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Reticulate Loach Fact Sheet

The Reticulate Loach, Botia lohachata is also called the Reticulated Loach, The Yoyo Loach, The Y-Loach and The Pakistani Loach.  It is similar to Botia almorhae, and shares several common names with that fish.

Origin

The Reticulate Loach is native to India, Pakistan, Nepal and Bangladesh.

Length and Longevity

The Reticulate Loach can reach 11 centimetres (4 inches) in length although exceptional individuals can be bigger than this. It has been reported as living up to 20 years.

Water Conditions

This is a mostly tropical fish although its range includes some cooler areas.  A temperature in the aquarium of between 19 and 30 degrees C (between 66 and 86 degrees F) is suitable for this fish. In some parts of its range water temperatures can get lower than this.

Reasonably soft water with a pH between 6 and 7.5 is ideal, but they can be acclimatized to water outside this pH range with moderate hardness.  Reticulate Loaches prefer clean, well oxygenated water, and usually do better if there is no more than a moderate current in the tank; in nature they are usually found either in still water or in slowly flowing water rather than raging torrents.

A well planted tank will make this fish act as if it feels more secure.  This is a reasonably big fish which needs the company of its own kind, so it is very unsuitable for a small aquarium.

By nature they are partially nocturnal, but they adapt quickly to being active and eating during the day time.  By having plenty of plants, including some floating ones the lower part of the aquarium will be in the subdued light that this fish prefers.

Substrate

Reticulate Loaches have four pairs of barbels.  These can be damaged by the substrate of the aquarium, so the sand or gravel should not be sharp.  Loaches have no obvious scales (although they do have some small scales) and are sometimes referred to as being ‘naked’ fish.

Hiding Places

These fish like to be able to hide and will get into small spaces, so you should also avoid any sharp edges on ornaments or stones in the tank.  They like a hiding place that they will just fit into, so there should be a lot of different small caves etc. so they can choose a suitable one as they grow.  Reticulate Loaches generally do not like large open caves that might suit Clown Loaches.

Food

The Reticulate Loach is an omnivore with a preference for animal food.  They will eat any normal fish food that sinks.  Most of their feeding is at the bottom of the tank, but they are capable of eating in mid water. They occasionally also feed at the surface of the water.  Frozen Blood Worms are a good food, but their diet should be varied as much as possible.  Live food including Daphnia and Brine Shrimp are good.  In the wild their food includes snails, worms and small fish.

They will eat slices of vegetables such as cucumber, if these are weighted down so they stay on the bottom.

Snails

The Reticulate Loach, like many of its relatives, will eat some of the common aquarium types of snail.  This fish is sometimes purchased mainly to get rid of an infestation of snails in an aquarium.

Scavenger?

The Reticulate Loach is sometimes kept as a scavenger.  As with any fish, you need to make sure it is getting enough of the right type of food, and you cannot rely on food missed by the other fish.  It will not eat fish wastes.

Frequency

It is better for this fish to have a small amount of food several times a day rather than a lot of food once a day.

Schistosomiasis

Schistosomiasis, also known as bilharzia, bilharziosis or snail fever is a serious disease affecting Humans and their domestic animals, as well as wild animals.  The intermediate host of the parasite which causes this disease is one of a number of species of freshwater snails.  One way of breaking the life cycle of this debilitating disease is to control the water snails.  The snail eating Reticulate Loach is one of many natural controls on the freshwater snail population and plays its part in controlling the disease.

Sound

The Reticulate Loach can make a clicking sound.  This may be produced by forcing air through the gills and may be connected with feeding on the surface of the water; an alternative explanation of the noise is that it is produced by specialized teeth in the throat of this fish that appear to aid in the extraction of snails from their shells.

Air Breathing

Although the ideal conditions include well oxygenated water, this fish has the ability to take in air and force it over their gills so they can absorb Oxygen from the atmosphere when they are in Oxygen deficient water.

