Dojo Loach: Ultimate Guide (Care, Diet, Breeding & More)

A Dojo loach or the weather loach swimming in a fish tank.

While the Dojo Loach will always thrive under normal aquatic conditions, it’s important to give them proper care if you plan to keep them at home.

That means quality water, a balanced diet, and freedom to play with their tank mates.

In this guide, we will be talking about Dojo Loach care in depth.

We want to help you understand what it takes to care for this fish species by discussing their ideal tank size, diet, tank mates, ideal water conditions, breeding, and more!

Species Overview

Ordinary people call them Dojo Loach, but scientists would want us to stick to their scientific name, Misgurnus anguillicaudatus. Regardless of what you call them, Dojo Loaches are a distinctive bottom-dwelling fish with a lovable personality to go with it.

It’s easy to judge them by appearance, but if you squint hard enough, you will see an amazing freshwater fish that’s perfect for bonding.

CategoryRating
FamilyCobitidae
ColorDark with Bright Spots
Lifespan7-10 Years
Care LevelEasy to Intermediate
Behavior & TemperamentPeaceful
CompatibilityPeaceful fish. Not suitable for a community with shrimps, very small fish, and snails.
Food and DietOmnivores that eat different foods
SizeUp to 12 Inches
Tank SetupFreshwater
Tank Size (Minimum)20 Gallons

Dojo Loaches are not one to shy away from humans. Their friendly nature is one of the main reasons many aquarists love them.

If you’ve been thinking about the perfect friend to introduce to your aquarium, choosing the Dojo Loach should be an easy decision.

They belong to the Cobitidae family and are sometimes called the Weather Loach or even the Pond Loach. Their carefully selected moniker, Weather Loach, is because they can detect changes in barometric pressure just in time before a storm.

Many aquarists have reported uncontrollable swimming in these fish with changes in barometric pressure when a storm approaches.

While this ability no longer makes them unique in the modern aquatic world, it made them one of the most prized species in ancient times, held in high regard similar to the goldfish.

In captivity, Dojo Loaches are among the most friendly fish species that create the perfect bond with their owners. They are one of the best options for beginner-level aquarists together with Molly Fish and other small fish

Lifespan

A typical Dojo Loach will live for 7-10 years. As expected, the average lifespan will depend on the quality of care they get from the aquarium.

Despite being an undemanding fish species that can survive in many conditions, your Dojo Loach may not endure unhealthy living conditions for a long time. It’s necessary to keep the water conditions at optimal levels.   

Appearance

For the record, Dojo Loaches are not eels. The first thing you will see in these fish is a long, slender body with small fins. Their bodies are perfectly rounded towards the top but with flat tails.

Their fins are smaller, especially when compared to eels, with well-positioned pectoral fins that sit behind the gills. 

Like most of the fish species in the Loach family, the Dojo Loach has a pointed head with multiple barbels, probably for feeding.

If you’ve seen them, perhaps you’ll agree that coloration is what differentiates the Dojo Loach varieties.

You will find them in different color combinations ranging from grey to light brown and green. It will be easy to spot the camouflaging types with dark brown spots all over their bodies in the wild. 

Size

A fully grown Dojo Loach measures about 12 inches in the wild. But in captivity, the maximum length may not exceed 6 inches.

However, this can significantly change if you give them enough space to grow and provide the right food. The water conditions will also be a significant factor in determining a Dojo Loach’s maximum length.

Dojo Loach Care

Dojo Loach care is easy. For a start, you should consider the kind of environment they come from in Asia, their native home.

A significant advantage in keeping the Dojo Loach is that they can withstand most aquatic conditions that many fish species would usually find hard to survive in.

While we will constantly praise them for their hardy nature, don’t forget to maintain the ideal conditions in the aquarium.  

As a caring pet owner, it’s always essential to give your Dojo Loch the best possible care they need to thrive. It’s more important to pay keen attention to healthy living by constantly monitoring their diet, tank decorations, and water conditions.

Tank Size

For their size, a Dojo Loach needs the right tank size to thrive in captivity. They spend most of their days swimming and will want to explore every area of the tank, especially the bottom part.

With that in mind, you should go with a minimum tank size of 55 gallons for the Dojo Loach. Also, the aquarium length shouldn’t measure less than 4ft if you intend to give them enough swimming space

If it’s a larger community, you will need a larger tank to keep every family member happy and healthy.

Water Parameters

Dojo Loaches are Asian natives spread throughout Japan, Korea, and China. If you can’t locate them in shallow water bodies, you will find them in small lakes, streams, and rice ponds.

They have an advantage of surviving in cold conditions that most other fish species of freshwater origin would generally struggle to live in.

Perhaps it is for the same reason they are now available in different places across the globe. With their resilience, you can simplify things for your Dojo Loach by maintaining the water parameters within the standard ranges as listed below:

  • Water Temperature: 50°F-82°F
  • Water Hardness: 5-12 dKH
  • pH Levels: 6.5-8.0

What to Put in Their Tank?

Dojo Loaches love to eat their tasty meals at the bottom of the tanks. Not to mention their love for digging, which readily exposes them to cuts and injuries from sharp objects.

So, setting up the ideal tank for their survival starts with including the proper substrates. And here, we recommend nothing but fine sand.

Regarding tank décor, you will have plenty of options to help you create the almost perfect habitat for your Dojo Loach friends.

You can settle for artificial or natural decor depending on the nature of the tank. But never forget to introduce the right hiding places for the fish.

Dojo Loaches might be one of the longest fish species in the aquarium scene, but this doesn’t make them the outright territorial rulers.

So, they won’t hesitate to hide when they sense any danger. This is where plenty of driftwood and other plants come in handy.

