Dojo Loach: Care Tips and Insights for Hobbyists

A close look at Pond Loach's head
Dr. Mollie Newton
Published by Dr. Mollie Newton PHD| Senior Editor
Last updated: July 14, 2024
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Struggling to properly care for your dojo loach? Whether you’re just starting out or you’re an experienced fish keeper, this article offers crucial insights and tips to make taking care of your dojo loach easier. Discover tried-and-true methods for creating the perfect habitat, establishing feeding routines, and tackling common issues that dojo loach owners face. This all-inclusive guide has everything you need to become an adept caretaker of your dojo loach! Read the full article and enhance your dojo loach care skills now!

Article Summary

  • Dojo loach or Pond Loach can reach around 6 inches in size in home aquariums and have a lifespan of 5 to 8 years in captivity.
  • Dojo Loaches are carnivorous and have a diverse diet that includes small invertebrates, worms, insect larvae, snails, and fish larvae.
  • Creating an environment that resembles their natural habitat is important, including fine sand or gravel substrate, live plants, and hiding spots.

Overview of The Dojo Loach

The Dojo Loach (sometimes referred to as Gold Dojo Loach or Golden Dojo Loach), also known as the Pond Loach, Weather Loach, Oriental Weatherloach, or Oriental Weatherfish, is a hardy and adaptable freshwater fish in the loach family Cobitidae. Native to East Asia, particularly Japan and China, this unique species has captured the attention of fish enthusiasts worldwide. The dojo loach scientific name is Misgurnus anguillicaudatus.

One of the most fascinating aspects of the Dojo Loach is its behavior in response to changes in barometric pressure, hence the name weather loach. When the atmospheric pressure shifts, these loaches exhibit a distinctive reaction. They may engage in frantic swimming or even stand on end. This behavior has captivated fish keepers and has earned the Dojo Loach a reputation as an intriguing and entertaining species to observe.

Pond Loach: Unique Characteristics and Behavior

The Dojo Loach resembles eels with its long and slender body, rounded upper body, small fins, pointed head with downturned mouths, and the presence of barbels.

A closer look at dojo loach's barbels
Dojo Loach and Its Barbels

However, it exhibits subtle sexual dimorphism, with males having a longer and more triangular second pectoral ray compared to females. One of the most fascinating aspects of this fish is its ability to detect changes in atmospheric pressure. When a storm is approaching, the Dojo Loach can swim erratically or even stand on end.

The Dojo Loach resembles eels with its long and slender body…

Dojo Loach Size and Growth Rate

In-home aquariums, Gold Dojo Loaches typically reach around 6 inches in size. However, they can double their size when living in the wild. To ensure optimal growth, it is essential to provide them with a spacious tank and excellent water conditions.

These loaches experience rapid growth initially, reaching around five inches relatively quickly. However, their growth rate slows down significantly afterward, growing a little over an inch per year for the next two to three years until reaching their maximum size.

Lifespan in the Wild and Captivity

Dojo Loaches have an average lifespan ranging from 7 to 10 years. In their natural habitat, they typically live for about ten years. However, when kept in captivity, their lifespan ranges from five to eight years.

Normal versus Albino and Golden Dojo Loaches

Dojo Loaches come in various colors, such as olive green, light brown, and grey. They have lighter bellies and possibly dark brown spots for camouflage. The Gold Dojo Loach stands out among these variations with its distinct goldish-yellow hue. Another fascinating color morph of the Dojo Loach is the plain, golden-yellow body color, often accompanied by dark eyes. Albino Dojo Loaches exhibit a lighter coloration compared to the gold dojos and have red eyes.

Diet and Feeding

Dojo Loaches, also known as Golden Dojo Loaches, are carnivorous and have a diverse diet. These fascinating creatures feed on a variety of small invertebrates, such as worms, insect larvae, snails, and small crustaceans.

They even indulge in fish larvae and fish eggs when given the opportunity. Their ability to consume such a wide range of food sources makes them an exciting addition to aquariums.


To ensure their optimal health, it is crucial to provide Dojo Loaches with a well-rounded and healthy diet.

While they have their preferences, they generally thrive on a varied menu that includes sinking pellets, bloodworms, and brine shrimp. These options mimic their natural food sources and provide the necessary nutrients for their growth and development.

In addition to prepared foods like bottom feeder tablets or sinking pellets, Dojo Loaches can also benefit from consuming algae and decaying organic matter present in the aquarium. This helps replicate their natural habitat, where they scavenge for food amidst fine sand or gravel.

There are several recommended options available. Bloodworms, known for their high nutritional value, can be easily obtained from pet stores. Brine shrimp, with their abundant protein content, is another excellent choice. In addition, tubifex worms serve as a great source of sustenance, thanks to their high protein content.

Feeding frequency is an important aspect to consider when caring for Dojo Loaches. It is recommended to feed them once or twice daily while adjusting portion sizes based on their appetite. Observing their feeding habits will help determine the appropriate amount of food required each time.

