Yoyo Loach (A Complete Care Guide)

Not every freshwater fish can elevate the beauty of your aquariums while offering you unique physical and personality traits. You might see many aquarists trying to get their hands on a fun-loving fish with low maintenance requirements. But the task is really demanding.

But don’t worry! Yoyo Loach is that fish that knows how to soak up the dullness of your tank and bring liveliness to your fish-keeping experience.

They are hugely popular among aquarists because of their unique appearance and ability to mix in with different fish species.

Even though Yoyo Loaches are pretty hardy, they are not ideal for novices.

From where they hail from to how to look after them, in this guide, you will learn everything about this amazing fish.

An Overview Of Yoyo Loaches

Scientific NameBotia Almorhae or Botia Lohachata
Common NamesYoyo Loach, Pakistani Loach, Almora Loach, Tiger Loach, Yo Loach, Leopard Loach
FamilyBotiidae
OriginPakistan, Northern India, Nepal
DietOmnivore
Care LevelModerate
ActivityVery Active
Lifespan5 to 8 years
TemperamentPeaceful
Tank LevelBottom Dweller
Minimum Tank Size30 Gallons
Temperature Range75 to 86° F
Water Hardness3 to 10 KH
pH Range6.5 – 7.5
Filtration/Water FlowLow to Moderate
Water TypeFreshwater
BreedingEgg layer
Difficulty to BreedDifficult
CompatibilityCommunity tanks
OK, for Planted Tanks?Yes

What Is A Yoyo Loach?

Yoyo Loach, scientifically referred to as Botia Almorhae or Botia Lohachata, is a part of the Botiidae family. These fish are commonly identified as Pakistani Loach or Almora Loach among aquarists.

Despite being pretty small, they are super energetic and social. And across different parts of the world, they are famous for having a cool temperament and the ability to bring uniqueness to the tanks.

Since they have a friendly disposition, a beginner might mistake them to be an easy-to-handle fish species. They are super hardy and there is no argument on that. But they are not devoid of complicated water tank conditions that are difficult for a beginner to handle.

But If you are someone with prior fish-keeping experience, then they are ideal for you to introduce to your tank.

Origin and Habitat

A Yoyo Loach was first sighted in 1920 by a photographer named Ken Childs. They got their name from him and became a colossal hit in the aquarium line right after their discovery.

The reason Ken Childs gave them this name is directly linked with their rapid body movements and color patterns. Someone familiar with Yo-yos would instantly understand why exactly we call them Yoyo Loaches.

These energetic fish live in different regions of Pakistan and Northern India and can also appear in a few territories of Nepal.

Appearance

When it comes to scaling down monotony from freshwater tanks, relying on a Yoyo Loach helps. Aside from their ability to get along with a good range of fish species, Yoyo Loaches are famous for their unique appearance.

YoYo Loach in Aquarium

But before delving into their full-body description, remember that there are appearance differences within the same group. Their main profile is the same. But they originate from various regions, leading them to have color and pattern variations.

A typical Yoyo Loach has a long cylindrical-shaped body with a head that looks conical. Excluding other physical characteristics, their head shape helps them stand out pretty well.

While going over color differences, you will notice a Pakistani Yoyo Loach is deeper and brighter than those that come from India and Nepal. And this difference makes the process of identification almost seamless.

Most Yoyo Loaches have a silvery base. But some can feature tan, yellow, stone-gray, and brown-colored bottoms. On top of their prime color sits a distinct reticulated pattern. This is another unique feature that sets them apart.

This pattern is net-like or branch-shaped with thin lines and dots scattered across it. In some fish, this pattern is thinner and slightly subdued. Also, the fish are pros at deepening their base color, helping the pattern to give off a refined look.

The mouth of a Yoyo Loach appears downward with a slightly prominent snout. There is then a visible set of four barbels on the snout that helps them operate in the dark. These barbels can fade out whenever Yoyo Loaches are excited or stressed.

They are quite small and due to their very small scales, they look like scaleless fish to some people.

But apart from all these traits, we know them because of their unique golden-black pattern. When young, the bands on their back look like Y or O alphabets, spelling out the word Yoyo.

The stripes can sit closely or at a distance on their bodies. But with time, these bands tend to grow deeper and thicker. These stripes also help them change their coloration according to the background and avoid falling prey to predators in the wild.

And like their branch-shaped pattern, they have a spine that also functions as a shield. This spine is located beneath their eye. But we can’t really see it because of a tissue hiding it.

