Dojo loach

AJ356

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Also known as weather loach. Scientific name misgurnus anguillicaudatus. I've been studying them at various fish stores, and reading up on them. Generally, this is what I've found. I wondered if anyone with more experience can comment or help me answer some of the questions?

Tank size required: Most sources suggest a 4-foot tank of about 200 litres as a starting point. I believe footprint is important due to their nature. I have an empty tank that is 40" length, 16" wide, and 180 litres. Is this a complete non-starter until I have something slightly larger? They are social creatures, and the minimum number I'd want to keep is 4. I only want a species tank. There would be no other fish in the set up. I'm aware the tank needs a very secure lid.

Lighting: They prefer something more subdued. This is perfect, because I don't aim to keep any live plants with them, and I do not like set-up's that are too bright. It is important that this set up has a quite natural look to it.

Substrate/Decor: Either sand or very fine gravel. Should I just get the finest sand available for them, or would very fine gravel be okay? I know about their digging tendencies, and that they can submerge themselves in the substrate. In addition, I need to maintain the health of their barbels. The rest of the tank will be a few bits of wood to create some sense of shelter.

Filter/Flow: Most sources state that their natural habitat is quite slow moving.

pH/Hardness: The range appears to be a pH of between 6.5 and 8.0, with the general hardness being 5 and 10 degrees. My tap water has a pH of about 7.6 to 8.0 with a general hardness of 15 to 16 degrees. Would I need to use a percentage of Reverse Osmosis water to get the hardness down to about 10 degrees or less?

Temperature: I know it's a very wide range, but most sources advise something between 65F to 75F. I was wondering what is the more ideal temperature to aim for? I know they are more cold water than tropical, which is fine, as they will be the only fish in this set up. My room temperature at home varies between about 66F and 73F.

Diet: Can take sinking dried foods, but also like live and/or frozen daphnia, brine shrimp, and blood worm. I don't like using live foods (unless maybe it was some kind of insects?). Would they be able to get a good diet with the finest dried foods available, supplemented with frozen daphnia, brine shrimp, and blood worm? What about vegetable content?

Size: I know they can reach a maximum size of 11". Some sites suggest 12". It would appear that captive specimens do not necessarily get this big?

Other questions:
  • I really only want a species tank. It makes everything so much easier when trying to meet the specific needs. However, I did read that dither fish can be useful for them?
  • Would they appreciate something like PVC pipes for additional shelter/exploration?
  • I read that they are more prone to ich and worms. What's the best way to prepare for this? I didn't read much about what medications they can, or cannot handle, how they would respond to higher temperatures for 1-2 weeks, and whether or not they can tolerate much salt? Also, about the worms, is it worth considering a prophylactic treatment once I get them?
 
Your plans are good. I would upgrade the tank at some point but 16” wide makes it a good tank to start with. If you have RO available I would cut it a little, yes. I would aim for the middle of the temperature range, about 70, although a seasonal variation would be even better...
They’re mainly predators of small things so I wouldn’t worry about plants in the diet. A good quality dried food will contain some anyway.

There are currently two species of Dojo Loach in the hobby, M. anguillicaudatus and Paramisgurnis dabryanus. Their natural ranges overlap and shipments often contain both species. Paramisgurnis has bigger adipose crests and lacks the black spot at the base of the caudal fin that Misgurnis has. (In the UK) the two species are equally common.
 
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I’ve never known them to be prone to whitespot (this probably comes from bad/incorrect maintenance), would never use salt with freshwater fish, and personally I wouldn’t worm them unless they actually have worms, but that’s just me.
They don’t use pipes or caves much at all ime, preferring to rest in dense plants. They don’t really do hiding.
Dithers are a good idea and will keep them unstressed.
 
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I agree with @Ichthys great info - sounds like you have put in really solid research as well and its great to see :)

I had one many years ago when I didn't really know what I was doing but really enjoyed them. Just to add to the above advice I would go for really really fine sand as they do like to burrow and the sand will provide a better option than anything else.

If you do go for a dither species check out some Danios or Barbs from their habitats that would be great :)

