Dojo Loach Care Guide

Dojo Loach Care Guide: Tank Setup, Feeding, and Breeding

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Forget watching the weather news; now Dojo Loach will tell you when it’s going to rain!

These incredible fish are extremely social species with numerous personalities and interesting quirks when provided the ideal conditions.

Therefore, it would be a miss if you didn’t introduce a Dojo Loach to your community tank.

For the best dojo loach care, there’s no need to worry. In this article, we’ll show you more information about this species and list some specific requirements of the optimal environment to keep Dojo Loach.

Dojo Loach Overview

Dojo Loach Overview
Dojo Loach Overview

Dojo Loach is an incredible freshwater fish that hails from the family of true loaches or Cobitide. It features an imposing personality, making it a proper option for most aquarists.

The fish has some common names, including dojo fish, oriental Loach, Japanese weather loach, Pond Loach, weather loach, oriental weather fish, golden dojo, etc.

Cantor first found Dojo Loach in 1842, and it is deprived of Asian counties like China, Korea, Japan, northern Vietnam, and Siberia.

Currently, Dojo Loach has been introduced in different areas all over the world, such as Germany, Spain, Canada, Italy, Australia, Uzbekistan, and the US.

This freshwater species is a bottom dweller, and in their natural environment, they live in shallow waters with a dense amount of plant life with muddy substrates such as bogs, ponds, streams, and rivers.

Dojo Loach has peaceful and interesting behavior, making them great community critters. The fish are also known to be susceptible to atmospheric pressure and weather changes. Thereby, in the aquarium or their natural habitat, they will begin having disquiet behaviors, looking out from the water and swimming all around the tank if the weather has some changes.

Sometimes, you might see your Dojo Loach moving into a vertical swimming position when each storm comes. Plus, this type of behavior can be used to predict natural disasters like earthquakes or tsunamis.

Dojo Loach Size & Appearance

Dojo Loaches look like a short eel. They can live up to 8-10 years and expand up to 12 inches. Their bodies are skinny and long and their fins are fairly short and close to the body.

They feature 6 fleshy barbels that go around their downturned mouths. These whisker-like appendages are utilized to scour the substrate for some food.

There are taste buds on barbels that help Dojo Loaches seek tiny bits of food in the cracks and crevices in the pebbles and sand at the waterway’s bottom.

Naturally, Dojo Loaches have a light gray color and are covered with dark brown speckles from head to tail. However, there are some captive-bred color varieties in the market.

There are a number of varieties of Dojo Loach in terms of color.

  • Regular Dojo Loach

The fish features a brown to yellow color. Its upper part of the body has a marble pattern of greenish-gray to dark brown that bleaches to a paler hue underneath.

  • Golden Dojo Loach

This loach has an elongated body with tiny visible scales. Besides, they’ve got a tall rounded fin, infraorbital spine under their skin, and more than 10 barbels around their mouths. They have yellow or brown eyes, and their general appearance is often goldish yellow.

  • Albino Dojo Loach

They have red eyes, and their body does not have color pigments.

Dojo Loach Behavior and Temperament

Dojo Loaches are extremely peaceful. If they feel threatened, either in their natural environment or in the aquarium, they will hide. In addition, the fish tend to stay out in the open in your tank when they feel comfortable.

Besides, they are social and playful when kept in a group, so you should raise them in a large tank in a shoal of at least three. Plus, these fish are also friendly with humans. If you take care of them and get used to them, Dojo Loaches will let you touch and feed them by hand.

In the tank, the fish likely explore the space as they are notorious escape artists by nature. If they have an escape route in the aquarium, they will leverage it to try jumping out of the tank.

Set Up a Dojo Loach Tank

How to Set Up a Dojo Loach Tank
How to Set Up a Dojo Loach Tank

Tank Size

Dojo Loaches love swimming and discovering, so make sure you get them a sizable aquarium. These fish can expand up to 12 inches. If you raise them in a small tank, they might feel cramped and uncomfortable.

The minimum size of a Dojo Loach tank is 55 gallons in capacity. Additionally, to offer enough swimming space for your fish, the aquarium should be at least 4 feet long.


If you decide to raise Dojo Loaches, you need to get a filter for your aquarium. These large fish will release a large amount of waste, and their water will become dirty if it’s not thoroughly filtered.

The fish produce urine and feces into the water. Gradually, this fish waste builds up in the tank and begins to rot, which will release ammonia into the water column.

Ammonia is extremely toxic to fish. It only needs one drop of ammonia in a 13-gallon tank to make fish stressed, possibly even fatal cases for some species.

It might seem like all tank filters do is just pump water around the aquarium, but they actually do far more.

When the water is pumped via the filter, it runs through some types of filter media. Biomedia is one of the most popular filter media, which is covered with beneficial bacteria to detoxify tank wastes.

These helpful bacteria in the filter will absorb ammonia and convert it into a chemical called nitrite (NO2-1) and then transform the nitrite into nitrate (NO3-)

Nitrate is quite nontoxic and can be allowed to accumulate in the tank in between water changes.

For Dojo Loaches, you will need a filter that can contain a significant amount of biomedia. And a canister filter is highly recommended. The large capacity of a canister filter will bring you plenty of room for biomedia to keep up with all the waste in the tank.

