Skip to main content

Reproductive behavior of endangered spined loach Cobitis magnostriata in the field


Spined loaches, Cobitis spp., have been studied in broad fields of research. Particularly, this taxon has attracted attention because of sexual interactions, such as reproductive interference and hybrid speciation, among species. Nevertheless, knowledge of the reproductive behaviors of this genus has been limited to findings from visual observations of aquarium-resident individuals. For this study, we shot videos and analyzed reproductive behaviors of Cobitis magnostriata in the field. We also investigated cues used by males to track females. Based on our observations conducted at a ditch near the shore of Lake Biwa during May–June, 2020, the sequence of courtship and spawning behaviors was divided into four phases: phase 1, a male tracks a female; phase 2, the male swims parallel to a female; phase 3, the male wraps the posterior part of the female’s body from her dorsal fin and remains motionless; phase 4, after the male wraps the female tighter, the female vibrates to spawn. Additionally, we demonstrated that water vibrations initiate the male tracking behavior (phase 1). The adoption of such a non-species-specific cue might be one reason for which the sexual interspecific interactions have been widely reported in this genus.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

Fig. 1

available at the Movie Archives of Animal Behavior (

Fig. 2
Fig. 3
Fig. 4
Fig. 5
Fig. 6

Data availability

The datasets generated or analyzed during the current study are available from the corresponding author on reasonable request.


Download references


We deeply thank Kazuo Uehara for his management of this study site. We also thank Jun Nakajima for his valuable advice about this study. All surveys comply with current laws of the country in which they were administered.


This study was funded by JSPS KAKENHI (Grant numbers KB19J23611).

Author information

Authors and Affiliations



KM and KIT designed this study and analyzed the data. KM performed field observations to collect data. KM and KIT prepared the manuscript.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Kiyohito Morii.

Ethics declarations

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical statement

The Animal Care and Use Committee for The University of Shiga Prefecture, the institute to which the authors belong, requires no approval of the study plans that use fishes. Therefore, this study has no approval number from the Committee but it was conducted with the most careful attention to the degree that it meets with the category “experiments that are expected to produce little or no discomfort” of the guidelines of the Committee.

Additional information

Publisher's Note

Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.

Supplementary Information

Below is the link to the electronic supplementary material.

Supplementary file1 (DOCX 28 KB)

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Morii, K., Takakura, KI. Reproductive behavior of endangered spined loach Cobitis magnostriata in the field. J Ethol 40, 167–174 (2022).

Download citation

  • Received:

  • Accepted:

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI:


  • Field observation
  • Lake Biwa
  • Lamina circularis
  • Male–male interaction
  • Sexual dimorphism
  • Spawning behavior