The Dojo Loach, often referred to as the Weather Loach or Pond Loach, is one of the most popular aquarium fish around. This fish has gained popularity because of its ability to survive well in both freshwater and brackish (salty) environments and also due to its attractive red and black striping that resembles a kimono-like robe or dojo in Japanese.
The dojo loach can be an excellent addition to your freshwater aquarium if you’re prepared to meet its special needs. They are small, nocturnal bottom-dwellers that make great scavengers in your tank because they eat leftover fish food and generally keep the bottom of the tank clean.
A popular pet because of its unique color patterns and peaceful demeanor, the dojo loach has also been used as an addition to aquaponics systems. If you’re interested in keeping dojo loaches, consider the following information about their care and characteristics when determining whether these fish are right for you and your aquarium or pond setup.
They are one of the most interesting-looking loaches available in the aquarium hobby today, and they’re also quite challenging to care for properly. Properly cared for dojo loaches can live over 30 years, though they usually don’t live much more than 10 years in home aquariums. If you’re considering adding one of these unique fish to your aquarium, then read up on its needs first so that you can provide an optimal environment for it to thrive in your care!
Origin and descriptions
The dojo loach is a very popular aquarium fish because of its small size, passive behavior, and low maintenance requirements. Originally from China, they are found in slow-moving streams with sandy bottoms. They are generally found near other bottom-dwelling species such as flathead catfish, torrent catfish, giant gourami, botiid loaches, and bamboo suckers.
This pond loach requires a sandy substrate where it can bury itself when frightened or during rest periods. It prefers temperatures between 20–26°C (68–79°F). Dojos should be kept in groups since they have a strong social structure and have been known to stress and even kill each other if housed alone for an extended period of time.
Though peaceful toward their own kind, dojos may harass or attack smaller fish or those who share their environment; larger tankmates that won’t fit into their mouths are recommended. A tight-fitting cover is essential. A fully grown dojo will reach about 30 cm in length, but like many other small fish species, they grow quickly and males often become sexually mature before reaching 4 inches long.
Because of their small size, it isn’t recommended that they be mixed with shrimp fry or snails (these will be eaten). Also, long-finned species such as angelfish, guppies, etc., may try to nip at them, so keep these out of reach or separate them with a divider.
The dojo loach, also known as weather loach, is a freshwater bottom-dwelling fish from Asia. It is typically found in rice paddies, ponds, slow-moving streams, canals, and ditches where they often bury themselves in silt.
Because of their hardiness, dojo loaches are popular with aquarists who keep them in large community tanks. As members of the family Cobitidae, they are closely related to weatherfish (Misgurnus anguillicaudatus), clown knifefish (Etroplus maculatus), and giant gouramis (Osphronemus goramy).
This close relationship makes it easier to compare species; let’s take a look at dojo loach care, traits, and cost to find out if you should add one to your tank. Since these two fish look so similar, and behave almost identically, hobbyists refer to both generically as dojo or weather loaches.
Dojo loaches hail from small streams in Thailand but are best suited for life in a community tank with other peaceful species. They do best at temperatures between 72 and 79 degrees Fahrenheit (22 to 26 Celsius) with high water quality. In nature, Dojos live near under-gravel heating systems; if your tank is similarly heated, they’ll be more likely to thrive.
If your weather loach’s temperature falls below 68 degrees F, you may need to invest in a heater or chiller—though it should drop no lower than 67 degrees F. Avoid exposing them to extreme fluctuations when possible; while they can adapt to colder climates if kept cool enough (as they would naturally), sudden heat spikes may prove fatal.
Dojo loach size
The Dojo loach is a peaceful fish that grows up to 6-12 inches (15-30.5 cm) in length.
Due to their size, the minimum recommended tank size for dojo loach is 40 gallons (151 liters)
Dojos are hardy fish, but they will thrive in a well-maintained tank with consistent water quality. Setting up a proper aquarium for loaches, be they weather loaches or dojo loaches, is much like preparing a tank for any other type of fish.
Make sure that you have an aquarium of at least 40 gallons with a strong filtration system. Use natural decorations (such as rocks) rather than plastic ones to maintain good water quality, because synthetic objects can affect your water’s pH levels.
Do not use soil in your tank; instead of adding nutrients to your water, it will consume them. It’s also important to make sure that your aquarium has a tight-fitting lid since these freshwater fish are notorious jumpers. If your tank does not have a tight lid, attach one using heavy-duty suction cups. These little guys can cover some distance very quickly!
Because they’re nocturnal, dojos appreciate densely planted tanks with caves to hide in during daylight hours. A tight-fitting cover is also recommended to reduce evaporation. The best way to control dissolved oxygen levels is by making sure that your filter flows only when you’re awake (and watching it), or by investing in an automated timer for your filter. If something goes wrong at night, your fish could die before you wake up!
