YoYo Loach (Pakistani Loach)

Scientific Name: Botia almorhae (Gray, 1831)

Common name: Yoyo Loach, Almorha Loach, Pakistani Loach, Reticulated loach

Synonyms: Botia lohachata

Distribution: India, Nepal, Bangladesh.

Sexual Dimorphism: Females generally plumper all over than males and can get extremely fat when full of eggs. Males exhibit redness around barbels and mouth.

Maximum size: 6 inches

Care: In nature, the fish live in calmer water pool areas of highland streams. The young are usually found in more lowland waters. The tank should include lots of hiding places amongst rocks and driftwood. Excellent diggers that appreciate a sand substrate to protect the delicate barbels. Lighting should be subdued.

Feeding: Good quality flake, sinking pellets, algae wafers, chopped earthworms, thawed frozen Bloodworm, Mysis Shrimp, chopped cocktail shrimp. Avoid over-feeding as these fish are very greedy. This species is an avid consumer of snails.

Water parameters: pH:6.5-7.5 Hardness: Medium Max dh: <12

Temperature: 76ºF to 82ºF(22-27.7°C)

Breeding: Not bred in aquaria, but mature females regularly fill with spawn.


Botia almorhaeis a generally peaceful, robust loach that is regularly available. They should be kept in a group of their own species. Like Clown Loaches, they have a social structure, and a certain amount of in-fighting will be seen. For this reason, provide numerous hiding places so that less dominant fish may escape the attentions of more boisterous individuals. During times of fighting or sometimes at feeding time, a pair of fish may “gray out.” The base colour will darken considerably, changing the contrast between the markings and the regular body colour, so that the fish resembles more the colouration shown in the picture of the highly reticulated adult below.

Body markings can be very variable in this species, and there is a marked difference between juveniles and adults. Adults develop more “in-fill” of the juvenile markings to a point where the whole fish may be reticulated, hence one of its common names.

Within the ornamental fish trade and in most countries in the aquatic community, the fish is now known as the Yoyo Loach. This term was coined because of the noticeable juvenile pattern consisting of alternate ‘Y’s and ‘O’s along the fish’s sides, and is credited to long-term Loaches Online member, Ken Childs while he was working at Dolphin International, a fish importers in Los Angeles.

31 thoughts on “YoYo Loach (Pakistani Loach)”

  1. We have one yo-yo loach who we rescued from a family who had him in cold water tank with gold fish. We rescued him because he was attacking the gold fish.

    As a tropical fish, we were struggling to find a fish of whom he would get along with due to being in cold water we it would be wrong to get another yo-yo as we would need to warm the water up. And he’s quite happy in cold water as it’s all he’s known…

    Since he can’t live with gold fish, We decided to trial him with some cold water black Corydoras. They get along great! So he’s one yo-yo in a big group of corys now! We’ve made such a beautiful aquarium with a group of Corey’s and our yo-yo.

    He’s such a Character! And he’s become our favourite member of the family! Dont move your yo-yo on!

  2. Hi I have noticed a few comments about the yoyo loaches being aggressive. I have to say I’m experiencing the same thing, I have a 125l aquarium I dp regular water changes and I’ve never er had any issues untill I added these loaches they keep killing my fish I’ve lost so many and then I see them eating them leaving nothing but the outer skeleton, almost like they a sticking the insides and eyes out of them. I’ve been thinking about giving them up as I’m losing so many fish and guppy fry. I don’t want to keep them in this tank anymore with them tormenting the other fish, chasing them around the tank. They have killed my guppies, I’ve noticed some neon tetras missing, the killed my black bristle nose placs, dwalf gourami, and a court of platys. I’ve had to separate some fish the the 2nd tank is only a 30l do I can’t home them all. Now I’m considering buying another tank for the loaches but not sure what size tank will be needed and whether I have the space.

    I would really appreciate some advice as it is sad seeing the half eating torn apart fish and others being tormented like this.

