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Pet Product News Editorial Blog:

February 20, 2012

New Loaches

By David Lass


Just when you think there aren’t many new and exciting fish coming into the hobby, an entire batch of new loaches shows up on fish lists from all the major importers/wholesalers. The nicest thing about these new loaches is that, unlike the kuhli loach, which is probably the best-selling loach in the local fish store (clown loaches are more attractive, but also a lot more expensive), they are usually out and about the aquarium.

clown loach fish

Some of these loaches are not new species to the hobby, but are fish that used to come only from the wild but are now being “farmed,” primarily in the Far East. “Farmed” is used in quotes because, in many cases, these fish are cultivated in enclosed areas in the lakes and rivers where they are found, and then caught and sold in a sustainable manner. This has been done with clown loaches for years, and now it is being done with other popular but formerly hard-to-get loaches. Botia striata, the striped botia is available now in pretty much constant supply and is a good selling fish. The dwarf chain loach, Botia sidthimunki (there is a dispute about the proper scientific name for this fish and I use the old name) is also being commercially produced in the Far East and is in good supply.
Many different varieties from the genus Schistura are making their way onto lists with common names such as sumo loach, red striped loach, and Laos mllipede loach. All Schistura genus loaches are pretty much the same, in that they are the same size and look like a common dojo or weather loach, but with different patterns of striping and colors. Hillstream loaches are also popular, although the supply has been spotty, and I am not sure they’re being commercially raised in large quantities. These loaches—most are from the genera of Gastromyzon or Sewellia—look sort of like flattened-out plecostomus, with bottom fins modified to hold on in the fast-flowing streams they come from. They require cooler water than most truly tropical fish, 70 degrees F being the warmest they like, and they need to have as much current in the tank as possible.

For any of these loaches, it is best to have a substrate of soft fine sand, since they do like to burrow. They do best if kept in groups of six or more of their species; if only two or three are kept they will sometimes do battle with each other. They all quickly learn to take any food that is offered, and will do fine on any aquarium fare. These loaches are very hardy, stay out in the open and sell well.

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