YoYo Loach

Pakistani Loach, Almora Loach

Family: Cobitidae Yoyo Loach, Botia Almorhae, Pakistani Loach, Almora LoachBotia almorhaePhoto © Animal-World: Courtesy Ken Childs
Latest Reader Comment - See More
I have 4 yo yo loaches in a gallon container they were in my big 55 gallon tank, but they were eating the fry. Love these guys, but tend to be a little more... (more)  bill

The gorgeous Pakistani Loach is known to be a very playful fish, and a great scavenger as well!

The Yoyo Loach Botia almorhae is a very pretty fish. It is basically a silver color with dark vertical bands. Healthy Yoyo loach specimens will also display a beautiful prismatic light blue that blends from the edges of the dark bands into the silver body color. This may be an indication that they are in breeding condition, but has not been established for certain.

The Yoyo Loach is a Botia that comes from India and Pakistan. The specimens that come from Pakistan are darker than the lighter colored fish from India. It is thought that the fish from India may be a subspecies or entirely different species. Variations depending on local populations are common.

This gorgeous fish is suitably named the Pakistani Loach because of its origins, and the name Almora Loach is derived from its scientifically description. But the coining of the name "YoYo Loach" has an interesting story. Ken Childs, the photographer of the photo above, worked in the aquarium fish import business for over 20 years. One day when a shipment of these loaches arrived, he remarked that these fish were bouncing all over the place just like yo-yo's. They also had an easily recognized patterning that tends to look like a "Y-O-Y-O" too. They quickly became dubbed the YoYo Loach, and it then became its common name in the industry.

These fish are generally quite peaceful and though the The Yoyo Loach may tussle with members of their own species, they don't really harm one another. They do well in a community aquarium with other less aggressive species, but they can hold their own with mildly aggressive tank mates. Though most of the loaches are nocturnal, the Yoyo loach, once acclimated and comfortable with its surroundings, will come out during daylight hours and scavenge for food in rocks and crevices.

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


Geographic Distribution
Botia almorhae
Data provided by FishBase.org
  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Phylum: Chordata
  • Class: Actinopterygii
  • Order: Cypriniformes
  • Family: Cobitidae
  • Genus: Botia
  • Species: almorhae
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Yoyo Loach - Quick Aquarium Care
  • Temperament: Peaceful
  • Aquarium Hardiness: Moderately hardy
  • Aquarist Experience Level: Intermediate
  • Diet Type: Omnivore
  • Minimum Tank Size: 20 gal (76 L)
  • Temperature: 75.0 to 86.0° F (23.9 to 30.0° C)
  • Range ph: 6.5-7.5
  • Hardness Range: 3 - 10 dGH
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Habitat: Distribution / Background

The Yoyo Loach Botia almorhae was described by Narayan Rao in 1920. It is found in India and Pakistan. This species is listed on the IUCN Red List as Least Concern (LC) because it has a widespread range and is quite hardy. There are some potential threats to the habitat from deforestation and they are fished for the ornamental trade, but any negative impacts are undetermined at present. Other common names they are known by are Pakistani Loach, Almora Loach, Reticulated loach, Pakistan Loach, Yo Yo Loach, and Y-Loach.

In nature it prefers still and slow running waters. This loach is considered a riverine species that It prefers still and slow running waters. It usually congregates in pools and still areas with rocky substrates. These loaches spawn upstream prior to breeding. These loaches tend to be mostly carnivorous but will eat aquatic vegetation if available.

  • Scientific Name: Botia almorhae
  • Social Grouping: Groups
  • IUCN Red List: LC - Least Concern

Description

The Yoyo Loach is a smaller loach when kept in the aquarium, only reaching up to about 2.5 inches (6.5 cm). Yet this loach can get much larger in the wild, reaching up to 6 inches (15.5 cm). Their life span is generally about 5 - 8 years, though they been reported to live up to 16 years.

This is a very pretty fish. It is basically a silver color with dark vertical bands. Healthy Yoyo loach specimens will also display a beautiful prismatic light blue that blends from the edges of the dark bands into the silver body color. It's body pattern seems to spell out the word Yoyo. This may be an indication that they are in breeding condition, but has not been established for certain.

