17 Different Types Of Loaches - Rare & Common

The freshwater loach is amongst the most diverse species of fish in the aquarium hobby, comprising of 1249 species separated amongst nine distinct families.

Loaches can be found in a wide variety of environments throughout Europe, northern Africa, and central and Southeast Asia.

Below is a selection of the most popular loaches maintained in the aquarium hobby.

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Blue Botia(Yasuhikotakia modesta)
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Clown Loach(Chromobotia macracanthus)
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Dwarf Chain Loach(Ambastaia Sidthimunki)
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Golden Zebra Loach(Botia Histrionica)
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Green Tiger Loach(Syncrossus Hymenophysa)
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Hillstream Loach(Beaufortia kweichowensis)
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Kuhli Loach(Pangio kuhlii)
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Panda Loach(Yaoshania pachychilus)
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Polka Dot Loach(Botia Kubotai)
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Saddleback Loach(Homaloptera Orthogoniata)
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Skunk Loach(Yasuhikotakia morleti)
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Spined Loach(Cobitis taenia)
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Sucking Loach(Gyrinocheilus aymonieri)
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Sumo Loach(Schistura balteata)
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Weather Loach(Misgurnus anguillicaudatus)
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Yoyo Loach(Botia Almorhae)
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Zebra Loach(Botia striata)

Loaches are freshwater bottom-dwelling fish of the superfamily Cobitoidea. Loaches are among the most assorted fish groups; the 1249 recognised species of Cobitoidea include around 107 genera divided among nine families.

Loaches display a wide variety of morphologies, which makes the group challenging to characterise as a whole using external traits. They range in size from the 2.3 cm miniature eel-loach to the 50 cm imperial flower loach weighing up to 3 kgs.

Many loaches are small, narrow-bodied and elongated, with extremely small cycloid scales often embedded under the skin. They have brown-to-black pigment patterns along their dorsal sides and surface and three or more pairs of barbels on the mouth.

The family Cobitidae species, Cobitis taenia, has a body shape and pigment pattern representative of Cobitoidea. However, most loaches are eel-like or quite stout-bodied; some Balitorids have huge, visible scales.

Loaches in the families Botiidae, Serpentico and Cobitidae, possess a retractable spine below the eye, except the genus Acantopsis, which is between the eye and the tip of the snout.

Many of the more brightly coloured species are very popular with freshwater hobbyists, so they are essential in the aquarium trade. Some true Loaches are common as food fish in East Asian countries like Japan.

Loaches make an exciting alternative to catfishes for the bottom of your aquarium, especially when you can see some species of loach int in the day, unlike the nocturnal catfish.

Natural habitat

Loaches can be found in various habitats throughout northern Africa, Europe as well as in Southeast and Central Asia. Most families transpire predominantly in rocky mountain streams at high elevations; however, almost all have lowland representatives. You can also find these fish in rivers and creeks.

A majority of the Cobitidae species burrow in the sand and inhabit riverbeds in broad, flat terrain. At least three families contain blind, troglomorphic species adapted to live in caves.

Behaviour

most loaches are relatively peaceful and are ideal for the community aquarium because of their gentle nature. However, some botiid loaches are well known for their aggression towards other individuals and sometimes other tankmates; this aggression involves biting; the species known for this include most Yasuhikotakia genus members and all of the members of the Syncrossus genus.

If you decide to keep these fish in your aquarium, it is advisable to either have a species-only tank or make sure you house them with robust tank mates.

It is best to keep Loaches in small groups of three or more, as they naturally school in the wild. Ensure you have the correct sized tank for different species because some Loach species can grow to more than 15cm.

In the aquarium

Most Loaches are relatively easy to maintain, requiring neutral to slightly acidic water somewhat cool as many species inhabit relatively swift-flowing rivers.

Loaches scavenge around in the substrate, pushing their long snouts through it in search of food. Therefore you should use fine sand or rounded gravel at the bottom of the aquarium.

Like many bottom-dwelling fishes, Loaches hide when they are inactive. Therefore you should provide plenty of hiding spaces made up of large, smooth rocks or driftwood, although some people would argue that there is little to no submerged wood in the natural habitat of many Loach species.

As they generally inhabit oxygen-rich environments, Loaches are extra sensitive to higher water temperatures and a drop in dissolved oxygen and are susceptible to deteriorating conditions. Make sure you perform regular water changes.

Breeding

It can be challenging to breed some Loaches, but it can also be quite simple with others. All you need to remember is it can be done if you set up your breeding tank with the right conditions. The more comfortable the Loach is in your aquarium, the more likely it will spawn for you.

Plenty of live or frozen food is always appreciated; this will help encourage spawning. You will have to be patient with your fish, as Loaches do not typically reach sexual maturity till around two years of age.

Adult fish will consume the eggs and the fry if given a chance; therefore, it is advisable to remove either the adults or the eggs once laid.

Feeding

Loaches are omnivores and will readily accept live, frozen and high-quality dry food; you will also find that many will even nibble on blanched vegetables as well as cucumber.

Although the molluscivorus reputation of some Loaches precedes them, please donít use them to clear snail infestations. Many mollusc-eating Loaches tend to be aggressive, and as Loaches are not specialist, molluscivores will not typically consume the more giant, tough-shelled snails.

Frquently asked questions about the Loaches

Are loaches aggressive fish?

Loaches are classed as semi-aggressive fish although this applies more to the botia family of loach. To minimize aggression to other aquarium inhabitants, it is best to maintain them in groups rather than as individuals.

Do loaches eat snails?

The botia family of loaches naturally prey on snails as they have adapted mouths evolved to get into the shell and scope out the innards. Botia loaches are often employed to exterminate a pest snail infestation, so it is advisable to avoid the botia family of loach if you wish to maintain your snail population.

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