The Complete Yoyo Loach Care Guide: Size, Keeping and More

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

The Yo-Yo loach, scientifically known as Botia almorhae, is a popular freshwater fish species belonging to the family Botiidae. This family is commonly referred to as the “Loach family.” Botiidae is a diverse family of fish that includes various loach species, many of which are popular in the aquarium trade due to their interesting behavior and unique appearance.

The Yo-Yo loach (Botia almorhae) is native to the waters of Southeast Asia, specifically found in countries such as India, Nepal, and Bangladesh. Their natural habitat consists of rivers, streams, and other freshwater bodies in these regions. 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.

Despite the alternative common name Pakistani loach, the true Botia almorhae is not known from Pakistan. 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.

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



The Yo-Yo Loach (Botia almorhae) typically grows to a size of about 3-4 inches (7.6-10 cm) in length when kept in aquariums. In the wild the fish can grow much larger – up to 15.5 cm (6.1 in) long. However, there can be some variability in size based on factors such as genetics, diet, water quality, and the specific conditions of the aquarium they’re kept in.


The lifespan of Yo-Yo loaches can vary based on factors such as the quality of care, genetics, and the overall environment they are kept in. In well-maintained aquariums with appropriate conditions, Yo-Yo loaches can live for approximately 6 to 8 years or even longer.

To maximize their lifespan, it’s crucial to provide them with a suitable tank setup, proper water parameters, a varied and balanced diet, and a stress-free environment. Regular water changes, adequate hiding spots, and companionship with their own kind or other compatible fish can also contribute to the overall well-being and longevity of Yo-Yo loaches.


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.

Scientific NameBotia almorhae
Common NamesYo-Yo Loach, Pakistani Loach
OriginSoutheast Asia (India, Nepal, Bangladesh)
SizeTypically grows to about 3-4 inches (7.6-10 cm)
Lifespan6-8 years or longer with proper care
BehaviorActive, playful, known for “yo-yo” swimming pattern
DietOmnivorous, accepts a variety of foods
Water Temperature75-82 degrees Fahrenheit (24-28 degrees Celsius)
pH Range6.5 – 7.5
Tank SizeMinimum 20 gallons for a small group, larger for more
CompatibilityGenerally peaceful, but can be semi-aggressive
Tank SetupProvide hiding spots, caves, driftwood, plants
Water FlowModerate to low water flow preferred
BreedingDifficult to breed in aquariums, not often seen

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 size

The recommended tank size for Yo-Yo loaches depends on how many of them you plan to keep and what other fish or inhabitants you intend to have in the same aquarium. Yo-Yo loaches are active and social fish that appreciate space to swim and explore, and they tend to do best in small groups.

For a small group of Yo-Yo loaches (3-5 individuals), a tank size of at least 20 gallons is a good starting point. This size allows them to exhibit their natural behaviors, including their playful “yo-yo” swimming pattern, and provides enough space for them to coexist comfortably.

However, if you plan to keep a larger group of Yo-Yo loaches or if you want to include other fish species in the same tank, it’s a good idea to go for a larger tank. A 30-gallon or even 40-gallon tank would provide more swimming room and allow you to create a more diverse and stable ecosystem.

Remember to consider the full adult size of the fish, the amount of decor (hiding spots, plants, etc.) in the tank, and the compatibility with other tank inhabitants when determining the appropriate tank size. A larger tank with appropriate filtration and regular maintenance will provide a healthier and more comfortable environment for your Yo-Yo loaches.

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.

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.

Tank should have moderate and diffused light.

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:

  1. Temperature: 75-82 degrees Fahrenheit (24-28 degrees Celsius) – Yo-Yo loaches prefer slightly warmer water, but make sure the temperature remains stable. 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.
  2. pH Level: 6.5 – 7.5 – Aim for slightly acidic to slightly alkaline conditions. Avoid extreme pH fluctuations.
  3. Water Hardness: 5-12 dGH (degrees General Hardness) – Yo-Yo loaches can tolerate a range of water hardness levels, but avoid extremes.
  4. Ammonia and Nitrite: Both ammonia and nitrite levels should be consistently at 0 ppm (parts per million). These compounds are toxic to fish.
  5. Nitrate: Keep nitrate levels below 40 ppm. Regular water changes are essential to control nitrate buildup.
  6. Water Movement: Moderate water flow is generally suitable. Yo-Yo loaches come from areas with varying water flow rates in their natural habitat.
  7. Aquarium Size: Provide enough space for these active fish. A minimum tank size of 20 gallons for a small group of Yo-Yo loaches is recommended.
  8. Tank Mates: Choose peaceful tank mates that share similar water parameters. Avoid highly aggressive or fin-nipping species.

Regular water testing and maintenance are essential to ensure that these water parameters remain within acceptable ranges. Yo-Yo loaches are hardy fish, but consistent care is crucial for their health and longevity. Perform partial water changes, maintain a proper filtration system, and monitor water quality to create a stable and healthy environment for your Yo-Yo loaches.


