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Pond loach (Dojo loach): A Full Care Guide

Introduction to Pond loach

Pond loach is one of my favorite freshwater fish. Do you know why? It is so easy to care for and manage. This fish has a unique personality as well.

It is a great pet.

We can say this pond loach is very social even with mankind. I can say that pond loach is a very fantastic addition to the fish tank as well.

Also, experts say this fish is keeping in domestic aquariums even before 1000 years ago. It gives clue about the what relationship do have between pond loach and human from an older era.

The best evidence to prove that is getting Accu weather for casting from this fish.

pond loach ( dojo loach)

I have found that it has a long history. In the past, people kept those loaches in a glass container to predict the weather.

But the important thing it says predicted weathers was accurate and true, unlike the weatherman or grass hogs.

How could this happen? It is said that pond loach can sense the changes in sudden weather by the sense of changes in barometric pressure in the atmosphere.

They change behavior suddenly once they feel that. For example, it behaves like a storm is coming ahead or standing up on end.

Once observe this behavior definitely weather also changes. How amazing it is?

Even a beginner fish keeper can look after this fish easily. But I decided to write this article in order to give a good care guide about pond loaches. So you can keep this pond loach healthier and happier even before.

Keep reading!

Classification of pond loach

This fish also called by several other names as,

  • Dojo Loach
  • Weather loach
  • Japanese weather loach
  • Oriental weather loach
  • Chinese weather fish, etc.

The scientific name of this dojo loach/pond loach is Misgurnus anguillicaudatus. And it belongs to the family Cobitidae. The genus is Misgurnus.

Pond loach

There we can identify weather loach/dojo loach as the alternative other name that is used for the pond loach.

As I mentioned earlier in ancient time weather loach ( pond loach) were used to predict the weather. So the name comes from that way.

But be aware! because at the present name weather loach not only for dojo loach, also for other several members of this genus been used.

Over Look

  • Family – Cobitidae
  • Genus – Misgurnus 
  • Order – Cypriniformes
  • Colour – Pink, orange, gray, albino, olive green, light brown, 
  • Optimum temperature – 59-77F (15-25C)
  • Optimum pH – 6.5 – 7.5 
  • KH – 35 dGh
  • Diet – Omnivore
  • Care – Easy
  • Life span – 10 years 
  • Origin- North-East Asia

Source Wikipedia


Pond loach

Pond loach (Dojo Loach) is native to North East Asia and Myanmar. It is also distributed to Japan, Vietnam, Korea, China, Siberia Singapore as farmed fish.

Later it was introduced to Northern America, Eastern Europe, Europe, Australia so on.

Today so many countries have put restrictions on keeping. Mainly because this fish was listed in the global invasive species list.

The best evidence for this is if you are from England you need to take the permissions from the respective authorities in order to keep.

In the wild, you can found these beautiful fish in the flowing water streams, rivers, lakes, ponds, agricultural waterways in paddy fields, ditches, swamps, etc.

Even they more prefer to live under the leaf litter, muddy substrate, or silt as well.


  • Native to – North East Asia and Myanmar.
  • Distributed in – Japan, Vietnam, Singapore, China, Korea.
  • Introduced to – North America, Australia, and Europe.

Pond loach/dojo loach appearance

Dojo loach has its own unique characteristics in the body. If you are seeing fish for the first time you can observe an elongated eel-like body that exactly looks similar to a catfish.

Do not get confused either as an eel or a catfish.

Even you can find scales are absent in this fish. So it is a scaleless fish.

When it comes to the body colour, it has a nice body colouration of olive green and brown spots run along the top of the body as a stripe till it meets the tail or caudal fin.

Experts say that pond loach can camouflage. 

Some dojo loaches are with gold or orange colour bodies which are called gold dojo loaches. It has a prominent, well string pectoral fins as well. The dorsal fin lies at the last 2/3 of the body close to the tail.

If you well observe can identify the pectoral fin situated in front of the gills. And the most important part of the body is the presence of barbles. The feature you get mislead with a catfish. oops!

Normally pond loach has 10 barbels. It is used to dig the substrate or forage to find out the food.

As the head is pointed, barbel adds more beauty to the fish, I love that!

The difference between the Dojo loach male and females is the presence of larger pectoral fin in the males when compared with the counterpart females.

Thereby these fish shows sexual dimorphic nature.

Pond loach life span

Dojo loach/pond loach has an average longer life span of 10 years. But it can vary from 7-10 years.

It depends on your care and management. If you provide a quality diet and good water quality parameters it will have its maximum potential. I hope you get the point!.

Weather loach size

How big do pond loaches get?

first I want to tell you that weather loach is a durable fish. In the aquaria, the dojo loach has a relative size of 4-10 inches. In the wild weather loach size is relatively between 10-12 inches.

Do not get mislead! it is possible to get the same size as in the wild from captive breeding as well. There you need to provide the native conditions and good diet and space exactly.

