Stone Loach

Noemacheilus barbatulus


A small, slender fish, the stone loach is found feeding on the bottom of clear rivers and streams and often partly buries itself in the gravel or sand. It feeds on small invertebrates such as mayfly larvae and freshwater shrimps, especially at night when it uses the 'barbels' around its mouth to find prey. From April to August females may spawn 10,000 eggs amongst sand, stone and vegetation.

How to identify

The stone loach is a mottled dark olive-brown all over with a greyer belly. It has six distinctive moustache-like 'barbels' around the mouth. One of only two loaches identified by their smooth, apparently scale-less, elongated bodies and rounded fins; the spined loach (a Priority Species in the UK Biodiversity Action Plan) is a rare fish with much stronger markings found in slower, muddier water.

Where to find it

Found in England, Wales and southern Scotland.

When to find it

  • January
  • February
  • March
  • April
  • May
  • June
  • July
  • August
  • September
  • October
  • November
  • December

How can people help

To help to look after stone loaches and other fish species, The Wildlife Trusts work with landowners, statutory bodies, water companies and other organisations to help manage river and wetland habitats sympathetically. You can help by supporting your local Trust and becoming a member; you'll find out about exciting wildlife happenings, events on your doorstep and volunteering opportunities, and be helping local wildlife along the way.

Species information

Common name
Stone Loach
Latin name
Noemacheilus barbatulus
Freshwater fish
Length: 6-10cm Weight: 3-6g Average Lifespan: 3-5 years
Conservation status