- Species Name: Botia locachata
- Common Names: Yoyo loach, Almora loach, Pakistani loach
- Size: 3-5 inches
- Lifespan: 5-8 years
- Native Distribution: India and Pakistan
Known for its giraffe-like pattern, the yoyo loach (Botia locachata) is an active bottom-dwelling scavenger. Though semi-aggressive, this species can get along with small, peaceful fish in a community tank. Yoyo loaches are most likely to thrive, however, in a large tank with a group of their own kind.
Also known as the Almora loach or the Pakistani loach, the yoyo loach is native to the still and slow-moving waters of India and Pakistan. The name yoyo loach was given to the species by Ken Childs, an acclaimed aquatic photographer, who observed the fish jumping in a pattern that reminded him of a yoyo. Some aquarists also suggest that the arrangement of black bands on the loach’s body resembles a repeating pattern of Ys and Os.
In this guide, we’ll explore the fascinating behavior of the yoyo loach and learn how to create the optimal aquarium environment for this beautiful species.
Anatomy and Appearance
The yoyo loach belongs to the genus Botia which includes roughly 20 species of Indian loaches. These loaches exhibit narrow, elongated bodies with very small scales embedded in their skin. Because they have the appearance of being smooth-bodied, this and other loach species are often incorrectly categorized as scaleless fish.
Loaches in the Botia genus exhibit two unique anatomical features. First, they have a pair of razor-sharp spines that sit under their eye sockets. When the loach feels threatened, they can extend the spines in order to defend themselves. Second, they possess a set of pharyngeal teeth which they often use to produce a clicking noise at feeding time. These teeth are particularly useful in extracting snails from their shells. For this reason, yoyo loaches and other Botia species are popular among aquarium hobbyists for fishing snail infestations.
Though similar in body shape to other loaches, the yoyo loach is distinguished by its unique markings. Yoyo loaches are silver or pale in color with dark markings that resemble the letters Y and O. These markings are most defined in juveniles but typically give way to a more reticulated pattern in adults.
Ideal Aquarium Setup
At maturity, the yoyo loach grows up to 5 inches in length. Though they can be kept in tanks as small as 20 gallons, it’s important to consider the species’ high activity level and social needs. Yoyo loaches require very clean, well-oxygenated water that is warm, soft, and acidic.
The minimum yoyo loach tank size is 20 gallons, but you’ll need a much larger tank if you plan to keep a group of them or house them with other fish. A 30-gallon tank may be sufficient for a small group of juvenile loaches, but you may need to upgrade to a larger tank as they mature.
Another thing to remember about yoyo loaches is that they tend to jump. Be sure to equip your tank with a heavy or tight-fitting lid to prevent an accidental escape.
Native to the still and slow-moving waters of India and Pakistan, yoyo loaches require warm, soft, and slightly acidic water. They can adapt to various pH levels but prefer a range of 6.5 to 7.5. The water should be fairly soft, under 12 dKH, and the ideal temperature range is 75°F to 86°F.
Space is extremely important for an active species like the yoyo loach, but it’s equally important to provide plenty of space to hide. Yoyo loaches are most active at night, so they’ll need caves and places to rest during the day. An established aquarium with aquarium plants and also rockwork and driftwood décor is ideal for a group of yoyo loaches.
Be mindful of what substrate you use in your yoyo loach tank. Though not scaleless, the yoyo loach is prone to injury with sharp substrate. They also have a tendency to burrow, so very fine gravel or medium-grain sand may be ideal for this species.
Diet and Feeding
Yoyo loaches are omnivores and scavengers, so they’ll feed on just about anything they can find in the tank. That said, they prefer meaty foods—they typically only eat plant matter when insects and crustaceans aren’t available.
In the home aquarium, yoyo loaches can be fed a variety of dry, frozen, fresh, and freeze-dried foods. Sinking foods may be best, as these fish tend to feed from the bottom of the tank. They’ll also happily consume snails, sucking them right out of their shells.
Temperament and Tank Mates
The yoyo loach is considered a semi-aggressive species, but they don’t tend to bother other tankmates as long as they have enough space and places to hide. The rule of thumb is to keep them in a small group with fish that are smaller and less aggressive than they are.
Some good tank mates for yoyo loaches may include:
If your tank is already stocked, avoid adding yoyo loaches if your current tank inhabitants are shy or slow-moving species. An active and social species like the yoyo loach may stress them out. It’s also wise to avoid keeping yoyo loaches with large, aggressive, and carnivorous fish like peacock bass, Oscars, and other large cichlids.
Yoyo Loach Breeding Tips
Male and female yoyo loaches are very similar in appearance, though males may have a slenderer appearance. This difference will be most noticeable when the female becomes fat with eggs. Mature male yoyo loaches may also exhibit some red coloration around the barbels.
Though it’s common for female yoyo loaches to develop eggs, this species does not breed readily in captivity. Yoyo loaches require very specific conditions for spawning, and it can be difficult to keep the eggs healthy enough that they hatch. Commercial breeding of yoyo loaches frequently involves injecting the fish with hormones to stimulate the release of viable eggs.
Yoyo loaches make attractive and entertaining additions to large, planted tanks. Just be sure your tank is mature and stable then give your loaches plenty of time to acclimate. They may be shy at first but, once they get comfortable, you’ll start to see their social side.
Contact us today to start your perfect freshwater aquarium.