Blue Botia: A Guide to Setting up and Maintaining an Ideal Habitat

Yasuhikotakia modesta, commonly known as the blue botia, blue botia loach, or redtail botia, is a species of freshwater fish belonging to the family Botiidae. Not very often, but it can be encountered in fish fanciers tanks. The blue botia is a popular choice for aquarium enthusiasts due to its striking appearance and interesting behavior. The fish requires the same tank conditions as other botia species.

Habitat in the wild

Blue botia range spreads to Thailand, Laos, Cambodia. Species are rather spread in the Southeast Asian Peninsula, especially in the Mekong River basin, as well as in The Chao Phraya River, The Bang Pakong River, The Mae Klong River. It is known that there are several populations of botia, which can mix during the spawning period, especially in the upper river area.

In the fish habitats, the substrate is soft and muddy; water parameters are the following – pH is about 7.0, temperature varies from 26 to 30 °C. This fish is quite spread in its natural habitat. Fish prefers lotic waters, where during the day, the fish finds shelter in rocks, tree roots located under water. The fish feeds at night.

These fish species prefer seasonal migrations during their life cycle; therefore, the fish can be found in various places depending on the season. So, habitat may vary from main river channels to small tributaries or temporarily flooded areas.

Description

Red tail botia has a long, compact body with an arched back. The fish profile resembles the ones of other species, including a clown loach. Body color is bluish-grey. The fins are red, orange, or yellow (which is quite seldom the case). The fish species that are not reproductive yet, sometimes have greenish body tint. As a rule, the brighter is the fish colored, the healthier it and the more favorable tank conditions it has.

In the wild, the fish can grow to be up to 25 cm long, but in tanks, it is seldom longer than 17 cm. In aquarium can reach a size of up to 5-6 inches (12-15 cm) in length. However, it’s important to note that individual fish can vary in size depending on factors such as genetics, diet, and environmental conditions. Providing an appropriate tank size and proper care can contribute to their growth potential.

In general, when provided with proper care, blue botia loaches can live for approximately 8 to 10 years in captivity. However, some individuals have been reported to live longer, reaching up to 11 years or more in exceptional cases.

CharacteristicDescription
Common NamesBlue Botia, Blue Botia Loach, Redtail Botia
Scientific NameYasuhikotakia modesta
Native RegionSoutheast Asia (Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia)
SizeUp to 5-6 inches (12-15 cm)
ColorationBrownish body with a blue hue, red or orange tail
BehaviorActive, bottom-dwelling, burrows into substrate, explores surroundings
HabitatRivers, streams, flooded areas with slow to moderate water flow, sandy or muddy substrates
DietOmnivorous, accepts sinking pellets, flakes, frozen/live foods, balanced diet
Care RequirementsSpacious aquarium, clean, well-oxygenated water, pH 6.5-7.5, temperature 75-82°F (24-28°C)
CompatibilityPeaceful with non-aggressive species, may become territorial with own species

Difficulties in keeping

Blue botia is easy to keep at the condition that you have a quite spacious tank. You should keep in mind that the fish can grow up to 25 cm long. Besides, like most of the botia species, botia is a schooling fish and a very active one.

Keeping in the tank

Blue botia species can produce some clicking sounds, which shouldn’t scare you. They make these sounds when they are excited. For example, when the fish is fighting for the territory or during the feeding process. There is nothing dangerous in these sounds, and this is just how the fish communicate with each other.

Fish is active, especially the juveniles. As the fish grows, it becomes less active, and it spends most of the time in shelters. Like most of the botias, blue botia is a nocturnal fish. During the day, it prefers staying in shelters and goes to search for food at night.

Tank size

Blue botia requires a spacious tank due to its active nature and potential growth size. The recommended tank size for a group of blue botias should be a minimum of 55 gallons (208 liters) or larger. Providing a larger tank with more swimming space and ample hiding spots will enhance the well-being and behavior of these fish.