Dojo loach purchasing size is about 2-4 inches in length.

Pond loach care

when it comes to the dojo loach care, it is easy to care. But when selecting the substrate you must pay much attention. Why I am saying this, weather loach fish is a bottom dweller.

They always dig the substrate, if you use large stones to the substrate it can cause damage to the fish skin.

Therefore best substrate to use is the graveled sand.

Even you can add some dried leaves at the bottom, it will help to give natural habitat feeling to the fish as well. You also can use floating plants on the top of the water surface to give shadow to the tank.

Also, you can use various aquarium decorations like driftwood, tree trunks it will give hiding places and shelters as well.

Another important thing is maintaining good water quality parameters. I hope you get the point.

Tank Requirements

Pond loach tank size

If you want to keep your fish comfortable, then you should need to provide them with enough swimming space. Normally it requires a minimum tank size of 29 gallons.

But recommended and many people are using the 55 gallons tank. Better to invest in a larger tank as much as possible you can.

pond loach Water quality Parameters

When we consider the pond loach temperature, they do not need a high water temperature. These fish prefer to live in cold water or low water temperature conditions.

Haven’t you notice that dojo loach( pond loach) is popular all over the world and many aquarists around the world keeping this fish.

This proves that the dojo loach can tolerate a wide range of water conditions.

The best weather loach temperature is around 59- 77 F(15-25C). and the optimum pH level is between 6.5 -7.5. It also needs KH between 3-5 for optimum growth.

But you can do a water quality test using a water test kit. It will help to ensure its optimum conditions regularly.

If you need you can buy a water test kit online through the internet or from a local pet store.


  • Water temperature – 59-77F
  • pH – 6.5 -7.5
  • KH – 3-5

Preparation Of the Tank Inside

Mainly we consider the tank substrate as I mentioned earlier. These pond loaches enjoy digging the substrate and traveling inside.

You may observe your dojo fish disappear for several hours especially in the evening.

That is they have penetrated into the substrate. Here recommended using soft aquarium sand instead of rough large rocks otherwise it can damage the weather loach barbels as well.

So when selecting the decorations either you can use choose natural or artificial decors.

Providing pond loach with sufficient hiding places

Since they like shady areas and spend a lot of time hiding within the decorations such as driftwood, aquarium plants, or within the substrate.

When your fish are scared they tend to spend more time hiding. You can use aquarium plants like Anubias, Java moss, Java Fern. These plants have a good rooting system.

But do not forget digging and borrowing can even uproot these aquarium plants.

So use rock piles to cover the stem of plants otherwise you can grow java moss tree by planting(grow attach to driftwood) them in decorations such as bogwood and other tree trunks.


You also can grow the plant varieties use in temperate conditions and I use fake plants because our purpose is to provide more hiding places and can reduce the damages to plants as well.

Another most important thing is providing a moderate water flow. It will increase the fish’s health or you can do a partial water change regularly.

Otherwise, ammonia spikes can suppress the immunity of dojo loach.

Taking safety measures to cover the pond loach tank with a lid

As a good fish keeper, it is your responsibility to take care of your weather loach or pond loach.

There is a possibility of pile off from the tank. this happens if you are using a filter with a filter tube. Pond loach comes to the surface along this tube then if a lid is absent or not tidely fixed it will jump off.

Better to use a sponge filter and close all possible ways of escaping.

Diet and feeding

It is easy to feed pond loach because these dojo loaches are omnivores. In the wild habitat, they survive by eating algae within the rivers.

When it comes to aquaria(captivity) it says that dojo loach consumes any food you give as they are omnivores.

There is a wide variety of food that can give as follows,

  • Freeze dried blood worms
  • vitamin-rich flake foods
  • Tubifex
  • Chopped worms
  • Other frozen & live meaty foods
  • Small snails
  • Daphnia 

Sink pellets such as

  • Shrimp pellets
  • Tropical fish pellets are also given.

Experts say that dojo fish loves human contact. so you can feed them with your own hand as well.

Many of the time dietary problems can arise, there you can give soaked cooked dietary pea as a remedy.

It also says that when there is a large amount of fish in the tank pond loach tend to come to the surface to eat food.

Reproduction and breeding

Even though care is easy, breeding is not easy. Because pond loach or dojo loach breed in the wild with the extreme seasonal changes.

It is said after going through monsoonal seasons they reproduced. But in captivity, if you want to breed, it is not that much easy. You need to give frequent cooler temperatures in water and waters with temperatures more than the normal level.

Even you need to give your fish a quality diet. That is why most aquarists do not even try to breed in the aquaria.

But however, there are rare cases where these fish have been reproduced in the home aquaria. There what happens is male dojo loach wrap around the respective female fish and induces the egg laying.

Thereafter females will lay eggs on aquarium plants, near the filters so on. Typically pond loach female produces about 50 eggs per clutch. 

