Misgurnus anguillicaudatus
Misgurnus anguillicaudatus
(Oriental Weatherfish)
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Misgurnus anguillicaudatus (Cantor, 1842)

Common name: Oriental Weatherfish

Synonyms and Other Names: dojo, weather loach, Japanese weatherfish, Amur weatherfish

Taxonomy: available through www.itis.govITIS logo

Identification: Eel-like body, brown with greenish grey-brown marble markings dorsally, pale silver ventrum. The mouth is small, narrow and subinferior surrounded by six barbels. The lips are thick and fleshy. Short lateral line, not exceeding the length of the pectoral fin. Has a stout spine on its pectoral fin. Dorsal fin origin is above the pelvic fin origin. There are 9 dorsal rays, 6–7 pelvic rays, and 7–8 anal rays. Distinguishing characteristics were given by Berg (1949), Sterba (1973), Masuda et al. (1984), Page and Burr (1991), and Talwar and Jhingran (1992). The species is included in identification keys provided by Nichols (1943), Berg (1949), Moyle (1976), Talwar and Jhingran (1992), and Laird and Page (1996). Illustrations or photographs appeared in Nichols (1943), Berg (1949), Masuda et al. (1984), and Axelrod et al. (1985).

Size: To 28 cm SL (Kottelat and Freyhof 2007), but averages smaller.

Native Range: Eastern Asia from Siberia south to nortern Vietnam, including Japan (Berg 1949; Masuda et al. 1984; Talwar and Jhingran 1992).

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Nonindigenous Occurrences: Recently collected from Porthouse Branch, a tributary of the Coosa River in Talladega County, Alabama (B. Kuhajda, personal communication). Specimens were collected from a three-mile reach of the Westminster flood control channel in Orange County, California, in 1968 (St. Amant and Hoover 1969). Additional established populations were discovered upstream from the original collection sites in 1977 and in the adjacent Bolsa Chica Channel in 1979 (Shapovalov et al. 1981). It has also been recorded for Huntington Beach, Orange County, and in tributaries to the Salton Sea, Riverside County, California (e.g., Courtenay et al. 1986; Page and Burr 1991). In Florida, this species has been found in five Gulf coast counties, including specimens from the Little Manatee River drainage since about 1988 (L. G. Nico, unpublished data); and more recently in other areas in the Peace drainage (Charlotte Harbor NEP 2004); and in the Myakka River in 2003 (Lemon, personal communication). The species was introduced into Hawaii prior to 1900 (Brock 1960); it now occupies primarily stream habitats in Kauai, Maui, and Oahu (Maciolek 1984; Devick 1991a, 1991b). Specimens have been found in the Harton Davis Canal, in an irrigation ditch at Eagle State Park, in the Boise River system, Ada County, Idaho, since the mid-1980s (Courtenay et al. 1986, 1987; Idaho Fish and Game 1990). It has been found in the North Shore Channel, Cook County, Lake Michigan drainage, Illinois, since 1987, and in the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal in 1994 (Page and Laird 1993; Burr et al. 1996; Laird and Page 1996; Thiel, personal communication). Found in the Grand Calumet River and the Indiana Harbor Canal near Hammond, Indiana (Simon et al. 2006). Several specimens including young-of-the-year were collected near Lacombe, Louisiana, just downstream of a fish farm (K. Piller, pers. comm. 2005). Recently (2007-2009) collected in Gwynns Falls and the Patapsco River, Maryland (Ashton and Ciccotto 2010). This species was collected in headwaters of the Shiawassee River, in Oakland and Genessee counties, Michigan, in 1958 and 1959 where it was considered to be established (Schultz 1960). Recently established near the Celery Farm Natural Area in Allendale, New Jersey. Several populations of weatherfish are known in New York: one in the Ball Creek drainage in western New York (NYSM voucher specimens), one in eastern Long Island (NYSM voucher specimens), one in the Susquehanna drainage (NYSM voucher specimens), and one in tributaries of the Hudson River (NYSM voucher specimens; Schmidt and Schmidt 2014). Two Oriental Weatherfish were collected in the Haw system, North Carolina, in 2009 (B. Tracy and W. Starnes, pers. comm.). The species has been reported from a diked secondary channel of the Clackamas River, Oregon, since the mid-1980s; it was found in the Malheur, Owyhee, and Snake River systems in 1995 (Logan et al. 1996). Several specimens were also collected in 1997 from Burlington Bottoms near the Multnomah Channel of the Columbia River (N. Bowers, personal communication), and farther downstream from Scappoose Bay on the Columbia River in 1994 (L. Pierce, personal communication; Beaston, personal communication). This species is known from Tennessee where it was collected in a tributary of Coffee Creek, near the Hiwassee River, Polk County, in April 1995 (D. Etnier, personal communication). Present in Lake Washington in Seattle, Washington, since the mid-1990s (K. Aitkin and R. Tabor, personal communication; Tabor et al. 2001). Collected in Tulalip Creek, near Marysville, Washington (DeLong 1999).

