The Dojo Loach or most commonly known as Weather and Pond loach has always been a popular freshwater fish for aquarium owners. Unlike Kuhli Loach, Dojo Loaches are easy to take care of. The fish’s exceptional unpretentiousness, calm temperament, and fascinating behavior appeal to aquarists.
There is an interesting fact about the name weather loaches. This is because of their ability to sense changes in barometric pressure before a storm. In the hours before a storm, as the barometric pressure decreases, the fish become highly stressed and run around the tank.
They’re known as one of the most beginner-friendly fish. They’re easy to keep safe thanks to their hardiness, even if you don’t have a lot of fish-keeping experience.
Even though it is easy to care for Dojo Loaches, you must know properly about them before you decide to keep them in the tank. Hence, today our guide will focus on everything you need to know about dojo loaches including care, breeding, tank setup, and everything else.
The scientific name of Dojo loach is “Misgurnus anguillicaudatus”. This is a native Asian fish that originated from Japan and China. but it is now found throughout the world, including Russia and Siberia. It can now be found all throughout the world.
This fish is often also used as a food source in different parts of the world. You will often see this fish being used as bait to catch even larger fishes.
Size of Dojo Loach
In captivity, Dojo Loach grows a bit smaller compared to when in the wild. When fully grown in captivity, the typical Dojo Loach measures no more than 6 inches in length. When there is plenty of space to expand, however, some aquarists have seen them grow considerably longer.
Whereas these fish can grow up to almost 12 inches in length in the wild. This can happen in tanks. However, they’ll need a lot of space and well-kept conditions if you actually wish to see them grow in such a huge length.
Appearance and looks
Just Like Kuhli loaches, Dojo loaches are also mistaken for eels; as they have much similar appearance. their bodies are long and slender, with very small fins. Not only that but their upper bodies are rounded like an eel. It continues to flatten out as it gets closer to the tail.
They have a similar-looking head to other breeds of loaches. The head of the Loach is somewhat pointed, which is somewhat typical in this family of fish. This is due to their downturned mouths, which are surrounded by barbels. Moreover, the fins are thin, which adds to the eel-like appearance. The dorsal fin is situated near the tail with the last quarter of the body. heir pectoral fins, meanwhile, are just behind the gills. They’re sometimes used to get to the bottom of their surroundings.
The most interesting thing about them is their barbels. They have several barbels around their head. They’re often used to detect food. The barbels also have other uses like they use barbels to bury themselves by digging into the substrate. Several smaller barbels can also be found just below the eyes.
Dojo Loaches can come in a huge variety of colors. They come in a wide range of hues. Strong olive green, light brown, or grey, and even more. The fish will, in most cases, have lighter bellies. Dark brown spots can also be seen on certain specimens, which aid in camouflage. A distinctive color variation is available. Fish that turn a goldish yellow color are known as gold Dojo Loaches.
How to Differentiate Male and female
It is not easy to differentiate the male and female when it comes to Dojo Loaches. Sexual dimorphism exists in them. However, the distinctions between males and females are minor. You’ll need to keep an eye on the pectoral ray. Males’ second pectoral ray is slightly longer and more triangular in shape than females. On the body sides behind the dorsal fin, they have a nub shaped by fatty tissue.
Temperament and Behavior
Dojo loaches are bottom dwellers hence they prefer to stay at the bottom hidden. They are a calm species. When they’re challenged, they’ll hide, but if they’re at ease, they’ll stay out in the open. When a larger group of fish is present, these fish become very social and playful. They have unique personalities that leave you guessing about what they’ll be doing.
These critters are notorious escape artists, as we previously said. They spend a lot of time in the tank exploring. As a result, they will seek out and exploit possible escape routes. It’s not unusual for them to attempt and climb out of the tank due to their high activity level and need to run.
Do not worry, even if you find them outside of the tank jumping out because they have the ability to use atmospheric oxygen outside of the water. This is a unique feature of this fish and they do it on a daily basis in the wild. Even if this scenario happens, you just need to reintroduce them into your tank.
One thing that you will love about them is that they are really good pets. Dojo Loach gets along well with humans. If you take good care of the fish and get them used to you, they’ll most likely let you touch and feed them by hand. Most of them are really peaceful and can live along with other fishes.
However, aquarists have reported that their fish are too active and nip at fins. However, as long as the tank size permits and the water temperature standards are met, there should be little or no conflict between freshwater species.
Food And diet Requirements
When it comes to food and diet, Dojo Loaches are really easy to feed as they mostly eat all types of fish foods including snails. In the wild, they eat only organic matter including algae. They’ll also sift through your tank for tiny algae snacks. They are omnivores, though, and will eat everything you put in front of them.
They will eat whatever food comes their way in the water. Since they like to stay at the bottom of the tank, make sure that any other freshwater fish in the tank aren’t consuming any of the food until it reaches your loach. Since loaches like devouring snails, they can be used to treat snail infections in aquariums. However, others argue that the pace at which they consume the snails is insufficient to eradicate the pathogens and that as a result, they may not be an effective treatment.
