Loach a fish of numerous genera and species in the family Cobitidae, occurring in rivers and lakes in Europe and Asia, especially SE Asia. Generally speaking, these are small fish, adept at concealing themselves by burrowing at high speed into a muddy or sandy bottom. Only a few of them are regarded as food fishes, notably Botia hymenophysa and Acanthopsis choirorhynchos.
These two species are eaten with some enthusiasm in Laos, for example; larger specimens of the former species may be grilled, while fish of the latter species are regarded as good for pickling or cooking in fish stews. (An unusual ‘no smoking’ rule accompanies the pickling process; the Lao believe that even a tiny shred of tobacco ash in the mixture will turn it bad and make it harmful.)