Outside of the U.S., this species is established in Australia (Lintermans and Burchmore 1996), Germany (Freyhof and Korte 2005), the Philippines (Juliano et al. 1989), Spain (Franch et al. 2008), and Turkmenistan (Sal'nikov 1998)

Ecology: The Oriental Weatherfish is found in muddy or silty substrates in low-gradient, shallow water, often in aquatic macrophyte beds (Tabor et al. 2001; Schmidt and Schmidt 2014). Its diet is composed mostly of small benthic invertebrates and detritus; Tabor et al. (2001) found that cladocerans and chironomids were the most frequently ingested prey items collectively; Schmidt and Schmidt (2014) found that amphipods, gastropods and chironomids comprised the most important food items in several New York populations; Urquhart and Koetsier (2014b) identified chironimids and small bivalves as the most frequently ingested prey items in Idaho populations. Misgurnus does not forage by sight, but requires chemical stimuli to induce feeding behavior (Watanabe and Hidaka 1983). It can use its intestine as an accesory respiratory organ, enabling it to live in oxygen-poor waters and to bury itself in soft substrates to survive long droughts (Ip et al. 2004). This species exhibits sexual size dimorphism, with the average length of female Oriental Weatherfish is considerably larger than that of the males (Tabor et al. 2001; Schmidt and Schmidt 2014). Schmidt and Schmidt (2014) examined the fecundity of introduced New York populations: ovary weight was 4-19% of total wet body weight, and total oocytes in unmated females ranging between 150-18,000 (with fecundity increasing with total length).

Highly tolerant to extreme conditions or marginal habitat quality: Koetsier and Urquhart (2012) found that M. anguillicaudatus can withstand desiccation and starvation for more than 81 days, and Urquhart and Koetsier (2014a) estimated a critial thermal minimum of between -1° and -2°C and reported survival of experimental fish partially or fully encased and in direct contact with ice.

Means of Introduction: California populations are apparently descended from individuals that escaped from a local goldfish farm, possibly as early as the 1930s (St. Amant and Hoover 1969). Similarly, populations in the upper Shiawassee River system, Michigan, are believed to have descended from individuals imported from Kobe, Japan, which escaped from a nearby aquarium supply company in Oakland County before 1951, possibly as early as 1939 (Schultz 1960; Courtenay et al. 1984). In Hawaii, the species was presumably introduced by Asian immigrants during the 1800s, probably for food (Maciolek 1984; Devick 1991b). Brock (1960) stated that its use as bait for fish was apparently instrumental in its spread in Hawaii. Collections in Louisiana were the result of escapes from a fish farm. Introductions into other states were presumably the result of aquarium releases.

Status: Established in Shiawassee River and L. Michigan (USEPA 2008). Established in California, Florida, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, and Washington, and possibly in Louisiana. Status is unkonwn in Tennessee, North Carolina, and Maryland.

Impact of Introduction: It may reduce populations of aquatic insects important as food to native fishes (Page and Laird 1993; USEPA 2008). Based on its preferred habitat and diet, and on its population size, Maciolek (1984) categorized Misgurnus along with several other introduced fishes as species having an intermediate impact on Hawaiian streams. Schmidt and Schmidt (2014) suggested that Oriental Weatherfish may compete with native Eastern Mudminnow (Umbra pygmaea) for food where the two species co-occur. Experimentation in Australia on the environmental impacts of oriental weatherfish suggests it may significantly reduce macroinvertebrate abundance and increase turbidity and nitrogen levels in standing water (Keller and Lake 2007).

