Yoyo Loach: Species Overview

Category: Loach

Common Names: Yoyo Loach, Lohachata Botia Loach, Pakistani Loach

Scientific Name: Botia lohachata

Family: Cobitidae

Minimum Tank Size: 30 Gallons

Care Level: Moderate

Temperament: Semi-Aggressive

Max Size: 6 Inches

Temperature: 74-82

pH: 6.0-7.5

Tank Level: Bottom

Colors: Black, Yellow, White

Diet: Omnivore

Breeding: Difficult

By Orishas92 [Public domain]

Yoyo Loach Species Overview

Yoyo loaches are active fish with a striking appearance, making them a popular addition to freshwater aquariums. They also get along well with several other species, although you’ll need to be mindful of their aggressive streak.

Because yoyo loaches have basic care requirements, they’re excellent starter fish for beginners.

Nevertheless, poor tank parameters can be detrimental to a yoyo loach’s health. We’ll help you understand the must-knows of caring for this fish so that they can enjoy a healthy life in your tank.

Distinguishing Features

Yoyo loaches got their name because their patterns make it look like their bodies contain the letters “Y” and “O.”

These letters are especially easy to see during a loach’s youth. However, once the fish becomes an adult, the patterns turn into a more interlacing fashion.

The base color of yoyo loaches varies according to the fish, including:

  • Silver
  • Gold
  • Yellow

They also have dark lines crisscrossing their bodies, creating unique and striking patterns.

The only place where the yoyo loach doesn’t have patterns is on their lowermost belly. There, a solid gold to yellow color greets fish keepers as these fish swim around their tank.

What’s fascinating about a yoyo loach’s lines is that they can change to gray when the fish wants to camouflage itself or when it’s in a fight.

Their silver body also sometimes appears more blue than silver when the lighting is right. Even more interesting, yoyo loaches sometimes play dead, causing their bodies to fade in color.

The yoyo loach has four pairs of short, downward-facing barbels that give these fish a catfish-like appearance.

These barbels sit atop a slender head leading into a short but narrow body.

There isn’t anything outstanding about the yoyo loach’s fins, as they’re mostly transparent. These fish also have a standard forked tail.


Yoyo loaches are from a specific region in India called the Ganges River Basin. Although these fish sometimes go by the name “Pakistani loach,” researchers don’t believe they have origins in Pakistan.

Nevertheless, nowadays, yoyo loaches also live in Pakistan. Most of these loaches have darker colors than those from India, although scientists are still unsure whether these are different loach species altogether.

Yoyo loaches prefer still or slow-moving freshwater. They’re primarily bottom-dwelling fish that enjoy congregating in rocky substrates.

These fish enjoy areas with dense aquatic plants in the wild. Some of their favorite plants include algae on rocks and rooted plants that grow from the substrate to the water’s surface.

Yoyo loaches prefer clear water but can handle cloudy water during monsoon season.


Yoyo loaches are small fish in captivity, typically averaging 2.5 inches. But in the wild, these loaches can reach up to six inches long.

Should you wish for your yoyo loach to grow up to six inches, you’ll need to give them an extra large tank.

You’ll also need to feed them lots of high-quality food, which you should do even if you keep them in a relatively smaller tank.

There isn’t a difference length-wise between male and female yoyo loaches. However, females often appear larger, given that they have heftier stomachs.


Most fish keepers report their yoyo loaches living between five to eight years.

That likely sounds like a high number to you compared to many tropical fish species.

And here’s the even better news: If you feed your loach a high-quality diet and keep their water parameters in optimal conditions, they can live even longer.


The differences between male and female yoyo loaches are subtle. Still, most people can tell the difference between them, especially if you have the two genders in your tank for comparison.

Female yoyo loaches are almost always rounder than males. You’ll especially notice this size difference when she’s pregnant with eggs.

In contrast, males have a narrower frame. They also have a red tint on their barbels, which females lack.


Yoyo loaches have a semi-aggressive personality.

If you put these loaches in a tank with other fish who aren’t aggressors, they likely won’t bother them. But yoyo loaches aren’t fearful to fight back if another fish starts picking on them.

Furthermore, yoyo loaches can be aggressive within their same species. They often choose what they see as a weaker loach, chasing after and picking on it.

For this reason, we encourage you to have at least four or five yoyo loaches in your tank. That way, there’s less chance of one loach getting singled out.

It’s equally important to offer your yoyo loaches plenty of space and hiding places. That way, they have room to spread out and places to escape.

