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Dojo Loach Care: A Detailed Guide

Dojo Loach Care: A Detailed Guide

Are you intrigued by the graceful Dojo Loach and considering adding this unique freshwater fish to your aquarium? Known for their playful personalities and ease of care, Dojo Loaches make a fascinating addition to any freshwater tank.

Understanding the nuances of their care is crucial to ensuring their health and happiness in our tanks.

In this detailed guide, we will explore various aspects, from their habitat requirements to feeding habits, helping you create an optimal environment for these intriguing creatures.

Key Takeaways

  • Dojo Loaches come from cool waters in Asia and need a tank that can hold at least 55 gallons.
  • They are peaceful fish that like to burrow, so they enjoy soft sand as substrate and require a varied diet of live, frozen, or pellet food fed three times daily.
  • Dojo Loaches can grow up to 12 inches long and should be kept with other non-aggressive fish but avoid putting them with creatures small enough to eat or those that prefer warmer water.
  • Make sure the tank has a tight-fitting lid because Dojo Loaches might try to escape.
  • They are susceptible to illnesses like Ich and Skinny Disease; thus it’s important to maintain clean water conditions and monitor for signs of sickness.

Dojo Loach Origin & Habitat

  • Common name: Dojo Loach, Pond Loach, Weather Loach
  • Scientific name: Misgurnus anguillicaudatus
  • Care level: Moderate
  • Size: Up to 12 inches (30 cm)
  • Lifespan: 7 – 10 years
  • Temperament: Peaceful
  • Diet: Omnivore
  • Group size: At least 2
  • Minimum tank size: 55 gallons 
  • Tank level: Bottom dweller
  • Water temperature: 65°F and 68°F (18°F and 20°F)
  • Water pH: 6.5–8.0
  • Water hardness: 5-12 dKH

Dojo Loaches scientifically known as Misgurnus anguillicaudatus come from cool, flowing streams and ponds in eastern Asia. This includes places like Siberia, Japan, Korea, China, and northern Vietnam. They love muddy bottoms where they can dig and hide.

Their natural home has lots of plants and slow-moving water. These fish are used to changing weather too. They sense changes in barometric pressure which tells them when the weather is bad or good.

Appearance & Size

The Dojo Loach, with its slender body, elongated shape, and relatively small fins are often mistaken for eels. The dorsal fin is positioned near the tail’s end, while the pectoral fins are just behind the gills, often used for navigating the bottom of their homes.

They have four sets of barbels surrounding their down-turned mouth that are primarily used to forage around for food or to help bury themselves in the substrate.

These loaches have a diverse range of colors. They come in solid hues like olive green, light brown, or grey, and often have lighter bellies. You’ll find some have dark brown spots, that helps them camouflage in the substrate.

These fascinating fish can reach up to 12 inches (30 cm) in length as they mature.

Dojo Loaches that have a goldish-yellow hue are known as Golden Dojo Loaches. They are slightly thinner than regular dojos and their patterns are barely noticeable.

Personality & Behavior

These Loaches have fun personalities that make them a favorite in many tanks. You’ll notice they love to play and move around, often digging through the substrate or swimming across the tank. They can sense changes in air pressure and I’ve noticed them act differently when it’s about to rain.

They make great friends with other peaceful fish because they don’t like to fight and are quite social. It’s important to keep them with at least two others of their kind so they feel happy and safe.

You might even see them lying on top of each other when resting. If you give these loaches a good home, they’ll bring lots of joy to your tank with their lively ways.

Life Span

A Dojo Loach can live a long time, usually from 7 to 10 years. If you take really good care of them and give them a big tank, they might even live longer. They like clean water and lots of space to swim.

You need to keep their home just right for them so they stay healthy and happy for many years.

Dojo Loach Care & Tank Setup

Crafting a haven for your loaches requires attention to detail and an understanding of their natural environment, let’s look at how you can create the perfect aquatic home.

Tank Size

A Dojo Loach needs plenty of room to move around, so a 55-gallon tank is the smallest size you should use. If you have more than one or are making a community tank, go for an even bigger tank.

These active fish love to explore and dig in the substrate. With a bigger space, they’ll be happier and healthier. Keep in mind that as they grow, their need for space also grows. 

Water Parameters

  • Water temperature: 65°F and 68°F (18°F and 20°F)
  • Water pH: 6.5–8.0
  • Water hardness: 5-12 dKH

Maintaining the correct water parameters is crucial for the health and well-being of your Dojo Loach. These freshwater fish rely on a stable environment that echoes their natural habitat, where water quality plays an essential role in their day-to-day vitality.

Water Temperature

Dojo Loaches are hardy fish but like their water just right, between 65°F and 68°F (18°F and 20°F). Keeping the water in this temperature range helps them stay happy and healthy. If the water gets too hot or too cold, these friendly fish might not do so well.

It’s good to have a heater in your tank, even though they are cool water fish. This keeps the temperature steady. They can handle different water conditions, but they need that sweet spot for temperature to thrive.

