Lepto Loach

Royal Gold Banded Loach

Family: Cobitidae Lepto Loach, Leptobotia Guilinensis, Royal Gold Banded LoachLeptobotia guilinensisPhoto © Animal-World: Courtesy Ken Childs
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I bought my 2 loaches at a local, family-owned pet store about 6 or 7 years ago and they grew slowly but are very entertaining and now measure about 6 inches... (more)  go2garrett

The Lepto Loach is not only a very pretty loach, but it is one that is a very rare find!

The Lepto Loach Leptobotia Guilinensis is a rather small, but very attractive loach species. It has an elongated golden brown body with a very attractive design. Horizontal stripes run across the head to just behind the eyes. Along the rest of the body are dark vertical bands. The fins and tail also have dark banding. It is also known as the Royal Gold Banded Loach.

Keeping an L. Guilinensis loach can be an enriching experience. They can be kept in a community aquarium, but with more robust tank mates as they can get territorial and have been known to nip fins. Unlike many loaches these loaches are not shy. They are active and will not spend as much time hiding as other loach species. Still they will appreciate lots of hiding and resting places in caves, rocks, and roots. A substrate of sand or fine gravel along with some larger gravel or pebbles in can simulate a natural type environment.

The Lepto Loach is from cooler, temperate waters. They are not often seen for sale here. Being rare they are an exciting find for an aquarist who wants something unique and distinctive. Fish labeled as L. Guilinensis often turn out to be the Golden Zebra Loach Sinibotia pulchra or other Sinibotia species.

This loach is a rather small member of its genus, reaching only about 3 to 4 inches (8 - 10 cm) in length. In the Leptobotia genus there are 13 species. They all originate from China except one, the rare and endangered Leptobotia curta which is from Japan. Other members can get quite large, such as the massive Royal Clown Loach Leptobotia elongata which can reach about 20 inches (50 cm) in the wild.

For Information on keeping freshwater fish, see:
Freshwater Aquarium Guide: Aquarium Setup and Care


Geographic Distribution
Leptobotia guilinensis
Data provided by FishBase.org
  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Phylum: Chordata
  • Class: Actinopterygii
  • Order: Cypriniformes
  • Family: Cobitidae
  • Genus: Leptobotia
  • Species: guilinensis
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  • Temperament: Peaceful
  • Aquarium Hardiness: Moderately hardy
  • Aquarist Experience Level: Intermediate
  • Diet Type: Omnivore
  • Minimum Tank Size: 20 gal (76 L)
  • Temperature: 72.0 to 77.0° F (22.2 to 25.0° C)
  • Range ph: 6.0-7.5
  • Hardness Range: 5 - 20 dGH
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Habitat: Distribution / Background

The Lepto Loach Leptobotia Guilinensis was described by Chen in 1980. They are found in Asia, in China from the Lijiang River (a tributary of the Yangtze River) of Guangxi Province and the Yuanjiang River of Hunan Province. This species is listed on the IUCN Red List as Least Concern (LC) as it has a wide distribution and no known threats. Other common names it is known by are Royal Gold Banded Loach.

Not a lot is known about the habitat of this species. It is assumed these loaches inhabit clear, well oxygenated, moderate flowing rivers and streams. Substrate in these areas normally consists of rocks and gravel. They are presumably a benthic predator and hunt insects, crustaceans and smaller fish.

  • Scientific Name: Leptobotia guilinensis
  • Social Grouping: Groups - Normally loose groups
  • IUCN Red List: LC - Least Concern

Description

The Lepto Loach or Royal Gold Banded Loach is a fairly small fish only reaching about 3 - 4" ( 8 - 10 cm ). Their lifespan is currently unknown, but as with other Leptobotia species, if properly cared they should live at least 5 - 8 years. This loach has an elongated golden brown body with a very attractive design. Horizontal stripes run across the head to just behind the eyes. Along the rest of the body are dark vertical bands. The fins and tail also have dark banding. These loaches get to be around 4 inches.

  • Size of fish - inches: 3.9 inches (10.01 cm)
  • Lifespan: - Their lifespan is currently unknown, but with proper should live at least 5 - 8 years.

Fish Keeping Difficulty

This loach can be hardy under the right conditions. They are not recommended for beginners because of their need for pristine water and having small body scales. Reduced scales makes them more prone to disease and very sensitive to medications used to treat disease. Experience in treating scaleless fish is very important to be able to give your loach a healthy and long life. Do not try to introduce these fish into biologically immature tanks.

