 1 juvenile, 30.2-79.6mm SL.

Vidthayanon and Kottelat (2003) record the NIFI reference number for one paratype as NIFI 3149. This is an error as this number is already allocated to a paratype of Neolissochilus subterraneus.


Known only from the type locality: Tham Phra Wang Daeng cave, Thung Salaeng Luang National Park, Noen Maprang District, Phitsanulok Province, Thailand (16o40’41”N, 100o41’24”E). This species co-exists with Neolissochilus subterraneus.


Found throughout the length of the cave, in all water depths, and with no substrate preference. Possibly feeds on bacteria  and detritus trapped on the water surface film. The largest animals were found in the passages furthest from the entrance.


Vidthayanon and Kottelat (2003) suggest that S. spiesi and S. deansmarti are sister species, sharing a common epigean ancestor. They are similar in morphology and found in caves which are close together. S. desmotes, a species found in adjacent river basins, is a possible close relative. Borowsky and Vidthayanon (2001), using DNA markers, suggest a close relationship with S. reidi.

Conservation Status

TLO [VU D2:3.1:2012]

(Kottelat, M. 2012. Schistura spiesi. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2012: Downloaded on 14 July 2017). The species is only known from the Tham Prawangdaeng cave in Phitsanulok Province, northern Thailand. The length of the cave stream (based on the length of the cave itself) is estimated as 3.7 km (Ellis 2010). It is considered very likely that the range of the species does not extend beyond the Tham Prawangdaeng cave formation. The species is assessed as Vulnerable (D2) on the basis of a restricted Area of Occupancy (estimated at between 8-26 km2, 1 location). Although the species habitat is within a National Park, it is considered vulnerable to pollution from logging, water pollution, and impacts from tourist activities. Current and potential threats are tourism development and degradation of the surrounding watershed and water quality, and combined with a very restricted Extent of Occurrence, the species could easily qualify  for a higher threatened category if further information becomes available on the scope and nature of threats. [DD:3.1:2009].

Museum Holdings

As above plus NIFI 2997.

Key References

Borowsky, R.L. and Vidthayanon, C. Journal Article 2001 Nucleotide diversity in populations of balitorid cave fishes from Thailand
Deharveng, L. and Bedos, A. Book Section 2001 Thailande
Vidthayanon, C. and Kottelat, M. Journal Article 2003 Three new species of fishes from Tham Phra Wang Daeng and Tham Phra Sai Ngam caves in northern Thailand (Teleostei: Cyprinidae and Balitoridae)
Ellis, M. Journal Article 2010 The caves of Phitsanulok
Duboue, E.R. and Borowsky, R. Journal Article 2012 Altered rest-activity patterns evolve via circadian independent mechanisms in cave adapted balitorid loaches
Brancelj, A., Boonyanusith, C., Watiroyram, S. and Sanoamuang, L. Journal Article 2013 The groundwater-dwelling fauna of Southeast Asia
Ellis, M. Journal Article 2018 The recorded fauna of the limestone caves of Thailand to April 2018
Ellis, M. Journal Article 2020 The caves of western and central Thailand
Marak, W.K. and Singh, Y.L. Journal Article 2023 Osteology of incomplete lateral lined schisturid loaches of Meghalaya: a comparative account