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.

Here are some suitable tank mates for Yo-Yo loaches:

  1. Other Loach Species: Many loach species have similar behaviors and water requirements. Clown Loaches, Kuhli Loaches, and other Botia species can make good companions for Yo-Yo loaches.
  2. Barbs: Peaceful barb species like Cherry Barbs and Rosy Barbs can work well with Yo-Yo loaches. Just be cautious with larger or more aggressive barb species.
  3. Rasboras and Tetras: Small and peaceful rasboras (e.g., Harlequin Rasboras, Chili Rasboras) and tetras (e.g., Neon Tetras, Cardinal Tetras) can coexist harmoniously.
  4. Corydoras Catfish: Corydoras catfish are bottom-dwellers and won’t compete for the same areas of the tank as Yo-Yo Loaches. They’re peaceful and compatible tank mates.
  5. Gouramis: Peaceful gouramis like Dwarf Gouramis can work, but avoid larger or more aggressive gourami species.
  6. Livebearers: Some livebearer species, such as Platies and Swordtails, can be suitable tank mates as long as they’re not too aggressive.
  7. Small Plecos: Smaller pleco species like Bristlenose Plecos can coexist peacefully with Yo-Yo loaches.

Remember, while choosing tank mates, always consider the specific behavior, size, and compatibility of the fish. Avoid species that are known to be aggressive, fin nippers, or territorial, as these can stress out Yo-Yo loaches. Providing plenty of hiding spots, plants, and other visual barriers in the tank can help reduce potential conflicts among tank mates.

Observing the interactions of the fish after introducing them to the tank is important. If any aggression or compatibility issues arise, you might need to rearrange the tank or consider alternative tank mates.

Gender differences: male vs female

Distinguishing between male and female Yo-Yo loaches can be challenging, especially since there are no prominent external differences between the sexes. Unlike some fish species where males and females have distinct features (such as differences in fin shape or coloration), the external characteristics of Yo-Yo loaches do not typically show obvious sexual dimorphism.

This makes it difficult to differentiate between males and females based solely on their appearance. The best method for determining the sex of Yo-Yo loaches is to observe their behavior during spawning, which is usually a rare occurrence in aquariums.

If you’re interested in breeding Yo-Yo loaches, you may need to create specific conditions in the aquarium to encourage spawning. Breeding behavior often involves courtship rituals and can be observed when the fish are ready to lay eggs.

In most cases, hobbyists rely on the behavior of the fish and the observation of courtship or spawning activities to identify the sexes. Without specialized equipment or detailed knowledge of their internal anatomy, it is challenging to tell males from females with certainty in a typical aquarium setting. If you’re primarily interested in keeping these loaches as pets and not breeding them, the lack of visible differences between the sexes should not impact your enjoyment of keeping these fascinating fish.


Breeding Yo-Yo loaches (Botia almorhae) in captivity can be challenging, and successful breeding is relatively rare in home aquariums. These loaches have complex breeding behaviors that require specific conditions, and replicating their natural environment is essential to encourage spawning. Here are some steps to consider if you’re interested in attempting to breed Yo-Yo loaches:

  1. Group Setup: Begin by having a small group of Yo-Yo loaches, preferably with a balanced ratio of males and females. A larger tank with good hiding spots (such as caves or PVC pipes) is important.
  2. Water Conditions: Ensure the water parameters are optimal. The temperature should be within the range of 78-82 degrees Fahrenheit (26-28 degrees Celsius). Maintain slightly acidic to neutral pH (around 6.5-7.0) and moderately hard water.
  3. Diet and Conditioning: Feed the loaches a varied and high-quality diet to condition them for breeding. Live or frozen foods, such as bloodworms, brine shrimp, and daphnia, can be beneficial.
  4. Water Changes: Introduce frequent small water changes with slightly cooler water (a few degrees lower) to simulate the onset of the rainy season. This can sometimes trigger breeding behavior.
  5. Natural Triggers: Replicate natural breeding triggers. These loaches may respond to a rainy season (increased water flow and cooler water), so adjusting the aquarium environment in a way that mimics these conditions may be helpful.
  6. Spawning Behavior: Keep a close eye on the group for signs of breeding behavior. This may involve males chasing females, courtship displays, and choosing suitable spawning sites.
  7. Eggs and Fry: If successful, the female will lay eggs, and the male will fertilize them. The eggs are adhesive and may be attached to surfaces. Once hatched, the fry can be challenging to raise, as they have specific dietary needs and can be sensitive to water conditions.

It’s essential to note that even with proper conditions and efforts, Yo-Yo loaches may not readily breed in home aquariums. Many factors contribute to successful breeding, and it may take time, patience, and some trial and error. If you’re specifically interested in breeding Yo-Yo loaches, consider researching other breeders’ experiences and seeking advice from experienced hobbyists who have had success with this species.