Including a tiny dorsal fin and a V-shaped caudal fin, they have 6 fins in total. Their fins are overall small and beautiful including a pair of pectoral fins, a pelvic fin, and an anal fin.

To tell their genders apart, look at the size of male Yoyo Loaches and female Yoyo Loaches.

Like other freshwater fish, females are fuller and duller. And while breeding, a female looks even plumper from the abdomen.

Another difference is long red barbels in males that project from their snouts.

Pro Tip: To determine their age, look at the thickness or thinness of their pattern. Younger Yoyo Loaches have narrow lines while adults have wide ones.
Extra Pro Tip: The spine ejects whenever their safety is threatened. So, while shifting them, make sure you don't have direct contact with their knife-like spine.

Lifespan

The average lifespan of a Yoyo Loach ranges from 5 to 8 years in captivity.

A fish that usually lives for this period gives you enough time to understand it completely and become more experienced as an aquarist. While this is an overall healthy lifespan estimation, some aquarists recorded their Yoyo Loaches living up to 10 years.

To get them to live that long, you need to house them in an aquarium that is a solid copy of their natural habitat.

Average Size

A full-grown captive-bred Yoyo Loach is typically 2.5 inches long, which is a pretty small size. Because in the wild, Yoyo Loaches can easily go as big as 6 inches.

A home-bred Yoyo Loach, however, finds it demanding to stretch up to this size.

There are some contributing factors that influence their growth and can help them grow bigger. The major ones are diet, tank size, fish species that they are kept with, and genetics.

Yoyo Loach Care

A Yoyo Loach is an easy-going fish with a decent tolerance for water shifting. But as I mentioned earlier, they are not beginner friendly.

There are several conditions that you need to consider before housing them. The most important one is the water quality.

In their natural habitat, Yoyo Loaches prefer slightly acidic waters with a temperature above 75° F. The fish doesn’t like fast water currents and react to drastic water changes quite negatively.

They move in schools but can act aggressively toward other fish due to many reasons.

This bottom-feeding fish always loves to have live food on their menu including mosquito larvae and brine shrimp.

Before venturing out to buy them, there are some essential things you need to know.

Fun fact: Yoyo Loaches love to play dead like their cousin Clown Loaches. And they can easily recognize their owners.

Aquarium Setup

A good tank setup is one of the major factors that contribute to their overall fitness.

In the wild, A Yoyo Loach inhabits areas with low pH levels with slightly warmer waters. The streams, tributaries, and rivers they come from comprise freshwater, rocks, and plants.

They are bottom feeders and keep themselves adhered to the foot of water areas. While constructing their habitat, go for a tank that is really deep and at least 30 gallons large.

Another thing to consider is vegetation. Introduce plenty of plants throughout the tank to make the Pakistani Loaches feel at home.

Tank Size

As far as the size of the aquarium goes, a tank that is at least 30 gallons is ideal. For a group of Almora Loach, have a tank that is around 110-112 gallons.

A Yoyo Loach can go as big as 6 inches in the wild. And it clearly shows the ideal size of the tank they need to be in. While a captive-bred Yoyo Loach is typically 2.5 inches long, a bigger and deeper tank will improve its growth rate.

Though the fish is less likely to travel to the upper water sections, it is better to cover the surface with a tight lid or hood to prevent them from displaying their jumping skills.

Water Parameters

A Yoyo Loach can put up with decent water shiftings. But the reason they are not beginner-friendly is their pristine water demands.

Generally, Yoyo Loaches are happy with water temperature that is between 75° F to 86° F. They prefer slightly acidic water. So, keep the pH level between 6.5 to 7.5, with water hardness around 3 to 10 KH.

Filtration and Aeration

The apparently scaleless fish is immune to toxins. Because their scales are too small, they can’t survive in unfiltered water. And the slight presence of ammonia and nitrates can put your fish through different fish diseases.

To help them keep thriving, you can go for a hang-on-back filter or a canister filter.

The filtration system should be strong but should not disturb water currents at a higher level. Some of the fish might enjoy a fast water flow depending on their origin. But they usually love low to moderate flow of water.

To boost oxygenation, consider having air stones or a good bubbling device. Even though Yoyo Loaches tend to do well with moderate water currents, these devices can create a good flow down there.

Pro Tip: To break the water flow, place some plants in the stream, Or you can reroute the vent of the filter against the aquarium glass.