  • Size of fish - inches: 6.1 inches (15.49 cm) - These fish only reach about 2.5 inches (6.5 cm) in the aquarium, though they can reach up to 6 inches (15.5 cm) in the wild.
  • Lifespan: 8 years - This fish generally has a lifespan of about 5 - 8 years, but have also been reported to live up to 16 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 YoYo or Pakistani Loach will generally eat all kinds of live foods. They like tablets and frozen foods as well, but flake foods are not suggested. Feed brine shrimp (either live or frozen), mosquito larvae, tubifex, daphnia, and some vegetable foods such as algae wafers. If your Yoyo loach doesn't eat right away, try live blood or tubifex worms. They will readily come to the top at feeding time and often turn while feeding and make sucking noises.

  • Diet Type: Omnivore - Mainly carnivorous in nature.
  • Flake Food: Yes
  • Tablet Pellet: Yes
  • Live foods (fishes, shrimps, worms): Most 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 for the Bengal Loach. 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 and decor. A magnet algae cleaner normally does a great job in keeping the viewing pane clear.

  • Water Changes: Weekly - Water changes of about 30% weekly.

Aquarium Setup

The Yoyo Loach will swim mostly on the bottom of the aquarium, but will also swim in the middle of the aquarium. This fish does fine in a medium sized aquarium (20 gallons or so). Never introduce this loach into a biological immature setup as these fish require pristine water. They do best in soft, slightly acidic water with subdued lighting. They also need good water movement that provides plenty of oxygenation. The tank water should turnover at least 10-15 times per hour. 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.

It is recommended to have a tank set-up that resembles its natural habitat with plants, open areas to swim, and places for retreat. Because they are burrowers, the substrate needs to be a fine smooth gravel or sand that does not have sharp edges. The tank needs to have ample hiding places for this shy fish such as rocks, caves, and roots. 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: 75.0 to 86.0° F (23.9 to 30.0° C)
  • Range ph: 6.5-7.5
  • Hardness Range: 3 - 10 dGH
  • Brackish: No
  • Water Movement: Weak
  • Water Region: Bottom - These fish are mostly bottom dwellers, but will occasionally swim in the middle or upper parts of the aquarium and will come to the surface when food is offered.

Social Behaviors

The Yoyo Loach is a good community fish. Though they hide during the day, they are lively and active in the evening. They are peaceful but they can hold their own with mildly aggressive tank mates. Monitor closely if long finned slow swimming fish are added.

They should be kept in groups of 6 or more of their own kind. They may seem aggressive with members of their own species and other loaches, but this is usually the means of establishing a hierarchy. Their colors will actually "grey out" during conflicts, but it is nothing to be concerned with.

  • Venomous: No
  • Temperament: Peaceful - They are peace but a bit boisterous.
  • Compatible with:
    • Same species - conspecifics: Yes - Best kept in groups of 6 or more, but they will tussle for dominance.
    • Peaceful fish (): Safe - May stress smaller fish.
    • Semi-Aggressive (): Safe
    • Aggressive (): Threat
    • Large Semi-Aggressive (): Threat
    • Large Aggressive, Predatory (): Threat
    • Slow Swimmers & Eaters (): Monitor
    • Shrimps, Crabs, Snails: May be aggressive
    • Plants: Monitor - Make sure all plants are securely anchored.

Sex: Sexual differences

Full grown females will be rounder.

Breeding / Reproduction

Not much is known about the breeding habits of this loach and they are not yet bred commercially.

  • Ease of Breeding: Unknown

Fish Diseases

Loaches are more susceptible to disease than other aquarium fishes. This may have to do with the faint body scales and no head scales. So take caution when introducing these fish to an established tank. They are 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 Yoyo 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 Yoyo Loach or Pakistani Loach is usually available at pet stores and online, and is moderately expensive.

References

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

bill - 2006-10-07
I have 4 yo yo loaches in a gallon container they were in my big 55 gallon tank, but they were eating the fry. Love these guys, but tend to be a little more aggressive than people say. At my store we put them under semi-aggressive fish. They are definitely good scavengers and will clean your tank. The only thing that gets me is that when they sleep they look like they're dead. When you go to get them they take off.