Water pH Levels

The best pH for these fish is between 6.5 and 8.0. They can handle different water conditions, but it’s good to keep the pH in this range.

Use a pH test kit to check the levels often to make sure they stay right.

Water Hardness

These playful fish need water that is not too hard. The best range for them is between 5 to 12 dKH. They like it when the water hardness stays closer to 5-10 dKH. This makes sure they feel at home and stay healthy.

You can use a test kit to check the water in your tank. If you keep these levels, your Dojo Loach will do well and be active swimmers around the tank. Keeping an eye on the hardness of your aquarium’s water helps in making a good place for Dojo Loaches to live.

What Dojo Loaches Need In Their Tank

Creating an ideal environment involves more than just water; it’s about replicating their natural habitat to ensure they thrive.


Dojo Loaches love a soft place to dig and play. Having fine sand means they can burrow, and search for bits of food without getting scratched or poked by sharp edges. A comfortable sandy floor will help make them happy and healthy in their underwater world.


Decorations add more than just beauty, they give these playful fish places to explore and hide, which makes them feel safe. Use smooth rocks and driftwood to create natural-looking hiding spots.

Keep sharp objects away so they don’t hurt themselves. Decorations should let your loaches zip through the tank happily without any trouble!


Just like decorations make the tank more lively, plants add beauty and function. Dojo Loaches enjoy tanks with hardy plants that give them places to hide and play during the day.

They also help keep the water clean by using up waste as food. You should pick strong ones that can deal with loaches who love to dig and explore.

Some good plant choices are Java Fern and Anubias. These don’t need a lot of light or care, which makes them great for beginners too. Plants not only make your tank look nicer but also provide a safer space for your fish to feel at home.

You can also add floating plants like Hornwort, Java Moss, and Anacharis. I have a friend who found his Dojos sleeping in his floating plants.

If you use fake plants, choose soft ones that won’t tear the delicate barbels on their faces.


Dojo Loaches aren’t particular about lighting requirements. They are nocturnal and prefer the lights to be switched off.

In planted aquariums, you’ll usually find they have blue “moon lights” which are ok but not ideal for timid fish. 

Using a red light at night encourages shy, nocturnal tank inhabitants to come out and let you watch them.

Make sure to turn the lights on and off at the same time every day. This keeps a steady schedule of day and night


You’ll need a good heater to ensure the water temperature remains steady between 65°F and 68°F. 

This will stop big changes in how warm or cold the water gets, which can stress out your fish. Even if you live where it doesn’t get too hot or too cold, having a heater means there’s one less thing to worry about for your loach family.

Choose a heater that fits right with the size of your tank. Since these loaches like room to move, you’ll need at least a 55-gallon tank. The correct heater will help make sure every part of the tank stays at the best temperature for your loaches to swim, hide, and play without any worries.


These loaches love a moderate water flow.. To make them happy in your tank, use a filter under the gravel or air stones to keep the water flowing nicely. This helps mimic their natural habitat and keeps their home clean.

A good filtration system takes out bad stuff from the water and stops diseases from spreading. It’s like giving your fish fresh air to breathe underwater. Make sure to check on it often so they can swim, play, and live long healthy lives.


OK so a lid/hood doesn’t replicate their natural habitat but you’ll want one because crafty guys can be real Houdinis. They can slip out of tiny gaps, so a tight lid on your tank is a must. Think of the lid as their safety net, keeping them in the water where they are safe. Make sure it fits well with no escape routes.

Check the hood regularly for any cracks or holes. Peace of mind comes from knowing these little guys won’t go on an unplanned adventure around your house.

Dojo Loach Tank Mates

Selecting compatible tank mates is crucial for maintaining a harmonious aquatic community. Their sociable nature and peaceful temperament make them ideal candidates for a variety of companions, provided their co-inhabitants share similar water requirements and are not small enough to be mistaken for food.

Choosing the right tank mates enhances the well-being of your Dojo Loach and ensures a dynamic yet serene aquarium environment.

Ideal Tankmates

  • Goldfish: These fish are calm and won’t bother the Dojo Loach. Both can live happily in cooler water.
  • White Cloud Mountain Minnows: These small fish are quick and stay out of the way. They make good swimming buddies for Dojo Loaches.
  • Rosy Barbs: Friendly and active, Rosy Barbs share similar water needs and won’t pick on your loaches.
  • Zebra Danios: They are fast swimmers that live near the top of the tank, giving your Loaches space at the bottom.
  • Cherry Shrimp: These tiny creatures clean up leftovers without getting in the Dojo Loach’s space.

Tankmates to Avoid

It’s just as important to know which fish should not share their space. Some creatures might stress out your Dojo Loaches or even hurt them.

