The Yoyo Loach is a unique and fun freshwater fish to take care of in your home aquarium. They add a unique flair of color and unique patterns as they swim around in the fish tank, and they’re a fun fish to watch as they swim around.

Yoyo loaches, also going by common names Pakistani loaches, reticulated loaches, or the Y-loach, are an intermediate care level fish, so not really for beginners.

Though folks who’re able to study up ahead of time and practice precise care may be able to handle them early on in their aquarist days.

Let’s take a look at what that would involve though, so you can decide if you’re ready for care for these amazing aquarium fish now or later.

Quick Intro to Yoyo Loach

Family: Characidae
Scientific NameBotia almorhae
Other Names: Pakistani loach, reticulated loach, Y-Loach
Care LevelIntermediate

Natural Habitat, Identification, and Where to Buy

Yoyo Loach is also known by other names such as the reticulated loach and the Pakistani loach. This fish has small scales and is sometimes incorrectly identified as being a scaleless fish.

This fish is a bottom dweller that is also an active scavenger. While this fish can be semi-aggressive, it lives rather well for its species.

The name of the Yoyo Loach originates with the photographer Ken Childs. He is a major name within the aquarium import business.

There are two reasons given for this fish’s name. The first reason is how active this fish is, moving around like yo-yo toys. The other reason is due to the fish’s color patterns.

This fish originates from freshwater rivers in Pakistan and India. This fish prefers to rest in still pools that have plenty of underwater plants and food. This fish will spawn upstream and then move downriver to live out most of their lives.

The Yoyo Loach is typically silver with dark markings that are like the English letters Y and O. These letters are easiest to see while the loach is young. As the fish ages, its patterns become more solid.

When this fish either hides or participates in mock fights, the marking can dim, but the color recovers quickly after the events are over.

This fish can be found at a local store with a price range of around $7.00. Before making a purchase it is important to observe the fish make sure they are healthy and nothing seems to be wrong.

Optimal Water Conditions for Yoyo Loach

Water Temperature: 75 to 86 F
Water Flow Rate:Low
pH: 6.5 to 7.5
Water Hardness: to 12 dGH

Tank Setup

Minimum Tank Size20 gallons for a single juvenile, 40 gallons tank for a single adult.
Optimal Tank SizeA minimum of 40 gallons for a single fish and an additional 15 gallons per extra fish put into the tank.
Optimal Tank Shape: A normal tank shape works.
Recommended Filter Type: A quality filter that only has a gentle or slow stream of water put into the tank.

Keeping this species in a larger tank doesn’t guarantee that it will reach or exceed its average length, but it does increase the likelihood of it.

This species needs a minimum of forty gallons for a single fish to be healthy. For juveniles of this species, a 20- or 30-gallon tank works well for a single fish.

Top tip: This fish does not do well living alone. They need companions – the right ones.

When deciding on the tank for this fish, it is always to choose a bigger tank when possible. Bigger tanks are tied to the health of this fish. When placing this fish in a bigger tank, the fish has greater room to move and swim around in.

Besides the forty gallons for a single fish, each additional fish needs at least fifteen gallons of additional space. This means that if you want to keep 5-6 Yoyos, then you will need a tank that can hold over one hundred gallons of water.

This fish species originates from Pakistan and India. These waters are warm, soft, and acidic. This fish needs to have frequent water changes so that the water is both well oxygenated and clean.

To keep the high quality of water needed means having an efficient water filter and having 15% of the water replaced every week.

It is important to test the tank water frequently and regularly. This fish may be hardy, but it does not tolerate any extreme changes to its water. If the water quality changes the fish will become stressed and easily infected by a disease.

Creating the Landscape

yoyo loach

When creating the landscape for your fish, it must reflect the native environment the fish can be found in. Yoyo Loaches are migrating fish.

They spend part of their life in streams that are full of rocks but have no plants, afterwards they move into streams full of sand and vegetation.

For your grown loaches it is important to mimic the environment they would live in. A soft substrate like sand will make the fish happy because they will be able to dig into the sand while they play.

This species will also be able to dig into the and look for food. Placing a lot of plants into the sand will ensure your fish has plenty of places to hide and be a shelter when they need it.

You mustn’t use a hard substrate like gravel. Hard substrates can damage the bottom of their bodies and their delicate barbels.

After deciding on the substrate and plants, it is important to utilize driftwood and rocks to create places for fish to relax.

Top tip: If you buy pre-made caves for your aquarium, it is good to choose ones that are similar in size to the fish because this fish species likes to feel snug and will ignore caves that feature too much room.

