Yoyo Loach: 10 Basic Things You Need to Know

We’re going to cover everything you need to know about the yoyo loach. This includes but is not limited to yoyo loach size, growth rate, lifespan, tank size, feeding, tankmates, overall behavior, aggression, breeding and egg laying.


yoyo Loach

What Are Yoyo Loach?

The Yoyo Loach is also known as the Almora loach, Reticulated Loach, Y-loach and Pakistani loach. Its scientific name is Botia almorhae. These are freshwater fish that originally lived in slow moving rivers. These fish can be identified by the four pairs of barbels around the mouth. Most have yellow or silver coloring with irregular black striping. The popular name of “yoyo” loach comes from the fact that their markings resemble the letters Y and O. A few have a blue shimmer to them.

The “yoyo” name is attributed to photographer Ken Childs. He named the Botia almorhae fish “yoyo loaches” in an English language article about the species, and the name stuck.


Loaches may be able to share a tank with similarly sized species with similar levels of aggression. For example, they may be able to share a tank with African and New World cichlids, though you have to monitor them for aggression and stress. They cannot share the same tank if they are crowded. In those cases, use a divider.

Proper Tank Mates

Botia almorhae or Yoyo loaches can share a tank with most New World cichlids if there is sufficient space. They can typically tolerate angelfish, betta fish, cory cats, danios. Use caution when putting them in a tank with fancy goldfish, since they may dominate the creature.

They may tolerate larger catfish, especially bottom dwellers. A single yoyo loach could be kept in a tank with several Otocinclus catfish. They’ll try to eat invertebrates. They can be mixed with freshwater plants and brackish fish, but due to aggression levels, they probably aren’t a match for pond fish. Don’t put them in a tank with tetras.

These fish are so social that they can become stressed if there are no other fish or plants in the environment. The ideal number of Pakistani loach in one tank is five, assuming you have the space for them. Because they are so social, try not to put them in a tank with shy or slow-moving fish. When you’re adding the fish to the tank, do it one at a time, and expect them to initially hide. Once the fish is acclimated, you’ll see it spending more time in the open.

Breeding and Egg Laying

Unfortunately, these fish really don’t breed well in captivity. Some sources say there has never been a successful breeding of this species in captivity. That’s questionable since this species has been mistaken for others before. For example, they’ve been mistaken for B. lohachata.

And there may be hybrids of this species with other loaches, some of whom do breed in captivity. We do know that yoyo loaches are egg layers. Females will become noticeably fat when full of eggs, though they’re similar in size to males when not brooding.

Development and Growth Rates

Their dark and pale patterns are retained in adulthood but are more pronounced in juveniles. The juveniles have stronger “stripes”, and they’ll get their net-like coloring by age four months. Notably, their body color will lighten and the stripes almost disappear when they’re stressed or fighting.
These fish can hit 6” or 15 centimeters when fully grown.

Life Span

These fish can live up to twenty years. The average life span, though, is six to eight years in captivity.
Older fish become more finicky, often rejecting prepared foods in preference for meaty foods and live food.

Tank Size

We’ll say the minimum tank size for yoyo loach is 30 gallons for a single fish; a larger tank is necessary if you have more than one loach. They’ll school if there are others of its own species or a related species. Have three or more in a tank, but don’t have just two.

These fish like to hide, especially when sharing a tank with more aggressive fish. Give them lots of hiding places that are just a little larger than they are. They’ll avoid open caves. They need water currents in the aquarium to remain healthy

General Care

These fish prefer soft, slightly acidic water with pH between 6 and 7.4. They can be slowly acclimated to alkaline water with a pH up to 8. The water hardness should be between 8 and 12 kH.
These are tropical fish. They want water that is between 75F and 80. They want slow moving water, in general, though some individuals like fast moving water.

Since these fish originate in muddy river waters, they do best when the water is frequently changed and the lighting subdued. Floating plants for shade are a good idea. Expect to replace a third of the tank water weekly. You’ll need to vacuum the substrate to remove rotting plant debris and excess food, since these fish are sensitive to that. But be careful not to disturb the algae film.

Give these fish a fine gravel and sand substrate deep enough to burrow in. Don’t put course gravel in the tank, since burrowing in it will damage their barbels. In fact, they’ll burrow into it to it to create a hiding place at night, so check for such a burrow if a fish seems missing. However, you do need a tight-fitting lid on the aquarium because yoyo loaches can and do jump out

When the fish is scared, the spines under their eyes pop out. This spine isn’t poisonous, but it can be painful to be stabbed with. This means you’ll need to protect yourself when catching the fish. They’re also prone to getting stuck in a lift net. Consider using two bags when transporting these fish so the spines don’t pierce the bag.

These fish are sensitive to white spot disease due to their very small scales. They can contract hole in head disease, especially if not fed a proper diet. While they prefer meaty foods, you can help treat the fish by giving them more vegetable flakes or fortified shrimp.

Feeding Behavior

These fish are omnivorous. The Yoyo Loach will eat processed flake food, pellet food, freeze dried food and frozen foods. Since they’re bottom dwellers, sinking pellets are a good idea with this species. Just add a few sinking pellets before you turn the lights out, and they’ll devour it.

They’ll try to eat smaller snails in the aquarium. They’ll eat vegetation if meaty foods are scarce. They love live foods like brine shrimp, mosquito larvae and blood worms. Feed them several times a day.