Blue Botia Loach
Let's face it. The time after the holidays is truly depressing! Not only do we have to pay for all of those Christmas gifts we purchased, it also means that most of us won't have another day off from work until May! It's enough to make anyone blue! If you are a freshwater fish hobbyist, take heart! There's hope in the form of a hardy, energetic loach! However, you may not see this loach until after the lights go out! And when you do see this loach, it might not be in the best of moods! It's the hardy, energetic, mostly nocturnal, slightly aggressive, talking loach that's not in a blue mood! It's just the Blue Loach!
I have to admit that loaches are some of my favorite freshwater fish! Some of the first freshwater fish that I ever placed in a home aquarium were some dojo loaches. From there, I actively searched out each and every loach that I could find! From clown loaches to kuhli loaches, and from butterfly loaches to yoyo loaches, I love loaches! However, one of my favorite loaches is a loach that I don't see nearly as often as the others: the blue loach!
I came across my first blue loaches in a wall to wall discount mart. Immediately, I noticed that these loaches differed from my dojo loaches, both is body shape and color. In fact, the only loach that I had seen at that point that had a similar body shape was the clown loach. Since blue is my favorite color, and I love loaches, I purchased 4 of these blue loaches. Little did I know that I was getting more than my money's worth!
The blue loach is a stocky loach that may or may not actually be blue. Most blue loaches have either a gray/green to grayish blue body. For some reason, there are even some breeders who will dye their blue loaches blue! These fish usually have an unhealthy blue cast, while the true natural color of the blue loach is more of a slate blue. However, the blue loach isn't entirely blue. The blue loach has either orange or yellow fins, which gives this loach a unique, attractive coloration. The only problem is that you might not get many chances to witness this loach's beauty!
While most loaches are considered to be partially or mostly nocturnal, the blue loach is one of the more nocturnal loaches. The blue loach prefers to spend most of the day in hiding. However, this doesn't mean that the blue loach won't ever be seen during the day. There are a few things that you can do to improve the chances for a blue loach sighting.
Blue loaches will need plenty of hiding spaces, usually a hiding place for each individual blue loach. The blue loach prefers to hide in rocks, caves, tubes, wood or other similar structures. If there are extra hiding places in the blue loaches' aquarium, odds are that you will see the blue loaches traveling from one hiding place to another throughout the day.
Even when the blue loach is hiding, the loach will often be interesting to watch. The blue loach will squeeze into any space available to hide. Sometimes the blue loach may end up in an upside down position! Often the blue loach will consider itself hidden as long as its head is sheltered. This means that if you look around the aquarium, you are apt to see orange tails sticking out of every nook and cranny!
Another way to improve your chances for seeing the blue loach during the day is by dimming the tank's lighting. This can also be accomplished by using floating plants in the blue loaches' aquarium. Keep in mind that the blue loach may sample any plants in its tank. If you want to keep other live non-floating plants in the blue loaches' aquarium, it's a good idea to put these plants in a pot. If you have plants that are rooted in the tank's substrate, odds are that the blue loach will uproot them! For this reason, it is also a good idea to make sure any of the blue loaches' hiding places are firmly secured to the bottom of the tank. The blue loach will be able to turn over its hiding places with ease once it grows large enough! And, trust me! It will!
The blue loach is one of the larger loaches available in the freshwater fish hobby. While most blue loaches that are found in pet stores usually range in size from 3 to 5 inches in length, this loach can and will grow to be much larger! In the wild, the blue loach has been known to grow as large as a foot in length! However, in the home aquarium the blue loach rarely reaches a length larger than 9 inches, although this loach doesn't reach this length overnight. I have had 5 blue loaches for roughly three years, and the largest one is roughly 6 inches in length.
Because of the blue loaches impending growth, this loach will need to be kept in at least a 30 gallon aquarium. However, if you want to keep your blue loach happy and healthy, you will need to keep this loach in a school of 3 to 6 loaches. With a school of blue loaches that size, you will need to keep these loaches in at least a 55 gallon aquarium. If you decide to keep only one blue loach, you might end up with an unhealthy, unhappy loach. If the blue loach is kept alone, it will usually hide all of the time, and appear to be stressed.