When adding plants almost any will work, just make sure you include a variety of plants that can all be anchored down to protect against being uprooted.

When you have chosen the plants, place them around the perimeter of the tank with open space in the center of the tank so that the fish can play and swim freely.

A standard filter is sufficient for this species. This fish prefers water that is slow-moving so it’s important to not pick a filter that has high speeds.

Best Plants: Almost any underwater plant works, just make sure the plants are anchored and protected so the fish doesn’t uproot them.
Best Lighting:There are no unusual light needs for this species.
Best Decorations:Pre-made caves, driftwood, and rocks make for good decorations.
Decorations to Avoid:Avoid using hard substrates like gravel and decorations that have sharp edges.

Physiological Considerations for Yoyo Loach

Size: 2.5 inches
LifespanThe typical lifespan is between five and eight years. However, among experienced fish keepers, it is possible to have this species live to be twenty years old.
Temperament: Generally peaceful
Preferred Tank Region: Bottom
Scale Thickness: There are no special considerations with the Yoyo’s scales.
Gill Considerations: There are no notable gill considerations.
Swimbladder Considerations: There are no notable swimbladder considerations.
Fin Shape Considerations: There are no notable fin shape considerations.

The average lifespan for a Yoyo Loach living in captivity is between five and eight years. However, experienced fishkeepers have said that they have seen their Yoyo’s live for much longer.

The oldest fish have reached the age of twenty, but it should be noted these are fish that have lived in larger aquariums that are kept under a close eye.

Like any fish, the diet and water conditions all play a part in how long your fish lives and the quality of that life.

The more effort you put into making sure your tank has proper care and maintenance, the healthier and longer life your fish will experience.

While there are shared characteristics between loaches, There are also a lot of physical characteristic differences between individual fish of this species.

The most common trait is that each fish has four pairs of barbels that protrude from its mouth. The barbels are used to search for food that may be under sand.

Another common physical look that all loaches have in common is their long and slender bodies that create a unique profile.

Loaches also have notable head characteristics. The head is a conical shape with a bit of a snout that extends out. This fish is flat on the bottom of its body, this makes it easier for this fish to rest at the bottom of its tank.

This fish has a variety of colors and patterns. The typical base pattern is silver, but it is also common to see yellow and gold base colors.

On top of their base color, the fish has a distinct pattern that consists of random black lines and dots over everything but the bottom. It is thought the fish’s name Yoyo comes from this pattern.


Yoyo Loaches can initially be timid when they first are introduced to a new tank. During this time, they may hide out in caves or under large plants until they become acclimated to their surroundings.

After they become used to the tank they are seen much more frequently and do not have the same initial fears. Many people love to keep this species of fish because of how playful they can be once they feel safe in their tank.

This fish does best when it is kept in a group of four or five. Unlike most loaches, this species is not nocturnal, so it is common to see Yoyo’s group up and play together throughout the day.

Under normal circumstances, Yoyo Loaches do not show aggression towards fish that are behaving peacefully.

While there can be some fighting within the Yoyo’s in your tank, they are mostly a curious fish they will zoom around and see what is going on with other fish in their tank.

One thing to take note of is if you have only two Yoyo, the stronger will sometimes pick on the weaker. By having a group of four or more there are enough social dynamics that typically one fish won’t be picked upon.

Besides keeping a group of Yoyo Loach together, this fish species also do well when other peaceful fish species are introduced.

This is because Yoyos are healthier and live better lives when they have tank mates with which they can interact.

When choosing other fish species, it is important to pick fish of a similar size that cannot be viewed as a food option. It is also important to avoid choosing fish that will behave aggressively.

Author note: While it is possible to put a single Yoyo in a tank with other peaceful fish, they do better when they can naturally form bonds with other fish from its species.

It is important to note that while two fish species are compatible, there is no guarantee that the pairing of two individual fish will always work. Make sure to keep a close watch on your fish after first introducing them to each other.

Some good companions for these guys include:

Gender, Breeding, and Reproductive Considerations

Both genders of the Yoyo Loaches have similarities but in general, the male is slenderer, especially when compared to the female when they are full of eggs.

Another significant physical characteristic of the male Yoyo Loach is that the male will sometimes have red coloring around its barbels.

This fish species is known for not spawning while in captivity and there are no known breeding methods know for this fish species. Despite the lack of spawning, it is not unusual for the female to still fill up with eggs.

The main reason why it is thought that this species does not breed in captivity is that this fish migrates during the breeding season.

