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Maximum size : 6 cm

Dwarf Chain Loach - Ambastaia Sidthimunki : Complete Fish Profile & Care Guide

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The charming and charismatic Dwarf Chain Loach (Ambastaia Sidthimunki) is a captivating addition to any community aquarium. It is a peaceful, small and active fish, which can adapt to different water conditions and is relatively easy to keep. Sadly, in its native Thailand, it is considered to be Critically Endangered due to overfishing and habitat loss. However, thanks to breeding efforts in the Far East, this species is now more accessible in the aquarium hobby, with wild stocks being left to recover. Dwarf Chain Loaches are social and prefer to be kept in groups of at least five individuals. They love to explore and hide, so a well-decorated aquarium with plenty of hiding spots among bogwood, caves, and aquatic plants is essential. The substrate should be fine sand to protect their delicate barbels. Clean and well-aerated water is vital for these fish, so regular partial water changes of 10-15% twice a week are recommended to maintain optimal water quality. The Dwarf Chain Loach has a striking golden-silver body with chocolate markings in a chain-ladder type pattern running along its entire upper half. The dark markings may be square or circular, and the degree to which they extend into the belly can vary from individual to individual.

Dwarf Chain Loach Photos

Sexual Dimorphism

To distinguish between male and female Dwarf Chain Loach, one can observe a few subtle but distinctive physical differences. Males tend to exhibit slightly elongated noses and noticeably thick fleshy lips, while females generally have fuller bodies and grow slightly larger than their male counterparts.

Quick Facts

Scientific NameAmbastaia Sidthimunki
Year Described1959
Other NamesDwarf Loach, Ladderback Loach, Pygmy Loach, Chain Loach, Chain Botia
Max Size6 cm
Aquarium LevelBottom - Middle
DifficultyBeginner - Intermediate
Best kept asGroups 5+
Lifespan8 - 12 years

Water Parameters

Water TypeFreshwater
PH6.0 - 7.5
GH3 - 12
TDS18 - 215
75 - 82
23.9 - 27.8

Natural habitat

The Dwarf Chain Loach is found in the lush lands of Thailand and Northern India. It boasts a limited distribution, being exclusively confined to the Mae Klong river basin in Western Thailand and the Yom River in northern Thailand, which is an upper tributary within the Chao Phraya river system. Inhabiting the slow-flowing areas of forested, well-oxygenated headwaters, this species prefers clear water and a substrate of rock and sand. It finds comfort in the company of submerged leaf litter and driftwood, which are quintessential to its habitat. However, it's with a heavy heart that we share that the Dwarf Chain Loach has been classified as Endangered (EN) on the IUCN Red List. The construction of hydroelectric dams in the 1980s and 1990s has put the survival of this magnificent species at risk. Join us in the battle to protect and preserve the Dwarf Chain Loach for generations to come.

How to breed the Dwarf Chain Loach

Regrettably, it is exceedingly challenging to breed Dwarf Chain Loaches in captivity. There are very few reports of successful breeding by individual aquarists, possibly due to their seasonal migratory spawning patterns in the wild. Commercial breeding of this species for the aquarium hobby usually involves the use of hormones to induce spawning. As a result, captive-bred specimens are prevalent in the trade rather than those bred by hobbyists.

Diet & feeding

The Dwarf Chain Loach is an adaptable fish when it comes to feeding, as they are not particularly fussy eaters. To keep them healthy, a diverse diet is crucial, which should include high-quality dry foods, live or frozen bloodworm, Tubifex, Daphnia, and Artemia. Moreover, fresh fruits and vegetables like melon, cucumber, courgette, or blanched spinach can also be incorporated into their diet. Although loaches feed on aquatic snails to some degree, it is worth noting that they are not molluscivores and should never be relied on for pest control.

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