There doesn’t appear to be a difference in aggressive behaviors between males and females. And since breeding these fish is nearly impossible in captivity, you shouldn’t have to worry about mating-related aggression.

Interestingly, fish keepers have noted that their yoyo loaches show signs of bonding with them. These fish will often swim to the top of the tank during feedings, and the clicking sound they make due to having teeth in their throat makes them a delight.

Tank Parameters

If you’re still on board with wanting to welcome yoyo loaches into your home, setting up your tank before you buy them is a must.

Minimum Tank Size

The minimum tank size for one yoyo loach is 20 gallons. You should then add a minimum of ten extra gallons per additional fish, although 15 gallons per fish is best.

Despite tending to pick on each other, yoyo loaches are social fish. So, you should have a minimum of four fish per tank, equating to a 50-gallon tank at a minimum.

Keep in mind that these numbers assume that your loaches will grow to around 2.5 inches. Therefore, if you want the chance of your yoyo loaches growing larger, you may need two to three times the minimum recommended tank size.

Water Parameters

After you bring your tank home, the next step is setting up the water to be habitable for your yoyo loaches.


Yoyo loaches enjoy warm water between 75°F to 86°F. Ideally, you should try to keep the water around the 80°F mark so that you have some wiggle room.

Keeping a thermometer in your yoyo loach aquarium is the best way to monitor that the water temperature doesn’t get too high or low.


Yoyo loaches have an excellent tolerance for pH, being able to live in conditions between 6.0 and 8.0.

Since these number border neutral, meeting the pH in the middle and aiming for 7.0 is an excellent option.

If your water’s pH is too high or low, you can easily adjust it using aquarium-safe chemicals.


Yoyo loaches don’t need salt in their water since they’re freshwater fish.

But if your yoyo loach looks ill, adding a small amount of aquarium salt can help boost their immune system. Salt is also beneficial for helping to kill parasites.

Tank Setup

Let the fun begin! Setting up the physical aspects of the tank is the exciting part for fish keepers.

Below are the must-knows about arranging your tank to keep your yoyo loaches healthy and engaged.


Yoyo loaches enjoy large pieces of gravel or small rocks as their substrate. Alternatively, you can lay a sand foundation and scatter some small stones on top of it.

The advantage of sand is that it allows your yoyo loach to burrow, which is something they do more of as adults than when they’re young.

Choosing smooth gravel, sand, and rocks for your substrate is crucial.

Otherwise, you risk injuring your yoyo loaches on sharp edges, given that they’ll swim closely against their substrate.


It might sound boring, but yoyo loaches would love rocks as their decorations. Setting some larger rocks on top of the gravel or small stone substrate is an excellent option.

You can get creative with the rocks, creating caves and crevices where your loaches can hide.

Adding some sunken hollowed-out logs is another excellent and functional decor for yoyo loaches.

Since your loaches won’t spend much time in the middle or upper portion of the tank, adding decorations in those regions isn’t necessary. It certainly doesn’t hurt to do so if you wish, though.


Yoyo loaches live in densely vegetated areas in the wild, so they’ll appreciate having plants in their tank.

Live plants are ideal since they’ll mimic their natural environment. Some excellent live plant options include:

  • Water wisteria
  • African water fern
  • Java fern

Since yoyo loaches enjoy having open space to swim towards the bottom of their tank, we recommend placing your plants around the perimeter.

It’s also vital to secure the plants well. Otherwise, your loaches might inadvertently dig them up when searching for food.


An aquarium lamp is useful for yoyo loach tanks because it helps the fish’s natural waking and sleeping rhythm.

Unlike many loaches, the yoyo variety is diurnal. So, having their tank light on during the day and shutting it off at night is essential.

You don’t need to blast the light at a high setting, though. A medium amount of light is all your yoyo loaches need.


A filter is crucial for yoyo loaches, as it removes toxins and creates water flow to increase the dissolved oxygen concentration in the water.

Just be sure that the filter you choose doesn’t create too much water flow, given that these fish prefer still or slow-moving currents.

Placing some plants near a filter is a great trick to reduce water flow.

Many types of filters exist, but choosing one appropriate for your tank’s size is the first step. You should also ensure that your filtration system has biological and mechanical properties at a minimum.

Chemical filters are also helpful for keeping your yoyo loach tank in tip-top shape.