    1. Forgot to say I have 3 of them two fatter and larger the other, which much slimmer and seems less aggressive.

    2. sorry for the delay in responding i’d move the loaches to a separate tank or move them on completely if you can they’re obviously not settling in your tank. A 90-100l tank should be good for 3-4 loaches as long as its got lots of floor area look for a tank that is shallow and wide/deep (front to back). put plenty of cover in there for the loaches to hide in caves/plants/bogwood piles etc and they should calm down a little

  3. Hi I did have two Yoyo loaches. One died last week. They were in an Aquarium with other fish but they popped out the other fishes eyes. I have had to buy another tank for them to live in. I now only have one in a 30L tank it’s about 9cm, do you think I should add another loach?
    He seems happy on his own darting around the tank, I worry if I add a new one he will kill it, please can you advise?

    1. They aren’t normally aggressive especially to mid and top fish suspect it wasn’t the loaches that had the other fish eyes. In a 30l tank you only want one they grow to 10-15cm when fully grown so a 30l tank is actually probably not big enough for one

      1. Hi Dave
        Thank you for getting back to me.
        The loaches were in a 80L tank before they were moved. I was filming them one day and witnessed one of the loaches taking out one eye of a platy then he went back for the other. I also have one ram that is still alive with one missing eye. Since the loaches have been removed my fish are lots happier and no more deaths in the tank.
        I got the loaches at pets at home and have been to other fish shops and they have the sizing is wrong as they state they grow upto 8cm. (I wished did some reading about them first, I just didnt think a shop would be wrong)
        When I purchased my new tank form aquajardin they recommended the 30L for the two loaches. I went back to get the water tested when one of the loaches died and they recomended that i get another two loaches and the tank is plenty big enough. I still only have one loach as I wanted to get some advise first.
        Do you think the loach will be unhappy on his own in the tank, would hate to think that he is stressed? he darts around happy enough and loves to hide in the rocks. Since the other loach has died his colouring has come back.
        Thank you again for your last reply.

        1. Wow those pet shops gave you some bad info regarding the fish unfortunately it’s all too common in the industry.
          A prime example of the tanks not being suitable was your fish were stressed that’s why they lost their colour and marking and also probably why they turned aggressive to others. He’ll be fine on his own but obviously if you want more you need bigger tanks

          1. Thats brilliant that you. He is so much happier on his own I think 🙂 but if he gets bigger I will just buy him a new tank (another one haha)

  4. I have three yoyo’s that are likely fully mature since they are between 4-5 inches. I expect I have one female and two males. Two of them are redder around the mouth and barbels. One of them has been carrying eggs for months now without releasing them. I’m pretty sure she has gone through this cycle before but carried for a shorter period of time. I’ve been concerned that something else may be wrong with her so I took her out and put her in my 10 gallon hospital tank. I didn’t feed her for about 4 days to see if she was just over eating but her belly remained the same size. Two days ago I took her out and massaged her belly and was able to excrete a cluster of eggs about 1/4″ or 6 mm. I was very nervous doing this as I didn’t know if it would kill her. She seemed to respond favorably the next couple of days by swimming around more. Her belly was a little smaller but still quite large so two days after my first attempt I have done the same procedure and was able to extract about the same size cluster. I did attempt to excrete more but nothing else came out and I felt I had stressed her as much as was reasonable. She seems to be doing well today and I hope I can return her to my 72 gallon display tank soon. You had mentioned that a female cannot lay eggs unless there is a male also. For people with just one female, what would happen with the eggs?

    1. My female didn’t even go through the egg production cycle until I added males to the tank I think and this is just pure thought as I’m not a biologist but the males must excrete some form of hormone that triggers the female egg production cycle

  5. I have a bio orb tank and was wondering if it would be ok to add on a Pakistani loach?

    1. Should be ok ish as long as there’s not a load of other fish in there and you put some plants/hidey spots in there for him

  6. Hi I’m wondering if you can help we have a female Pakistani loach with a large bump can she lay eggs without a male as we also have 3 albino bristle noses one being female with the other two Being male or would we be better to get more loaches ?