Lighting

A Yoyo Loach does well in a dimly-lit tank. Since you are going to be introducing live plants to their aquarium hobby, mild exposure to natural lighting is perfect.

But to monitor them, you need to have some artificial lighting. So in this case, low-watt aquarium bulbs are a sound choice.

Aquatic Plants and Decorations

Healthy Yoyo Loaches never want to get deprived of plants. In fact, the presence of live floating plants is a solid replication of their natural environment.

But keeping plants and Yoyo Loaches together can be a bit tough. The reason is their passion for diving into the substrate and consequently damaging the plants.

Also, they will occasionally nibble on plants once in a while to leave their mark on them.

To prevent this from happening while keeping your fish happy, go for thick plants. Some great recommendations are Asian Ambulia, Amazon Sword, Anubias, and Ludwigia repens. You can also consider having Jungle Vallisneria and Corkscrew Vallisneria.

Also, the fish need hiding spots when stressed. Hence, adding manufactured caves throughout the tank is a great choice. But remember to have caves that are similar to their size. They don’t like broad hiding spots and end up getting stressed even more if there’s no hideout.

Tank Maintenance

Tank maintenance is really important that many fish keepers overlook. A good tank provides an ideal environment for the fish to live in. Moreover, a Yoyo Loach is immune to toxins. Therefore, occasional water column changes can keep fish diseases at bay.

Here are some really simple tips to get you started:

How to clean Yoyo Loach Tank?

  1. Clean the tank walls with mild soap.
  2. Change at least 20% water weekly.
  3. Use mild soap or liquid for caves.
  4. Weed out the waste plant material from the bottom.
  5. Do gravel vacuuming every once in a while.

Substrate

As much as other Yoyo Loach care requirements are important, so is the substrate. In fact, the fish is in constant contact with the bottom areas. And because of that, their sensitive barbels can get damaged pretty easily.

In the wild, they spend some portions of their lives inhabiting areas with low to no rocks and vegetation. But the other times they travel to the streams or tributaries where there is thick vegetation.

In their tank setup, go for the latter option.

Create the base of the tank with a soft sandy substrate and add small chunks of driftwood and rocks. The fish tend to dig into the substrate for chewing down any eatable thing or while playing. A gravel substrate can tear their fragile barbels apart. So, stick to a soft sandy substrate.

And as I mentioned earlier, Almora Loaches can uproot plants while looking through the substrate. Therefore, use plants that can withstand their day-to-day activities.

Community Tank Mates

On a typical basis, the fish is easy to pair up with a good range of species. And because they are schooling fish, housing them in groups is better for them to grow healthy.

Even though they have a relaxed temperament, there are fish species they can almost be fatal for. Typically, a Pakistani Loach can be mildly aggressive fish as compared to other loaches.

There are also some aggressive fish that can be a threat to their peace and harmony.

But before listing out ideal tank mates for them, remember that minor conflicts within the same specie or with other fish are pretty normal. During the fight, the fish will appear somewhat dull. But once the peace is established again, they will go back to their earlier state.

Here’s a list of some compatible Yoyo Loach tank mates:

  1. Tetras
  2. Glass Catfish
  3. Clown Loaches
  4. Freshwater Angelfish
  5. Clown Plecos
  6. Mollies
  7. Corydoras
  8. African Kribensis
  9. Goldfish
  10. Platys
  11. Bristlenose Plecos

Poor Tank Mates

Avoid housing them with fish that are aggressive or can fall prey to your Pakistani Loach.

  1. Fancy Goldfish
  2. Cichlids
  3. Tiger Barb
  4. Large Plecos
  5. Red Tail Sharks
  6. Oscars
  7. Bettas
  8. Peacock Bass
  9. Jack Dempseys

Breeding Yoyo Loach

Unfortunately, there are no proven strategies or methods to breed them successfully in captivity. It is true that some professional breeders were successful in breeding them in home aquariums. But as someone who is not that experienced cannot do that.

There are multiple reasons why it is hard to breed them in community fish tanks. The major one is that they travel to different areas in the wild.

It is almost impossible to know how exactly they plan out the spawning from attracting the females to laying eggs there (video source of Yoyo loaches spawning). Also, replicating those conditions is extremely demanding.

However, if you persist in breeding them, there are some important things to keep in mind.

To condition them to breed, keep the temperature above 77° F in a 40-gallon aquarium.

A proper diet should include more vegetables on the Yoyo Loach menu with a mild restriction on meaty foods.

