Dwarf Chain Loach (Ambastaia Sidthimunki) Fish Species Profile

The Dwarf Chain Loach is one of the most handsome Botia type loaches in the aquarium hobby and is deemed to be one of the smallest in its class and can adjust to a variety of different water conditions. This loach is a very active and peaceful species and thrives in groups of their own species and makes a great addition to the community tank.

The Dwarf Chain Loach displays a pretty golden-silver body accentuated with lovely chocolate markings of a chain- ladder-type patterning that extends along the entire length of the upper half of its body. The areas between the dark markings may be square or circular. The degree to which the dark markings proceed into the belly is quite variable, with some sporting almost two complete rows of links and others having only one row with a pale abdomen beneath.

Scientific NameAmbastaia Sidthimunki
Other NamesDwarf Loach, Ladderback Loach, Pygmy Loach, Chain Loach, Chain Botia
OriginsSoutheast Asia
Aquarium LevelBottom - Middle
DifficultyBeginner - Intermediate
Best kept asGroups 5+
Lifespan8 - 12 years
Maximum Sizeup to 6 cm
Water Conditions
Water TypeFreshwater
Temperature75 - 82 ℉ (23.9 - 27.8 ℃)
PH6.0 - 7.5
GH3 - 12
TDS18 - 215


The Dwarf Chain Loach is found in Thailand and Northern India. This fish is restricted to the Mae Klong river basin in Western Thailand and the Yom River in northern Thailand, an upper tributary within the Chao Phraya river system.

These species inhabit slow-flowing areas of forested, well-oxygenated headwaters with clear water and a substrate of rock and sand. They prefer places with submerged leaf litter and driftwood.

This species is recorded on the IUCN Red List as Endangered (EN). This is due to the construction of hydroelectric dams in the 1980s and 1990s.


These loaches are primarily non-picky feeders but should be offered a varied diet containing high quality dried products, live or frozen bloodworm, Tubifex, Daphnia, and Artemia, plus fresh fruit and vegetables such as melon, cucumber, courgette or blanched spinach.

Most loaches prey on aquatic snails to an extent, but they are not molluscivores and should never be thought of as pest control.

Sexing the Dwarf Chain Loach

It is quite simple to differentiate a male from a female Dwarf Chain Loach.

Males develop slightly elongated noses plus noticeably thick fleshy lips. In comparison, females are typically fuller-bodied and grow a little bigger than males.

Breeding the Dwarf Chain Loach

Unfortunately, it is practically impossible to home breed Dwarf chain loaches. Reports of breeding by individual aquarists is pretty much unheard of, possibly because the majority are seasonal, migratory spawners in the wild.

They are typically Bred commercially for the aquarium hobby through the use of hormones.

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Date Added: 9/9/2020 - Updated: 9/9/2020 11:05:18 AM