Yoyo Loach – Feeding, Breeding, and Diseases Information

Yoyo loach is an energetic schooling fish that has its species spread across the Middle East and Asia where they are seen inhabiting still or slow-moving waters. It has zebra-like coloration, and it can grow to a maximum length of 15cm.

It is a hardy fish that can survive in slightly acidic to slightly alkaline water. It is anavid jumper; hence, the tank should not be left without a cover. The tank size to use in housing the yoyo loach usually varies as it grows.

The yoyo loach is not entirely saintly as it could from time to time show aggressive tendencies towards tank mates. The color may endear it to the heart of many aquarists, but the care level could yet turn some off.

In the ensuing write-up, you will get acquainted with how to care for the yoyo loach, and also come to terms with some of the interesting characteristics that have made it the top choice of some aquarists. Furthermore, facts on the dietary demands and tank mates are also discussed.

Introduction

The Yoyo loach has the River Ganges in India as its home and is also a common inhabitant in most rivers in the Indian subcontinent. This loach is also seen widely in Pakistan and is rightly referred to as the Pakistani Loach or the Albino Loach. They are scientifically known as the BotiaAlmorhae and belong to the Botiidae family. This fish prefers waters that are slow or sluggish and fresh, very much like the large water bodies in which they are found in the nature. There have been records that indicate that this fish has been sighted in Nepal as well. Owing to its scientific name, the yoyo loach is also called the Almorah loach. 

In a recently concluded study, zoologists reclassified the families of the yoyo loach and formed five of them instead of the earlier two. While earlier there were only two families – Cobitidae and Balitoridae, after the research they added three more – Bottidae, Vaillantellidae and Nemacheilidae. In the earlier days, the yoyo loaches were put into the Cobitidae family, but now belong to the Botiidae family.

There are at least two well-known reasons why this breed of fish is known as the yoyo loach. One has to do with its appearance and the other with its nature. 

First, let us look at the correlation between the name and its appearance. The loach is silver golden in color with black stripes running all over the body. This arrangement of the colors and the black stripes and dots makes the pattern look like letters Y and O return in succession and therefore the name Y-O-Y-O.  However, it is interesting to note that these patterns are more clearly visible on the young fish rather than the adults.

There was a famous photographer Ken Childs who had more than about 20 years of experience with the fishes, and he once observed these loaches and saw that there were bouncing up and down like yo-yos. He quickly referred to the Almorah fish as Yoyo loaches in an article that came out in an English daily and ever since the name yoyo fish latched on and they were referred to as the yoyo loaches by all.

These fish can very well be called the zebrafish as they look very much like the zebras, with their silver and black lines across them. 

As the fish attains maturity and are ready to spawn, these lines develop a glow of blue in them. They have a downward facing small mouth with four whiskers. The under eye spine is covered by a membrane-like layer. However, this spine can appear and acts as a knife at appropriate times.

The loaches can grow up to 6 inches in their natural habitat, but will grow to a size of 2.5 inches in the tank. They are very particular about the water parameters, so this makes it a tough task for beginners to maintain this fish in their aquariums. 

The loaches need water that has a pH value between 6.5 and 7.5 with temperatures ranging from 75 – 86 degrees. It is advisable to put the fish into a 20-gallon tank, so they have enough space to swim around. Though they can live up to 20 years in the wild, in the tank, they can only live up to 6 years.

Feeding

The loaches are omnivores and prefer to eat brine shrimps and earthworms. They will eat frozen food as well if you feed them. Care has to be taken to give them healthy food which is well balanced and has enough vitamin and mineral content in them. It is advised not to feed them fish flakes, as this may not be able to be digested well by the fish. 

The gills can be irritated when the loaches are fed fish flakes, as the powder can get deposited in them. They like micro worms as well, so you can try feeding them with these.

As like most other aquarium fish, they may eat some vegetarian foods like lettuce, spinach and cucumber, but algae wafers are their personal favorite. These days, there is a lot of fish feed that can be bought over the counter, but read the labels and the reviews related to these before you actually buy these for your loaches.  Java moss could also be a good addition for the loaches. 

Remember, your loaches need a lot of plants in the aquarium, so take care to leave enough plants in the tank, so they can nibble at the leaves or eat them up in case they feel like doing so. 

One point to note would be that the fish is a nocturnal being and hence the best time to feed the fish is around the late evening, just a little while before the lights in the tank are switched off. The loaches come out in the night to eat up whatever has been dropped into the tank. 

However, you will have to remember that the loaches are fish that prefer to stay at the bottom of the tank and the food that you feed it has to reach the bottom for them to pick it up and eat them. In case you have fish in the tank that dwells in the top and middle layers, then you have to ensure that there is enough food reaching the bottom of the fish for the loaches.

If you have a snail infection in your tank, then the yoyo loach is the fish to be added to your tank. They will clean up the tank in no time, as they will devour the snails with great pleasure. So you can also add snails in your fish tank, as good food for your fish. 

Breeding

Not much of a difference can be discerned between the female and males of the species. The only thing that can be noticed is that the blue highlight over the black lines becomes more prominent over the male fish and they also look much smaller than the female fish. The females are rounder and fatter, maybe because they have to lay the eggs and start producing them in their ovaries.

There is very little knowledge about the breeding of the yoyo loach.  In nature looks like this happens naturally, as this fish is seen in widespread regions and there is no concern or threat for this species. However, there are no known points that will help aquarium hobbyists spawn the loaches. 

Sometimes, on rare occasions, you may get lucky where the fish may spawn on their own, but it is very little you can do to help in the process.  Thereby it is only appropriate to say that breeding of yoyo loach is indeed a very difficult activity.

