Loaches

Loaches are great scavengers and this is a great quality appreciated by aquarists. Loaches are freshwater fish. They are are otherwise known as “Thorn eyes” because between their eyes or just beneath the eyes, they have one or two thorn-like spines. These spines can act as a defense and are erect.

The Loach family consists of some of the most impressive freshwater fishes and the family contains about 100 species. Because of the presence of barbells, they are confused with catfishes. Loaches are happier with their own species. They do best in groups of 3-4 or more fishes.  They are not very large and they are only a few inches long, but you have the Botia, that reaches more than 12˝and Royal Clown Loach that can reach up to a length of 20˝. Loaches are most often elongated and rather cylindrical. They have an oval sucker shaped mouth which helps them to survive in fast moving waters, where they can hang on plants and rocks, even if there is a water current. Most of these fishes are bottom dwellers and many species of loaches have a very unique intestine which can also act as a respiratory organ.

Loaches are omnivores and bottom feeders. Loaches get active mainly in the evening or after dark. They generally eat live worms, insect larvae, crustaceans, algae and other vegetation in their natural habitat. In the aquarium, you can feed them with vegetable substitutes like soft algae or algae wafers, frozen proteins like tubiflex and blood worms and dry flake food. Because of the shyness, you have to feed them in the dark. Large species like Botia like to feed on Red Ramshorn snails and once in a while with Mystery snail.

clown_loaches

Clown Loaches

Loaches are sensitive to water conditions and they cannot bear a high level of nitrate content. In order to maintain their health, you have to change the water frequently. The pH of the water in the aquarium should be slightly acid to slightly alkaline in ranges from 6.5-7.5. The hardness of the water can be soft to somewhat hard.

You should provide them with hiding places in the aquarium, because, like I said, they are very shy. Because of this shyness, they need to have secure places.

Striata Loach

Striata Loach

If they can't find a good hiding place, they tend to become reclusive and jumpy. Hide outs can include dense thickets of plants, bog roots, caves or driftwood. They're hiding places will be their territories and tend to defend these places from other members of the family. Course sand or very fine gravel is perfect for the substrate because of their burrowing habit, however, substrate should not be sharp.

Some loaches are territorial and some are sociable. They live in small schools. Loaches live in the bottom areas of the fish tank, therefore you should keep loaches with fish that inhabit the middle and upper regions of the aquariums to avoid territorial conflicts.

Another types of loaches available are the Dwarf, the Kuhli, the Striata, the Clown, the Zebra and the Yoyo loaches. They are difficult to breed in a home aquarium.

These creatures will become stressed when a member of their group disappears or dies. You should take extra care under such conditions. Some loaches can live up to twenty years. Loaches can be kept with other tropical communities as long as they are non-aggressive.