Dojo Loach is an interesting fish and a pretty rare sight in modern aquariums.
Although it might look quite bland at first, do not be mistaken. The Dojo Loach is full of surprises.
This fish is lovingly nicknamed the Weather Loach because many people believe they can sense coming weather changes.
In this article we will discuss everything you need to know about this unique fish. We will look at what their living conditions are like in the wild, what is a good aquarium setup, discuss tank maintenance and even look at how to breed them at home.
If you are not sure whether this sounds like the fish for you, keep on reading and let us convince you…
|Scientific Name:||Misgurnus anguillicaudatus|
|Color:||Dark gray and spotted|
|Lifespan:||Up to 10 years|
|Minimum Tank Size:||55 gallons|
|Tank Mate Compatibility:||Moderate|
The Dojo Loach (Misgurnus anguillicaudatus) is a unique fish that is native to the Northeast Asia. They are a member of the Cobitidae family, otherwise known as True Loaches. This is a pretty diverse group, containing around 260 species.
These Loaches are also known as Pond Loaches and can live up to 10 years.
One very interesting fact about them is that they are often called the Weather Loach. This has to do with how they react to changing weather conditions. They live in a region where weather can be quite severe, and it is believed that they can sense coming weather changes accurately.
Because the weather is very connected to atmospheric pressure, fish as aquatic animals are among the first to feel this.
Dojo Loaches have managed to capture the attention of fishkeeping hobbyists worldwide. You can find them in almost any online store or at your local retailer. They are not that expensive either, the majority will be priced at around $10.
- Experience Required: Freshwater fishkeeping.
- Nicknames: Weather Loach and Pond Loach.
- Color Forms: Silver, yellow, pink, yellow and albino.
- Size: 6 inches.
- Tank Size: 55+ gallon.
- Tank Temperature: 65-75°F.
For the most part their appearance and body form is similar to their family members. Their body is elongated and is covered in very fine but pronounced scales. Their mouth is usually surrounded by about 10 bristles, which they use as sensors.
Their tail (scientifically known as a caudal fin) is round and on their back they have a set of rare dorsal spines. They have small brown eyes that sit very close to their mouths.
Dojo Loaches can reach up to around 12 inches in length in the wild, but in the aquarium they are more likely to grow to around 6 inches.
There are a number of color varieties of these Loaches available.
The most common variety is a slivery brown base color with olive green spots.
Some of them are a result of artificial breeding while others have just appeared naturally. The coloration can also vary depending on the sex of the fish, with females being a lot lighter.
Their intensity of their coloration largely depends on the environment. If they do not get enough nutrients then they may appear faded or washed out. Alternatively if there is plenty of food and nutrients, the spots on their skin will appear a lot brighter. There is also a gold Dojo Loach variant. The Loaches from this variety are partly albinos and their body is light yellow, sometimes with a pink gradient.
Tank Mates For Dojo Loaches
Dojo Loaches will get along with almost any other species.
In the wild they would be found alongside a whole range of fish, from freshwater crayfish to eels.
When thinking about potential tank mates try to choose some fish that prefer the middle and top levels of the tank. That way you will reduce competition and avoid fights.
Also consider placing them only with peaceful fish.
The list does not stop there.
They live alongside Crabs, Shrimps, Crayfish, Frogs and even Turtles.
You should however avoid keeping them with large territorial fish and small fish which can be eaten.
Dojo Loach School
Dojo Loaches are fine on their own, in a pair, or in a group.
If you want a bit more diversity then you can keep them with other family members instead. Just remember you will need a large tank (125+ gallon) for this.
Wild Habitat and Tank Conditions
Originally these species come from Northeast Asia and China.
The natural water environment of the Dojo Loach is very dynamic – the weather in the region can change 3 or even 4 times a day. This is a big advantage for fish keepers as the temperature can be maintained within a wide range.
In the wild they are found in freshwater ponds and rivers with moderate flow. The riverbed in their habitat usually consists of many different plants and rocks.
Their natural environment translates wonderfully to the tank.
Even beginner aquarists won’t have any trouble with recreating it.
The only part that people with less experience might find a bit challenging is setting up a 55 gallon aquarium for the first time. But this tank is a good starting point if you plan to get more advanced species in the future.
Only one Dojo Loach can be kept in a 55 gallon tank. If you want to keep a pair then you will need an aquarium of at least 125 gallons.