It’s noteworthy that Dojo Loaches do not typically feed from the water surface but prefer bottom-dwelling meals. Therefore, these loaches may only consume flake food readily if it sinks down to their level.

Tank Setup and Requirements

Minimum Tank Size

It’s crucial to provide them with enough space to thrive. These active little fish require a spacious tank with a minimum capacity of 30 gallons.

This size allows them ample room to swim around and explore their surroundings. Providing a larger tank will only enhance their well-being, so don’t hesitate to go more significant if you have the means.

Water Temperature and pH Levels

Maintaining the right water conditions is vital for the health and happiness of your dojo loach. To ensure they thrive, keep the water temperature between 68°F to 77°F (20°C to 25°C). This temperature range mimics their natural habitat and promotes optimal growth and activity levels.

Dojo loaches prefer slightly acidic water…

In addition to temperature, monitoring pH levels is equally important. Dojo loaches prefer slightly acidic water with pH levels ranging from 6.5 to 7.5. Investing in a reliable aquarium thermometer and pH test kit will help you maintain these parameters consistently.

Substrate and Decorations

Creating an environment that resembles their natural habitat is critical when setting up your dojo loach’s tank. In the wild, these loaches are often found hiding in vegetation or burrowing in muddy or sandy bottoms of rivers and ponds. Replicating this set up in your aquarium will make them feel right at home.

Start by choosing an appropriate substrate, such as fine sand or gravel, allowing them to dig and burrow comfortably. Adding live plants not only enhances the aesthetic appeal but also provides additional hiding spots for your loaches.

Dojo Loach at the Bottom of the Tank

To further enrich their environment, incorporate various decorations like caves, driftwood, or PVC pipes. These structures serve as hiding places where your dojo loaches can retreat when they need some privacy or feel stressed.

Preventing Escape Attempts

Dojo loaches are known for their occasional escape attempts from tanks. To prevent any Houdini acts, ensure your dojo loach tank has a tight-fitting lid or hood. This will effectively prevent them from jumping out and potentially injuring themselves.

Following these tank setup and requirement guidelines, you can provide a safe and comfortable home for your dojo loach. Remember to monitor water conditions regularly, maintain the appropriate temperature range, and create an environment that mimics their natural habitat. With the proper setup, your dojo loach will thrive and bring joy to your aquarium for years to come.

Dojo Loach Tank Mates

Dojo loaches are fascinating and peaceful fish that can make a great addition to your home aquarium. It’s essential to consider their compatibility with other fish species. Here are some key points to keep in mind when selecting suitable companions for your dojo loach.

Compatible Tank Mates

Dojo loaches are generally compatible with peaceful community fish, making them an excellent choice for community aquariums. Some ideal community tank mates include:

Tetras: Colorful and active tetras, like neon tetras or cardinal tetras, can coexist peacefully with dojo loaches.

Rasboras: These small schooling fish, such as harlequin rasboras or chili rasboras, create a lively atmosphere in the tank without causing any trouble for the loaches.

Gouramis: Peaceful gouramis like dwarf gouramis or honey gouramis can thrive alongside dojo loaches.

These combinations provide an appealing mix of colors and activity levels while maintaining a peaceful environment.

Housing with Other Bottom-Dwelling Species

Since dojo loaches are bottom-dwelling fish, they can also be housed alongside other species occupying the aquarium’s lower regions. Consider adding these bottom-dwelling companions:

Corydoras Catfish: These catfish have similar requirements to dojo loaches and will happily share the lower areas of the tank.

Bristlenose Plecos: Known for their algae-eating abilities, bristlenose plecos not only complement the dojo loach but also help maintain a clean and healthy tank.

Chinese High Fin Banded Shark: Generally considered to be a non-aggressive fish that can get along with Dojo Loach fish.

By combining these species, you create a diverse ecosystem within your aquarium while ensuring compatibility between inhabitants.

Species to Avoid

While many suitable options exist, it’s crucial to avoid pairing dojo loaches with aggressive or fin-nipping species. These can cause stress and harm to the loaches. Examples of fish species to avoid include:

Cichlids: Aggressive cichlids may intimidate or harass the peaceful dojo loach.

Barbs: Some barb species are known for nipping at fins, which can be detrimental to the well-being of your loach.

It’s essential to prioritize the safety and comfort of your dojo loach by avoiding these potentially harmful combinations.

Caution with Smaller Fish

Dojo loaches have relatively small mouths but may still attempt to consume smaller fish that fit into their mouths. Exercise caution when introducing them to tiny tank mates like small guppies or neon tetras. It’s best to opt for larger fish that will be seen as something other than potential prey.

Weather Loach: Health Issues

The Dojo Loach, also known as the weather loach, is generally a hardy fish. However, loaches are more prone to diseases compared to other aquarium fishes. This susceptibility may be due to their faint body scales. As a result, it is vital to take extra care when introducing them to an established fish tank again.

Loaches can be sensitive to medications…

Loaches can be sensitive to medications, so they may require treatment in a separate hospital tank if they do fall ill. Cold water and sudden changes in water conditions can stress the fish and make them more susceptible to diseases and infections.