The blue loach actually prefers the company of its own species. However, each loach will need its own hiding place, or territory, otherwise you will have a tank full of fighting blue loaches! The blue loach is often labeled as an "aggressive fish." However, this aggression is usually limited to other blue loaches. Once the school of blue loaches are placed into a home aquarium, a pecking order is quickly established. After this pecking order is set up, you will often see the "alpha" blue loach chasing the other blue loaches from hiding place to hiding place, which improves your chance of seeing these loaches during the day! The blue loaches don't seem to hurt each other, the "alpha" loach just puts the other loaches in their places!
If you are planning on breeding the blue loach in the home aquarium, don't get your hopes up! Breeding of the blue loach in the home aquarium has not been known to happen so far! In fact, it's almost impossible to distinguish the difference between the male and female blue loach, although it is believed that the male tends to be a little larger, while the female is believed to be somewhat plumper.
Unlike the brave and somewhat aggressive skunk loach, the blue loach rarely if ever directs its aggressiveness toward other fish. For this reason, the blue loach makes an ideal tank mate for most community fish. Ideal tank mates for the blue loach can include red finned cigar sharks, bala sharks, iridescent sharks, most catfish, plecos, corys, most freshwater eels and nearly any other loach, accept for the skunk loach. Just make sure the blue loaches have their own territories, separate from their other tank mates, although it's not unheard of for the blue loach to share a hiding place with another fish. My blue loaches have shared spaces with a peacock eel, corys, kuhli loaches, dojo loaches and on occasion, other blue loaches.
The blue loach is one of the hardiest of all loaches. While they are susceptible to ich, little else seems to bother the blue loach. In fact, during an ice storm and a three day power outage, every one of my blue loaches survived unscathed! I have one blue loach that I saved from death three years ago. Our local wall to wall discount mart had a blue loach that had lost an eye somehow. The pet department employee had been ordered by her supervisor to kill the loach and get rid of it. Unable to do such a thing, the employee called me and asked if I wanted the one eyed loach for free. Naturally, I said I would take the loach, and three years later that one eyed loach is the largest, most energetic blue loach that I have!
Even though the blue loach is so hardy, this loach will need appropriate water conditions to remain happy, healthy and brightly colored. The blue loach is a native of Thailand, Malaysia, Vietnam and Northeastern India. In the wild, the blue loach is used to water with a neutral pH and a temperature somewhere between 76 and 86 degrees. The blue loach will also need a soft substrate in its tank, since it loves to dig. Fine aquarium gravel or sand are ideal for the blue loach. Also, make sure that the blue loaches' aquarium is adequately covered, because this loach can become an escape artist! Every now and then, I have to chase one of my blue loaches away from their tank's filter! Apparently looking for a new hiding place, the blue loaches try to get up into the filters!
If you ever have to net a blue loach out of a filter or off of the floor, be careful! Like other loaches, the blue loach has a set of spines located behind its eyes. When the blue loach feels threatened, these spines will pop up, which can cause a very painful wound to a freshwater fish hobbyist's hand! These spines can also become entangled in a net, so care should be taken when netting the blue loach to prevent harming the loach.
Feeding the blue loach is an easy chore. The omnivorous blue loach will eat nearly anything! The blue loach will readily accept flake foods, sinking wafers, shrimp pellets, brine shrimp, blood worms and tubifex worms. In most instances, the blue loach won't feed until the lights in its tank are out or dimmed. At that time, the blue loach will even act as a cleanup crew for the tank by digging through the substrate for any uneaten food scraps.
In some instances, the blue loaches will eat from the aquarium's surface. At that time, you might think that the blue loach is talking! The blue loach emits a clicking sound while eating! In some cases, the blue loach may also emit this clicking sound while acting aggressive toward another blue loach. Many loaches make this clicking sound, but the blue loach tends to click a little louder than most other loaches!
One of the reasons why many freshwater fish hobbyists flock to the blue loach is this loach's ability to gobble up its favorite food: snails! The blue loach loves snails, and can and will wipe out an entire population of snails in an infested tank! After the blue loach is placed into a tank with snails, there will be nothing left but a pile of snail shells!
The blue loach is somewhat easy to find in most pet stores. Often the blue loach can be found under the alias of Blue Botia, Orange Finned Loach or Orange Finned Botia. The blue loach is usually affordable, ranging in price anywhere from $4.00 up to $8.00 apiece. That's a small investment for one of the most beautiful and entertaining loaches that you may never see!