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.

Scientific Classification


Yoyo Loach – Quick Aquarium Care

Aquarist Experience Level:Intermediate
Aquarium Hardiness:Moderately hardy
Minimum Tank Size:20 gal (76 L)
Size of fish – inches6.1 inches (15.49 cm)
Temperature:75.0 to 86.0° F (23.9 to 30.0&deg C)

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


The Yoyo Loach  can get fairly good sized, 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)
  • 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&deg 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
    • Monitor
    • Shrimps, Crabs, Snails: May be aggressive
    • Plants: Monitor – Make sure all plants are securely anchored.

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.


The Yoyo Loach or Pakistani Loach is usually available at pet stores and online, and is moderately expensive.



Featured Image Credit: Guillermo Guerao Serra, Shutterstock