If you can’t get one of the two, you may want to include plastic decorations, which will work just fine. But be sure to get the right size for their vast bodies.

Still, on their constant love for digging, Dojo Loaches may occasionally uproot the natural plants you include in the tanks. But with proper anchoring, this shouldn’t be a problem at all.

For healthy living, you may want to pay attention to the tank’s general filtration and oxygen supply. And moderate water flow works perfectly for these fish. So, you can introduce air filters or the right equipment to ease filtration.

One of the most commonly overlooked aspects of Dojo Loach care is security. While they are always fun to watch and will significantly transform your aquarium, the Dojo Loach is also the escape artist of the modern aquatic world.

Under nobody’s watch, these fish may quickly jump out of unsecured tanks. Thus, you will need to seal all the potential openings using suitable breathable materials.

Common Diseases

Here comes their only disadvantage. While they are hardy fish that can endure many conditions in captivity, Dojo Loach appear to be more vulnerable to many diseases within the aquatic community.

Unfortunately, their small and thin fins do them no justice when it comes to protection. If you keep them within a large community, the Dojo Loach will be among the first group to show symptoms of fungal or bacterial infections.

As you may already know, these fish are highly susceptible to the Ich disease. And after contracting it, they will develop visible spots on the entire body and may die of increasing stress levels. Also, Ich is highly contagious, and you should isolate any fish that contracts it from the aquarium.

Furthermore, your Dojo Loach buddies may not tolerate the effects of Skinny Disease, a parasitic infection that’s similar to tapeworms in other animals. Your fish will constantly lose weight despite feeding on a healthy diet if they contract this condition.

At this point, you may be having second thoughts about keeping Dojo Loaches in your aquarium. But it doesn’t have to be that way.

You see, most of the diseases affecting the entire fish community (including the Dojo Loach) would never be a problem if pet owners maintain the right water conditions.

For Dojo Loaches, improving the water quality alone by testing its status is enough to keep almost all the diseases away. You don’t have to panic even with the Ich disease because simple over-the-counter medications will easily help the fish attain full recovery in just a few days.  

What Do Dojo Loaches Eat?

While in the wild, Dojo Loaches will prefer their favorite meal of organic matter such as algae to any food source. The same trend is witnessed in the tank, where they will still show a large appetite for algae snacks.

Being omnivores, they won’t be quite picky when it comes to feeding in the tank. Whether dried pellets, dry food, or frozen snacks, these fish will want to eat anything you can provide in captivity. So, it’s up to you to maintain a balanced diet that keeps them healthy.

Many aquarists have reported that these fish also eat aquarium snails, albeit at a slower rate. So, they may not be the best option to lower the snail population in the tank.

Behavior & Temperament

Dojo Loaches are peaceful fish species. Rather than cause trouble, they prefer to hide in the presence of a potential enemy.

They can get quite lonely when kept alone and spend much of their time hiding at the bottom of the tank. It would help if you allowed your fish to express their friendly traits by keeping them in groups of three or more.

As we mentioned earlier, Dojo Loaches are great explorers who may require keen monitoring at times. For that reason, they will be among the first to spot an escape route in the tank if you keep them in a larger community.

They are highly active when in groups. And if they don’t pile on top of each other as if to form one large pyramid, they will make several attempts to jump out of the tank to satisfy their enormous appetite for exploration.

But you will have to discourage this trend at all costs because it endangers their lives.  

Dojo Loach Tank Mates

You can have just one Dojo Loach as a pet in your aquarium, but we would never recommend it because of loneliness.

So, you will want to keep at least 3 in the tank. Luckily, they are a peaceful fish species that will live calmly with most fish in the community. They are not afraid to express their socializing trait even to the less aggressive fish of a different species.

For the better part of the day, Dojo Loaches will always want to occupy the bottom part of the tank. So, for compatibility, you should introduce suitable species that will occupy the upper and middle sections in the tank as their tank mates.

Typically, a Dojo Loach’s dream tank mate is an equally peaceful fish that will exist with these bottom dwellers in harmony. Some of the best options for the perfect pairing include the following:

  • Bichir
  • Kuhli Loach
  • Bitterlings
  • Harlequin Rasbora
  • Leopard Danios
  • Rosy Barbs
  • White Cloud Mountain Minnows
  • Different types of goldfish

Breeding

Let’s face it. Breeding Dojo Loaches can be challenging. Usually, many aquarists attribute this to the tough breeding requirements in the wild that are almost impossible to replicate in captivity.

In their natural habitat, long periods of cold temperatures precede the breeding season. So, if you happen to breed them in captivity, it will almost certainly be accidental. In many cases, the aquarist won’t even bother to try the breeding process, knowing how difficult it can get.

But if breeding were to occur, the female would lay as many as 50 eggs at any given time. But to complicate the breeding process even further, these fish species won’t be as parental as you may expect many fish to be. And without close monitoring, they won’t hesitate to feed on the eggs even before hatching. 

You should consider removing them from the breeding zone as soon as possible because hatching only takes a maximum of 3 days. Then, you can feed the little ones on infusoria until they are ready to eat other food products.

Final Thoughts

Apart from breeding, Dojo Loach care is pretty easy, and you can handle it anywhere regardless of your experience.

You won’t find a beautiful freshwater fish that’s willing to form a dream bond with its owners quite often. But such is the Dojo Loach, which never hesitates to express its sociable traits to any fish species in the same tank and even to humans.

We know the kind of investment you will be making if you choose to keep the Dojo Loach in your tank.

And we can’t help but recommend them to aquarists of any level looking to enjoy a wholesome fishkeeping experience with their beautiful buddies!

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