Water Parameters

  • ¬†Temperature: 50 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit
  • pH: 6.5 to 8
  • Ammonia/ Nitrite: 0
  • Nitrate: >40 ppm
  • GH: 3 to 15 dGH
  • KH: 4 to 8 dKH


Fine sand is the most suitable type of substrate for Dojo Loaches. These fish loves digging into the substrate, sometimes digging down and burying themselves completely in periods of stress.

It is recommended to use a sand bed that is at least 2 inches in depth.

A clay substrate or sharp gravel could hurt a loach’s barbels, face, or sides when they try to burrow down.


Dojo Loaches don’t require specific lighting to thrive. They belong to nocturnal species that prefer the light to be off.
However, you still should use a red light at night, encouraging those shy, nocturnal tank inhabitants to emerge.

Plants and Decorations

As Dojo Loaches can be shy and prefer hiding during the daytime, you had better offer a lot of hiding spots for them to relax if they feel stressed.

Fill the tank with numerous smooth rocks, driftwood, or decoration. The more caves and little dense they can select from, the happier they are.

Moreover, Dojo Loaches love digging, so they are notorious for uprooting plants that are grown in the substrate.
You can place plants in pots to prevent them from marauding the fish.

Another good idea would be to anchor plants to driftwood and rock, such as Java fern, anubias, African water fern, or flame moss.

Dojo Loaches will not want to tear up your plant; they just accidentally do it as they’re rooting around. Therefore, adding plants that cannot be pulled up will help you relish some stunning greenery without the constant worry of dealing with uprooted plants.

Tank Mates

One of the important things you should note down is not putting Dojo Loach alone. They are social species, so you can house them with non-aggressive fish. As they are bottom dwellers, you would want to look for their tank mates that live in other parts of the aquarium, such as the top of the middle.

Here are some suggestions for you:

  • Zebra danio: The fish are mid-water and upper-water dwellers, so they won’t share the room with your Dojo Loach. The ideal temperature to house these fish is 65 to 75 Fahrenheit.
  • White cloud mountain minnow: These look like¬† Zebra danios and the proper temperature to raise them is 60-72 degrees Fahrenheit. These are smaller than Zebra danios and can grow to 1.5 inches.
  • Paradise fish: This is another great tank mate for Dojo Loach. It is an ornate version of gourami fish. They can grow up to 2-4 inches.
  • Dojo Loach: Most aquarists assume that Dojo Loach thrives best when kept in a group. You should keep at least three of them to make them feel happy and comfortable.

Nutritional Requirements

Nutritional Needs For Dojo Loach
Nutritional Needs For Dojo Loach

When it comes to eating and opportunistic meals, Dojo Loaches often lack discrimination. These omnivores will happily consume any food that they can find in the tank.

Since the fish tend to inhabit the bottom of the aquarium, you need to ensure any tank mates in the upper levels do not eat all the food and the food can sink to the bottom of the aquarium.

It is ideal for providing a lot of living, dried, and frozen types of food, such as bloodworms, earthworms, brine shrimp, or other meat-based products.

Dojo Loaches will happily devour anything from pellets to flakes to sinking wafers.

Do not rely on them being able to live off the scraps left from your other fish. The fish might be fairly hefty, so you need to provide food specifically for them.

As Dojo Loaches can be very shy since you turn on the light, it’s best to feed them as the lights are turned off. That way, the food won’t be eaten by other fish before the Dojo Loaches get a chance to get any.

Dojo Loach Gender Breeding

Regarding gender differentiation for the Dojo Loach, the male features distinct physical qualities. The male fish is likely longer and have thicker pectoral fins along with containing fatty tissue on the body behind their dorsal fins.

Dojo Loaches don’t often spawn in home tanks. In their natural environment, they breed during the rainy season.
There are many people accidentally triggering a spawn by making large water changes. Therefore, you can try to encourage them to breed by performing large water changes. Note that the water should be slightly cooler by 2 to 3 degrees to mimic their environment being flooded with rain.

When the fish start to spawn, the female and male will move together around the aquarium and the female will lay a few dozen eggs in the water as the male fertilizes them.

The eggs will glue themselves to any surface they reach when they fall.

It’s best to bring the eggs to a separate tank. After 1-3 days of being laid, the eggs will start to hatch, and the babies should become free-swimming several days after that.

You can feed the fry with food specifically for baby fish. Then you can graduate to baby brine shrimp and crushed flake.

Common Diseases

Dojo Loach is considered hardy fish, but they are more sensitive to diseases than other aquarium fish.

You should treat Dojo Loach with special care as they do not react well to stress. Changes in the water’s temperature can increase stress levels, resulting in a series of diseases in the fish. While Ich is common to the majority of fish bred in tanks, Loaches are more susceptible to this.

This is because they have scanty scales that attribute to more skin exposure. Dojo Loaches get white spots on their skin, and this needs to be treated instantly. Medications for these fish are almost only half that is needed for others, so you need to be careful when treating them.

Moreover, Dojo Loaches might be afflicted with skinny diseases. It is very easy to notice because the fish might be consuming the same amounts of the properly-balanced diet and yet reducing weight. Weight loss is caused by the internal parasites in the body of the fish. You can treat the disease with appropriate medications.

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Dojo Loaches are really lovely fish that can be amazing additions to a tank. They are excellent scavengers that will take care of leftover food from top dwelling tank mates.

They are also very peaceful, not showing aggression towards any other fish.

If you’re willing to run a large cold water setup, several Dojo Loaches can be a part of your aquarium cleanup crew.

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