Yoyo Loach Care 101: Size, Tank Mates, Lifespan & More

The Yoyo Loach is a wonderful freshwater fish to own, no matter how experienced you are. They’re easy to care for, fun to observe, and neat-looking!

Because of this, this is one of the most popular species in the aquarium scene. If you visit your local club there’s a good chance that at least one member owns a few!

This guide will go over all the information you need to care for a Yoyo Loach. You’ll learn about their max size, habitat requirements, tank mates, and more.

Let’s jump right into it.

Species Summary

The Yoyo Loach (Botia almorhae) is a freshwater fish that goes by many different names. You may seem them marketed as Almora Loaches, Lohahata Botia Loaches, and even Pakistani Loaches. The latter name is a bit inaccurate.

These fish actually hail from the Ganges basin in northern India. They’re also found throughout Nepal and surrounding areas. They are often confused with another similar-looking species found throughout Pakistan.

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A yoyo loach looking snails

No matter where your fish comes from, Yoyo Loaches can easily become the stars of your tank. While other loach varieties are known for being timid and shy, that’s not the case with Yoyo Loaches.

They’re active and energetic fish with distinct personalities, making them an excellent addition to large community tanks.


On average, the Yoyo Loach lifespan is somewhere between 5 and 8 years when in captivity. This is a healthy estimate. However, many seasoned aquarists have seen their fish live for much longer than that.

On the upper end of the spectrum, these fish can thrive for around 20 years! In those cases, fish usually live in large habitats that are carefully monitored.

Water conditions, diet, and many other factors can affect the lifespan of your fish. If you want to extend their lifespan as much as possible and keep them in good health, proper care and tank maintenance are a must.


Yoyo Loaches have a lot of variation when it comes to appearance. Generally, all loaches have a similar profile. They all have a long and slender body.

The head has some unique features, too. For one, it has a conical shape. These fish have a bit of snout. It’s flat on the bottom, making it easy for the fish to rest on the sand.

The most identifying feature of these fish is their mouths. Every specimen has four pairs of barbels. These barbels protrude from the mouth and are used to feel for food in the ground.

As for color and pattern, Yoyo Loaches can vary from specimen to specimen. Usually, the base color of the fish is silver. You might see some fish with a slight blue tint as well. Some even have gold or yellowish base colors.

On top of that primary color is a distinct reticulated pattern. Random black lines and dots cover the entire body. That is, however, except for the belly. The bottom of the fish is often devoid of pattern and features a yellowish hue.

The pattern creates a net-like effect. For some fish, the pattern is comprised of thinner lines and dots, making the effect look more subdued. On others, the lines are chunky. Many fish even have alternating forked stripes and dots.

An illustration of a Yoyo Loach

It’s theorized that this stripe and dot pattern is where they got the trade name “Yoyo.”

One unique thing about the appearance of Yoyo Loaches is that it can change over time. It’s not uncommon to see that base silver color darken. This causes the reticulated pattern to blend in more easily and provide a refined look to the fish.

There are a couple of subtle differences between male and female Yoyo Loaches. Females tend to be on the plumper side. This is especially true when she fills up with eggs. Meanwhile, males often have reddish barbels on their mouths that stand out.

Yoyo Loach Size

The typical Yoyo Loach size is only about 2.5 inches long when fully grown. However, their size can depend on several factors. Diet, tank size, and genetics are all major factors that influence how bit these fish can get.

In the wild, they’re capable of reaching a max size of 6 inches in length. It is possible for a Yoyo Loach to reach this size in captivity as well, but you’ll need to give them a very spacious tank where they have plenty of room to grow.

Author Note: It’s worth pointing out that keeping these fish in a large tank doesn’t guarantee that they’ll exceed their average length in captivity. It increases their chances significantly, but you can never be 100% sure how things will turn out.


Yoyo Loach care is about as easy as it gets. Whether you’re a seasoned aquarist or someone with very little experience, you shouldn’t have any major issues with this species.

These are hardy little creatures that do fine in a range of water conditions!

Of course, it’s still imperative that you follow the recommended care guidelines. Doing so will help the fish reach their full potential and ensure that they’re healthy for many years to come. The best owners always go the extra mile and never settle for “good enough.”

Tank Size

Adult Yoyo Loaches need a minimum tank size of 40 gallons to stay healthy. Juveniles do well in 20 or 30-gallon tanks.

These numbers only work if you’re planning on keeping a single Yoyo Loach in your aquarium, which isn’t recommended. We’ll get into that a bit later.

The most important thing to remember is that when you’re choosing the appropriate tank, bigger is always better. Because the health of these fish is so closely tied to the size of their habitat, you need to provide enough room for them to swim around comfortably.

If you plan on keeping more than one in your tank (which is a good idea), a good rule of thumb is to provide about 15 gallons of space for every additional Yoyo Loach you have. A large group of 5 or 6 fish will require a tank that holds over 100 gallons of water!

Water Parameters

The best way to keep any fish happy is to mimic their natural habitat in the wild. Yoyo Loaches live in slow-moving streams throughout India. The water is a bit warmer and on the acidic side.

One of the most important things you need to do when caring for Yoyo Loaches is to test the water regularly. While they might be hardy, that doesn’t mean that they will tolerate extreme changes.

You must maintain relatively stable parameters to ensure that the fish don’t become stressed out and disease-ridden. Below are the required water parameters for this species:

  • Water temperature: 75°F to 86°F (aim for the middle)
  • pH levels: 6.0 to 8.0
  • Water hardness: 3 to 12 dKH

Author Note: Don’t fall into the “hardy fish” trap that other owners do. Just because these fish aren’t super sensitive, it doesn’t mean you can afford to get lazy with water changes or overall maintenance. Always aim for perfection!

