Yoyo loach care guide

Yoyo loach (Botia almorhae) is a very beautiful freshwater fish that belongs to family Botiidae. It has silvery body with dark vertical stripes and its reproductive species also have some bluish shimmer. Yoyo loach comes from India and Pakistan. Besides Pakistani species are a bit less saturated with color than Indian ones. Of course, they may be two different subspecies or even two different kinds, because their classification isn’t very precise for the moment.

Habitat in the wild

Botia almorhae was first described in 1920. The fish inhabits in India and may be Pakistan (pakistani loach).

The fish name originated with the help of famous photographer Ken Childs who has been working in aquarium husbandry industry for more than 20 years. When he was taking pictures of fishes for one of his report, he noticed that coloring of some species formed something like YoYo letters combination.

When he named Botia almorhae as yoyo fish in his article, the name was remembered by the readers and it became widely spread among English speaking audience.

Its habitats are waters with slow flow or impounded waters, so it can be said that the fish doesn’t like water flows presence.Backwaters, ponds, lakes are typical habitats for yoyo loach. It feeds mainly on insects and water plants can be eaten, too.

Scientific NameBotia almorhae
Common NamesYoyo loach; pakistani loach; yoyo botia; yoyo fish
Range and habitatIndia
Size14–16 cm (5.5–6.3 in)
Lifespan5-8 years
Ease of keepingMedium
Minimum tank size100 liters (25 gallons) and more
Temperature75–81 °F (24–27 °C)
Water hardness5-15 dGH


Yoyo loach size is about 6.5 cm (2,56 in). However, in the wild the fish can grow much larger – up to 15.5 cm (6.1 in) long. Average lifespan is about 5-8 years, although it’s been reported about some species that lived over 16 years.

Juveniles coloring differs from the one of mature species. The juveniles have stripes, but they obtain characteristic net-like or marble-like coloring by the age of 3-4 month.

All Botiidae family species have a spine a bit under their eyes, that is usually hidden is some kind of skin “pocket” and so it is invisible. But when the yoyo loach gets scared or stressed the spine slides out like a knife blade. The spine is very sharp and when transporting the fish this spine can indeed stab the bag, where the fish is. So, to be safe it’s better to use two bags – one inside the other.

Also, you have to be careful when catching the yoyo loach, since it often happens, that the fish tries to protect itself with these spines and they get stuck in the lift net. Also just a pin with these spines itself can be rather painful.

Difficulties in keeping

Pakistani loaches are rather enduring fishes provided with appropriate care. The fish isn’t recommended for beginners, since it’s large, active and it requires stable water parameters. Also the yoyo loach has very small scales, that makes it sensitive to illnesses and medical treatment.

Care and keeping in a tank

In the wild the loach lives in relatively still water of highland streams. It’s better to keep yoyo loach in a group of about 5 fishes in a tank.

The loach is considered the one that adapts easily to new conditions. It behaves rather peacefully. Yoyo loaches have social pattern of behavior just like clown loaches. They can fight and at that their body color becomes significantly lighter and the stripes almost disappear. The fishes don’t cause each other any harm while these fights.

Tank decor

To avoid them it’s good to put a lot of covers in a tank – caves, snags, plants will do. Tank bottom substrate has to be fine and rounded just like for all fishes from loach family, since they actively dig it and can injure their barbels.

Tank should have moderate and diffused light.

They especially like some narrow places, so you can use some ceramic or plastic tubes for this. The yoyo loach is a hiding expert and it can get into very narrow cracks. Sometimes the fish can stick there, so don’t be lazy and count the fishes from time to time. Any tank with yoyo loaches should have a lot of covers for the fishes to feel comfortable and safe.

Water parameters

Loaches is very sensitive to water parameters and purity, so it’s not recommended to put the fish in a new tank where water parameters aren’t stable yet. Filtration and frequent water renew are necessary.

Water chemical composition should be the following: pH 6.0 – 7.5, hardness gDH <15, temperature 22 – 27 °C. Optimal temperature 25 °C. At the condition of high water aeration (because when the temperature rises oxygen content in it decreases) the yoyo loach is ok with razing of water temperature up to 30 °C.


Care and feeding are very easy, since it eats all types of feed. As all bottom feeding fishes, they needs the feed that fill reach a tank bottom. Also including the fact that this is a night fish, it’s better to feed it shortly before turning off the lights – you can give granules that fall on the bottom or some frozen feed.

The yoyo loach enjoys a lot life feed, especially blood worm and tubifex. Also loaches are known to eat snails eagerly, so if you want to get rid of snails in your tank – yoyo loaches will help you with this just in a few days.

But remember, that it’s very easy to overfeed yoyo loach species, since they are very insatiable and they’ll eat till they eat way too much.

Tank mates

As a rule they are good tank mates for other kinds of fishes, but it’s better to avoid aggressive tank mates and raptorial feeders. If the yoyo loach feels safe, the majority of the time it spends in covers and it can even refuse from feeding.

However, yoyo loach could never complain about bad appetite. It can’t be said that the yoyo loach is a good tank mate for species of the same kind, since in a school an alpha male fish becomes a chief and sometimes he haunts other males.

But these fights never end up with any serious injuries. It’s nice to keep fish with relative species like freshwater clown loach, for instance, or with african cichlids, like kribensis.

Gender differences: male vs female

One can see between female and male only when they become reproductive. Males have more slim body than females and the latter are a bit larger and more bulky than males.


Surprisingly, the yoyo loach that adapts so easy to tank conditions at that breeds very poorly in it.There is no reliable data as for breeding and juveniles grown up in a tank by amateurs aquarists. It is considered that breeding can be performed only by professional fish breeders with the help of hormones injections.