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Dojo Loach (Misgurnus anguillicaudatus) – Mates and Care

The Dojo loach is also known as the Pond loach. These attractive bottom-dwelling fish are moderately easy to care for and make an interesting addition to any peaceful community tank.

You can find the Dojo Loach in its natural, wild form, and there’s also a golden variant if you want to add a pop of color to your aquarium. These quirky fish make wonderful pets that can be trained to take food from your hand and they can even forecast the weather, hence their other common name, the Weather loach.

Read this guide to learn how to care for the fascinating Dojo Loach.

Dojo Loach – Overview

Scientific Name:

Misgurnus anguillicaudatus

Common Name (species)

Dojo loach, Pond loach, Weather loach, Oriental Weatherfish, Chinese Weatherfish, Japanese Weatherfish, Golden Dojo loach, Albino Dojo loach

Family

Origin

Found in eastern Asia from Siberia and Sakhalin, in northeastern Asia, Myanmar, Central China, Japan, Hainan, and Korea

Diet

Omnivore

Care Level

Intermediate

Activity

Playful, burrower

Lifespan

7 to 10 years

Temperament

Peaceful

Tank Level

Primarily bottom-dweller but does visit the midwater and top area of the tank.

Minimum Tank Size

55 gallons

Temperature Range

Tropical 50° to 77° Fahrenheit

Water Hardness

5 – 12 dGH

pH Range

6.5 to 7.5

Filtration/Flow Rate

Prefers a moderate flow with good filtration

Water type

Freshwater

Breeding

Egg layer but not bred commercially

Compatibility

Peaceful. Not suitable for a community with snails, shrimp, and very small fish

OK, for Planted Tanks?

Safe with plants but does like to burrow

Origins

The Dojo loach was first described in 1842 by Cantor.

Thanks to their wide range, these fish are listed on the IUCN Red List as being of least concern. However, in some areas, ecosystem degradation and increased agriculture are causing a decrease in numbers. Conversely, the overall global population of Dojo loaches is increasing, largely due to the introduction of the species into other countries, including Hawaii and Australia.

Weather loaches are found distributed right across eastern and northeastern Asia, Central China, Japan, Korea, and Hainan. As well as the wild variety, there’s a gold color morph called the Golden Dojo Loach.

As well as being collected for the aquarium trade, the fish are used by anglers as live fishing bait and as a food fish in Japan and other Asian countries.

Natural Habitat

Streams water bed.

Dojo loaches live in rivers, lakes, swamps, rice paddies, ponds, and other bodies of slow-moving water. The fish prefer locations where the bottom is muddy and easy for them to burrow into.

These fish are perfectly adapted to life in habitats where the water levels are variable, having the ability to gulp air from the water surface when oxygen levels are depleted. The loaches can also jump, surviving out of the water for relatively long periods provided that they are in moist mud or sandy conditions.

Dojo loaches feed on small crustaceans, worms, small aquatic creatures, insect larvae, and insects.

Appearance

The Dojo loach is eel-like in appearance with a long, cylindrical body that flattens toward the rear end. The fish has two pairs of barbels on its lower jaw and three around the upper part of its mouth.

Yellow Dojo Loach gliding on black peebles.
Image Source : flickr.com

Dojo loaches are usually brown to yellow in color with a marbled pattern of greenish-gray to dark brown on the upper part of the body, fading to a paler shade underneath.

You can also find a yellow-to-orange color morph of the fish that’s commonly called a Golden Dojo loach. These fish have thinner bodies than the regular variety, and their patterning is extremely faint.

Size

A full-grown Dojo loach in the aquarium measures around 6 inches in length, although they do grow to a much larger size in nature.

Life Expectancy

Dojo loaches live for between 7 to 10 years in captivity.

Activity Level/Temperament

The Dojo loach is a peaceful character, although these are pretty lively, active fish, especially at night. The fish spend much of their time scavenging on the bottom of the tank for scraps of food or burrowing and digging in the substrate.

Half Yellow Dojo loach on the bottom of aquarium.

One interesting quirk of the Dojo loach is its habit of becoming hyperactive when the weather conditions change, which is thought to be related to fluctuations in barometric pressure. These are very friendly fish that can be trained to take food from your hand, and they even seem to enjoy being touched and petted!

Compatibility and Tankmates

Tank Mates

Dojo loaches make a good addition to a community tank, provided that their companions are non-aggressive and not small enough to be regarded as a food source. As the loaches spend most of their time on the bottom of the tank, fish species that prefer to hang out in the upper regions of the tank are the best choice as tank mates.

Although they’re not strictly a shoaling species, Weather loaches are happiest when kept in groups of three fish or more.

