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FAQs About Loach Identification

Related Articles: Loaches, Dojos/Weatherfish, A New Look At Loaches By Neale Monks,

Related FAQs: Loaches 1, Loaches 2, Clownloaches, Kuhli Loaches, Loach Behavior, Loach Compatibility, Loach Selection, Loach Systems, Loach Feeding, Loach Disease, Loach Reproduction,

A beauty eh?

Loach ID     1/22/20
Hi crew,
About a year ago I bought 6 loaches in petco, labeled as golden zebra loach. Based on my research they looked like Botia histrionica. 5 of them died very quickly, like within a week or two probably due to young age.
They were about half inch in size. But one survived and recently I decided that he is a social fish and need a company. I went into the same store and bought 4 more fish labeled as golden zebra loach. However when I brought them home I realized my new fish look slightly different by color, stripe width and shape. First picture of my old loach, which is yellow with thick black stripes and round body. On the bottom, my new addition: white body with thin black stripes and flat body. Are they even the same kind of fish?
Please help identify.
<Hello Mark, your photos are a bit small, but yes, I agree, these do look like Botia histrionica, and have the distinctive five bands on the flanks plus the vertical band through the eye and the diagonal one from the eye to the mouth. It is worth noting that the species is very variable, and as it gets older, its markings to tend to change. So if the new batch looks different to the older ones you already have, that's not altogether surprising. There are also some undescribed Botia species out there, and it's entirely possible these get into the aquarium trade now and again.
What I would suggest is you visit the Loaches.com forum, sign up, and share your photos there. It's possible someone might know better than me!
Cheers, Neale.>

Can you help me? Which fish is?
<Not 100% sure, but looks like either Schistura beavani or Longischistura striata to me. Definitely a member of the Nemacheilidae though, so a typical Stone Loach in care. Coolish water (20-24 C is ideal) with lots of
water current (turnover rate 8-10 times the turnover of the tank). Lots of oxygen! Water chemistry not critical. Will eat most sinking foods, but algae wafers and small frozen foods like brine shrimps are ideal. Social,
so keep in groups of 5-6 specimens, but feisty, so don't keep just 2-3.
Maximum length around 8 cm, but often a bit smaller. Decorate the tank with pebbles and bogwood roots. Bright light and soft sandy substrate both important. Does badly (short-lived) in general community tanks, but will do
well in a Hillstream set-up or alternatively a fast-water community tank with species from that sort of habitat (Ancistrus, Otocinclus, various minnows such as Tanichthys spp. all viable). Cheers, Neale.>

Fish ID 9/28/11
Hello crew,
Thank you for a wonderful site. I recently upgraded to a 300 litre (80 gallon) tank and all went smoothly thanks to all the info available from you.
I inherited two fish and have no clue what they are, could you perhaps help with identification? I showed the pic to our LFS, and the guy there reckoned Polypterus, but from what I've seen on your site it doesn't sound right. They are only about 8cm (3 inches) long, so I don't think they are Ropefish either (I've had them for almost a year and they don't seem to be growing). The photos appear a bit pink, but the colour of the fish is fairly accurate.
I'm hoping the attachments aren't too big.
Thanks a lot!
<These appear to be some sort of Pangio species, such as Pangio oblonga.
These are close relatives of the common Kuhli Loach, and basic care is identical. Hope this helps, Neale.>

