Native to the Ganges Basin in northern India, the Yoyo Loach is a wonderful freshwater fish with a personality as bold as its stripy patterns.
Pertaining to the Botiidae family, this rather energetic and confident fish goes by many names, including Almora Loach, Pakistani Loach, and Lohachata Botia Loaches, but their binomial name is Botia Almorhae.
Full of vim and vigor, they’re sure to steal the spotlight in your aquarium, yet despite their natural exuberance, they’re incredibly peaceful beings, sure to fit in well with already established fish communities.
A beautiful appearance belies the resilience at the core of the Yoyo Loach. These tough sons o’ fishes are rough and ready to roll with the punches, making them an excellent choice for the novice fish-keepers out there.
However, you don’t want your fish to struggle. You want to give them a wonderful life full of happiness and good health, so you’ll still need to learn the fundamentals of Yoyo Loach care.
Yoyo Loaches are particularly sensitive to habitat size. An individual adult requires at least 40 gallons of wiggle room to thrive. For an individual juvenile, you’re looking at some to the tune of 20-30 gallons, although it’s not such a good idea to raise them on their own (but more on that later).
If you’re interested in keeping a group of Yoyo Loaches, you’ll need to add 15 gallons to your tank size per fish, and larger groups will require vast aquariums with volumes upwards of 100 gallons.
In the wild, Yoyo Loaches have a buzzing social life. They’re constantly interacting with other fish, so they might find a lonely tank quite jarring. As such, it’s best to invite some fish friends to join them in your aquarium.
Yoyo Loaches tend to kick it from the middle down in the tank, so my advice is to make use of your extra aquarium space and fill it out with some high-risers and surface-nibblers.
You should also try to match the size of prospective tank mates to your Yoyo Loach, as whichever is the smaller of the two will almost certainly end up as dinner.
Before we move on, let’s take a look at a few top tank mate suggestions…
- Cory Catfish
- Glass Catfish
- Bristlenose Pleco
- Clown Pleco
- Various Goldfish
- Congo Tetra
- Molly Fish
- Clown Loach
Always keep a close eye on the chemistry after introducing a new member of the fish family. Even combining supposedly compatible companions can amount to some serious beef.
Same Species Tanks
It can be a little risky paring off Yoyo Loaches, as the dominant fish will bully the weaker one, but introducing larger groups of 5-6 Yoyo Loaches usually facilitates more harmonious relations.
In the wild, Yoyo Loaches live in the slow-moving, warm, and ever so slightly acidic waters of Indian streams, so that’s exactly what you should be aiming for with the water in your tank. Let’s put some figures on it…
- Water Temperature: 75 – 86° F (23.8 – 30° C) (if you can stabilize the temperature at around 80.5° F — perfect!)
- pH: 6.0 – 8.0
- Water Hardness: 3-12 dKH
Now, I know I mentioned earlier that Yoyo Loaches are tough fish, but that’s no excuse to get sloppy with your maintenance and care routines. Always keep a close eye on your water parameters.
What to Put in Their Tank
As Yoyo Loaches are migratory fish, they’re accustomed to a few different environments, which can make decorating their tank quite tricky.
They begin their journey among the rocks of barren streams, but they’ll end up in a more sandy environment with dense vegetation.
The former of the two can be a little, well…boring in captivity, so it’s best to mimic their destination rather than their starting point.
Yoyo Loaches enjoy digging during playtime, so you should kick things off with a nice, soft, sandy substrate. Avoid anything too coarse or hard, as it could harm their barbels.
We all need a place to get cozy and chill, and Yoyo Loaches are no different. You can use driftwood, rock formations, and little caves to set the scene for their downtime. It pays to keep caves roughly the same size as the fish, as they like to feel nestled in and safe.
Next on the agenda is sprucing the place up a bit with some plants. Feel free to choose a wide variety of greenery, and arrange it around the edges of the tank, so there’s plenty of central room for swimming shenanigans.
Any normal filtration device will do, but you may have to disturb the stream of powerful outlet tubes either by placing vegetation in its path or by directing it into the wall, as Yoyo Loaches prefer slow water.
I’ve got some good news and some bad news. The good is that Yoyo Loaches aren’t genetically predisposed to developing any sort of illness. The bad is that with such small scales, they don’t have quite as robust a defense against common ailments as other species.
This means that they’ll be struck with an illness well before other fish start showing symptoms.
The silver lining here is that it allows you to catch the problem early, giving you time to make any required adjustments and protect your other fish.
In order to treat your Yoyo Loach, you’ll need to move it into another tank, so it can be medicated individually.
This all sounds quite scary, but as long as you do your duties as fish guardian, keeping the water parameters just right, there’s very little to worry about.
Food and Diet
You know that feeling when you’ve eaten too much, usually during the holiday season, after your third helping of mashed potatoes? Well, Yoyo Loaches don’t get that feeling, like…ever. They will eat, and eat, and eat until they get ill, so you need to measure their portions carefully.
They need to be fed at least twice a day, and portion size is dictated by the time it takes them to finish a meal. Feeding sessions should last no longer than two minutes apiece.
They’re omnivores, so they’ll eat basically anything you give them, even dry food. Just make sure you opt for a sinking variant, as they may refuse to surface in order to feed.
They also enjoy protein-rich, live or frozen goodies such as bloodworms, brine shrimp, and even freshwater snails, so feel free to switch things up a bit from time to time to keep dinner time interesting.
While the average lifespan of a Yoyo Loach is between 5-8 years, in optimal conditions, they’re known to live to the ripe old age of 20.
Should you want your Yoyo Loach to survive its teens, provide exceptional care and monitor their living conditions stringently.
The most distinctive feature of the Yoyo Loach is definitely its reticulated pattern, which often spells out the word “yoyo”, hence the name. These thick tiger-esque stripes banded across their long slender bodies, give them a truly unique look.
Stripe width varies from specimen to specimen, with some developing spots in certain areas.
They have conical snouts with flat bases, allowing them to rest comfortably on soft substrate and catch a few moments of peace. You’ll also notice that they have whiskery barbels that they use in the wild to navigate in poor lighting and hunt for food hidden in sand.
Silver is the most common base color, but others glow with a bluish or gold hue. The underside of the fish shows no stripes, and often has a yellow coloring.
Their base color will typically darken over time, reducing the prominence of their pattern.
The average Yoyo Loach will grow to around 2.5” in captivity and around 6” in the wild. You can optimize their growth by taking good care of them, maintaining a proper diet, and providing a spacious habitat, but variables such as genetics can limit the outcome.
Behavior and Temperament
Don’t get me wrong, Yoyo Loaches love to hide away from time to time, but once they’re familiar with their environment, they’re an incredibly playful fish, making them a joy to observe, especially as they’re a diurnal species.
They prefer to be in groups of 4-5 fish, and although they’re friendly with other species, they can get a tad aggressive with their own if the group is too small.
Unfortunately, as the Yoyo Loach is a migratory fish, it’s impossible to breed them in a home aquarium.
Gender Differences: Male vs Female
There are only really two ways of differentiating the sexes of Yoyo Loaches, and those are the male’s reddish barbels, and the plumpness of females (especially when they’re producing eggs).
- It’s thought that “Yoyo” in Yoyo Loach refers to the fact that their patterns seem to spell the word out against the side of their body — cool, right?
- The name Pakistani Loach is a misnomer, as the species isn’t at all native to the country.
- They’re an incredibly playful and social fish, but can be aggressive towards weaker specimens of their own kind.
- Some professionals have succeeded in breeding this migratory fish in captivity, but most of the ones you’ll see for sale in pet stores are captured in the wild.