We doubt your home is between the 75°F to 86°F temperature that yoyo loaches require. So, you’ll need a heater to maintain this important water parameter.

Several varieties of energy-efficient heaters are on the market.

Whichever heater you choose, be sure to check the water temperature regularly so that you can catch an issue early if the heater malfunctions.


Yoyo loaches aren’t picky about what they eat. That’s a blessing and a curse, given that they can become overweight easily.

As omnivores, these fish enjoy eating a combination of plants and animals. Some of the best foods to feed your yoyo loaches include:

  • Sinking pellets
  • Algae wafers
  • Brine shrimp
  • Earthworms
  • Snails

Since loaches will eat algae in the tank and snails that come on many live plants, it can be challenging to judge how much to feed them.

But we recommend giving them just enough food that they can consume in two to three minutes twice per day. Then, attempt to remove any remaining food.

Feeding your yoyo loaches food on the go, like sinking pellets and algae wafers, is fine for their standard meals.

But adding occasional treats like shrimp and worms is essential to ensure they receive enough nutrients.


It’s challenging to breed yoyo loaches in captivity. That’s because these fish rely on long migrations upstream before spawning.

So, replicating such swimming environments is nearly impossible for the average fish keeper.

Unfortunately, this means that many of the yoyo loaches you encounter in pet shops are those that people caught in the wild. Environmentalists are concerned about the sustainability strain this is placing on the Asian regions where these loaches originate.

Furthermore, there are still many unknowns about how yoyo loaches breed. For example, some researchers believe that when the black lines on loaches turn blue, it might be a signal that the fish is sexually mature.

But at this point, this is still only a theory.

Interestingly, it’s common for female loaches to fill with eggs in captivity. But don’t expect the male to fertilize the eggs.

Common Diseases

Ensuring you offer your yoyo loaches the proper tank parameters is paramount for preventing illnesses. Nevertheless, diseases can still strike.

In fact, yoyo loaches have a higher than average chance of becoming ill, given that they have small scales that don’t protect them as well as other tropical fish species.

So, below are some of the most common ailments your yoyo loaches could face and how to treat them.

White Spot Disease

White spot disease also goes by the name ich, which is a challenging parasitic infection to treat. Ich love yoyo loaches, given that they can easily burrow into their flesh without large scales stopping them.

The most common signs of white spot disease are salt-like dots covering a loach’s body.

You should quarantine your fish immediately upon seeing these spots and medicate the water with ich treatment. Adding salt and turning up the water’s temperature is also helpful.

Gill Flukes

Gill flukes are a flatworm that, unsurprisingly, live in the gills of yoyo loaches.

These parasites most commonly affect yoyo loaches from a newly introduced tank mate carrying them.

Signs that your yoyo loach has gill flukes, including red spots, excessive music, and a hazy skin appearance.

You’ll need to apply medication to your loach tank to eliminate gill flukes. It’s a delicate situation, given that these parasites reproduce well in warm water.

Ammonia or Nitrite Poisoning

Ammonia and nitrite poisoning both occur from poor water conditions. These preventable diseases cause yoyo loaches unnecessary pain and quick death.

Signs that your loach is experiencing ammonia or nitrite poisoning are when they appear to gasp for air, have red gills, and surface to the top of the tank.

Acting fast is vital to reverse these conditions. You should perform a 50% water change and continue to change the water frequently in the following days.

Fin Rot

Fin rot is another condition that commonly occurs from poor water conditions, although stress can also cause it.

Signs of fin rot include a yoyo loach’s fins clumping together, the fins breaking off into strands, and turning white.

You can treat fin rot with antibacterial or antifungal medication, per the strain causing it. You should also perform a partial water change and revisit the water parameters to ensure you’re meeting the yoyo loach’s preferred conditions.

Potential Tank Mates

Before getting tank mates for your yoyo loaches, you should first ensure that you have a minimum of four of these species in your tank. That way, there’s less of a chance that they’ll both other fish.

Since yoyo loaches mostly stick to the bottom of their tank, middle and top-dwelling fish are an excellent option.

Some of the best tank mates for yoyo loaches include:

  • Angelfish
  • Mollies
  • Congo tetras

You can even include certain other loach species in the tank, such as the clown loach.

Alternatively, the glass and cory catfish are also excellent tank mate contenders, as they’re not confrontational and stick to themselves.

Whenever you’re considering adding companions to your yoyo loach’s aquarium, it’s important to increase the tank size according to the amount of water those extra fish require.