What To Put In Their Tank

Yoyo Loaches are unique in the fact that they tend to migrate. They may spend some parts of their life in streams that are rocky and devoid of plants. Then, they’ll move onto sandy areas filled with vegetation.

We recommend mimicking the latter environment for your aquarium at home. Your fish need plenty of places to hide and will enjoy having some shelter with plants.

Fill the bottom of the tank with a soft sand substrate. Yoyo Loaches love to dig in the sand when they are playing. They can also use their barbels to look through the sand for something to munch on.

Gravel can be tough on their delicate barbels, so stick to soft sand.

Then, utilize rocks, driftwood, and caves to give your fish places to relax. When you’re finding caves, stick to ones that are similar in size to the fish. Yoyo Loaches like to feel snug, so they’ll often ignore expansive caves with too much room.

Botia almorhae scavenging through the substrate

Now, you can introduce live plants into the mix. Feel free to get creative and introduce a wide variety of plants into the tank. Make sure that everything is anchored and protected. While they aren’t known to uproot plants that often, it’s still a risk.

Arrange the plants around the perimeter of the tank. Leave some open space in the center for swimming and play.

Any standard filter will do. Like we mentioned earlier, these fish like to slow-moving water, so don’t utilize a pump that’s too powerful. You can break up the flow a bit by diverting the outlet of your filter against the glass or placing some plants in the path of the stream.

Some Yoyo Loaches like to experience stronger currents every once in a while. To provide that stimulation, you can have an air bladder somewhere in the tank. Fish that want to feel the fast current will play in the bubble stream while those that don’t will simply ignore it.

Disease Potential

The worst part of keeping Yoyo Loaches is that they tend to be the first species affected by illness in a tank.

The reason for this is that these fish have very tiny scales embedded into the skin. They don’t offer nearly as much protection as the scales on other fish.

Thus, they can be affected by parasitic and fungal infections before others in the tank. Not only that, but they are sensitive to medications.

Luckily, no ailments are specific to Yoyo Loaches. You will need to worry about common freshwater diseases, such as Ich.

If you notice symptoms of a disease, you must move the fish to another tank for treatment. There, you can safely use medications or natural remedies to cure your fish without affecting the others.

Author Note: The most effective way to reduce the likelihood of disease and sickness is to make sure the water quality in your aquarium is stellar. Clean water leads to healthy fish.

Food & Diet

Yoyo Loaches have mighty appetites. They need to be fed multiple small meals throughout the day to stay healthy. But, you also have to be wary of overfeeding! These fish will eat until they get sick.

Fortunately, you can feed Yoyo Loaches just about anything. They’re very opportunistic and will accept dried foods without any issues. Just make sure that you use sinking pellets or wafers.

These fish hardly go to the surface of the water, so you need to stick to foods that can sink to the bottom.

In addition to dried food, you can supplement their diets with frozen and live food. They love snacks like brine shrimp, earthworms, and more.

Yoyo Loaches will even eat snails. They have teeth in their throats that make an audible clicking noise as they eat. These fish will feed on freshwater snails in your aquarium and keep the populations low.

Behavior & Temperament

It’s a common misconception that Yoyo Loaches are timid. While they can spend some time hiding out in caves and plants, they will have no problem playing around once they get comfortable with their surroundings.

In fact, they’re one of our favorite freshwater species to observe for this very reason.

They thrive in groups of 4 or 5 fish. You’ll see them grouping up and playing. Unlike other loaches, this species isn’t nocturnal and will be quite active during the day.

In most instances, Yoyo Loaches will not show signs of aggression to other peaceful fish in the tank (they can be a bit nosy though). However, you might notice some fighting within the species.

These fish will pick on “weaker” Yoyo Loaches. That’s why it’s a good idea to have a larger group. By including more Yoyo Loaches in the tank, there’s a smaller chance of infighting among the group.

Yoyo Loach Tank Mates

As we stated earlier, having a small group of Yoyo Loaches is key. They do best when they’re in groups.

However, it’s good to introduce other peaceful species as well.

Yoyo Loaches do best when they have some stimulation from their tank mates. They need other fish to interact with, so add other similarly sized fish that can’t be viewed as food. Avoid any aggressive species that will show aggression.

These fish typically stick to the bottom and middle of the aquarium. So, having other species to occupy the upper portion of the tank is always good.

Here’s a list of some commonly used Yoyo Loach tank mates to get you started:

Author Note: Always monitor your fish very closely when introducing them to one another. Just because two species are typically compatible doesn’t mean it works 100 percent of the time.


Don’t expect your Yoyo Loaches to breed in your tank. There are no established breeding methods available for these fish.

This is because they tend to migrate during the breeding season in the wild. Females can fill up with eggs, but the eggs will not be fertilized in captivity.

Professional breeders have seen some success spawning these fish. However, most of the specimens you see on the market are from the wild.

If someone figures out a way to safely and reliably replicate this in a home aquarium setup we’ll make sure to add it to this guide.

Final Thoughts

Now that you know the basics of Yoyo Loach care you should go out and get one for yourself! These fish are a bunch of fun to own, and you’ll definitely spend a lot of time watching what they’re up to.

This is one of the species we find ourselves recommending the most. It doesn’t matter how long you’ve been into aquariums, this is a fish that is super-easy to own.

If you have suggestions on additional information we should add to this guide we would love to hear your suggestions. Just reach out to us via the contact form on our site and we’ll get back to you as soon as we can!

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