Care Guide for Yoyo Loach

When it comes to choosing a pet fish, most of us are spoiled for choice. There are several aquarium pets that you can get, each having unique and definitive characteristics.

The Yoyo loach is a popular pet, appreciated for its distinct appearance and playful nature. Furthermore, this member of the loach family is peaceful with other fish, making it an excellent tankmate.

We are at your service if you need to know more about this fish. Read on to learn more about it.

Scientific Classification

  • Scientific name: Botia almorhae
  • Common names: yoyo loach, Pakistani loach, or Almora loach
  • Genus: Botia
  • Family: botiidae

Species Overview

The yoyo loach is a freshwater fish that is very popular among aquarium hobbyists. It has a striped body, which appears to spell “YOYO,” explaining the origin of its name. It belongs to the Botiidae, or loach family, whose members include the clown loach, zebra loach, skunk loach, and Bengal loach, among many more.

Unlike other members of the loach family, Yoyo loaches are active during the day, though some individuals get active at night. Their energy and playful nature during the day will lighten your space, a reason many people opt for them as housemates.

Natural Habitat


This freshwater fish is native to the slow-moving waters of the Ganges River in northern India and parts of Nepal. Despite going by the name Pakistani loach, it is not native to Pakistan, though it resembles another Botiidae member, Botia birdi, which originates from the country.

The waters of the Ganges basin are clean, high in oxygen, and have a slight acidity. Yoyo loaches frequently move to different surroundings, from rocky and sandy areas to areas filled with vegetation. The constant movement makes them highly adaptable to various environments.

Lifespan Details

Yoyo loaches can live between 5 to 8 years on average, which is a decent lifespan. However, several specimens have lived up to 20 years, though this was after heavy monitoring and care. With proper feeding and excellent tank parameters, Yoyo loaches will live longer.

The Appearance of Yoyo Loach

Like other loaches, the Yoyo loach has a long, thin body. The head is conical and scaleless, with a protruding snout. The base around the mouth is flat. At the tip of the mouth are barbels, which the fish uses to look for food.

One wrong assumption about this freshwater fish is that it lacks scales. On the contrary, it has scales, which are so tiny and embedded in its skin.

The coloration of the Pakistani loach is its most unique feature. The primary base color of the body is silver, though it may be yellow or gold in some individuals. Covering the body are black stripes and dots. When young, the stripes resemble the word “YOYO,” though they get mesh-like as the fish ages and the body grows. The bottom part of the yoyo is flat and does not have lines.


Almora loaches grow between 14 to 16 centimeters, or 5.5 to 6.3 inches, in the wild. In captivity, they are shorter, most reaching a length of 6.4 centimeters or 2.5 inches. They can grow longer, up to 13 centimeters, in larger tanks.

Yoyo Loach Care

You must ensure that your aquarium pet is always healthy and comfortable. Let us look at how to take care of the yoyo loach.

Food and Diet

Loaches are omnivores, meaning they eat both meat and plants but prefer the former. They will resort to vegetables if insects and other meat protein sources are unavailable. Yoyo loaches are easy to feed because of their diet versatility—they will eat anything edible.

Please note that loaches are middle- to bottom-feeders and spend most of their time scavenging for food. This calls for you to feed them food that will settle at the bottom of the tank, such as sinking pellets and freeze-dried foods.

Yoyo loaches love live foods, and you will be doing them justice by getting them some. Offer them brine shrimp, earthworms, and snails, which they enjoy.

What about tubifex worms? Tubifex worms for fish are a controversial topic. While they are healthy and readily available, many people are against them due to the risk of spreading diseases. To avoid the risk of infections, you should get tubifex worms from credible stores. Alternatively, you can rear them yourself, but you must ensure high hygiene conditions.

Loaches have a high appetite; thus, you should feed them small portions during the day. Be careful to avoid overfeeding them.

Due to loaches’ love for snails, they are a natural remedy for a tank infested with the mollusks.

