Dwarf Sarco (Sarcocheilichthys Parvus)

Dwarf Sarco (Sarcocheilichthys Parvus)

Dwarf Sarco

Dwarf Sarco (Sarcocheilichthys Parvus)

Dwarf Sarco

Origin: China

Size: 5 cm/ 2 inches

Temperature: Room temperature

Diet: In nature, it feeds from the bottom or on patches of algae looking for insect larvae and crustaceans. It adapts readily to dried and frozen food.

First, a confession.

The common name I wrote above is one I just invented.

The genus Sarcocheilichthys is virtually unknown to aquarists. English speaking scientists, when dealing with this genus, often refer to them as Thicklip Gudgeons.

I think that’s a poor choice of names for several reasons such as the fact that, to the naked eye, the lips don’t appear unusually thick.

Then there’s the fact that the common name ‘gudgeon’ means an entirely different group of fish to hobbyists such as Emperor Gudgeon or the Peacock Gudgeon.

Finally, the name doesn’t sound very marketable.

Of course,

you can go to the other extreme in marketing.

In 2012:

there was an effort to raise interest in this fish at a Hong Kong Nano Tank Aquascaping Expo.

There, one would-be distributor saddled it with the name ‘Chinese Neon Golden Striped Shark.!

That’s not a name that rolls off your tongue… Another site attempted to simplify the name to Dwarf Gudgeon, but that could lead to confusion.


I propose calling members of this group by a short form if the genus name is making this fish the Dwarf Sarco.

The genus Sarcocheilichthys only has about a dozen members of which 3 or 4 may be of interest to cold water aquarists, and one large one would make a beautiful addition to a goldfish pond.

However, I will introduce those later this year. Today’s fish is S. parvus. It is a stunning little beauty.


They do best in an aquarium with good filtration. Regular water changes are a must to ensure there is a minimum of organic waste in the water.

There should be some hardscaping in their tank so include stones or driftwood. There should be open patches of sand or gravel, and if you want to breed them, you should include clams.

They have introduced in nano tanks a few years ago, but 20 gallons should be the minimum size for a group.


They lay eggs in clam siphons. Unlike bitterlings, they do not have long tubes to deliver the eggs.


the parents make a darting motion towards a live clam, releasing the eggs and milt near the intake siphon of the mollusk which breathes them in.

The “picture” above shows its normal coloration.

When breeding, the fins and head turn orange, and the throat becomes bright red. Unfortunately, interest in this fish is limited, and that is because of their method of reproduction.

Dwarf Sarco is clam spawners like bitterlings. They lay eggs inside the intake siphon of living clams. The eggs develop safe from predators and swim out when they are large enough.

Interestingly, they may share a clam with young bitterlings, but never meet them because they inhabit different portions of the shellfish. It is a very inefficient way to produce young fish.

Researchers have found that the clam plays no role beyond protecting the fry. Eggs develop better and fries grow faster when researchers removed them from the clam.

It also gives a higher yield of baby fish because resources are limited within the clam’s shell. Unfortunately, clams must be present for the adults to spawn in aquaria.


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