Moreover, they also love to eat fish eggs which can be a problem if you are keeping them in the breeding tank. Green peas are a favorite of the loaches, but they must be skinned before being placed in the aquarium. They really like cooked or blanched vegetables, so you can feed them some of those as well. You can also feed them fish pellets or tablets, or mosquito larvae.
Since they can be fed several times a day in small amounts, it’s best to offer them a variety of food during the day. Maybe some algae on one day and maybe dry food pellets on another day. live earthworms for one serving, and maybe peas for another. They also like to eat small fishes, hence do not put them with smaller fishes than themselves.
Common Diseases for Dojo Loach
Loaches no matter if they are Kuhli loach or Dojo Loach, they suffer from a lot of diseases and special care needs to be taken for them. They are more disease-prone than most other freshwater animals. Their scales are often smaller and narrower, providing less protection. These fish are often the first to develop bacterial or fungal infections in a group tank.
You need to make sure that they don’t get stressed as they do not react well to stress. Changes in water temperature can cause fish to become stressed, which can lead to a variety of diseases. Although most aquarium fishes are susceptible to Ich, loaches are especially susceptible, and they become ill quickly. Also, be careful when you add new members to your tank as this can cause stress to your Loaches also.
Dojo Loaches are very prone to skinny disease. This is very straightforward to note because, as the name indicates, the fish might be eating the same amount of a well-balanced diet but still suffering from weight loss. Internal parasites in the loaches’ bodies are the primary cause of weight loss, which can be treated with the necessary meds.
White spots appear on the skin of loaches, which must be handled right away. Since the medications required for loaches are nearly half of those required for other animals, this must be taken into account when handling them.
As loaches are very prone to disease. It is better to keep prevention beforehand. The secret to keeping diseases at bay is to keep an eye on and improve the water quality. Poor water quality can cause stress and disease in the fish that live there. Every week, we suggest routine testing and a 30 percent water improvement. Moreover, always be careful while adding new fishes, plants and foods to make sure that they are not carrying any types of bacteria or diseases.
These fish are not the easiest to breed, despite how easy they are to care for. Many home aquarists avoid attempting it because the conditions are too difficult to meet. Breeding the Dojo Loach is a bit of a challenge. The females are slightly larger and healthier than their male counterparts, and there is little knowledge about how to breed them correctly.
However, if you are still keen on breeding them, then you need to follow many important steps to achieve it. Breeding them necessitates many months of cold temperatures. Seasonal shifts in the wild are simulated in this way. Also, you should dim the aquarium’s light to allow the loaches to breed naturally. Winter to spring is the best time for breeding, so you should change the lighting accordingly.
What you can do is, over the winter, you can reduce the light to be very dim and then keep increasing as spring approaches. When spring comes, the loaches should have about a half-worth day of sunshine. This will encourage them to start reproducing. When one of the males in the tank is breeding with one of the females in the tank, the other adult fish, especially the males, become irritated.
Even the breeding process can last for several hours and is fun to watch and enjoy. When the female fish is ready to breed, the male fish approaches her and begins courting her. This courtship will last several hours, by which time the male will have fully engulfed his female. Only after the entire breeding process is completed – that is, when the female has laid the eggs, and the male has fertilized them – is this status changed.
The female will usually lay up to 50 eggs at a time. It’s essential to separate the adults from the larvae, whether you scheduled the spawning or not. They show no parental activity and are capable of eating the eggs—the eggs hatch in around two to three days. It would be best if you continued feeding the fries until they are adults. You may feed them infusoria for several weeks before they are big enough to eat baby brine shrimp at that stage.
Care Guide for Dojo Loaches
The care routine for Dojo Loach is not that hard, which makes it a popular fish for even beginner aquarists. They can survive in water temperatures that would make most fish nervous, giving you a lot of leeways. In fact, these fish are thought to be fairly impregnable because it takes drastic changes in their water conditions to affect their health.
But, even after all these, it is important that you read and take care of all of their tank requirements properly. Hence down below, we will talk about their tank requirements and water parameters.
Optimal Water Parameters
They can easily survive in most conditions. This is mostly due to their versatility of living all throughout the world. When it comes to water conditions, these fish are extremely tolerant. They can survive in much colder water than other freshwater animals. You can make it easier for your fish in captivity, despite their toughness in harsh environments. To keep your Dojo Loach safe, follow these water parameters.
Although Dojo Loaches can tolerate a wide range of temperatures, they thrive in a temperature range of 58 to 77 degrees Fahrenheit. The temperature should not fluctuate too much or significantly during the day. Temperature changes would stress the fish regardless of its ability to adjust. With soft to medium water hardness, you should hold the pH of the water between 6.0 and 8.0.
