dojo loaches

Dojo Loaches: A Beginner’s Guide

Whether you call them Dojo Loaches, Weather Loaches, or Pond Loaches, these unique and fascinating freshwater fish are sure to bring a bit of excitement to any tank. With their easy care requirements and friendly personalities, they’re the perfect fish for beginners looking to enjoy a hands-on hobby.

But even though they’re capable of withstanding a wide range of living conditions, it’s still important to know the specifics when it comes to their ideal habitat and care routine. To help you out, we’ve created this comprehensive guide to Dojo Loach care!

Read on to learn all about these truly remarkable fish, from their natural environment to the best tank setup for your aquarium.

dojo loaches
A Dojo Loach swimming in a tank, with plants and driftwood, friendly cartoon-like style

Species Summary

Misgurnus anguillicaudatus, commonly known as the Dojo Loach, is native to various streams and ponds throughout Asia. They’re highly social with humans and have a tendency to react to changes in barometric pressure due to upcoming storms. Interestingly, this behavior can also be observed in tanks, making them a desirable addition to any aquarium enthusiast’s collection.

These hardy fish are fairly easy to care for and very tolerant of a wide range of living conditions. But, like all fish, they will benefit greatly from proper care, allowing them to reach their maximum lifespan of 7-10 years.


Dojo Loaches are often mistaken for eels due to their long, slender bodies and small fins. Their upper body is rounded like an eel and their dorsal fin is located on the last third of their body close to the tail.

The fins are relatively small and their head is somewhat pointed. But the most distinguishable feature of the Dojo Loach is the barbels that surround its downturned mouth. These are used to feel for food and to dig through the substrate and bury themselves.

When it comes to coloration, Dojo Loaches can range from olive green to light brown to grey. Some specimens may also have dark brown spots that help camouflage them against the background. Gold Dojo Loaches are also available and are a yellowish hue. 

Male and female Dojo Loaches can be told apart by examining the second pectoral ray. On males, it is usually longer and more triangular than on females.

Dojo Loach Size

In captivity, Dojo Loaches should grow to no more than 6 inches in length. However, they can grow significantly larger in ideal environments and can reach up to 12 inches in the wild.


Easy to care for and highly tolerant of many living conditions, Dojo Loaches make excellent additions to any tank. That said, being “hardy” doesn’t mean they should be neglected. 

Aquarium owners should focus on providing their fish with the best possible living conditions and nutrition to ensure a long and healthy life.

Tank Size

As bottom feeders, Dojo Loaches need a large enough tank to explore and hunt for food. A 20-gallon size tank should suffice for up to 4 dojo loaches, but larger varieties should be provided for larger populations. 

Water Conditions

Dojo Loaches are highly tolerant of various water conditions, but clean, well-oxygenated water is always preferable. An aquarium heater set between 72-78 degrees Fahrenheit is recommended and the pH should be between 6.0-7.5. Regular water changes should be done every two weeks.


Because Dojo Loaches like to dig through substrate, sand or small gravel is preferable to keep them comfortable and entertained. This is also great for planting rooted aquatic plants.


Dojo Loaches should receive most of their nutrition from prepared foods. They’re scavengers, so sinking pellets high in protein, insect matter and vegetable matter are ideal. Once or twice a week, you can add frozen or freeze-dried snacks such as bloodworms or brine shrimp. But make sure the majority of their diet consists of nutritious pellets.

Tank Mates

Dojo Loaches tend to stay in groups and get along with many other peaceful species. Good tank mates for Dojo Loaches include zebra danios, platies, harlequin rasboras, iridescent sharks, and many more. Avoid aggressive species or those with similar temperaments.


From setting up their ideal tank to understanding what type of food they prefer, Dojo Loach care is actually not as difficult as it may seem. With their unique personalities and playful behaviors, they make excellent additions to any tank. Just be sure to create an environment that allows them to thrive and you’ll have some faithful companions for years to come!

Behavior and Tank Mates

Dojo Loaches are social fish and need to be kept in groups of at least five. They enjoy swimming together in schools and can become quite active during the day. Because they’re bottom-dwellers, they’ll spend most of their time scavenging for food.

You should also keep an eye out for any signs of stress, such as darting or aggressive behavior towards tank mates. Dojo Loaches are very sensitive to changes in their environment and may act out if threatened or intimidated. Overall, they do best in peaceful communities with other gentle species.

Tank Accessories

Providing your Dojo Loaches with some play items is a great way to keep them entertained and help reduce stress levels. Adding driftwood, stones, or terracotta pots will provide places to hide and explore, allowing the Dojos to behave naturally.

You can also benefit from adding some aquatic plants like Anubias, Java Ferns, or Amazon Swords. These hardy species will look great while providing hiding spots and helping to keep the water clean.


Dojo Loaches are egg-layers and mating usually occurs in the early months of spring. Courtship begins with the male chasing the female who will eventually drop her eggs on the substrate. Once the eggs hatch, the fry will feed off the infertile eggs or look for small pieces of food in the gravel.

But breeding Dojos can be difficult and not all tanks are suitable for the task. You’ll need to provide a large, well-planted tank and ensure optimal water conditions for the best results.

Health and Disease

Dojo Loaches are generally hardy fish, but it’s important to be aware of any signs of disease. Watch out for discoloration of the body, loss of appetite, and erratic swimming. If any of these symptoms appear, you should immediately isolate the affected Dojo and treat the tank with antibiotics.

Additionally, it’s important to take precautions to prevent any diseases from occurring in the first place. Regular water changes, good filtration, and a healthy diet are key to giving your Dojos a long and healthy life.

Overall, Dojo Loaches are a great choice for beginner hobbyists looking for an interesting and hardy species. With proper care, these friendly fish will reward you with years of entertaining company.