  • Aquarium Hardiness: Moderately hardy
  • Aquarist Experience Level: Intermediate

Foods and Feeding

Since they are omnivorous, the Lepto Loach is not a picky eater. In nature this loach presumably feeds primarily on benthic organisms, insects, crustaceans and smaller fish.. But in the aquarium it will generally eat all kinds of live foods, sinking pelleted and tablet foods, flakes, and algae. They like frozen foods as well. To keep a good balance give them a high quality flake or tablet food everyday. Feed mosquito larvae and brine shrimp (either live or frozen), tubifex, daphnia, and some vegetable foods such as algae wafers.

  • Diet Type: Omnivore
  • Flake Food: Yes
  • Tablet Pellet: Occasionally
  • Live foods (fishes, shrimps, worms): Some of Diet
  • Vegetable Food: Some of Diet
  • Meaty Food: Most of Diet
  • Feeding Frequency: Several feedings per day

Aquarium Care

The most important thing for these loaches is that they always have clean and well-oxygenated water. Frequent water changes of about 30% a week are needed. With your weekly water change make sure to vacuum the gravel to remove all excess food and waste. Make sure not to remove the bio film on rocks, decor or no viewing panes of the tank. A magnet algae cleaner normally does a great job in keeping the viewing pane clear.

  • Water Changes: Weekly - Water changes of 30% or more

Aquarium Setup

The Lepto Loach is mostly a bottom dweller. This fish needs at least a medium sized aquarium of 20 gallons or more. Never introduce this loach into a biological immature setup as these fish require pristine water. They do best in cooler, well-oxygenated soft water with subdued lighting. They need good water movement that provides plenty of oxygenation. An undergravel filter is a great choice for these fish as it creates high oxygen through out the tank as well as reducing the waste. Adding a canister filter or power head to the setup will make the proper current for this loach.

The decor with this fish is really up to personal taste as the fish doesn't really pay much attention to it. If the tank is to resemble its natural habitat, sand and gravel mix would be best for the substrate. A lot of smooth water-worn large rocks and stones should be scattered throughout. Provide subdued lighting along with a couple pieces of driftwood and some twisted roots to make places for retreat. These loaches are very inquisitive and like to explore so make sure to have a lot of caves and crevices. These fish can and will jump out of the tank if given the chance so make sure to have a tight fitting cover.

  • Minimum Tank Size: 20 gal (76 L)
  • Suitable for Nano Tank: Sometimes
  • Substrate Type: Sand/Gravel Mix
  • Lighting Needs: Low - subdued lighting
  • Temperature: 72.0 to 77.0° F (22.2 to 25.0° C)
  • Range ph: 6.0-7.5
  • Hardness Range: 5 - 20 dGH
  • Brackish: No
  • Water Movement: Moderate
  • Water Region: Bottom - These fish are mostly bottom dwellers.

Social Behaviors

Unlike many loaches they are not shy. Though they are generally a peaceful community fish, they are quite active and can get aggressive. They can get territorial and may nip the fins of their tank mates. Take great caution when adding slow swimming long finned fish to the tank. Also should not be kept with smaller fish as they may intimidate them.

These loach form a very structured hierarchy and should be purchased in at least groups of 4 or more. A singly kept Lepto Loach can end up being overly withdrawn or sometime aggressive. If kept in pairs or even trios, the dominant one will usually harass the others and prevent them from eating.

  • Venomous: No
  • Temperament: Peaceful - Can intimidate smaller tank mates.
  • Compatible with:
    • Same species - conspecifics: Yes - Best kept in groups of 4 or more.
    • Peaceful fish (): Safe - As long as they are large enough to not be bothered by the Lepto's behavior.
    • Semi-Aggressive (): Monitor
    • Aggressive (): Threat
    • Large Semi-Aggressive (): Threat
    • Large Aggressive, Predatory (): Threat
    • Slow Swimmers & Eaters (): Monitor
    • Shrimps, Crabs, Snails: May be aggressive
    • Plants: Safe

Sex: Sexual differences

Normally females will be heavier-bodied once sexually mature.

Breeding / Reproduction

Not much is known about the breeding habits of the Lepto Loach. It has not been bred in the aquarium and they are not yet bred commercially.

  • Ease of Breeding: Difficult

Fish Diseases

Loaches are more susceptible to disease than other aquarium fishes. This may have to do with the faint body scales. Take caution when introducing these fish to an established tank. This loach is also very sensitive to different medications used to treat many diseases; a separate hospital tank is needed. Cold water and condition changes can also cause stress to this fish which makes them even more prone to disease.