The Dojo loach can be kept with larger species of fish as long as they are not too aggressive or territorial. They will get along with goldfish, cichlids, koi, catfish, mollies, and other cold-water fish. However, it is recommended that you don’t house more than one dojo loach per aquarium. If they are housed in a community tank, they will become quite territorial over time and may bully smaller species.
It’s not difficult to breed Dojo loaches; as long as both fish are healthy, they will usually breed on their own. When a male detects an egg-laden female, he will start to nudge her belly, encouraging her to spawn. It’s important for females that are ready to lay eggs to have adequate shelter in which to do so.
Females deposit their bright yellow eggs under plants or into caves, where they are fertilized by males and left undisturbed until they hatch. The fry remains undeveloped within their transparent eggs for approximately 3 weeks before hatching. They can be fed infusoria for about 1 week after hatching and then moved onto newly hatched brine shrimp after 1 week of infusoria.
Fry should be fed 2 times per day, with each feeding consisting of 1/2 of a very small pinch of food (1/4 teaspoon). Newborn Dojo loaches are very sensitive to changes in water chemistry and should be acclimated immediately upon arrival with care given as needed after transport.
Mature Dojo loaches feed mostly at night, often gorging themselves during short periods of darkness; those kept with fussy eaters may exhibit more activity during the daytime when others are more reluctant to eat.
Overfeeding is a common problem among owners who don’t keep track of how much their fish eat while they’re sleeping! Excess food items should be siphoned out each morning unless you wish to risk unhealthy water conditions due to uneaten meals lingering in your tank overnight.
Are they aggressive or peaceful?
Dojo loaches are peaceful, schooling fish that prefer to live in large groups. While they’re usually very hardy in a community tank, they will show their true colors if they’re housed with aggressive species such as tiger barbs or puffers. They may occasionally nip at dwarf shrimp and other small invertebrates like crayfish; generally speaking, it’s safer to keep dojos with medium-sized or larger tankmates.
Dojo loach care
The dojo loach is a peaceful fish that will benefit from a tropical community tank with some open space. These fish should be kept in groups of at least five, but they can be kept singly if it is necessary to do so. They are tolerant of a wide range of water conditions, although some patience may be required when setting up their aquarium for them.
They prefer low-to-medium light levels; because they are nocturnal, brighter lighting won’t disturb them during nighttime hours. Do not set up your loaches’ tank near an air conditioner or other cold drafts.
Temperatures of 65°F–79°F (18°C–26°C) are ideal for these fish; they will thrive in warmer waters as well as cooler ones, provided extremes aren’t too extreme either way. Keep your dojo loach tank’s pH around 7.0; any higher could lead to health problems down the line.
When you first bring home a new group of loaches, establish them into a quarantine area of cool water that you gradually warm over time until they reach room temperature again before adding them into your main aquatic habitat—this gives you time to monitor how your individual fish reacts to new environments and medications if needed before placing him back with his buddies.
Dojo loach food
Dojo loaches are omnivores. As with most fish, they are able to survive on a varied diet consisting of both meaty foods (such as tubifex worms) and plant matter (such as algae wafers). If your tank has live plants, it’s a good idea to supplement their diet with algae wafers, which also help buffer any dangerous levels of ammonia or nitrites from developing in your tank.
Dojo loach lifespan
Dojo loaches live for a long time, though it is not unheard of for them to die after as little as 5 years in captivity, particularly if kept in inadequate conditions. However, given optimal care, dojos can survive for more than 10 years.
Parasites and diseases
Any new fish should be quarantined from other fish for a period of at least two weeks, but six weeks is ideal. The quarantine will allow you to get an idea of what diseases and parasites your loaches are carrying. The most common disease that affects dojo loaches is ich (parasitic infestation).
Ich can be treated with malachite green or Formalin, but if left untreated, it could kill your loaches, especially in such a small environment. However, once you start treating your tank for ich, you need to continue treatment until all signs of it have disappeared; partial treatment may leave surviving fragments behind which can lead to reinfection.
Fortunately, there is an easy way to tell if any fish still have traces of ich; use a black light on your tank at night and look for white dots moving around – these will be blood parasites that indicate infection.
Do Dojo loach make good pets?
While dojo loaches are great for experienced fishkeepers, they’re not necessarily good first pets. They require a lot of attention—they eat most of their meals out of your hand, which can be a problem if you’re in class or at work all day. They also spend most of their time hiding in your plants and rocks, so you’ll need to dedicate some serious cleaning time to your tank.