Summary of Water Parameter
Tank Size: Min 55 gallons
Temperature: 58-77 degrees Fahrenheit
Hardness: Soft to Medium. (5-12 dKH)
To stay safe, Dojo Loaches need a large tank. They enjoy swimming and exploring the tank’s depths. Smaller tanks would feel crowded and awkward for these critters because they can grow very long. It is often preferable to have too much room than too little. A 40-gallon (151.4 L) aquarium is recommended for one dojo Loach, with a 55-gallon (208.2 L) aquarium being even better.
Please do not make the mistakes of keeping these fish in the outside pond because they are well known for escaping. Tanks that are larger are often favored. This is particularly true if you want to get multiple Dojo Loaches or set up a larger group tank.
Dojo Loaches like to dig into the substrate. To encourage your fishes to burrow, you’ll need a smooth, muddy substrate; gravel and other coarse substrates will stress your fish out because it won’t be able to hide and show its natural behaviors. Do not keep hard rock substrate at the bottom of the tank as a substrate. Stick to something smooth since coarse or sharp materials, such as gravel, will easily cut them.
Plants and décor
It is important that you design your aquarium with enough hiding places. It is created with a variety of trees, smoothed rocks, and driftwood. When Dojo Loaches are threatened or afraid, they will hide. Plastic decorations are fine as long as they are large enough to accommodate the fish. If the fish have no other places to hide, they will sometimes bury themselves.
It’s important to protect all aquarium decorations and plants in the tank, so the dojo loach doesn’t knock anything over when digging. There aren’t many conditions to be concerned about when it comes to decorations. Depending on your preferences, you can use natural or artificial decorations. You have to anchor the plants very well, or else they can be uprooted when Dojo Loaches dig into the substrate.
Dojo loaches need a constant supply of pure water to live. As a result, we’ll have to filter the water several times before using it in the tank with the loaches. Filtration and oxygenation are also very relevant. Weather Loaches like a steady stream. This can be accomplished by installing a filtration device underneath the substrate. Air stones, on the other hand, are also successful.
Lid and additional accessories
Dojo Loaches are known for their escaping capability, and hence you need to secure your tank carefully to avoid the fish from escaping. They always swim up filter tubes or jump from open tank lids. This also means they’re more likely to get out through tiny gaps and other crevices between the hood/lid and tank hardware.
Examine your tank and make a list of all potential escape routes. Using a clip or tape, secure the tank cover. Then, to prevent larger filtration tubes from passing through the opening, fill them with sponge or filter media.
Lighting is also quite essential for them to live happily. Dojo loaches can withstand moderate lighting if preferred plants need slightly higher intensities.
Tank Mates for Dojo Loaches
Dojo Loach can live alone in the aquarium, but you should consider keeping them at least in a group of 3 to thrive. They thrive in group tanks as well, thanks to their peaceful existence. They’ll show signs of socialization when they’re around other non-aggressive fish. They are often seen lying out with other animals or chasing them around the aquarium.
Fin-nippers that are more violent should be stopped. Often bear in mind that tropical fish and dojo fish are incompatible when it comes to preferred water temperatures.
There are few fishes that really go along with Dojo loaches. These include
Zebra Danios: The zebra danio is a quite active mid and upper dweller who thrives in water temperatures ranging from 65 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit. Since these black and silver striped fish only reach a length of about 2 inches (5 cm), they must be kept in groups of at least 6 or more.
While zebra danios are hardy, they will still need enough room to swim and engage in schooling behaviors. Hence, they become a really good companion for Dojo Loaches.
Paradise Fish: They live in a similar water temperature as a Dojo Loach. If you want to make a statement with your dojo loach tank, the paradise fish is the way to go. These fish grow to be around 2-4 inches long. These fishes are really aggressive but go well with Dojo Loaches.
Dojo Loaches: They can live together easily and in a group of 3 at least. These fishes tend to be housed in groups and will thrive in a tank with only other fish of their own species. Some hobbyists believe that dojo loaches excel in groups of at least three, whereas others claim that they prefer to be alone. Although every fish is unique, they like to stay in groups.
White Cloud Mountain Minnow: Just like the Zebra Danios, white cloud mountain minnows are also middle and top dwellers. They happily live in cooler water temperatures, especially between 60- and 72-degrees Fahrenheit. These fish only reach a maximum of 1.5 inches (2.5 cm) and must be held in at least five groups. Given their small size, they are very aggressive swimmers.
Goldfish: One of the few fish species that can be housed with goldfish is the dojo loach. Goldfish and dojo loaches can get along swimmingly as long as there is enough space for everybody (and sufficient filtration). This can only be attempted if the aquarium is at least 55 gallons in size (208.2 L).
Dojo Loaches are really interestingly looking fish that looks like an eel. It is easy to take care of species that even beginner aquarists feel comfortable taking care of. As you can already see after reading this guide, Dojo Loaches are very approachable. No matter how much less experience you have, you can handle this species.
They are bottom dwellers and like to live at the bottom of the aquarium. They are quite peaceful in nature. Hence, you need to be very careful while finding the perfect tank mates for them; you can select tank mates using my guide as a reference. I provided everything in this guide related to Dojo Loaches that you will ever need to know about them.