Re: Fish ID 9/30/11
Thanks Neale!!
<Always glad to help. Cheers, Neale.>

can you identify this species for me? Mis- over mix for a 10 gal. FW... guppy sys. loach sel. 8/10/09
I have recently started a new aquarium, it is a 10 gallon Hagen with the elite lighted canopy, as well as cyclegaurd multistage filtration system that comes as a boxed set from Hagen.
<Sorry to break this to you, but 10 gallon tanks have very limited potential for fishkeeping, and make a very, very bad first aquarium. Do please read here:
I've added an elite submersible 200w heater which keeps the tanks temperature at a constant 78 deg f. with little effort. in this tank i have 6 guppies, 2 are male and 4 are female,
<You may regret this choice. Guppies really need more space. The males are notoriously aggressive, and once the fish start breeding, the tank will get pretty busy. I'd consider Guppies choices for the 15 or 20 gallon tank, to be honest.>
and this loach that was sold to me as a "tiger loach" (not sure the Latin for it).
<Probably Botia striata, a semi-aggressive, schooling Loach. Should be kept in groups of at least three specimens, ideally 5 or more, and needs a tank three times the size of what you have, at minimum. Completely unsuitable for this aquarium. Do read here:
when trying to research care information for the loach, it seems that a "tiger loach" is a larger, different type than this. I've also read mixed opinions as to whether (s)he should be kept in a group of 3 or more, while
some people say that they can be kept alone.
<Singletons tend to be shy, jumpy, and essentially unhappy. So yes, they need to be kept in groups. On the other hand, they are semi-aggressive, and will spend much of their time chasing one another around. Like all loaches they need crystal clear, well oxygenated water that isn't too warm (around 24-25 C is ideal) and with a strong water current (which your Guppies won't appreciate). Loaches are normally kept with robust tankmates: barbs, rainbowfish, cichlids, catfish. They aren't good choices for mini-aquaria or alongside delicate, fancy tankmates.>
I've attached a photo to this email, and i would greatly appreciate any care tips that you could provide me with. Also, i should say that (s)he has a stone that provides him/her with a great hiding place, it is hollow on the bottom and placed directly into the stone at the bottom of my tank. Again, any tips you can give me are greatly appreciated. i would be more than happy to provide him/her with friends or anything to keep him/her happy.
<Save up for a bigger tank, my friend. What you have isn't going to work. Cheers, Neale.>

Loach(?) ID 8/26/07 Hello I was just wondering if you could ID this fish for me thanks Tom <Hello Tom. That's a species of Pangio (formerly Acanthophthalmus). Collectively, Pangio spp. are known as Kuhli loaches. The orange-and-brown banded species (of which there are several) are the most commonly traded. Yours is one of the "unbanded" Kuhli loaches, quite possibly Pangio oblonga known in the trade as the Java loach. Basic care is identical to any of the other Kuhli loaches: soft sandy substrate, needs to be kept in groups of 3 or more, keep water temperature at or below 25C, keep tank securely covered, etc. Cheers, Neale.>

