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LOACHES

By Rhett Butler

BOTIINAE SUB-FAMILY
The sub-family Botiinae includes the genus Botia. The fish of this genus inhabit Southeast Asia.


Banded Loach, Tiger Loach, Barred Loach
[Pictures]
Botia helodes
SYN: None
PD: An elongated, flat-bellied fish with an arched back. The head is long and pointed, and the caudal fin is forked. The back is olive green to brown and the flanks are mossy green to brown. The flanks are marked with 11-12 yellow, transverse stripes. These run from the apex of the back to the lower parts. Beyond the end of these stripes are irregular brown spots. The belly is whitish. The fins except for the caudal, which is striped, are colorless.
SIZE: To 8" (20 cm)
SS: Banded Loach ( B. hymenophysa) of Borneo, Java, Malaysia, and Sumatra; and the Banded or Zebra Loach ( B. striata ) of India.
HAB: Widespread in streams and rivers in Southeast Asia; Thailand, Laos, and Cambodia
S: bottom
TANK: A tank measuring 36" (91 cm) with a capacity from 35-45 gallons (123-170 L) is sufficient for smaller fish. Adult fish require a 48" (122 cm) tank with a volume from 50-55 gallons (190-209 L). The tank should be well-planted with anchored plants, and leave open swimming areas. Provide a retreat for each fish using rocks, roots, wood, tubes, or an over-turned flower pot. Use a fine gravel substrate.
WATER: pH 6-7.5 (6.9), 4-15 dH (10), 75-86F (24-30C)
SB: A territorial and aggressive species which preys upon small fish. This Loach should be kept in groups in a large tank with plenty of refuges. The crepuscular species is timid during acclimation. Territories are defended aggressively. Combine with robust species that are equal or larger in size.
SC: Cichlasomines, Chitala ornata, Barbus schwanenfeldi, Trichogaster, large Danios, Silver Dollars, Headstanders, Scleropages.
FOOD: Live; small fish, worms, insect larvae, crustaceans; tablets; plant matter. A voracious bottom feeder.
SEX: Unknown
B: Unknown
BP: 10. Has not been accomplished in captivity.
R: Once acclimated this species become diurnal. At feeding times, this Loach makes clicking sounds.
DC: 5. This species is not suitable for the normal community tank due to its aggressive behavior. It requires live foods in its diet.

Red-finned Loach, Le Conte's Loach [Pictures]
Botia lecontei
SYN: None
PD: A moderately elongated fish with a flat belly profile. The caudal fin is deeply forked and the caudal peduncle is thick. The body is light blue to green-blue with a greenish iridescence. The back is darker, while the belly is lighter. Transverse bands on the rear part of the body may or may not be visible, although the caudal peduncle is clearly marked with a black spot. The fins are blood red in color.
SIZE: To 6" (15 cm)
SS: Sun Loach ( B. eos), Orange-finned Loach ( B. modesta), Red-finned Loach ( B. rubipinnis )
HAB: Rivers and streams in Southeast Asia; Cambodia and Laos.
S: bottom
TANK: A tank measuring 40" (101 cm) with a volume of 45-55 gallons (170-209 L) is sufficient. Follow suggestions for B. helodes .
WATER: pH 5.8-7 (6.5), 1-8 dH (4), 75-82F (24-28C)
SB: A peaceful crepuscular and nocturnal species which is suitable for a community tank. This species prefers to be kept in groups of five to eight.
SC: Barbus, Colisa, Trichogaster, Corydoras, tetras, Headstanders, Silver Dollars, Hatchetfish, Danios, Loricarids.
FOOD: Live; insect larvae, worms, crustaceans; pellets
SEX: Unknown
B: Unknown
BP: 10. No reports of captive spawning.
R: This species requires frequent partial water changes (weekly).
DC: 5. This peaceful species requires well maintained water and a diet which includes live foods.

Pakistani Loach [Pictures]
Botia lohachata
SYN: None
PD: An elongated species with a flat belly profile. The caudal fin is forked and the caudal peduncle is wide. The body ranges from white to light brown in color. A number of dark brown markings overlay. These markings continue onto the fins.
SIZE: To 4" (10 cm)
SS: None
HAB: Inhabits slow-moving rivers of Pakistan and India.
S: bottom, middle
TANK: A tank measuring 32" (81 cm) with a capacity of 30 gallons (114 L) is fine. Follow suggestions for B. helodes .
WATER: pH 6-7.5 (6.7), 2-10 dH (5), 75-86F (24-30C)
SB: A timid, but aggressive species suggested for a community tank having medium to large sized fish. A nocturnal species.
SC: Trichogaster, smaller Cichlasomines , STYLE="mso-bidi-font-style : normal ; mso-spacerun : yes"> larger Barbus, Danios, Tetras, Hatchetfish
FOOD: Live; primarily worms, also insect larvae and crustaceans; tablets
SEX: Unknown
B: Unknown
BP: 10. Has not been accomplished in an aquarium.
R: This species is capable of making audible clicking sounds. The color and pattern varies according to its population.
DC: 5. This small, but aggressive species requires a diet that includes live foods.