Spines

Reticulate Loaches have sharp spines near their eyes.  These are used in a defensive manner, and care should be taken to avoid getting your skin pricked, or a plastic bag used for carrying the fish punctured.

Resting

This fish will sometimes rest on its side.  This behaviour is normal for Reticulate Loaches and some of its relatives and does not indicate any problem with the fish.

Companions

Reticulate Loaches are compatible with a wide range of fish.  I would avoid putting them with slow moving, long finned fish because some people have reported that they can nip the fins of these fish.  They are an active, semi-aggressive, fish which can disturb nervous fish.  However, when it is young it is a suitable companion for all the tetras, all the rasboras and many other fish.  A mature Reticulate Loach is a  bigger fish than many of the tetras, so you certainly should not expect them to be a suitable companion for the smaller tetras like the Neon Tetra and its relatives; especially remembering that in the wild their diet includes small fish.

The Reticulate Loach is not a schooling fish, but it does much better in a group of at least 5 fish.  They also appear to be less aggressive in a group than as a single fish.

The natural food of this fish includes snails and shrimp, so it is not a safe companion for freshwater shrimp.

Intelligence

Observations suggest that the Reticulate Loach is one of the more intelligent aquarium fish.  They have been reported to be able to recognise people as individuals rather than just as people.

Sexing

When they are mature, the females are fatter than the males, and when loaded with eggs can be very fat.  The slimmer males may have some red near their mouth.

Breeding

This fish has very rarely been bred in a home aquarium. 

A report suggests that spawning has occurred with a pair conditioned on mainly vegetable food.  The spawning happened at the water surface with a temperature of 28 degrees C (82 degrees F), a hardness of 11 degrees and a pH of 7.  The female laid between three and five thousand eggs of about 2 to 2.5 mm diameter.

The eggs hatched in 16-18 hours.

The care of the fry was reported as being easy and they reached between 1 and 1.5 cm in length after one month.

Commercial Breeding

The Reticulate Loach is bred on a large scale commercially by the injection of hormones.  This is done in Florida and other places.

Breeding in the Wild

They scatter their eggs over the bottom of the waterway they are in.  Spawning appears to be done in pairs rather than in a group.  The parents do not look after their babies.  The babies grow during the wet season.

Common Names

In English the common names of the Reticulate Loach include Reticulated loach, Yoyo Loach, Y-Loach, Painted Loach and Pakistani Loach.  The names “Y-Loach” and “Yoyo Loach” refer to the pattern of stripes on young fish of this species.  At different stages of growth the pattern can look like a series of y’s, and then later like the word ‘yoyo’.  When they are older they get the full net pattern which gives rise to the name “Reticulate Loach”.  The actual pattern on different individuals varies considerably.

Scientific Name

The accepted name for this fish is Botia lohachata (Chaudhuri, 1912).  This is the only scientific name that has correctly been applied to this fish, but there is considerable confusion between Botia almorhae and Botia lohachata among aquarists.  These two fish are similar in appearance and the information in this fact sheet about keeping them could be applied to either species.

Differences between Botia lohachata and Botia almorhae

The native range of these two species is different, but overlaps.  While Botia lohachata comes from India, Pakistan, Nepal and Bangladesh, Botia almorhae comes from India, Nepal, Myanmar and maybe Pakistan.

Botia almorha grows a little larger than Botia lohachata, but this difference could only be applied to full grown specimens, or to populations.

A Botia almorhae is generally wider than a Botia lohachata of the same length.

Conservation Status

Botia lohachata has not been evaluated by the UICN Redlist, but there is no reason to think it is an endangered fish.

Botia almorhae has been evaluated as being a species of least concern.

Pest Fish

Although I am not aware of this fish becoming a problem in ecosystems it is not native to, the normal precautions should be observed to make sure it cannot get into waterways it is not native to.  The Reticulate Loach was introduced into the Philippines in 1991, but I don’t know if it has become established there.

Steve Challis


 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 Reticulate Loaches with Leopard Danios and Rosy Barbs