Feeding

To keep your fish healthy and thriving, always use high-quality fish food. Cheap foods are usually stuffed with padding that has no nutritional value and can even make your fish sick.

What to Feed Your Dojo loaches

Dojo loaches are omnivores, which means they eat both meaty protein and vegetable matter.

In the wild, Dojo loaches eat insects, insect larvae, algae, small crustaceans, worms, and other tiny aquatic animals.

Captive Weather loaches are not picky feeders, and they will happily accept all types of live foods, tropical flakes, sinking pellets, and frozen foods. Give your fish a balanced diet of flakes or tablets every day, as well as algae wafers, and live or frozen blood worms, daphnia, or tubifex.

Frozen bloodworm for feeding aquarium fish and crabs.

These fish also eat small snails, which can help to control the mollusk population in your fish tank.

How Much and How Often to Feed

Feed your loaches twice daily, only offering what they will clear up in a couple of minutes. Don’t overfeed your fish, as uneaten food will decompose in the tank and pollute the water.

Tank Requirements

Tank size

Dojo loaches need a tank of at least 55 gallons. The tank should be long rather than tall and extend to a length of at least 4 feet.

These feisty fish can and will jump right out of the tank, so make sure that your aquarium has a tightly fitting lid.

Tank Setup

Substrate

Weather Loach gliding on aquarium gravel inside the tank.
Image Source : wikimedia.org

Weather loaches are great diggers, spending much of their time rooting through the substrate for scraps of food. They also like to bury themselves in the soft muddy substrate of their natural habitat, so you’ll need to use soft sand or very fine-gauge gravel that doesn’t have sharp pieces.

Decoration

Dojo loaches look best when displayed in a setting that replicates their natural habitat. So, choose plenty of smooth stones, driftwood, caves, and twisted roots that provide shelter and somewhere that these inquisitive fish can explore.

Plants are a good addition to the tank, but choose hardy species and ensure that the roots are very well anchored so that the fish don’t uproot them as they dig and burrow in the substrate.

Habitat Requirements

These loaches are not suited to a brand-new setup, as they need the absolutely pristine water conditions that are only provided by a mature tank.

Filtration

Aquarium equipment. External Aquarium Fish Tank Canister Filter. Vector illustration. The scheme of the external aquarium bio filter. – stock illustration

Good water movement is essential, as well as excellent oxygenation. With that in mind, we recommend an undergravel filter for loaches, as well as an external canister filter or powerheads.

Water Parameters

Water Temperature

Dojo loaches are tropical fish that can tolerate a broad range of water temperatures of between 50° and 77° F.

Water Hardness and pH Range

The aquarium water should have a pH in the range of 6.5 to 7.5, with a water hardness of 5 to 12 dKH. Loaches cannot tolerate brackish water.

Lighting

Dojo loaches prefer subdued lighting conditions, so pick an LED lighting unit that allows you to adjust the lighting levels in your tank accordingly, and be sure to pick plants that can thrive in low light conditions. 

Tank Maintenance

Siphon gravel cleaner tool in the aquarium.

Dojo loaches require pristine, well-oxygenated water to thrive. As well as an efficient filtration system, you’ll need to carry out weekly partial water changes of at least 30%. Vacuum the substrate, underneath rocks and wood, and around the base of plants to remove uneaten food, fish waste, and dead leaves.

You can use a magnet algae cleaner to keep the glass clear but be careful not to remove the bacteria and biofilm from the viewing panes or tank décor.

Rinse the filter media in dirty tank water once a month and change the media when required, as directed by the manufacturer.

Setting Up the Aquarium

Assemble everything you need to set up your tank, including: 

hands of aquarist planting water plant echinodorus in new aquarium
  • Sand or fine gravel substrate
  • LED lighting unit
  • Canister filtration system or powerhead
  • Water conditioner
  • Undergravel filter
  • Heater
  • Aquarium thermometer
  • Twisted roots, smooth rocks, caves, driftwood
  • Plants

How to Set up Your Aquarium

  1. Rinse the sand or gravel under running water to remove dust 
  2. Put two to three inches of the substrate into your aquarium, and place an upturned bowl on the top of the gravel or sand.
  3. Fit the filter and heater in the tank, but don’t switch them on. 
  4. Next, fill the aquarium with dechlorinated tap water. Pour the water over the bowl so that you don’t displace the substrate. 
Nitrogen Cycle Diagram
  1. The water must contain some ammonia to kick start the nitrogen cycle in the biological filter. To do that, you need to “seed” the water. You can do that by adding some substrate from an established setup, a little flake food, or a couple of drops of pure ammonia. 
  2. Rinse the tank décor to get rid of dust, and arrange everything in the aquarium. 
  3. Prepare your plants by trimming off any damaged or dead leaves or stems. When planting the plants, leave enough space between the stems so that they have room to spread. 
  4. Switch on the heater and filter. If you have live plants in the tank, you’ll need to have the lights on for up to 10 hours a day. 
  5. Allow at least ten days before introducing fish to the tank to give it time to cycle fully. To know when it’s safe to add fish, test the levels of ammonia, nitrites, and nitrates. Ammonia and nitrites must be zero, and nitrate levels should ideally be below 20ppm. If the levels are too high, you need to allow more time.