Water parameters

The ideal temperature range for blue botia is between 75°F and 82°F (24°C and 28°C). Maintaining the water within this range is important for their overall health and well-being. Blue botia prefers a slightly acidic to neutral pH range. Aim for a pH level between 6.5 and 7.5. Fluctuations outside this range should be avoided, as they can stress the fish. Blue botia can tolerate a moderate range of water hardness. Aim for a hardness level between 5 and 12 dGH (degree of General Hardness) or approximately 90 to 215 ppm (parts per million).

Providing efficient filtration is crucial for maintaining good water quality in the aquarium. Blue botia requires clean, well-oxygenated water. Regular water changes (about 20% every one to two weeks) will help remove accumulated toxins and maintain optimal water parameters.

Substrate

Since the blue botia likes digging the tank bottom, the substrate should be soft. It can include a base layer from sand or small-sized gravel with a large number of smooth stones and pebbles. As for the tank decorations and shelters, various snags will be the best idea.

Stones, flowerpots, and other tank decorations can be used at any combination to get the tank you want.

Lighting

The tank light should be relatively dim. Tank plants that can survive such conditions are Java fern (Microsorum pteropus), Java moss (Taxiphyllum barbieri), or Anubias spp.

Tank mates

It is a schooling fish, and it should be kept alone in a tank. The minimal recommended number of fish in the school is about 5-6 species. The optimal number is 10 and more fish. When keeping a couple of fish or just one blue botia, it becomes aggressive towards the ones of its kind or fish that has a similar appearance.

Botia like a clown loach has an alpha male in the school, who is a leader and controls the rest. Besides, the fish has a strong territory dependence, which causes fights for the territory. Due to this, there should be enough shelters in the tank, as well as it should be spacious.

Because of the fish size and temper, fish should be kept with other large, active fish species. For example, these can be various barbels (tiger barb, tinfoil barb) or danio species (zebrafish (Danio rerio) or GloFish). We strongly recommend not to take slow and long-finned fish species as tank mates. For example, these are all goldfish species (the telescope eye, the veiltail).

Diet

The blue botia is omnivorous, but it prefers live food. In the wild, they feed on a variety of foods, including small invertebrates, insects, crustaceans, and plant matter. When kept in an aquarium, it’s important to provide them with a well-balanced diet to ensure their nutritional needs are met.

Fish can be fed with live, frozen, and artificial fish food. In general, there are no troubles in this respect.

High-quality sinking pellets or granules formulated for bottom-dwelling fish can serve as the staple diet for blue botia. Look for options that contain a mix of animal proteins, plant matter, and essential nutrients.

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Blue Bbotia will appreciate occasional live or frozen foods to mimic their natural diet. Offer them foods such as bloodworms, brine shrimp, daphnia, tubifex worms, and other small aquatic invertebrates. These can be provided as a supplement to their regular diet.

Gender differences: male vs female

Distinguishing the male and female Yasuhikotakia modesta can be challenging, as there are no pronounced external differences between the sexes. Sexual dimorphism (distinct physical differences between males and females) is not prominent in this species. However, there are a few subtle characteristics that might help in differentiating between males and females:

  1. Size: In some cases, females can be slightly larger and plumper compared to males. However, this is not always a reliable indicator as individual fish can vary in size.
  2. Behavior: During breeding, males may exhibit more territorial and aggressive behavior compared to females. They might chase females or engage in brief sparring bouts with other males. However, this behavior is not exclusive to males and can also be observed in dominant females.
  3. Vent Shape: Experienced aquarists or breeders may examine the vent shape of the fish to determine their sex. Males typically have a more pointed or elongated vent, while females may have a rounder and wider vent. This method requires expertise and is not foolproof.

Breeding

Species you see on sale, were either caught in the wild or obtained using some hormonal stimulation. For most of the aquarists, breeding process is extremely complicated, and it is also rather poorly described in available references.