  • Anonymous - 2014-06-29
    I'm looking at getting a yoyo fish to kill my snails I'm quite nervous for my guppies, cause some websites say they eat them.
Reply
Emily - 2008-04-06
I have four Yoyo loaches I've had for 6 years. My largest is at least 5 1/2" long and the dominant Yoyo of the tank. They change colors during feed time, when another loach enters their 'territory', or when quarreling over something. Usually this color change is a slightly iridescent/pearlescent bluish color on top of their normal coloration; however, I've seen one or two of mine almost loose their colors when they lose a fight. They turn a beautiful copper color to express dominance, and become so dark you can barely see the stripes when fighting. Just before they change colors, their cheeks turn a metallic silvery blue color and soon after they rapidly shift colors.

FYI- for the new loach owners, most loaches take naps! If you see your loaches start to sway and sort of rest on their sides a bit (and it hasn't been acting weird otherwise), its a good thing! It means it feels safe outside of its hiding place & is taking a nap :). Sometimes they take these in huge groups, huddled up next to each other. Also, they can get quite rough when fighting over food or their territories, but I've yet to see one of mine hurt another one. I love these fish, they each have their own unique personalities and will become the stars of your tank. I highly recommend getting more than one though. They seem happier that way :).

Reply
Margaret - 2010-04-16
Very excited. Have just cleaned my tank and while vacuuming the gravel and cleaning around the live plant I syphoned up a lot of large orange eggs (2mm). My Yoyos are about 4yrs old and I only have 2 in a community tank, approx 85 litres. Has to be the loaches as I have no other pair of egg breeders in tank, or any other fish big enough for these eggs. Female has been very lethagic the last couple of weeks. Don't expect anything to come of it now that they've been disturbed. I remember when I first got them and researched about Pakistani Loaches. It said nothing was known about breeding as they were not done commercially. All I can tell you is the tank is cleaned every week - so eggs haven't been there long, and where the loaches usually chase each other they are happy to be quiet and lay together at the moment. If anything else happens will post again.

Reply
JT - 2008-04-13
I have 5 yoyos in a 75. They are about 2 years old and range in size from 3 1/2 inches to almost 5 inches long. As active as these loaches are, I would not recommend keeping them in any tank shorter than 36 inches, and as large as they get, 48 inches would be much better. They are always playing, dancing about the tank, investigating the two gouramis they live with, tussling with each other and the 8 striped loaches they share the tank with.

Reply
Melanie - 2012-05-21
I have a variety of yoyos for nearly 5 years now and I just love their markings. Each one has its own unique patterns. I've never had a problem with any of them as far as getting along w/my other fishes. Yet I to have wondered abt. their breeding. Maybe someone out there can help me. Tonight while cleaning my tank I came across several globs of what looks like mucus. I sat here a good 45 minutes wondering who did this. Anyway I have 2 yoyos that look very much pregnent I mean fat for like over 6 months. Well that mystery substance is coming from 1 of them. It's getting late and got to get some zs! Can anyone please tell me anything. Thank you!

  • Jeremy Roche - 2012-05-21
    These fish will sometimes produce an excessive amount of slime coat. Check your water levels.
  • james1981 - 2012-07-13
    hi, i just read ur comment and its an interesting one, i myself am a keen fan of loach, i have a number of clown, yoyo and zebra loach, had them all for years, always wanted to breed them but wasnt sure how, i looked into it and got some advice, in the wild they only spawn once per year ond this is at the start of the rainy season, when i learned this i seperated my yoyo loach to a small community tank for about eight month, then moved them to a larger tank, cooler by 2 degrees, lower wattage light, and used a fluval pump raised out of the water with a long pipe attached, pierced the pipe in several places to mimic rainfall, since doing this i have observed behaviors such as chasing each other, swimming rubbing side by side, the males barbs have turned red and the famale is now huge, they go deeper and very plump before spawning, im expecting them to any time now
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