Remarks: In addition to appearing in the aquarium trade, M. anguillicaudatus has been introduced into several parts of the world for aquaculture and as a bait fish (Welcomme 1988). It is considered a cool-water species (Welcomme 1988); individuals burrow into soft substrates and tolerate low-oxygen conditions by breathing atmospheric air (Sterba 1973). As its name suggests, this fish becomes more active in response to changes in barometric pressure; thus it frequently has been cited as a harbinger of storms (Sterba 1973; Axelrod et al. 1985). There is concern that if M. anguillicaudatus becomes more abundant and spreads, it will reduce populations of aquatic insects important as food for native fishes (Page and Laird 1993). Maciolek (1984) categorized Misgurnus, along with several other introduced fishes, as having an intermediate impact on Hawaiian streams based on their preferred habitat and diet and on their numbers. The Bolsa Chica Channel, California, cited by Shapovalov et al. (1981), likely represents the Huntington Beach, Orange County site reported by other authors (e.g., Courtenay et al. 1986; Page and Burr 1991). Shafland et al. (2008) reclassified this species from Established to Possibly Established in Florida because of unrealiability of collection of specimens.

Voucher specimens: California (CAS 24192; LACM 36986.002, 36988.002, 56916.001; SIO 68-213; UF 87981); Florida (UF 98633, 98634, 100519, 100533, 119925, 128570, 139432, 139507, 143225, 143230, 143271, 143299, 143309, 143376, 143381, 143386, 143541, 143728, 143738, 148188, 148224, 163658, 163662, 163673, 163681, 163684, 163694, 163695, 163719, 163751, 163777); Hawaii (BPBM 3624, discarded in 1969; ANSP 54151, 89309; UWFC 115671); Idaho (UNLV 1951); Illinois (INHS 61129, 61130, 61131); Michigan (UMMZ 173823, 174568, 198978, 212412, 225614); New Jersey (ANSP 188939); New York (NYSM 53924, 55379, 57313, 54195, 65640, 65919, 65922, 68732, 68734); Oregon (OS 13196, 13215, 13216, 15467, 15473, 15474; Portland State University); Tennessee (UT 46.17); Washington (UF 168231; UWFC 111106)

References: (click for full references)

Aitkin, K. - U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Lacey, WA.

Ashton, M., and P. Ciccotto. 2010. First records of oriental weatherfish (Misgurnus anguillicaudatus) in Maryland. Northeastern Naturalist 17:671-672.

Axelrod, H.R., W.E. Burgess, N. Pronek, and J.G. Walls. Dr. Axelrod's atlas of freshwater aquarium fishes. Tropical Fish Hobbyist Publications, Inc., Neptune City, NJ.

Berg, L.S. 1948-1949. Freshwater fishes of the U.S.S.R. and adjacent countries, 4th edition. Three volumes. Translated from Russian, 1962-1965, for the Smithsonian Institution and the National Science Foundation, by Israel Program for Scientific Translations, Jerusalem, Israel. Volume 1:504 pp.; volume 2:496 pp.; volume 3:510 pp.

Brock, V.E. 1960. The introduction of aquatic animals into Hawaiian waters. Internationale Revue der Gestamen Hydrobiologie 45:463-480.

Burr, B.M., D.J. Eisenhour, K.M. Cook, C.A. Taylor, G.L. Seegert, R.W. Sauer, and E.R. Atwood. 1996. Nonnative fishes in Illinois waters: what do the records reveal? Transactions of the Illinois State Academy of Science 89:73-91.

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Clearwater, S.J., C.W. Hickey, and M.L. Martin. 2008. Overview of potential piscicides and molluscicides for controlling aquatic pest species in New Zealand. Science & Technical Publishing, New Zealand Department of Conservation, Wellington, New Zealand.