Once you are done with that, line the tank with a net to protect the eggs from breaking. Wait for almost a day for the fry to hatch. The eggs look clear initially. Then, they will change the color to gray after a while.

In a single spawning season, a female can lay almost 5000 eggs. But not all of them survive.

Yoyo Loach Food and Diet

For a healthy fish, you need to give it a good-round diet. Thus, adding good variables of foods on the menu Yoyo Loach prefers should be the priority.

They are omnivorous species of fish. In the wild, they hunt down live foods such as mosquito larvae and insect larvae to thrive. They also love eating fresh vegetables as a good variation.

Fortunately, they are not picky eaters, which means you can give them almost everything to consume.  

As they live at the bottom, feed the food that sinks down the aquarium. You can go for bottom feeder pellets and algae wafers.

Apart from this, source their diet with freeze-dried food and live food. Some good recommendations are mosquito larvae, brine shrimp, earthworms, bloodworms, and snails.

Excluding mosquito larvae and brine shrimp, feeding Yoyo Loaches daphnia, bristle worms, algae, plant material, and fish flakes are some wonderful options.

Common Health Problems

Among other freshwater fish, a Yoyo Loach will be the first one to catch common freshwater diseases.

The reason is their small scale. As compared to other fish, the scales on this fish do not offer too much protection. And as a result, they are the first ones to get affected by ailments.

Even though this is common, there is no specific disease to worry about. Due to various reasons, they can come across common fish diseases. Such as Ich, Skinny Disease, and Cotton Ball Disease.

They are also prone to stress so avoid things that can lead them to stress.

Ich

This disease can intrude on your tank because of protozoan Ichthyophthirius multifiliis. This disease is contagious and can affect other fish rapidly. To avoid this, segregate the affected fish. And give mild medication to the single Yoyo loach.

Here are some common symptoms:

  1. White patches on fins, gills, and other body organs.
  2. Scratching the body against rough surfaces.

Cotton Ball Disease

This is another common fish ailment caused by poor water quality.

Some common symptoms are:

  1. While mucus layering around the gills.
  2. Shortage of breath
  3. Strange swim patterns

Skinny Disease

This skinny disease usually occurs due to internal parasites. This is also known as Chronic Wasting Syndrome.

Some common symptoms are:

  1. Loss of color
  2. Rubbing against rough objects
  3. Loss of appetite
  4. Unusual hiding

Treating all these diseases is possible. But you have to be really careful while giving them any medicine. Since they can’t withstand a higher dose or even a normal dose of medication, consider checking labels for products that are safe for loaches.

FAQs

How many yoyo loach should be kept together?

Ideally, a group of six will keep them happy. But if you can’t monitor a large group, keep at least 3-4 Yoyo Loaches together. And because you are going to house them in a group, they need a larger tank to fully flourish. A tank size of 105 to 110 gallons will be excellent to house them in.

Can yoyo loach live with tetras?

Yes. A Yoyo Loach can be paired up with tetras but there are potential threats of a Yoyo Loach disturbing the tetras. So, when you put them together, keep an eye out for how they are treating each other.

Do yoyo loach like to hide?

They love to hide while playing or to take some rest. Adding manufactured caves and aquarium rocks that are their size will function as excellent hideouts for Yoyo Loaches.

How big will a yoyo loach get?

In the wild, they can stretch themselves up to 6 inches. but a captive-bred Yoyo Loach is only 2.5 inches long. Going over 2.5 inches is also possible if they are properly looked after.

Are yoyo loaches algae eaters?

Yoyo loaches are not the best algae eaters in the aquarium line. But to get a varied diet, they can consume algae or algae wafers.

Closing Thoughts

If you’re looking for a generally peaceful, colorful fish to add to your planted or community tank, the Yoyo Loach is a great option. These little guys are social and love to swim in schools, so make sure you have plenty of space for them in your aquarium. Have you kept Yoyo Loaches before? Let us know your experience in the comments!

by Mark

Mark is the founder of Aquarium Store Depot. He started in the aquarium hobby at the age of 11 and along the way worked at local fish stores. He has kept freshwater tanks, ponds, and reef tanks for over 25 years. His site was created to share his knowledge and unique teaching style on a larger scale. He has worked on making aquarium and pond keeping approachable. Mark has been featured in two books about aquarium keeping - both best sellers on Amazon. Each year, he continues to help his readers and clients with knowledge, professional builds, and troubleshooting.

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