Clown Loach, Tiger Loach, Clown Botia
[Pictures]
Botia macracanthus
SYN: Cobitis macracanthus
PD: Moderately elongated and laterally compressed, the Clown Loach has an arched back. It has a straight body profile, a large head, and a mouth that faces downward. Four pairs of barbels surround its mouth. The Clown Loach has a small spine by its eyes, that often gets entangled in net mesh. The body coloration is orange, but paler at times when weak or frightened. Three broad, transverse black bands. The first, runs through the eye; the second starts in front of the dorsal fin and runs down to the belly; the third begins on the dorsal fin and extends to the anal fin. The caudal, pectoral, and anal fins are all red in color.
SIZE: To 20" (51 cm) in nature, usually not more than 12" (30 cm) in captivity.
SS: None
S: bottom; middle
HAB: Inhabits both flowing and still parts of rivers and lakes in Southeast Asia; Sumatra, Borneo, and Indonesia.
TANK: A 36" (90 cm) or 35-45 gallon (132-170 L) tank is sufficient for small fish. When these fish reach 5" (13 cm), they should be moved to a considerably larger tank measuring at least 48" (122 cm). Provide numerous hiding places with caves, driftwood, and roots. A fine gravel bottom is needed for this fish burrows. The tank should be well-planted and have muted lighting.
WATER: pH 5-7.5 (7.0); 5-15 dH (8); 75-86F (24-30C)
SB: A good community fish to combine with medium to large sized species. The Clown Loach should be kept in schools of five or more fish as smaller groups do poorly. Clown Loaches are nocturnal and shy when first introduced, but soon become friendly towards their owner.
SC: Cichlasomines , Trichogaster, Barbus, Loricarids.
FOOD: Tablets; live; worms, snails, crustaceans, insect larvae; occasionally algae.
SEX: The female is larger and has a thinner tail. Mature males have a more arched back and a wider tail spread.
B: Not bred in captivity; most likely because they have probably never reached sexual maturity in an aquarium. In nature, the Clown Loach spawns during the rainy season in foaming, fast-flowing streams, spring fed creeks, and rivers. The fry move down to slower moving and estuaries of the same rivers, to grow up. Rumors of spawnings in captivity have not been proven. In Southeast Asian fish farms, some have claimed success by using hormone injections.
BP: 10. No details about successful spawnings in an aquarium have been substantiated.
R: This fish makes clicking noises when frightened or trying to scare off other fish. The Clown Loach is sensitive to chemicals in the water and some medications. The Clown Loach is eaten in the countries where they come from and are said to taste good. This species grows very slowly. The Clown Loach's colors may fade when frightened, acclimating to a new tank, or ill. Its colors naturally fade with age.
DC: 5. The Clown Loach requires regular partial water changes to thrive and is susceptible disease. Live foods are required by this Loach. Do not keep the Clown Loach in small tanks.

Orange-finned Loach [Pictures]
Botia modesta
SYN: None
PD: A laterally compressed fish with an arched back and flat belly profile. The caudal fin is forked and the caudal peduncle is short and wide. The body color is gray-blue to bright blue and the belly is whitish. The fins are orange-yellow and there is an indistinct dark marking on the caudal peduncle.
SIZE: To 9" (23 cm)
SS: Sun Loach ( B. eos), Red-finned Loach ( B. lecontei), Red-finned Loach ( B. rubipinnis )
HAB: Inhabits still and slow moving waters in India, Thailand, Vietnam, and Malaysia
S: bottom
TANK: A tank measuring 28" (71 cm) with a capacity of 20-25 gallons (76-95 L) is sufficient for fish up to 4" (10 cm) in length. Larger fish require a 40" (101 cm) or 45-55 gallon (170-209 L) tank. A refuge for each fish is important. Follow suggestions for B. macracanthus regarding tank set-up.
WATER: pH 6-7.5 (6.6), 1-8 dH (4), 77-84F (25-29C)
SB: A shy, nocturnal species that is most active when kept in a school. The Orange-finned Loach is a highly territorial fish that will aggressively defend its territory against intruders. Only combine with large, robust species.
SC: Cichlasomines , Barbus schwanenfeldi, Chitala ornata, Anostomus, Astronotus, Colossoma, Metynnis, Serrasalmus, Leporinus, Scleropages.
FOOD: Live; worms, insect larvae, crustaceans, small fish; tablets; algae; plant matter
SEX: The male is smaller and more slender than the female when mature.
B: Unsuccessful
BP: 10. Breeding has yet to be accomplished in an aquarium.
R: This species requires frequent partial water changes in order for its stunning color to develop. This species emits audible clicking sounds.
DC: 5. This aggressive species is a good addition to a community tank having large, robust species. This fish requires live foods.