  • Aggressive fish: Examples include Cichlids, Bettas, and large aggressive catfish. These fish can attack or bully Dojo Loaches.
  • Shrimp and snails: While not aggressive, these can become snacks for a hungry Dojo Loach.
  • Small, quick fish: Fish like Danios may outcompete your Dojo Loach for food because they are faster swimmers.
  • Cold water species only: Avoid tropical fish that need warmer water. Dojo Loaches like cooler temperatures and might get sick in hot water.
  • Fish with long fins: Because Dojo Loaches are curious, they may nip at the long fins of fish like angelfish or guppies.

Food & Diet

Providing a balanced and nutritious diet is essential for maintaining health and vitality. These bottom dwellers have an appetite for a variety of foods, including live, frozen, and pellet options that cater to their omnivorous nature, ensuring they receive all the necessary nutrients to thrive in your aquarium.

How Much and How Often to Feed Them

These little guys love to eat and need the right amount of food. Give them a variety of food three times a day. This helps them have a healthy diet. You want to mix things up with what you feed them.

Use sinking pellets, live earthworms, shrimp, insect larvae, and algae. Make sure the food sinks because these fish look for their meals at the bottom of their tank.

Make sure they have algae in their tank including other plants and organic matter.

Keep each feeding small so your fish can eat it all in a few minutes to keep the water clean.

Breeding Dojo Loaches

There is limited information about breeding Dojo Loaches in aquariums. Commercial breeding is uncommon, and reports of captive breeding are scarce. It can take months of preparation if you want to try breeding them.

Dojo Loaches reach sexual maturity between 2 and 3 years old. Once it’s reached sexual maturing, the breeding process will take months of preparation to mimic their natural conditions for breeding. They breed during the spring months when the water is still cool.

Throughout winter the lighting should be reduced and then gradually increased coming into spring. It’s in the winter months with the cool water that stimulates the breeding process. It’s like they need winter to tell them it’s time. To get them in the mood, you should drop the tank temperature slowly over time.

Once spawning has occurred, the female will lay around 50 eggs that will hatch within three or so days. You’ll need to remove these eggs and place them in a separate tank to prevent them from being eaten. Dojo Loaches aren’t known for their nurturing nature and won’t protect their fry until they can fend for themselves.

Breeding these fish is not easy but if you are willing to put in months of preparation, you may be successful

Common Health Issues

Dojo Loaches have small, thin scales which make them less protected against infections. They can get sick from bacteria or fungi in the water. This means you need to keep their home clean and watch for signs of illness.

These fish often get Ich, a disease that shows as white spots on their skin. It spreads fast to other fish too. 

Another sickness they face is Skinny Disease, where the fish gets very thin even if it eats well. This happens because of tiny worms inside them that make them lose weight. It’s important to give medicine right away if this occurs.

If you suspect your Dojo Loach is unwell, seek advice from a professional veterinarian or someone who is an expert in fish health.

Other Loaches You May Be Interested In

  • Kuhli Loach: This loach is thin and has stripes too. But it is good at hiding because it looks like the ground under the water.
  • Dwarf Chain Loach: It’s tiny and has pretty chain-like lines all over. They come from rivers near Thailand.
  • Clown Loach: This fish is bright orange with big black bands. It comes from rivers in Indonesia.
  • Yoyo Loach: This loach has a slender silver or golden body with dark bands. It originates from the waters of India and Pakistan.
  • Reticulated Hillstream Loach: This stunning little fish looks like a mini-stingray. It comes from rivers and streams throughout Asia.
  • Zebra Loach: It’s small with stripes just like a zebra. The zebra loach lives in fast streams in India.
  • Panda Loach: Visually striking with its distinctive black and white coloration, it boasts a sleek body built for the fast-flowing waters of China’s Guangxi province.

Dojo Loach FAQs

What is a Dojo Loach and how big do they get?

A Dojo Loach, also known as the weather or pond loach, is a type of freshwater aquarium fish that can grow to about a foot long (12 inches).

How long does a Dojo Loach live?

If you care for them well, Dojo Loaches have a lifespan that can reach ten years in your home aquarium.

What kind of tank do I need for Dojo Loaches?

You should have at least a 55-gallon tank to give these bottom-dwelling fish enough room to move around.

Can I tell the difference between male and female Dojo Loaches?

Yes, you can tell them apart because male Dojo Loaches are usually slimmer with broader pectoral fins than females.

Do I need to change the water in my Dojo Loach’s tank often?

To keep your hardy fish happy and healthy, make sure you do regular water changes to maintain good conditions in the tank.

Wrapping Up

Taking care of Dojo Loaches is a journey full of fun and learning. These fish have unique needs, but they aren’t hard to meet. They can become your underwater friends for many years if you give them the right home and food.

Remember to keep their water clean, and their bellies full with proper meals, and share your space with friendly tank mates.

Every moment spent on creating a good life for these loaches pays off as you watch them play in the water. Giving them the best care helps them grow strong and lively. So enjoy every step from setting up their tank to watching their playful swims.

I’m Elle, the founder of FishHQ. I created this website to share knowledge, tips, and inspiration for beginner hobbyists to help them create a healthy, happy, and vibrant environment for their fish to thrive. Read more...