Which Loach Species Is Best for Your Aquarium?

Loaches are fun and generally easy to keep fish in community aquariums. Generally, they are peaceful scavengers that spend their time rooting about for tidbits of food on the bottom of the tank. Many prefer to be kept in schools of their own kind, and some species will literally pine away with loneliness if kept alone. Here are some of the popular Loach species, so you can consider which one would be a good fit for you. Links within each species go to a more detailed profile of that particular...MORE fish.

  • 01 of 06
    Clown Loach - Chromobotia macracanthus
    Clown Loach. Timothy Paine

    Scientific Name: Chromobotia macracanthus
    Also Known As: Tiger Loach
    Adult Size: 12 inches (30 cm), usually smaller
    Lifespan: 15+ years
    Minimum Tank Size: 20 gallon
    pH: 6.5 - 7.0
    Hardness: to 12°dGH
    Temperature: 75-86°F (24-30°C)
    Tankmates: Keep with others of its own kind

    Easily the most recognizable of the loach family, Clown Loaches are active and colorful fish, but they get quite large over time. They are better suited for large tanks of 55 gallons or more because they do best in schools. A single specimen can be kept in a smaller tank, but for the health of the fish, it's not recommended.

  • 02 of 06
    Kuhli Loach
    Kuhli Loach. Robert Mollik

    Scientific Name: Pangio kuhlii
    Also Known As: Kuhli Loach, Khuli Loach, Prickly Eye
    Adult Size: 4 inches (12 cm)
    Lifespan: 10 years
    Minimum Tank Size: 15 gallon
    pH: 6.0-6.5
    Hardness: up to 10°dGH
    Temperature: 75-86°F (24-30°C)
    Tankmates: Keep in schools with small peaceful fish

    Coolies are more active at night. During the day it's quite common for them to find a cozy spot and remain hidden until nightfall. Like other loaches, they are happiest when in the company of a school of their own kind. Cover all filter intakes well, as this species has been known to find their way into them. 

  • 03 of 06
    Horsefaced Loach
    Horsefaced Loach. Alter welt

    Scientific Name: Acantopsis dialuzona
    Also Known As: Banana Fish, Horsehead Loach, Horse Face Loach, Long-faced Loach, Long-nosed Loach
    Adult Size: 12 inches (30 cm)
    Lifespan: 10 years
    Minimum Tank Size: 15 gallon
    pH: 6.0-6.5
    Hardness: to 10°dGH
    Temperature: 40-77°F (4-25°C)
    Tankmates: Peaceful with any fish

    This Loach truly does have a head that is distinctly horse shaped. It is one of the shyest Loaches, and owners often don't see them for days at a time. They love to burrow below the substrate with just the eyes protruding to keep an eye out for food or predators. One way to see them is to turn off the lights in the evening and drop a few sinking food tablets in the tank. Fitting the tank with a moonlight will make it easier to see them.

  • 04 of 06
    Misgurnus angullicaudatus - Weather Loach
    Weather Loach. Bernt Rene Voss Grimm

    Scientific Name: Misgurnus angullicaudatus
    Also Known As: Amur Mud Loach, Dojo Loach, Japanese Loach, Japanese Weatherfish, Oriental Weatherfish, Pond Loach
    Adult Size: 12 inches (30 cm)
    Lifespan: 10 years
    Minimum Tank Size: 20 gallon
    pH: 6.0 - 8.0
    Hardness: to 12°dGH
    Temperature: 64-75°F (18-24°C)
    Tankmates: Peaceful schooling fish

    Weather Loaches are known for their sensitivity to changes in barometric pressure. They are an active fish, but when weather changes take place, they become even more active. This species is one of the few Loaches that doesn't need to be kept in a school. They get along well with virtually all other fish and provide plenty of action for the tank.

    Continue to 5 of 6 below.
  • 05 of 06
    Botia lohachata - Yo Yo Loach
    Yo Yo Loach. Fanche

    Scientific Name: Botia lohachata
    Also Known As: Almorha Loach, Pakistani Loach, Reticulated Loach, Y-Loach
    Adult Size: 3-5 inches (7 - 13 cm)
    Lifespan: 10 years
    Minimum Tank Size: 20 gallon
    pH: 6.5 - 7.5
    Hardness: to 12°dGH
    Temperature: 75-86 F°(24-30°C) )
    Tankmates: Peaceful schooling fish

    Yo Yo Loaches proudly sport their name on their sides. They are an active, personable fish that will learn to recognize their owner. Like other loaches, they prefer to be kept in schools and can be shy until they become comfortable with their habitat.

  • 06 of 06
    Botia striata - Zebra Loach
    Zebra Loach. M. Agullo

    Scientific Name: Botia striata
    Also Known As: Candystripe Loach, Crossbanded Loach, Lined Loach, Striped Loach, Tiger Loach, Zebra Botia
    Adult Size: 4 inches (10 cm)
    Lifespan: 10+ years
    Minimum Tank Size: 20 gallon
    pH: 6.0-6.5
    Hardness: 5-12°dGH
    Temperature: 73-79°F (23-26°C)
    Tankmates: Peaceful schooling fish, good with all species

    Zebra Loaches are easily recognized by their many vertical stripes that even go through their fins. They are one of ​the smaller members of the loach family, and their smaller size and peaceful nature make them a good candidate for many community aquariums.