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Devick, W.S. 1991a. Disturbances and fluctuations in the Wahiawa Reservoir ecosystem. Project F-14-R-15, Job 4, Study I. Division of Aquatic Resources, Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources. 21 pp.

Devick, W.S. 1991b. Patterns of introductions of aquatic organisms to Hawaiian freshwater habitats. Pages 189-213 in new directions in research, management and conservation of Hawaiian freshwater stream ecosystems. Proceedings of the 1990 symposium on freshwater stream biology and fisheries management, Division of Aquatic Resources, Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources.

Etnier, D. - University of Tennessee, Knoxville, TN.

Franch, N., M. Clavero, M. Garrido, N. Gaya, V. López, Q. Pou-Rovira, and J.M. Queral. 2008. On the establishment and range expansion of oriental weatherfish (Misgurnus anguillicaudatus) in NE Iberian Peninsula. Biological Invasions 10:1327-1331.

Freyhof, J., and E. Korte. 2005. The first record of Misgurnus anguillicaudatus in Germany. Journal of Fish Biology 66:568-571. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.0022-1112.2005.00606.x/abstract.

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Ip, Y.K., S.F. Chew, and D.J. Randall. 2004. Five tropical air-breathing fishes, six different strategies to defend against ammonia toxicity on land. Physiological and Biochemical Zoology, 77(5):768-782.

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Keller, R.P., and P.S. Lake. 2007. Potential impacts of a recent and rapidly spreading coloniser of Australian freshwaters: Oriental weatherloach (Misgurnus anguillicaudatus). Ecology of Freshwater Fish 16(2):124-132.

Koetsier, P. and A.N. Urquhart. 2012. Desiccation tolerance in a wild population of the invasive Oriental weatherfish Misgurnus anguillicaudatus in Idaho, USA. Transactions of the American Fisheries Society 141(2):365-369.

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Logan, D., E.L. Bibles, and D.F. Markle. 1996. Recent collections of continental exotic aquarium fishes in Oregon and thermal tolerance of Misgurnus anguillicaudatus and Piaractus brachypomus. California Fish and Game 82(2):66-80.

Maciolek, J.A. 1984. Exotic fishes in Hawaii and other islands of Oceania. Pages 131-161 in W.R. Courtenay, Jr., and J.R. Stauffer, Jr., eds. Distribution, biology, and management of exotic fishes. The Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, MD.

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Page, L.M., and C.A. Laird. 1993. The identification of the nonnative fishes inhabiting Illinois waters. Report prepared by Center for Biodiversity, Illinois Natural History Survey, Champaign, for Illinois Department of Conservation, Springfield. Center for Biodiversity Technical Report 1993(4). 39 pp.

Pierce, L. - Scappoose Watershed Council, Warren, Oregon.

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Schmidt, R.E., and A.J. Schmidt. 2014. Observations on Oriental Weatherfish (Misgurnus anguillicaudatus), an exotic species in the Hudson River Valley, New York. Northeastern Naturalist 21(1):134-145. http://www.bioone.org/doi/full/10.1656/045.021.0113

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Urquhart, A.N., and P. Koetsier. 2014b. Diet of a cryptic but widespread invader, the Oriental Weatherfish (Misgurnus anguillicaudatus) in Idaho, USA. Western North American Naturalist 74(1):92-98. http://www.bioone.org/doi/abs/10.3398/064.074.0109

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FishBase Fact Sheet

Author: Nico, L., P. Fuller, M. Neilson, J. Larson, A. Fusaro, T.H. Makled, and B. Loftus

Revision Date: 1/27/2016

Citation Information:
Nico, L., P. Fuller, M. Neilson, J. Larson, A. Fusaro, T.H. Makled, and B. Loftus. 2017. Misgurnus anguillicaudatus. USGS Nonindigenous Aquatic Species Database, Gainesville, FL.
https://nas.er.usgs.gov/queries/factsheet.aspx?SpeciesID=498 Revision Date: 1/27/2016

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Citation information: U.S. Geological Survey. [2017]. Nonindigenous Aquatic Species Database. Gainesville, Florida. Accessed [3/24/2017].

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