After fertilization by the male pond loach, it will hatch around 3-5 days. 

But these fish are not good parents as soon after the hatch parent couple moves away. When compare with the Jewel cichlid, Koi and Goldfish they are very good parents.

After a few weeks later you can feed these little babies with baby shrimps and other fry food.

How do you tell if dojo/pond loach is male or female?

As I told earlier easiest way to identify a male from a female fish is by looking at the pectoral fin. Typically males are with a large pectoral fin and females having a smaller one. 

Another thing is the body, male dojos have a more slender body compare with the respective counterpart female.

Pond loach( dojo loach) Tank mates

A peaceful, non-aggressive fish that has good social behavior. The best proven example is loving human companionship. Therefore can keep in a community tank as well.

How many dojo loaches should I get?

There is no restriction as a definite number either you can keep as single or as schooling/group. I prefer at least a group of 3 as the best way to go with.

What other fish can live with weather loach/ pond loach?

Due to the peaceful behavior, you can keep dojo fish with most of the other fish varieties. This fish is one of the best bottom feeding fish match your tank.

Other fish mates that can keep are,

Rosy barbs(Puntius conchonius), Golden barbs(Puntius semifasciolatus), Tebera rainbowfish, Platy fish, Argentine blood fins, Red phantom tetras, Danionins, Bitterlings, Kuhli loach, Bichir, White cloud mountain minnows, other variety of Goldfish, Koi fish, etc.

Can pond loaches live with guppies?

Yes, it is possible. Here the key is selecting the companions that can live in the dojo loach tank conditions.

As guppy fish, the ideal temperature is between 22-28C(72-82F) it can keep with pond loach without any problem. Even guppy can live below the optimum level in 15C (60F)as well.

Therefore no issues arise when keeping both fish together. Even both fish can share the food as well.

Since we have provided enough hiding places no overcrowding too. I hope you get the point.

Pond loach/dojo loach behavior

Are weather/pond loach aggressive?

No, they are not, dojo loach is peaceful fish having good social behavior. These fish love to interact with humans so we can say it is nonaggressive.

Even prefer to be in schooling. Always they behave scavenging, foraging, and digging the substrate. Sometimes become invisible that is most of the daytime spend hiding in the substrate and come out in the evening or night.

Therefore dojo loach is a nocturnal fish, Sometimes pond loach can jump out and escape from the tank proving as a highly active fish.

How long can a dojo loach live out of water?

There is no standard time that a loach can survive out of the tank. But I have found one of my friends told me that his loach survived 20-30 minutes on the dried floor.

Thereafter he has clean the debris on the fish body and put it back into the tank. He said fish survived.

Another thing is, I told that these fish can found near agricultural areas so during the dry period these water streams get dried up and they even survive

How could this happen is pond loach has a modified intestine that can extract oxygen in the atmosphere and meantime expelled air via the vent.

So this is the basic way of sense the barometric pressures and can survive out of the thank for a moment.

It is your responsibility to look after your fish well.

do dojo/ weather loach eat other fish?

No, these fish do not tend to eat and hunt other tank mates. They are notorious snail and shrimp lovers. But you need to be sure that you are feeding your pond loach well.

Another thing better if you remove dead fish soon as possible because these scavengers can eat these dead fish on the bottom of the tank.

Clean your tank regularly and feed enough food no worries at all.

Common pond loach diseases

pond loach is hardy. But sensitive to sudden changes in the water because these fish prefer cold water. If you give high temperature water it can stress your fish.

Suppressed immunity can susceptible to various pathogens.

Major disease associated with dojo loach is Ich disease which causes by a parasite called Ichthyophthirius. As the loaches lack scales in the body Ich can produce white spots easily on the fish body.

Once you observe any symptoms better to quarantine them in a separate hospital tank.

Other second common disease is the skinny disease. There what happens is even you are giving a quality diet; fish will lose weight.

It is also a parasitic infection. If you find out disease at the early stage it will help to prevent spread to the other tank mates as well. So need to give a great care.

The best way to prevent these kinds of diseases is keeping your fish away from stress by giving suitable conditions similar to the natural habitat and a balanced quality diet.

Uses of pond loach?

One of the best starter fish in this fish keeping hobby. In addition to ornamental, this pond loach widely use as a food fish in East Asia. There Koreans make a soup called “Chueo-tang

Where to buy pond loach?

There are many aquariums all over the world selling this fish. Either you can buy this loving fish through the internet or from local pet stores. It says 2-4 inches as the best purchasing length of dojo loach.


Pond loach or dojo loach is one of easy care beginner fish that loves mankind very much. If you are seeking a bottom feeding tankmate for your tank this is the best fish.

Therefore keep them in 3-6 groups they will love it, otherwise most of the time these fish tend to hide and spend most of the time.

I hope this article will help you to give a full guide about this amazing fish keeping. !


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