Tank Set Up
- Minimum Tank Size: 55 gallons
- Tank Type: Freshwater planted
- Temperature: 65 to 75°F
- pH: 6.0 to 8.0
- Flow: Moderate
- Substrate: Fine sand and small gravel
These fish are pretty sturdy and can tolerate sudden changes quite well, but you should still maintain a stable temperature throughout the tank.
The flow should be moderate so a standard filter would do the job just fine.
Because they really love digging up the substrate in the tank you will need to use a mix of fine sand and small gravel. This will stop your fish from hurting themselves when they dig.
This aquarium should also have plenty of plants to make Dojo Loach feel comfortable. They will often hide around, especially early on when just introduced into the tank. Having a lot of shelter scattered around will reduce their stress and speed up the adaptation period.
There is one additional piece of equipment that you should consider: a lid. Despite their size they can jump out of an open tank without any problems.
Breeding Dojo Loaches
Breeding Dojo Loaches at home can be difficult.
If you decide to breed them you will need a 150 gallon tank.
Their breeding tank should resemble the one in the main aquarium with plants, rocks and soft substrate.
In the wild their breeding period takes place in spring (April-May). In the aquarium this can be stimulated by raising the temperature slightly, about 2°F. During spawning females can lay nearly 1000 eggs among bushy plants which provides nice shelter for the offspring.
It will take about 5 days for the first juveniles to appear.
The younglings have extended gills as well as a complex capillary network to help with breathing. After around one week the parents may start eating their own so remove the adult fish. The offspring should be fed brine shrimp, daphnia or special foods for juvenile fish.
Once they reach about 1.5 inches you can move them to the main tank.
Dojo Loach Care Guide
This is a great beginner fish.
Dojo Loaches are hardy, have a peaceful temperament and a good appetite. They do not require a lot of attention and just need the regular tank maintenance.
Water changes are crucial.
Try to partially renew around about 20-25% of the water every 2 weeks or so.
Common diseases include: infections, fish fungus, fin rot and nutrient poisoning. The best treatment for all of them is a healthy, well maintained tank.
Also just as a remember, earlier we were talking about how evasive these guys are. It is therefore important to have a lid on top of the aquarium.
What To Feed Them
Despite being omnivores, Dojo Loaches are primarily carnivores.
Their diet consists of small crustaceans, insects, fishes and so on.
In the aquarium they should be fed a balanced diet of live and artificial foods.
Live foods can include bloodworms and shrimp. Dojo Loach will also eat daphnia, small portions of diced meat or dried insects. The plant based part of the diet can include flakes, pellets or live plants. It is important to maintain a diverse and nutritious diet to keep your fish healthy. A good quality diet is better than any artificial supplement.
You should also keep in mind how big their portion are. Overfeeding can cause real problems and as such try to keep the portion size limited to something they will be able to finish in 5-10 minutes. If you see food lying on the substrate then it is a good sign that you are giving them too much.
Remember that they will not swim to feed and will mostly feed on the substrate.
Other than that there are not really any other dietary requirements. Just make sure that the portions are of the right size and the diet is balanced.
As you could probably tell from their shape, Dojo Loaches spend most of their time swimming around the bottom.
Just like the majority of other bottom dwelling fish they very rarely swim up to the surface or the midlevel of the tank.
They really enjoy digging in the substrate. This is a very natural thing for bottom dwellers (especially if there are not many places to hide) and they do this to alleviate stress.
Most of their day will be spent hiding around the tank, swimming through crevices and digging up the substrate. But remember how we mentioned their sensitivity to changing weather conditions? In those cases they can suddenly start circling the tank, swimming up and down. In their habitat, droughts can be quite common, even to the extent when the whole pond dries out. The Dojo Loach has adapted to survive this and they can dig themselves deep into the substrate and almost hibernate.
In addition to lungs they can use their intestines to help them with breathing. The walls of their intestines have plenty of blood vessels that are used in breathing if there is not enough oxygen in the environment.
Loaches are nocturnal, which means that they hunt for food through the night. They are also very peaceful and spend most of their time swimming around looking for food or hiding under rocks.
Although they do not necessarily live in schools, they can form pairs if you have other Loaches in the aquarium.
The Dojo Loach is a very unique fish.
They have some very unusual anatomical features, lead a very peaceful lifestyle and look beautiful. Their long lifespan and interesting behavior have made them a popular choice in the recent years.
If you are looking for fish to kick off your fishkeeping journey then the Dojo Loach would be a great option.
Maintaining their tank could not be easier.
Just make sure that the temperature stays in the acceptable range, change water often and clean the tank. That is it, there is not much else needed from you.
Do you have a Dojo Loach? Do you keep them in a community tank? Let us know in the comments section below…