In their natural habitats, when the loaches spawn it has been noticed that they stay midstream during the breeding activity, but right after the spawning is over, they get back to their original homes in the downstream to continue living there. Though we are aware of this, we are not able to draw any conclusions to what can be done in the tank to emulate these conditions. 

In the tank, you will have the take the help of medicines and injections to spawn your loaches,

Care

The yoyo loaches sleep all through the day and prefer a lot of hiding places and heavy plantation in their tank; so, ensure that you abide by all these conditions if you want to see your loaches to be happy.  They come to life at night and actively swim around and play around all night through, so diffuse the light or set up the tank in such a way that a bare minimum of light streaks in through to the tank during the night.

Your loaches will be shocked if they see strong light coming in, so block them off any which way possible. Having said that, as they get used to living in the tanks, they get more acclimatized to the lighting and as a result, start coming out even during the day time.

Loaches are fish that stay at the bottom of the tank, so when you clean the water ensure that the bottom water is siphoned off to clear the water of excess ammonia or nitrates or phosphates as these can harm the fish if they continue to be present in the water. 

Good quality water filters can be used, and care should be taken that none of the loaches are themselves caught in the filter as they have a tendency to jump out. Because of this tendency, it is important to ensure that there are no cracks or openings as the loaches can squeeze their way out of the tanks in no time. 

Yoyo loaches want slow-moving waters, but they need a lot of undercurrent, so ensure you add motors that can create similar undercurrents in the confines of your tank.

Also, you can use scraped out coconut shells to create caves in the aquarium, and the fish will be very happy to stay in these coconut homes. Lots of PVP pipes can be added to the tank to create further more hiding spaces for the loaches.

Diseases

It is a tough time keeping the loaches off disease as they are very prone to them due to their almost nonexistent scales, especially on the head. They will also have to be treated very differently when they have contracted the disease and more often than not, quarantining them seems to be one of the best bets.

Like most other fishes, yoyo loaches also suffer from Ich. There is a lot of chance for them to contradict this disease. When your fish suffers from Ich, you will see that it will develop white patches on the skin. When you notice this, the only option is to keep your loach quarantined as this is highly contagious and can affect your other fish if not attended to. 

They can also be affected by the cotton ball disease, whereby the fish develops a white layer of mucus around the gills. This is caused by bacteria in the unclean water, and because of this, the fish can tend to be seen gasping for breath.  This occurs as the membrane covers the pores in the skin that helps the fish to draw oxygen present in the water. 

Another of the diseases that can affect these fish is the hole in the head disease. This is a phenomenon where the fish develops dents on the head as a reaction to unclean water and fungus in them.

The best way to protect your fish from these diseases is to maintain extremely clean water in your tank all the time, as the bacteria and fungi that spread these diseases will find it difficult to thrive in clean water. 

Change the water once a week and change 30% of the water at least cleaning the bottom water as the loaches live there most of the time. Also in most cases, half of the medications needed for the other fishes may be enough for the loaches. So, when you add in the medicines, care has to be taken to see the amounts that are really needed. 

Another precaution that can be taken to keep the fish free of diseases is to thoroughly rinse anything that is added to the tank, from other fish to the decorations. Cleaning them out is the only sure shot way to maintain the tank free of diseases.

Behavior

When you put in a school of loaches into a tank, you will see that they will fight out each other until they have a leader amongst them. Most of the time during these fights it is not uncommon for the loaches to lose color. There is no need to panic in situations like these. Sooner than later, the colors will come back on.

The loaches are very capable of spotting their owners, and when you approach them, they will greet you by jumping up and down – more like puppies or kittens. They are also very good at acting and can stay still without movement for even one full day – giving the feeling that they are dead. This is a very similar behaviour that of the clown loach, belonging to the same family as them. 

The yoyo loaches have another interesting habit of sucking the air and give it out through the gills. At that time, they have a habit of grinding their teeth closer to the pharynx and the sound that emanates resembles that of a click.

The spine closer to the eyes of the loaches are covered by a membrane most of the times. However, this can come out and can serve as a protection for the fish. This spine that comes out acts as a knife and can cut through most materials. This can be very painful when it cuts through human skin, so care has to be taken when you are trying to move the loach around or trying to filter it – never use your hands to do it. 

Even when transporting these fishes in a bag, ensure that two bags are used. This is because in most cases, the loaches can cut out the first bag using the knife like projection on their spine. 

Aquarium mates

The yoyo loach is going to be actively having fun in the tank, so care has to be taken to put it in a group of fish that can behave the same way.  Sluggish, not so active fish are a strict no-no in a tank of yoyo loaches as they will not be able to keep up the tempo of the loaches. So try to avoid such tank mates. Also, as your loaches are going to be grounded most of the time, the middle and upper layers are yours to fill with other fish that generally tend to stay in those layers.

However, note that your loaches will need space to swim around and can also grow to a bigger size than most other fish, so leave enough space your tank for that too.

It is best to put three or more yoyo loaches in your tank, as they can swim and play around to their heart’s content.  If you add extra loaches in the tank, that will also work. 

Other fishes that can go into your tank with the yoyo loaches include tetras, catfish, corydoras, angelfish, mollies, goldfish and plecos.  All of them can swim around with your loaches and maintain peace and harmony in the tank.

Unless intentionally adding your loaches to a tank that has snail infection, do not ever add snails or shrimps in their tank.  To the loaches, the snails and shrimps are only food and never inmates!  So, the minute you add them to your tank, they are eaten up. 

Tiger barbs, tigerfish, bettas, red finned sharks and any other aggressive or semi-aggressive fishes are also best not added to your tank of loaches. These fishes can create a lot of tension in the tank because of their nature, and the loaches are not going to take it well.  So these tank mates are best avoided in yoyo loach tank. 

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