Recommended Tank Size

A 40-gallon tank size is perfect for a single adult Yoyo loach. However, having one individual in a tank is not advisable, as this fish is social. When keeping several adult fish in a tank, you should account for roughly 15-20 extra gallons per individual. If keeping like six loaches, you will need a 90 to 100-gallon tank.

Juvenile fish can thrive in 20- or 30-gallon tanks, but you should shift them to bigger tanks as they grow. When dealing with loaches, a bigger tank is always ideal as it gives them ample space for movement and growth.

Proper Water Parameters

A crucial part of keeping pet fish is ensuring the water parameters are okay. Yoyo loaches are hardy and highly adaptable, but the wrong water conditions may affect their health. The right conditions should mimic their native place—the still waters of the Ganges River.
The water should be slightly acidic, with temperatures ranging from 75 to 86 degrees Fahrenheit.

The following summarizes the ideal water parameters for the yoyo loach.

  • Temperature: 75 to 86 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Water pH: 6.5 to 7.5
  • Water hardness: 3 to 12 dGH

You should change around 30% of the water weekly for cleanliness and to stabilize the conditions.

What to Put in the Tank

When setting up the tank, you must consider the extras it should feature. Yoyo loaches move a lot in their native range and can adapt to various environments as long as the water parameters are perfect.

Small rocks, gravel, and soft sand will work excellently for the substrate. Please avoid substrates with pointy or sharp edges, as they can injure the loach’s barbels when it is searching for food.

Loaches need hiding places in the aquarium. You can bring common tank plants, such as wisteria, Vallisneria, Java fern, crypts, and swords. Avoid plants with floating stems because the Yoyo loach can uproot them.

A cave is another perfect hiding place for this freshwater fish. Get a suitably sized cave: loaches cannot fit into tiny caves and dislike overly spacious ones. Driftwood and large rocks are other hiding spots for a Yoyo loach tank.

You can include lighting to improve the tank’s liveliness. Use mild lights, as too much light makes the fish uncomfortable.

Common Potential Health Problems

The Pakistani loach’s anatomy is its undoing when it comes to its susceptibility to diseases. The head doesn’t have any scales, but the rest of the body does. This makes it easy for disease-causing organisms to attack.

White spot disease, or ich, is a parasitic condition that affects all fish species, but the yoyo loach is among the most affected. The primary symptoms of ich are white spots developing all over the body and irritation. The fish will rub against various materials in the aquarium for relief.

Be careful when treating white spot disease, as some medications can be harsh on the Pakistani loach. It is advisable to use half the recommended dose and raise the water temperature to about 82 degrees Fahrenheit to eliminate the parasite.

Another condition that can affect this fish is a hole-in-the-head, which can be caused by fungi or dirty water. As the disease’s name hints, the fish will have dents on its head.

Yoyo loaches may also contract cotton ball disease, a bacterial infection where white mucus covers the gills. The fish may have difficulty breathing, acting as if gasping for air. You can prevent this disease by ensuring the water conditions are perfect. Clean the tank at least once a week, changing 30% of the water. Rinse additional materials that you add to the tank to prevent the introduction of disease-causing microorganisms into your fish’s habitat.

Furthermore, get your pet fish from reputable stores. Conduct a thorough inspection of the fish to avoid going home with a sick fish, which can infect its tankmates.

Behavior and Temperament


As mentioned earlier, the Almora loach is active during the day, a significant variation from most loaches, which are nocturnal. It is peaceful, playful, and social; it gets along well with other members of its species, though there will be occasional fights.

During fights, their color may fade, but it will return to normal once they are calmed. The rows create a hierarchy in the habitat, and as time goes on, the number of fights will go down.

Loaches frequently move in the aquarium to look for food or find a place to hide, which is why you need a big fish tank. The yoyo loach, being social, needs more of its species in the tank. Have at least six loaches in the aquarium.