    1. They can’t pay eggs without a male a large bump may be simple food bloat or it could be disease or infection of some kind of possible I’d isolate it from the main tank into a separate tank and try and identify the number again known fish diseases. Could also be a parasite of some kind

  7. I have two belly fat yoyos and a slim one .l think these two are egg filled but not sure ,should l put them in a nursery net or leave them with my other fish in the main tank

    1. yoyo’s don’t seem to do well in nursery nets from experience they panic being trapped in. If they are full of eggs they’ll want to scatter them in any dense plants and a net is not really suitable. If you really want to breed them you’d be best moving them to their own dedicated tank but chances are they’re just fat from over eating more than anything else. Try not feeding the tank for 2-3 days see if they miraculously go thin again.

  8. I have two tanks. One has corydoras trilineatus which, to my delight, are now breeding. My pakistani/yoyo loach (1 fish) has not eaten (at least some of) them at this stage, but he has not eaten my pesky snails either -.- so perhaps he is more vegetarian than these loach are reputed to be?!? My second tank also has pakastani/yoyo loach (2 fish) and I noticed today that I have albino bristlenose fry getting around the tank. These are new loaches, introduced only yesterday. I have not noticed them eating my pesky fresh water snails in that tank yet but am hoping they will, without touching my new catfish fry. What are my chances with the fry in both tanks?

  9. Hi I’m julie I have one Yo yo loach I wasn’t told they should be in groups. Info I just read sounds about right my yo yo flick about all the time. Should I get more of them? I had 2 African dwarf frogs & they both deid one just recently do you know what could have happened? Thanks

    1. If you have the space in your tank there’s no harm in having a small group perhaps 3 or 4 total it certainly won’t hurt. With regards to the frogs I’m afraid I can’t really help at all I know absolutely nothing about keeping them although perhaps other readers of the site do and would like to assist.

      1. Thanks Dave I only have a small tank 76 litres I have 7 glow lights & 4neons as well as yo yo do you think I could get more yo yos. I haven’t got space for a bigger tank I used to have 2 one was a 100 litres &a other a bit bigger I had clown loach & Angels I loved them all

        1. Depending on the floor area of the tank since the loaches are bottom feeders you could probably have a 2nd one without much problem since the rest of the fish are mid feeders

  10. I have yo yo loaches and they tend to throw themselves about the tank as though hey were having a fit. Is this normal? Is it safe to keep them in a ank with small fry?

    1. Seems to be quite normal behaviour mine do it all the time swim close to bottom or side then do a spazzy flick and slam into the sides they’ve done it for years with no issues.
      As for the fry for the most part they should be fine may eat a few live bearer smallest baby fry but I’ve never had issues with them eating my fry

  11. males have a blood red around base of barbel and mouth , females are plumber all over

  12. Hi. We have a lovely Yoyo Loach that gets on really well with our Corydori. Pretty and super fast swimmers. A great addition to a large community tank. Vee in England

    1. Hi iv just recently bought 2 yo’yo’s,how can i tell which is female or male,i read that a majure female will fill with spawn anyway does this mean a male wud not be be required for breeding

      1. I’m not entirely sure how you sex them properly really as I have no experience of breeding these but a quick research turns up this “Mature females are plumper than males. It is widely thought that males may also display more reddish pigment on and around their barbels. ” There is no reference material to back this up though its simply observations.

        It appears they’re egg layers so the female will fill with eggs and then lay them someone she likes it could be stuck to something as with angels and cory’s or it could be just scattered as with rainbows for example. The male will then come along and fertilize them after they’ve been scattered. Its very rare I believe for males to fertilize eggs still within the female. They aren’t asexual and so will require a male and female pair.

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