Most common disease that affects this loach is Ich. Ich is short for Ichthyophthirius, also known as "white spot disease". It is a parasite that can attack nearly all aquarium fishes, but you'll find that loaches are often the first to be attacked. Take great care in treating ick as loaches are very sensitive to the medications used to treat it. Often the dose is half of what is normally used.

The second most common thing that affects loaches is a thing called skinny disease. This can be diagnosed fairly easily. If your loaches are eating a nitrous and healthy amounts and still seems to loose weight it is a good chance it has skinny disease. This is caused by internal parasites and can be treated with medication if used carefully.

An outbreak of disease can often be limited to just one or a few fishes if you deal with it at an early stage. When keeping these sensitive types of fish, it is common to catch deteriorating water conditions and disease before other fish are affected. The best way to proactively prevent disease is to give your Lepto Loach the proper environment and give them a well balanced diet. The closer to their natural habitat the less stress the fish will have, making them healthier and happy. A stressed fish will is more likely to acquire disease.

Anything you add to your tank can bring disease to your tank. Not only other fish but plants, substrate, and decorations can harbor bacteria. Take great care and make sure to properly clean or quarantine anything that you add to an established tank so not to upset the balance. It is recommended to read up on the common tank diseases. Knowing the signs and catching and treating them early makes a huge difference. For information about freshwater fish diseases and illnesses, see Aquarium Fish Diseases and Treatments.

Availability

The Lepto Loach or Royal Gold Banded Loach Leptobotia Guilinensis is very rarely available, but quite a find if you come across one.

References

Author: Clarice Brough CFS, Jeremy Roche
Lastest Animal Stories on Lepto Loach

go2garrett - 2012-02-13
I bought my 2 loaches at a local, family-owned pet store about 6 or 7 years ago and they grew slowly but are very entertaining and now measure about 6 inches counting the tail. They lived harmoniously with Angel fish for many years in a 20 gallon aquarium, until all the Angelfish got old and died. I was told they were called 'Leopard Loaches'. Thanks for giving the real name and history. No wonder I haven't seen them in other pet stores! :)

Reply
Kassie - 2011-06-08
I have had my fish for 16 years and it lived in my sisters tank for three years before that. He is at least 19 years now and has become an aggressive fish. I didn't realize this until I got some cicillians and he killed them by chewing on their hind ends. I then have slowly lost almost everything. I have watched him pick on the other fish until they die.
I feel bad for the fish and feel as if I need to get rid of him, yet he is 19 and this is his tank. I am open to suggestions.

  • Charlie Roche - 2011-06-09
    There are many people who say their wonderful Lepto Loach has become a real nasty guy and has killed other fish in the tank. It seems as they mature and get larger, they want to get rid of anything else in the tank - more room for them. One Lepto should have a 30 gallon tank just for himself. I am sorry this happened to you. They are supposed to be good community fish with the proviso of strong robust tank mates.
    The fella is 19 years old, and just used to that tank and all he did was do what comes naturally. He was growing and he needs more room so he just sorta got rid of the others who he felt were taking up his space. How about you just forgive him and let him have his tank and remember, he just was doing what is natural for him. He wants to live. Then if you want get a second tank for other fish. Lepto Loaches are rare and hard to find. He just wanted to exist.
Reply
Troy Finke - 2009-03-16
Are you sure they weren't just trying to "play" with the koi or school with them. Every single loach or botia I have had love to try to school with other fish whether it be a jaguar cichlid or tetra. I also notice they like to act as cleaner wrasse somewhat. I have seen mine swim sideways against other fish and what not, and I know a lot of koi can be very paranoid and jumpy so it's possible your koi freaked themselves to death from the loaches trying to interact with them. I don't know, it's a thought, I wasn't there watching your loaches so I cant really say.

Reply
Patrice Johnson - 2008-07-06
I received a Leptobotia guilinensis and put it in with my Koi and within two days my Koi are dead, it chased them around the pond, 80 gallons with many hiding area's. Is this normal behavior?

  • Ed - 2012-12-10
    How minute are the koi??? Do you have the right species here??? My 8' koi took on and swallowed my 3' male melanchromis johnsonnae whole then after a bit of chewing on him spat him out(minutes after a good feed might i add). Pakistani loach is the only fellow amognst a plethora of fish to harass my koi( i have 6, two big ones, 1 medium and 3 juveniles(1.5'-2 '). Even the jack dempsey doesn't care to bother the sometimes spasmodic Nishikigoi haha
Reply
lacycall - 2006-01-24
This loach is a fun species to watch, I inherited one and he is very lively and active!

Reply

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