Yoyo loaches can recognize their owners and may start jumping when you approach the aquarium. Note that they are excellent jumpers, and you may need a lid on the fish tank to stop them from escaping.

This Ganges Basin native is a good actor and may play dead on several occasions, similar to its cousin, the clown loach. It can stay still for up to 24 hours but will move when startled.
You may also notice a clicking sound from the loaches. They make the noise by grinding their teeth.

Yo-yo loaches must be handled with caution. Their spine area, near the eyes, has a membrane covering, which may come off, exposing a sharp edge that cuts through various materials. Handling the fish barehanded can lead to cuts.

Best Mates for Yoyo Loach

The yoyo loach is an active species and needs a tankmate that matches its intensity. Docile aquarium pets may fail to keep up with the energy, leaving them stressed. The tankmates should be smaller or the same size as the Pakistani loaches.

Potential mates should be comfortable with the middle and surface water portions, as Pakistani loaches are bottom dwellers.

Ideal mates for the yoyo loach include:

  • Goldfish
  • Clown loaches
  • Catfish
  • Angelfish
  • Congo tetra
  • Various plecos
  • Mollies
  • Corydoras

Do not put Yoyo loaches in the same tank as pet snails and shrimp, as they will prey on them. Also, avoid aggressive fish like tigerfish, betta, peacock bass, and tiger barbs, which can get into fights with the loaches.

Yoyo Loach Breeding

The Almora loach is a migratory fish that moves upstream to breed. Like most migratory fish, breeding this loach in your aquarium is almost impossible. The females can lay some eggs in the tank, but they won’t get fertilized. Professional breeders can handle the breeding as they have the right resources.

This fish shows slight sexual dimorphism when they mature, with males appearing slenderer than females.

Final Thoughts

The yoyo loach is an excellent consideration for a budding aquarium hobbyist or if you want an aquatic housemate. It is a colorful fish with a social and playful nature that will brighten your surroundings. Additionally, it is hardy and versatile, translating to easy care.

This piece takes an in-depth look at the Pakistani loach, providing you with the necessary information about it. Key subjects to note include their behavior, feeding, and water parameters.

You need a large tank to house this aquatic pet for its well-being. Furthermore, it needs tankmates, the best ones being fellow yoyo loaches. A tank should have about 5–6 loaches, though there will be fights in the initial days until they establish hierarchy.

They can also reside with other active fish, like goldfish, angelfish, and catfish. Always ensure the tank is clean and has the correct parameters to prevent infections.


How Big Do Yoyo Loaches Grow?

In captivity, Yoyo loaches can reach an average length of 2.5 inches or 6.4 centimeters, though they can grow up to 5 inches or 13 centimeters. Their size depends on various factors, such as diet, health, and tank size. Wild yoyo loaches grow longer, reaching 16 centimeters or 6.3 inches.

What is a Good Yoyo Loach School Size?

Yoyo loaches are social and need to be in a group of 5 to 8 individuals. Lone fish or those in small groups get easily withdrawn and show signs of stress, like aggression. Their social nature calls for a large tank of more than 40 gallons for adult fish. A 100-gallon tank is ideal for 5–6 loaches.

How Do You Tell a Yoyo Loach, Male Versus Female?

Yoyo-loach genders look similar, especially when young. You will notice slight changes when they reach sexual maturity. Males are slimmer than females and may have a reddish hue around the mouth and barrels.

How Many Yoyo Loaches Should Be Kept Together?

You can keep as many Yoyo loaches as you want, but for their well-being, you must keep around 5 to 6 together. They are social fishes and can get stressed if placed solo or in small groups. Expect some fights when you group the loaches for the first time, but they will be calm and playful with time.

Do Yoyo Loaches Eat Snails?

Yoyo loaches are omnivores and show a particular liking for live foods such as brine shrimp and snails. Thus, you should not keep snails in the same aquarium as Yoyo Loaches. The loaches will feed on them. The loach’s preference for snails makes it an ideal solution for a snail-infested aquarium.