The only ones to have any success in breeding this species in captivity are professional fish keepers. However, almost all of the loaches you see for sale on the market are from the wild.

Nutritional Needs

While Yoyo Loaches are omnivores, they are a huge fan of meaty foods. They are capable of eating a diverse diet so that when their preferred food of insects isn’t available they will eat vegetation.

This easy-to-feed quality translates to when they live in captivity.  It is possible to feed this species a wide range of food that includes freeze-dried, flake, or frozen foods.

Top tip: If you decide to feed this species dry food, it is important to choose a type of wafer or pellet that will sink. Sinking food is important because these fish only rarely visits the surface of the water, so they need food that will come down to them.

This species will gorge itself if it is fed brine shrimp or bloodworms. This species also loves to eat any snails they come across.

However, for this species to have optimum help it is important to not just feed them what they want but to provide a diet with variety. Some good options to also include are algae wafers, sinking pellets, and daphnia.

Due to this fish having such a big appetite they must be fed several small meals throughout the day. It is important to be careful and not overfeed, otherwise, they can eat until they are sick or even die.

Best Sustenance Food Type: A quality sinking pellet or flake food is a good sustenance food choice.
Additional Food For Optimal Health:This species can be fed a mixture of dry, freeze-dried, or live foods.
Special Foods and Considerations for Best Color and Growth:There are no specific foods for growth and color.
When and How Often to Feed Fish Based on Life Cycle:This fish should be fed several small meals spread throughout the day.

Common Diseases and How to Avoid and Treat Them

One of the most difficult parts of keeping Yoyo Loaches is that they are among the first species that will be impacted by an illness in the tank.

Author note: This fish has such a high susceptibility to disease is because of how small its scales are. These small scales are embedded in the fish’s skin and offer the fish much less protection than normal-sized scales on other fish.

This fish’s small scales not only allow it to be easily affected by fungi and parasites but also are sensitive to medications put into the water. Despite these difficulties, the fish is not vulnerable to common freshwater diseases like Ich.

It is vital to pay attention and if you notice that your Yoyo Loaches have any disease that they are removed from the tank. They should be placed in an isolation tank for the fish to be treated.

In this tank, the fish can be given any natural treatment or over-the-counter medications that the fish needs without there being any risk of the treatments affecting healthy fish.

Best Antibiotics: Melafix is an over-the-counter antibiotic that should work fine.
Treatments to Avoid:No specific treatments should be avoided.
Food Recommendations When Sick:The best food for sick fish is fresh food.
Hospital Tank or Isolation Withing the Community Tank:Isolation tanks are the best for when this species becomes sick.

5 Facts About Yoyo Loach

Image by Orishas92 on Wikpedia
  1. Their unique coloring – a reticulated pattern – resembles that of a giraffe and has helped to make them a popular fishkeeping species.
  2. These little guys are incredibly bold, active fish that almost never stop swimming and foraging.
  3. Yoyo loaches are extremely adaptable to a variety of water temperatures making them a very hardy fish.
  4. Though they prefer the bottom region of the tank, Yoyo loach are also pretty active in the mid-level of their aquariums.
  5. They do really well in planted aquariums making them a great tank mate for many species of fish who need planted aquariums.

FAQs on Yoyo Loaches

How many yoyo loaches should be stocked together?

Technically, yoyo loaches may be kept solo in an aquarium with other peaceful fish.

However, they will thrive instead of merely survive, if they’re kept in schools of at least three of their own kind. Ideally, they’ll be in larger schools than that.

Be sure to avoid keeping them in tanks with aggressive or large fish as they will suffer.

How can you tell if your yoyo loach is stressed?

If your yoyo loach is actually unusually, the fish is either ill or stressed.

If you notice the fish rising to the surface and gasping, this is a sign of stress for sure.

Are yoyo loaches jumpers?

Yoyos are absolutely jumpers! And they often jump for no particular reason – as far as we humans can tell anyway.

If the fish have lots of caves and places to hide (plants!), they’re less likely to do a jumping act.

Be sure to always keep a hood on the tank to ensure they’re safe and secure and can’t jump out of the tank when irritated, stressed, startled, or just feeling “in the mood.”

Are yoyo loaches algae eaters?

Yoyos are known for eating loads and loads – but what they eat doesn’t usually involve algae. Instead, they prefer worms, snails, insects and small prey.

Occasionally, they might be in the mood for plants and algae – but you don’t want to count on them to help clean up the slimy green stuff.

About The Author

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *