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 is also a gold variant if you want to add a splash of color to your aquarium. These wacky fish make wonderful pets that can be trained to take food from your hand and can even predict the weather, hence their other common name, the Weather Loach.
Read this guide to learn how to care for the fascinating Loach Dojo.
Loach Dojo – OVERVIEW
|Common name (species)
|Dojo Loach, Pond Loach, Weather Loach, Eastern Weather Loach, Chinese Weather Loach, Japanese Weather Loach, Golden Dojo Loach, Albino Dojo Loach
|It is found in eastern Asia from Siberia and Sakhalin, in northeast Asia, Myanmar, central China, Japan, Hainan, and Korea.
|level of care
|7 to 10 years
|Mainly bottom dweller, but visits middle and top area of tank
|Minimum tank size
|Tropical 50° to 77° Fahrenheit
|Hardness of water
|5 – 12 dGH
|6.5 to 7.5
|Filtration / Flow Rate
|Prefers moderate flow with good filtration.
|type of water
|Egg layer but not commercially bred
|Calm. Not suitable for a community with snails, shrimp and very small fish.
|OK, for planted tanks?
|Safe with plants but likes to dig
The Dojo loach was first described in 1842 by Cantor.
Thanks to their wide variety, these fish are listed on the IUCN Red List as being of least concern. However, in some areas, the degradation of ecosystems and the increase in agriculture are causing a decrease in numbers. In contrast, the global population of Dojo loaches is increasing, largely due to the introduction of the species to other countries, including Hawaii and Australia.
Weather loaches are found throughout eastern and northeastern Asia, central China, Japan, Korea, and Hainan. In addition to the wild variety, there is a gold colored morph called the Golden Dojo Loach.
In addition to being collected for the aquarium trade, they are used as live fishing bait and fish feed by anglers in Japan and other Asian countries.
Dojo loaches live in rivers, lakes, swamps, paddy fields, ponds, and other slow-moving bodies of water. The fish prefer places where the bottom is muddy and easy to dig.
These fish are perfectly adapted to life in habitats where water levels are variable, and have the ability to gulp air from the water’s surface when oxygen levels are depleted. Loaches can also jump and survive out of water for relatively long periods as long as they are in wet muddy or sandy conditions.
Dojo loaches feed on small crustaceans, worms, small aquatic creatures, insect larvae, and insects.
The Dojo Loach is eel-like in appearance with a long, cylindrical body that flattens towards the rear. The fish has two pairs of barbels on the lower jaw and three around the top of the mouth.
Dojo loaches are usually brown to yellow in color with a greenish-gray to dark brown streaked pattern on the upper part of the body, fading to a paler shade below.
You can also find a yellow to orange color transformation of the fish which is commonly called Dojo Dojo Loach. These fish have slimmer bodies than the regular variety and their pattern is extremely weak.
An adult Dojo loach in the aquarium is about 6 inches long, although they grow to a much larger size in the wild.
Dojo loaches live between 7 and 10 years in captivity.
ACTIVITY LEVEL / TEMPERAMENT
The Dojo loach is a peaceful character, although it is a fairly lively and active fish, especially at night. The fish spend much of their time rummaging through the bottom of the tank for food scraps or digging and burrowing into the substrate.
An interesting quirk of the Dojo loach is its habit of becoming hyperactive when 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 even seem to enjoy being touched and petted!
COMPATIBILITY AND TANK MATES
Dojo loaches are a good addition to a community tank, as long as their mates are not aggressive and they are not small enough to be considered a food source. Since loaches spend most of their time at the bottom of the tank, fish species that prefer to hang out in the upper regions of the tank are the best choice as tankmates.
Although not strictly a schooling species, weather loaches are happiest when kept in groups of three fish or more.
To keep your fish healthy and thriving, always use high quality fish food. Cheap feeds are usually stuffed with a filler that has no nutritional value and can even make fish sick.
WHAT TO FEED THE LOACHES IN YOUR DOJO
Dojo loaches are omnivorous, meaning they eat meaty protein and plant matter.
In the wild, Dojo loaches eat insects, insect larvae, algae, small crustaceans, worms, and other tiny aquatic animals.
Captive climate loaches are not picky eaters and will happily accept all kinds 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 bloodworms, daphnia or tubifex.
These fish also eat small snails, which can help control the mollusk population in your tank.
HOW MUCH AND HOW OFTEN TO FEED
Feed your loaches twice a day, offering them only what they will clear up in a couple of minutes. Do not overfeed your fish as uneaten food will break down in the tank and contaminate the water.
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 energetic fish can jump and will jump right out of the tank, so make sure your aquarium has a tight-fitting lid.
Weather loaches are excellent burrowers, spending much of their time scouring the substrate for food scraps. They also like to bury themselves in the soft muddy substrate of their natural habitat, so you’ll want to use soft sand or very fine-gauge gravel that doesn’t have any sharp pieces.
Dojo loaches look their best when displayed in a setting that replicates their natural habitat. Therefore, choose plenty of smooth stones, driftwood, caves, and twisted roots to provide shelter and a place for these curious fish to explore.
Plants are a good addition to the tank, but choose hardy species and make sure the roots are very well anchored so the fish don’t pull them up as they dig and burrow into the substrate.
These loaches are not suited to a completely new setup as they need the absolutely pristine water conditions that only a mature tank provides.
Good water movement is essential, as well as excellent oxygenation. With this in mind, we recommend a gravel filter for loaches, as well as an external canister filter or power heads.
Dojo loaches are tropical fish that can tolerate a wide range of water temperatures between 50° and 77°F.
pH range and water hardness
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.
Dojo loaches prefer dim lighting conditions, so choose an LED lighting unit that allows you to adjust the lighting levels in your tank accordingly, and be sure to choose plants that can thrive in low light conditions.
Dojo loaches require pristine, well-oxygenated water to thrive. In addition to an efficient filtration system, you should perform weekly partial water changes of at least 30%. Vacuum the substrate, under rocks and wood, and around the base of plants to remove uneaten food, fish debris, and dead leaves.
You can use a magnetic algae cleaner to keep the glass clean, but be careful not to remove bacteria and biofilm from display panels or tank décor.
Rinse the filter media in the dirty water tank once a month and change it as needed, according to the manufacturer’s directions.
Gather everything you need to set up your tank, including:
- Sand or fine gravel substrate
- LED lighting unit
- Canister or Powerhead Filtration System
- water conditioner
- gravel filter
- aquarium thermometer
- Twisted roots, smooth rocks, caves, driftwood
HOW TO SET UP YOUR AQUARIUM
- Rinse sand or gravel under running water to remove dust.
- Place two to three inches of the substrate in your aquarium and place an upside-down container on top of the gravel or sand.
- Put the filter and heater in the tank, but do not turn them on.
- Next, fill the aquarium with chlorine-free tap water. Pour the water over the container so as not to displace the substrate.
- The water must contain some ammonia to start the nitrogen cycle in the biological filter. To do that, you need to «seed» the water. You can do this by adding some substrate from a set setup, some flake food, or a couple drops of pure ammonia.
- Rinse the tank decoration to remove dust and place everything in the aquarium.
- Prepare your plants by trimming any damaged or dead leaves or stems. When planting the plants, leave enough space between the stems so they have room to spread out.
- Turn on the heater and filter. If you have live plants in the tank, you will need to have the lights on for up to 10 hours a day.
- Allow at least ten days to pass before introducing fish to the tank to give it time to complete the cycle. To find out when it’s safe to add fish, test the levels of ammonia, nitrites, and nitrates. Ammonia and nitrites should be zero, and nitrate levels should ideally be below 20ppm. If the levels are too high, you should allow more time.
HEALTH AND SICKNESS
Dojo loaches are fairly hardy fish. However, they are very susceptible to poor water conditions and have weak body scales, which can leave them vulnerable to attack by parasites.
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 and curious creatures that should spend much of their time exploring their environment, digging and burrowing into the substrate.
Although loaches tend to hang out on the bottom of the tank, you will also see them venturing into all areas.
There are some warning signs that could indicate possible health problems, including:
- not eat
- Not socializing with tank mates
- Skin damage, such as ulcers, sores, or red spots
- Slamming against substrate or solid objects in tank
COMMON HEALTH PROBLEMS AND TREATMENT
|Symptoms or causes
|Ich (white spot disease)
|White spot disease is caused by a free-swimming aquatic parasite called Ichthyophthirius multifiliis. Fish with Ich movement or rub their bodies against objects in the tank. As the disease progresses, a sprinkling of white dots form on the gills, fins, and body of the fish.
|Raise tank temperature to 82o F for three days and treat water with Ich medication.
|Flukes are aquatic parasites that attach to the gills or body of affected fish. Fish with flukes rub against solid objects and secrete excess mucus.
|Treat the tank with an antiparasitic medication.
|White cotton-like growths.
|Quarantine affected fish and treat them with antifungal medications.
|Caused by internal parasites. Fish lose weight despite eating well.
|Treat with antiparasitic drugs.
Dojo loaches are egg layers but cannot be reared in the home tank and are usually farmed commercially or wild caught.
Both the regular and gold variety of Weather loach can be found at most good fish stores or purchased online, with prices starting at around $6 or $7 per fish.
- water conditioner / dechlorinator
- algae magnet
- aquarium thermometer
- aquarium vacuum cleaner
- Books on tropical fish farming
- Filtration system
- Aquarium (minimum size 55 gallons)
- High quality tropical fish flakes, pellets, algae wafers, frozen foods
- LED lighting unit
- Smooth stones, driftwood, twisted roots, caves
- Fine gauge sand or gravel substrate
I hope you’ve enjoyed our complete guide to caring for the fascinating weather loach.
If you have these quirky and talented fish in your setup, we’d love to hear from them! Tell us about your Dojo loaches in the comment box below!
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