One common disease that affects Dojo Loaches is Ich, or “white spot disease.” A parasite causes this disease and often affects loaches first before spreading to other fish in the tank. Another issue that these loaches face is the skinny disease. Despite adequate feeding, some individuals may experience weight loss due to internal parasites.

Caution must be exercised with medication dosage since loaches might require lower doses than usual. It’s important not to overdose on them as it could cause further health trouble. The skinny disease can be treated with appropriate medication targeted at eliminating internal parasites.

To prevent health issues from arising in the first place, it’s crucial to ensure good living conditions for your Dojo Loach. Regular maintenance and filtration are essential for optimal water conditions. Keeping an eye out for any signs of stress, such as loss of appetite or abnormal swimming patterns, is important. Additionally, providing a well-balanced diet promotes overall health and boosts the immune system function of your loach.

Following these preventive measures and providing proper care for your Dojo Loach can minimize the risk of infections and diseases.

Breeding Dojo Loaches

Breeding Dojo Loaches can be a challenging task due to their specific breeding requirements. These fascinating fish reach sexual maturity between two and three years old, making patience an essential virtue for successful breeding. They typically require cool water temperatures around 64°F (18°C), mimicking their natural habitat in East Asia.

Simulating Natural Conditions

It is crucial to simulate the natural conditions they experience during the rainy season to induce breeding in Dojo Loaches. This involves creating cooler water temperatures and increasing water changes in their tank. Lowering the temperature to around 64°F (18°C) can help trigger their reproductive instincts.

During this simulated rainy season, it’s essential to monitor the water parameters to ensure they remain stable closely. Regularly check the tank’s temperature, pH, and ammonia levels using reliable testing kits. Maintaining optimal water quality is essential for encouraging successful breeding.

Egg Laying and Fry Care

Once a pair of Dojo Loaches have successfully bred, the female will lay adhesive eggs on plants or other surfaces within the tank. These eggs are relatively small and translucent, hatching within a week under suitable conditions.

To increase the chances of survival for Dojo Loach eggs, it is crucial to promptly remove them from the main tank and transfer them to a separate breeding tank. Unlike some fish species that exhibit nurturing behavior towards their fry, Dojo Loaches do not provide parental care and may consume their eggs if left unattended.

In the dedicated breeding tank, create an environment that promotes healthy development for the fry. Maintain appropriate water parameters similar to those during mating—cool temperatures around 64°F (18°C) and clean water with regular changes. Ensure there are hiding places such as fine-leaved plants or artificial structures where fry can seek refuge once they hatch.

Feeding Fry

Once hatched, newborn Dojo Loach fry is incredibly tiny and delicate. To ensure their growth and survival, it is vital to provide them with suitable food.


Dojo Loach fry can be initially fed infusoria or liquid fry food specifically designed for small fish.

As the fry grows, you can gradually introduce other foods, such as baby brine shrimp or finely crushed flakes, and frozen foods. It’s essential to offer a varied diet to meet their nutritional needs. Monitor their feeding behavior closely and adjust the quantity and frequency of feedings accordingly.

Frequently Asked Questions

How long can dojo loaches live out of water?

Dojo loaches, also known as weather loaches, are able to survive outside of water for short periods of time. They possess a specialized accessory breathing organ called a labyrinth organ, which allows them to extract oxygen from the air. However, they are primarily aquatic creatures and should not be kept out of water for extended periods as it can be stressful and harmful to their overall health. It is recommended to provide them with a suitable aquatic environment.

Do dojo loaches need to be in groups?

Dojo loaches are social creatures and thrive when kept in groups. It is recommended to keep them in groups of three or more. By providing them with companions, they feel more secure and exhibit natural behaviors. It is important to provide an adequately sized aquarium with plenty of hiding spots and suitable tank mates to ensure the well-being of the dojo loaches.

Can dojo loaches breathe air?

Yes, dojo loaches have a unique ability to breathe air. They possess a labyrinth organ, which enables them to extract oxygen from the air. This adaptation allows them to survive in oxygen-deprived or stagnant waters. However, while they can breathe air, it is essential to provide them with a well-oxygenated aquatic environment to meet their respiratory needs.

Do dojo loaches need air pumps?

Dojo loaches do not necessarily require air pumps in their aquarium. As mentioned earlier, they possess a labyrinth organ that enables them to breathe air. However, maintaining a well-oxygenated environment is still important for their overall health and well-being. This can be achieved through the use of appropriate filtration systems, regular water changes, and the presence of live plants or other oxygenating sources.

Do dojo loaches like the dark?

Dojo loaches are nocturnal creatures and tend to be more active during the nighttime. While they may appreciate dim or shaded areas in the aquarium, they do not necessarily require complete darkness. Providing hiding spots such as caves, driftwood, or dense vegetation can create a sense of security and mimic their natural habitat. It is recommended to maintain a balanced lighting schedule to cater to their natural behavior.

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