Loach ID, Kuhlis 7/25/07 Hi all, thanks for all the help in the past. I have a very simple freshwater question for you guys. I searched the FAQs and articles and couldn't find a definitive answer and the necessary page on loaches.com, conveniently, was down. It is long (5"-6") and serpentine like. He is pinkish in color with 4 'whiskers' around his mouth. My LFS called him a True Kuhli Loach but they have a bad history in correctly identifying fish. Could you please tell me what this guy is and if he needs any similar tankmates; I understand other types of Kuhlis need groups of 3 or more? Also after several hours of web searching I found that the same store had sold me a water bug and I believe it's a 'Dragonfly Nymph'; green, 1 1/2" long, big eyes and 6 legs. The same site mentioned nothing about these critters in captivity and that they are predatory towards small fish and insects. Non-coincidentally, I believe, one of my Glass Catfish had a an (eventually) fatal bite taken out of him near his organs. I'm leaning towards throwing him in the Cichlid tank if he keeps this up, is unsuitable for captivity, or I can't feed him reasonably. Or maybe I should quit being stubborn and setup a quarantine, but with Cichlid, Reef, Catfish, and Community tanks it would be quite an investment. I apologize as this was supposed to be a short letter, but with a pension for diversity there's always something to talk about! Thanks in advance -John <Hello John. Identifying species of Pangio (the genus to which kuhli loaches belong) is difficult. There are around 30 species, many of which are very similar to each other and almost none of which are correctly identified by retailers. The problem for me is the size of your specimen: most kuhli loaches are very small, and even the biggest species in the genus, Pangio myersi, tops out at around 5"/12 cm according to Fishbase. And such big specimens are exceptional: around 4"/10 cm is much more typical. For this reason, I'm wondering if you don't have a species of Misgurnis. These are sometimes called weather loaches in the trade. They reach around 6-8"/15-18 cm in length but have the same snake-like build as kuhli loaches, though they are much more robust. They typically have mottled brown bodies but there are albino and golden varieties in the trade and you might have one of these. Alternatively, horseface loaches, Acantopsis spp., are also commonly traded. These are also quite a bit larger than kuhli loaches, but they have very distinctive long heads, uncannily like a horse's. The best thing to do is visit Fishbase and research loaches. Go here: http://filaman.ifm-geomar.de/Summary/FamilySummary.cfm?ID=127 and then where there is a link "Show Species" click on it and review the photographs presented to find something similar to your fish. As a general rule, all Pangio and Misgurnus are sociable, while Acantopsis run the range from harmless and fairly sociable through to territorial and waspish. Loaches in general are somewhat territorial, which is why only Pangio and Misgurnus have really made it in the hobby as community fish; even among the loaches formerly called "Botia" most are pretty mean animals, the Clown Loach being one of the rare exceptions. Now, Dragonfly nymphs are indeed highly predatory and cannot be kept with fish. That said, they are extremely cool animals, and far more interesting than most fish! They have amazing jaws and some varieties get very large indeed. I HIGHLY recommend setting aside a bowl or similar with some pondweed just for the nymph. They don't really care about filtration being adapted to stagnant ponds. Change some of the water every couple of days though. Add small water creatures from any ditch or pond outdoors from time to time. You can even hand feed them bloodworms using tweezers. Watching them catch the worm and then suck out the juices is quite something. They grow rapidly, and watching them metamorphose is truly a spectacle of nature not to be missed. Enjoy! Neale>
Re: Loach ID 7/26/07
Wow, thanks for such a quick response. You nailed it: Misgurnus anguillicaudatus, Dojo Loach/Weather Loach. About the nymph, a goldfish bowl is sufficient? And do I need real pondweed or would fake plants suffice? And I figure he'd eat just about any bug I throw in or do they have to be water bugs? I'm very excited about what you told me and not having to get rid of him. Should be very interesting! Thanks again -John <Hi John. Weather loach is a lovely fish. One of the nicest. Hardy, cute, fun to watch, hyperactive, and totally peaceful. Just for once, a "mystery fish" story has a happy ending. Anyway, yep, the nymph will be fine in a bowl. Change some of the water every couple of days just to keep things sweet. But damselfly nymphs especially live in still water and aren't fussy. (To tell the difference: damselfly larvae have three "feathers" at the tail end, used for breathing; dragonfly larvae are a little bigger and more robust, and they don't have those feathers.) Obviously a 5 gallon tank with a air-powered sponge filter would be even better. And yes, they eat pretty much anything. Soft prey are preferred (like midge larvae). The only thing that matters is there's something floating at the surface the larvae can crawl about on. They need to breathe air periodically. Good luck. Cheers, Neale.>

Loach Colored Loaches? - 11/02/2005 Hello, <Hi.> Can you please email me with the name of the fish I had when I was younger? <Umm, I hope you've got a description?> I am starting a new tank and wanted to get him again. He had the loach colors <"Loach colors"? There are many species of loaches in many, many sizes, shapes, and colors....> but was long and tubular like a worm, fast as hell and very good with other community fish. Have any idea what he is??? <Your description seems to be of a Kuhlii loach, http://www.fishbase.org/Summary/SpeciesSummary.php?genusname=Pangio&speciesname=kuhlii . Take a look here for just a few others: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/cobitids.htm , and here for many more: http://www.loaches.com/ .> It's driving me nuts and Petco and Petsmart are no help! <Hope this has shed some light.> Thanks. -Angelo <Wishing you well, -Sabrina>