Health and Disease

Dojo loaches are pretty hardy fish. However, they are highly susceptible to poor water conditions, and they have faint body scales, which can leave them vulnerable to attack by parasites.

detail of man's hand coming out of the aquarium during his cleaning. Household chores concept

Also, loaches are very sensitive to some medications, so you should always treat them in a separate hospital tank.

Signs of Good Health

These fish are very active, curious creatures that should spend much of their time exploring their environment, digging, and burrowing in the substrate.

Although loaches tend to hang out on the bottom of the tank, you will also see them venturing to all areas.

Red Flags

There are some red flags that could indicate potential health problems, including:

  • Not eating
  • Inactivity
  • Not socializing with tank mates
  • Damage to the skin, such as ulcers, sores, or red patches
  • Flicking against the substrate or solid objects in the tank

Common Health Issues and Treatment

Health Issue

Ich (White Spot Disease)

Flukes

Fungal infections

Skinny disease

Symptoms or Causes

White Spot disease is caused by a free-swimming aquatic parasite called Ichthyophthirius multifiliis.Fish with Ich flick or rub their bodies against objects in the tank. As the disease progresses, a sprinkling of white dots develops over the fish’s gills, fins, and body.

Flukes are aquatic parasites that append themselves to the gills or body of affected fish. Fish with flukes rub against solid objects and secrete excessive mucus.

White cotton-like growths.

Caused by internal parasites. Fish lose weight despite eating well.

Suggested Action

Raise the tank temperature to 82o F for three days, and treat the water with Ich medication.

Treat the tank with an antiparasitic medication.

Quarantine affected fish, and treat with antifungal medication.

Treat with antiparasitic medication.

Health Issue

Ich (White Spot Disease)

Symptoms or Causes

White Spot disease is caused by a free-swimming aquatic parasite called Ichthyophthirius multifiliis.Fish with Ich flick or rub their bodies against objects in the tank. As the disease progresses, a sprinkling of white dots develops over the fish’s gills, fins, and body.

Suggested Action

Raise the tank temperature to 82o F for three days, and treat the water with Ich medication.

Health Issue

Flukes

Symptoms or Causes

Flukes are aquatic parasites that append themselves to the gills or body of affected fish. Fish with flukes rub against solid objects and secrete excessive mucus.

Suggested Action

Treat the tank with an antiparasitic medication.

Health Issue

Fungal infections

Symptoms or Causes

White cotton-like growths.

Suggested Action

Quarantine affected fish, and treat with antifungal medication.

Health Issue

Skinny disease

Symptoms or Causes

Caused by internal parasites. Fish lose weight despite eating well.

Suggested Action

Treat with antiparasitic medication.

Breeding

Dojo loaches are egg-layers, but they cannot be bred in the home tank and are typically farm-raised commercially or wild-caught.

Availability

Both the regular and golden variety of the Weather loach can be found in most good fish stores or purchased online, with prices beginning at around $6 or $7 per fish.

Product Recommendations

  • Water conditioner/dechlorinator
  • Algae magnet
  • Aquarium thermometer
  • Aquarium vacuum
  • Books on keeping tropical fish
  • Filtration system
Beautiful planted tropical freshwater aquarium with fishes. Aquascape.
  • Aquarium (minimum size 55 gallons)
  • Heater
  • High-quality tropical fish flakes, pellets, algae wafers, frozen foods
  • LED lighting unit
  • Plants
  • Smooth stones, driftwood, twisted roots, caves
  • Sand or fine-gauge gravel substrate

Conclusion

I hope you enjoyed our comprehensive guide to caring for the fascinating Weather loach.

If you have these quirky, talented fish in your setup, we’d love to hear about them! Tell us about your Dojo loaches in the comments box below!

Remember to share our guide if you enjoyed it!

Alison Page has been an avid fish keeper for over 35 years and has owned many different species of freshwater tropical fish including bettas. Currently Alison has two large freshwater tanks. The first tank has two huge fancy goldfish who are almost ten years old and still looking as good as ever. In the other, she has a happy community of tiger barbs, green tiger barbs, corydoras catfish, platys, and mollies.

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