Panda Garra (Garra Flavatra) Species Profile & Care Guide
The Panda Garra is an attractive, active, entertaining species. Because of their interesting behaviour and beautiful colouring, the Panda Garra is easy to recognize and has become more available in the hobby.
These fish fair better kept in groups of 5 or more, preferably in a biotope type community setting with other individuals collected from their range.
It would be best if you house them in an established tank with mixed gravel, rock and pebble substrate with a few hardy plants attached to the rocks and driftwood branches for decoration.
They require well-oxygenated clean water and regular water changes to keep them active and healthy. Panda Garras have been known to climb out of the tank if they don't like the water conditions, so a tightly-fitting lid is also recommended.
Colour pattern varies considerably between individuals, with some displaying particularly intense yellow and red pigmentation interspaces, but it's unclear whether such differences represent natural variation between or within populations.
The Panda Garra is the only member of the Garra genus that has alternating light and dark brown to black vertical bars on the sides, and red markings in the fins. Like all Garraina, they possess a modified lower lip that forms a slightly adhesive disk that they use in turbulent waters to adhere to the substrate while feeding.
|Scientific Name||Garra Flavatra|
|Other Names||Panda Loach, Banded Butterfly Loach, Rainbow Loach|
|Aquarium Level||Bottom - Middle|
|Difficulty||Beginner - Intermediate|
|Best kept as||Groups 5+|
|Lifespan||up to 6 years|
|Temperature||71 - 81 ℉ (21.7 - 27.2 ℃)|
|PH||6.0 - 7.5|
|GH||2 - 12|
|KH||2 - 8|
Natural Habitat of the Panda Garra
The Panda Garra is endemic to the Arakan and Rakhine Yoma mountain range in Rakhine state, western Myanmar in Southeast Asia. They inhabit very shallow, slow-flowing, low-forest, evident, oxygen-rich, streams, small pools and rivers over substrates of mixed sand, gravel, pebbles and rocks.
Other Garras of interest
Although the Panda Garra will graze on algae if it is available this species is not an exclusive herbivore.
You should offer them meaty foods such as live or frozen artemia, bloodworm, chopped prawn and tubifex as well as high quality, sinking wafers and pellets, some of which should contain a significant balance of vegetable matter such as Spirulina.
You can also occasionally offer them fresh fruit and vegetables such as spinach, cucumber and melon.
Sexing the Panda Garra
Sexing Panda Garras can be difficult because you have to wait until they reach maturity; otherwise, they will look remarkably similar. Sexually mature males develop a series of prominent tubercules on the head, around the caudal peduncle and along the lateral line. They also develop a bronze to reddish tail colour and tend to be slimmer in the body than females. In contrast, the females tend to be plumper than the males and do not develop the tubercules.
Breeding the Panda Garra
Panda Garras are seasonal spawners that spawn from May to July. Adult Panda Garras are housed together in large breeding tanks and conditioned with live tubifex, chopped earthworms and a algae rich diet. The males develop tubercules on their head when ready to spawn, and the females become noticeably gravid.
Once the fish come into spawning condition, you should select individual pairs and move them to smaller highly oxygenated tanks with a moderate current.
The next morning the eggs are laid and usually hatch within 24 to 30 hours. The fry becomes free swimming shortly after that and can be fed liquid fry food or a liquid made from egg yolk until they are big enough to accept newly hatched brine shrimp which is usually a week or so later. Constant flowing water is thought to stimulate feeding and the growth rate of the fry.