- Is it a Loach? - <Greetings, JasonC here...> I've got a couple new fish and need to know more about them. They look like eels or snakes, about 3 inches long, slimmer than a pencil, and 1 is black and 1 is light brown to gray. They were called Loaches and were hidden under a rock. From info I've read they look like Kuhli Loaches and are nocturnal. <Perhaps secretive is a better word.> I put them in my 55 gal. with my 2 zebra Danios, 2 scissortail rasboras, 2 black mollies, 2 red platys, 2 Cory cats & a small pencil algae eater about 4 days ago. <Goodness... that's a lot of fish in that tank.> They immediately burrowed in the small gravel & hid inside the rock cave. I've only seen one the next day when I shook the cave and he shot out like a bullet. <If these are indeed Kuhli loaches, then they're only going to feel comfortable around other Kuhli loaches. You might consider getting them a tank of their own.> Help !!! Should I worry & look for them or should I just assume they're not going to show in the daytime. <I would give it some time. It's only been four days.> And how can I enjoy them if I can't ever see them? <Perhaps in a tank of their own. Do read up on them here and in the FAQs and pages beyond: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/cobitids.htm > Sign me, Lonely Fish Lover <Cheers, J -- >

Is it a YoYo Loach? Ok. I've just left my LFS and they have what is being called a yoyo loach in their display tank. If this is a yoyo, then he's unlike any that I've ever seen. He's absolutely stunning! He's got similar markings of a yoyo (I have 3 of them) but he's much more elongated. <Ironically you are the second person in a month to have contacted me stating that they have seen a "yoyo" for sale like that. I had done a search on it, and unless it's a new subspecies that isn't identified yet, then there isn't anything online that resembles the loach you have described. I have yet to see these "new" Yoyo's, but they sound quite impressive. My yoyo is "standard", maybe when I want another one I'll try to find myself one of these.> I've spent the last 2 hours searching all of the loach sites that have pictures and I haven't been able to find out what he really is. Do you know of a loach that has similar markings to a yoyo, but is longer and much thinner. <I have seen Rostratas sometime confused with them at stores like Petco. But, it was something that was easily identified to anyone who knew what a YoYo looked like. I think that it might just be a unique YoYo. Perhaps something you shouldn't pass up.> Even his tail fins seemed a bit longer than any yoyo that I've seen. I know for sure it's not a Tiger or Rostrata. Thanks! Sherri <Wish I could give you a definitive answer what this loach might be, but I don't know many other Loaches with that distinctive "Y" and "o" patter where the YoYo gets it's name from. Good luck -Magnus>

The Weird Yo-Yo, Continued Thank you...this unique 'yoyo' is in the display tank - they won't sell him! Darn! Thx again! <Do take a look here for some more on Botia almorhae (the yo-yo): http://www.loaches.com/species_pages/botia_almorhae.html They have some neat pics and some good text on this fish and its color morphs. Might also look on what they have to say here, regarding the "angelicus" loach, as it is *somewhat* yo-yo-like in patterning: http://www.loaches.com/species_pages/botia_sp_myanmar.html . And of course, play around from the homepage: http://www.loaches.com/ . There's a lot of good info there, and it's well kept up and usually quite up-to-date. Hope you can find some insight on this strange fellah! Enjoy. -Sabrina>

Re: Identification help Hi Robert, Sure, that's Botia kubotai. (See http://www.loaches.com/species_pages/botia_sp_myanmar.html) Thanks, Jeff <Outstanding! Thank you Jeff. Bob Fenner> ========================== Jeff Shafer Loaches Online http://www.loaches.com/ ========================== > Jeff, please take a look at the attached pic. Do you recognize this species? > This image made at the recent Interzoo show... > Thank you, Bob Fenner, WetWebMedia.com

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