Maximum size : 10 cm

Skunk Loach - Yasuhikotakia morleti : Complete Fish Profile & Care Guide

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The Skunk Loach (Yasuhikotakia morleti) is a fascinating species that has captivated aquarists worldwide. Originating from Southeast Asia, this species is one of the smaller members of the Botia family, but its stunning appearance and peaceful demeanour make it a desirable addition to any aquarium. Despite its small size, the Skunk Loach is hardy and has a long lifespan, making it an undemanding and low-maintenance species. This fish is mostly inactive during the day and becomes more active at dusk, displaying its spirited nature.

Skunk Loaches, despite their relatively small size, exhibit a notably spirited nature. Optimal care dictates that they should be maintained in groups of five or more, thereby necessitating a capacious aquatic environment to enable the establishment of their territories. The selection of tankmates requires meticulous consideration, given these fish's propensity for impacting small, slow-moving, long-finned, or timid species. The emphasis on space becomes particularly pronounced as it affords other fish the means to evade interactions with Skunk Loaches.

Suitable companions could encompass sturdier Barb species, larger Danio and Devario species, and even members of the Tiger Loach group to enhance bottom-dwelling activity. A soft sand substrate is recommended to safeguard their delicate sensory barbels, and the incorporation of a variety of hiding spots and visual partitions utilizing materials like bogwood, rocks, and slate, along with resilient plant species, is crucial. Skunk Loaches often exhibit a proclivity for creating small refuges around or beneath rocks, necessitating the stability of the constructed structures. The aquarium must feature robust filtration, a suitable flow rate, and a sufficient oxygen level to ensure their well-being.

This species has an even creamy-tan to light brown colouration, but its most distinguishing feature is the dark stripe that runs across its back from the tip of its nose to its caudal fin. Additionally, a broad dark band surrounds the base of the tail, and the caudal fin is forked and yellowish with pretty rows of brown dots. Juveniles of this species usually have dark vertical striping on the sides, which disappears as they mature.

Skunk Loach Photos

Sexual Dimorphism

Distinguishing between male and female Skunk Loaches can be a challenging task for aquarium enthusiasts. However, sexually mature females tend to exhibit slightly larger body sizes than their male counterparts and typically have fuller, more robust body shapes. While these differences may be subtle, they can be useful indicators in identifying the gender of these captivating fish.

Quick Facts

Scientific NameYasuhikotakia morleti
Year Described1885
Other NamesSkunk Botia, Hora' s Loach, Cream Loach
OriginsLaos , Cambodia , Thailand
Max Size10 cm
Aquarium LevelBottom
Best kept asLoners
Diet & FeedingOmnivore
ReproductionEgg Depositor
LifespanUp to 8 Years

Water Parameters

Water TypeFreshwater
pH 6.0 - 8.0
GH 5 - 12
TDS 36 - 215
Ideal Temperature
79 - 86
26 - 30

Natural Habitat

The Skunk Loach is native to the lush aquatic habitats of Southeast Asia, and these captivating fish can be found in a variety of aquatic ecosystems, including the Mekong River Basin in Indochina, as well as the Chao Phraya and Mae Klong Basins.

In the wild, Skunk Loaches can be found inhabiting both still and fast-moving waters of medium to large rivers, where they exhibit remarkable resilience and adaptability to their aquatic environments. Interestingly, Skunk Loaches tend to spend most of their time in cracks or holes under submerged objects or rocks. This behaviour helps these fish to avoid predators and provides them with a safe haven to rest and seek shelter.

In the wild, Skunk Loaches are known for their unique migratory patterns, which involve travelling into flooded plains during the monsoon season to breed. During this time, the fry will stay in these areas for the beginning of their life before migrating back to the rivers once the tributaries recede.


The Skunk Loach is a fascinating species that continues to captivate aquarium enthusiasts worldwide. While these fish are not yet bred commercially, their unique breeding habits have piqued the curiosity of hobbyists and researchers alike. Unfortunately, not enough is known about the breeding habits of these migratory spawners in the wild. These captivating fish tend to be seasonal breeders, which means they exhibit unique breeding patterns that are still not fully understood.

As a result, much of what we know about the breeding habits of Skunk Loaches comes from observations of their natural behaviours in their native habitats. Despite these challenges, Skunk Loaches are still farmed commercially for the aquarium hobby. In fact, commercial farms have developed innovative techniques to encourage spawning in these fascinating fish, including the use of hormones. By utilizing these techniques, hobbyists can continue to enjoy the beauty and intrigue of Skunk Loaches in their home aquariums, further underscoring their importance and value within the aquarium hobby.

Diet & feeding

The Skunk Loach is an undemanding feeder that will readily accept a range of food offerings. To maintain optimal health and nutrition, it is essential to offer them a varied diet that includes high-quality dried products such as flakes and granules, as well as live or frozen fare such as bloodworm, tubifex, and artemia. Additionally, offering fresh vegetables and fruits such as cucumber, courgette, blanched spinach, and melon can help supplement their diet with important vitamins and minerals.

Finely chopped earthworms can also provide a useful source of protein but should be offered sparingly to avoid overfeeding. While it is true that most loaches prey on aquatic snails, it is important to note that Skunk Loaches are not molluscivores and should not be considered a solution to snail infestations. To maintain a healthy and balanced ecosystem in your aquarium, it is best to address the root cause of any infestation and avoid relying solely on fish to control the population.

Other Loaches of interest