Wills
 
Thank you @Wills and @Ichthys
  • I wasn't aware that there are two different species. Thanks.
  • I think I will go for the finest of sands then. Do you think the substrate colour matters much? I did read somewhere that dojo loaches are quite "messy", and so was wondering if darker sand might be good?
  • I see what you are saying about them not "hiding" much, with reference to PVC pipes, or caves. One of the reasons I am drawn to them, is that they are so active and social.
  • I'll weigh up the pros and cons of dither fish. In the past, I have found it frustrating when wanting to focus on bottom dwellers, and then having other non-bottom dwelling fish competing for food, and then having to make sure you don't over feed, just to make sure enough food (and the right food) gets to the bottom dwellers. Does anyone have any thoughts on this with regard dojo loaches eating behaviour and preferences?
  • My research suggested odessa barbs might be a good fit, based on water parameters and behaviour, if I was to go for tankmates? Only thing being, I would not want a group of less than 10 for the other species, to keep them happy, so considering my set up is 180 L and 40" long, perhaps a more "nano" dither fish might be better in a group of 10? Factoring in I'd like at least 4 dojo loaches. Thanks for referencing danios as well. Thoughts?
  • I must admit, my first choice is to scrap the dithers and focus on a species only. But the overall set up has to be geared to getting the best outcomes for the loach, so I am trying to keep an open mind. I think my concern with dithers, is that it becomes a community tank by default (even though that's the not the ultimate intention). This can lead to either significant or minor complexities in parameters (not an issue here with barbs), diet (perhaps not an issue with barbs), décor (probably not an issue with barbs), but certainly in this instance, medication options if something goes wrong? Dojo loaches potentially have different requirements for treatments? Thoughts?
 
With 4+ loaches and a small group of small dithers I don’t see much of an issue with feeding. I wouldn’t use Barbs as they will eat from the bottom. If you used a species that lives in the upper levels, such as danios, they’ll get their (sinking) food on the way down and there’ll be plenty on the bottom for the loaches.

To work as dithers they need to be open water fish that don’t hide, and preferably fairly active. Danios or most tetras and rasboras would make good dithers (temperature permitting).

Dojos are pretty chilled fish and I don’t think they actually need dithers if you have a small group of them.

Being scaleless they would only tolerate (safely) a half dose of most medicines commonly available in the UK. In the US you tend to use much stronger medicines so I can’t comment on that. They’re not very tolerant of salt.
 
Hi I have kept them for years, infact they are my favorites. So funny and lovely characters. I feed mine by hand at times as they can become very tame and get used to you very quickly. They do not like fish treatments as it burns them due to having no scales. They shed their skin every so often and need pristine water to live in. They are called Weatherloach due to their ability to be able to predict storms ect and their behavior in the tank will stress this by dashing about. They like hanging and will find pleasure just bathing on a floating leaf or ledge. No sharpe ornaments in the tank. Sand is brilliant as they like to totally bury themselves and tunnel. Plants..... well keep them weighted or deeply planted as they will dig dig and dig more! Yes sociable they are so 2 or more is good. Food can be a variety of pellets or frozen foods brine shrimp mosquito lava occasionally bloodworm as a treat or flake. Be light with dried foods as they suffer from bloat and swim bladder problems.
They don't necessarily feed from the bottom, they are scavengers and mooch absolutely everywhere for food so don't worry about tank mates, these guys will give you immense pleasure. They are gentle non aggressive creatures and you will truly love them.
 
My babies 💜
 

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They shed their skin every so often and need pristine water to live in.

This isn’t normal. They only do it if the water is bad. It’s a reaction to irritation of the skin.
 
Dojos are pretty chilled fish and I don’t think they actually need dithers if you have a small group of them.
This seems to be the majority opinion, as I've been posting on some other boards as well. I'm not going to include dither fish, which I think is the best move, because I'd be purchasing fish I don't really want anyway, and if I get the set up and conditions on point for the loach, then the dithers would be redundant anyway really. Thanks for the input.
 
Hi I have kept them for years, infact they are my favorites. So funny and lovely characters. I feed mine by hand at times as they can become very tame and get used to you very quickly. They do not like fish treatments as it burns them due to having no scales. They shed their skin every so often and need pristine water to live in. They are called Weatherloach due to their ability to be able to predict storms ect and their behavior in the tank will stress this by dashing about. They like hanging and will find pleasure just bathing on a floating leaf or ledge. No sharpe ornaments in the tank. Sand is brilliant as they like to totally bury themselves and tunnel. Plants..... well keep them weighted or deeply planted as they will dig dig and dig more! Yes sociable they are so 2 or more is good. Food can be a variety of pellets or frozen foods brine shrimp mosquito lava occasionally bloodworm as a treat or flake. Be light with dried foods as they suffer from bloat and swim bladder problems.
They don't necessarily feed from the bottom, they are scavengers and mooch absolutely everywhere for food so don't worry about tank mates, these guys will give you immense pleasure. They are gentle non aggressive creatures and you will truly love them.
Brilliant! Nice to meet you. Thank you. How you describe them, is exactly how they seem to behave in the LFS, and I'm thinking if they are that active and social in the LFS, then I can't wait to get them into a proper, homely set up. I'd be aiming for a 50% water change per week as a minimum, but could easily do a 50% every 4 or 5 days or so, if that's better. What's your water hardness if you know? My tap water is very hard in GH, but I can easily supplement with RO. Thanks for the reminder about the bloating risk, I've read that a few times now.
 

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