Skunk Loach, Hora's Loach [Pictures]
Botia morleti
SYN: Botia horae
PD: An elongated fish with lateral compression and a flat belly profile. The back is arched and the caudal fin is forked. The head is pointed and three pairs of barbels are present around the mouth which faces downward. The body is pale yellow-white, and sometimes a greenish sheen is present. The belly is lighter. A black stripe begins at the tip of the snout and runs along the ridge of the back to the caudal fin. The flanks are marked with four bars, although these are usually indistinct. The caudal peduncle is marked with an obvious black band. The base of the caudal fin has black markings, while the remaining part is yellowish. The other fins lack color.
SIZE: To 4" (10 cm)
SS:
HAB: Southeast Asia; Thailand
S: bottom, middle
TANK: A tank measuring 24" (61 cm) with a capacity from 10-20 gallons (38-76 L) is sufficient. Provide a fine gravel substrate and use wood, rocks, an over-turned flower pot, or roots to serve as hiding places. Use sturdy plants as this species is a burrower. A cover of floating plants is recommended to diffuse the lighting and make the fish feel more comfortable. Provide a flat stone for the fish to rest, and use a filter that creates a moderately strong current.
WATER: pH 6-7 (6.6), 1-6 dH (5), 79-86F (26-30C)
SB: A crepuscular species which often remains hidden during the day. A fine community scavenger that is most active in groups of five or more. Provide at least one retreat for each fish. Will gently defend its hiding place from other fish.
SC: Gouramis, barbs, tetras, peaceful cichlids from South America
FOOD: Live; worms, insect larvae, crustaceans; tablets. A bottom feeder.
SEX: Unknown
B: Unknown
BP: 10. No reports of spawning in captivity are available.
R: This species requires frequent partial water changes to prosper. This Botia is less territorial than others of its genus.
DC: 4. A fish fit for a well-maintained community tank. Its diet should include live foods.

Dwarf Loach, Chain Loach [Pictures]
Botia sidthimunki
SYN: None
PD: An elongated Loach with a forked caudal fin. The back is light brown while the flanks are copper colored. The flanks are marked two lateral brown bands. One runs from the snout, and near the ridge of the back, while the other runs laterally through the eye and along the mid-section. These bands are connected by a number of transverse stripes which run from the apex of the back, to the second band. The belly is silver and the fins are colorless.
SIZE: To 2.4" (6 cm)
SS: None
HAB: Inhabits muddy, still and slow moving bodies of water in Southeast Asia; India and Thailand
S: bottom, middle
TANK: A tank measuring 24" (61 cm) with a capacity from 10-20 gallons (38-76 L) is suggested. Follow suggestions for B. morleti .
WATER: pH 6.2-7.7 (7.4), 1-15 dH (4), 77-86F (25-30C)
SB: An active schooling species which is suitable for most community tanks. This peaceful species is day active. Only keep in groups of five or more, as single specimen do poorly.
SC: Barbs, Danios, Rasboras, Gouramis, tetras, Hatchetfish, Loricarids, Corydoras, Rainbowfish, Livebearers
FOOD: Tablets; live; worms, insect larvae, aquatic insects, crustaceans; flakes
SEX: Only distinguishable when the female is preparing to spawn and is noticeably rounder than the male.
B: Spawnings have occured accidentally on a couple of occasions. Details are not available.
BP: 10. This species has spawned rarely in captivity.
R: During courtship, this species is said to undergo a color change.
DC: 4. A schooling, community fish that requires a regime of frequent partial water changes to be at its best.

Zebra Loach [Pictures]
Botia striata
SYN: None
PD: A stocky, fish with an arched back and a flat belly profile. The caudal fin is deeply cleft and the caudal peduncle is thick. The body is brown with numerous vertical yellow stripes which alternate in thickness. The fins are marked with brown bands.
SIZE: To 2.7" (8 cm) in aquaria, although up to 4" (10 cm) in nature
SS: None
HAB: Inhabits still and slow moving waters in southern India
S: bottom
TANK: A 24" (61 cm), 10-20 gallon (38-76 L) tank is sufficient for this small species. Follow suggestions for B. morleti .
WATER: pH 6-7.5 (6.8), 3-15 dH (7), 73-81F (23-27C)
SB: An active, but peaceful species that prefers to be kept in small groups of five to eight fish. A nocturnal species that become diurnal after acclimation.
SC: As for B. sidthimunki.
FOOD: Live; worms, insect larvae, crustaceans; tablets; plant matter
SEX: Unknown
B: Unknown
BP: No recorded spawnings in an aquarium.
R: This species can make audible clicking sounds.
DC: 4. A hardy and peaceful species whose diet should be supplemented with live foods.