Bengal Loach (Botia dario)
Bengal Loaches are good looking and somewhat hardy. They are also relatively peaceful, very active, and great at taking care of pest snails, making them excellent members of a well-researched community aquarium with other temperate species. However, this Loach is not recommended for beginner aquarists because they need pristine water and do not have scales.
It would be best to keep Bengal Loaches in a group of 5 individuals, preferably more. Keeping these fish in more significant numbers will allow these fish to form a social hierarchy and act naturally within a shoal and help spread any territorial behaviour amongst the group. However, if you keep them singly, they may become withdrawn or confrontational towards similarly-shaped species. Likewise, if you only purchase a pair or a trio, the dominant individual may stress the others so much that they may stop eating.
Ideal tankmates for Bengal Loaches could include peaceful fish such as medium-sized Barbs, Larger Danios, Algae Eaters and Garras. However, you should avoid maintaining these fish with much smaller species; otherwise, they may be intimidated by this fish's size and their very active behaviour. In addition, it would be best to avoid housing these fish with slow-moving species and species with long fins like Guppies, Cichlids and ornamental Bettas, as these fish may nip at their long trailing fins.
It would be best to keep Bengal Loaches in a well established dimly-lit spacious aquarium with many hiding spots and visual barriers made up of smooth rounded rocks, pebbles and stones of differing sizes, and some driftwood. These fish will also appreciate areas of dense planting, which will give them further coverage if required and will also help to subdue the light.
You will need to make sure that the substrate is soft and smooth as these Loaches enjoy digging around the bottom of the aquarium as they search for bits of food, and it is crucial that nothing damages their delicate sensory barbels. These Loaches do not require a very fast current; however, they do better in well-oxygenated water with some flow.
Bengal Loaches cannot tolerate the build-up of organic waste and require pristine water to survive; therefore, it is recommended that you perform frequent water changes. Lastly, it would help if you had a tight-fitting lid on your aquarium as these fish are accomplished jumpers and can escape through the smallest of gaps.
The Bengal Loach has a stunning goldish-olive body colouration with 8 to 10 vertical thick dark bands that start just behind their eyes and extend down toward their caudal fin. These bands can sometimes be connected horizontally. However, once these fish reach maturity, their stripes widen, the number of stripes increases and the overall colouration becomes duller.
Tank Mates for the Bengal Loach
3 ideal tank mate ideas for the Bengal Loach include:
|PH||6.0 - 7.5|
|GH||5 - 10|
|TDS||18 - 179|
|75 - 82℉|
23.9 - 27.8℃
Photos of the Bengal Loach
You can find the Bengal Loach in the Ganges and Brahmaputra River Basins in Bangladesh and the Gaylegphug River Basin in Bhutan in South Asia. You can also find this species in North India. Although these Loaches primarily inhabit moderately flowing streams and rivers, there is always a continuous flow of water in their native region; therefore, the waters in their habitat will fluctuate.
As much as 4.5 metres of rain can fall during the monsoon, forming a series of shallow lakes which these fish will migrate to and look for food sources. After the monsoon season has passed, the continuously melting glaciers of the Himalayas feed into the streams and rivers, after which the fish will return. The substrate in their habitats consists of sand and silt.
Unfortunately, there are some threats to this fish's habitat due to pesticides being used in the cultivation of rice and the fact that these fish are heavily harvested for the ornamental trade; however, these Loaches are hardy and are currently listed as least concern.
What to feed the Bengal Loach
Bengal Loaches are unfussy feeders, but you must offer them a varied diet comprising quality dried products such as sinking pellets and algae wafers alongside live or frozen foods such as Tubifex brine shrimp and bloodworms. Fresh fruit and vegetables such as melon, blanched spinach and courgette are also readily accepted.
Finely chopped earthworms can also provide a valuable source of protein; however, it would be best to use it sparingly. Finally, even though most Loaches prey on freshwater snails, they should never be deemed the answer to an infestation because they are not molluscivores.
How to sex the Bengal Loach
It is very challenging to differentiate between male and female Bengal Loaches as they are practically identical; however, supposedly, the females are fuller-bodied than males.
How to breed the Bengal Loach
Currently, there is no information on the breeding habits of the Bengal Loach, and unfortunately, they have not yet been bred in the home aquarium. These Loaches, however, are being produced on a commercial basis through the use of hormones.