Yoyo Loach – Species Profile & Facts

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Loaches are highly valued for their effect on the aquatic environment, feeding behavior, and overall temperament and ease of care.

These gentle bottom dwellers showcase impressive adaptability, allowing them to cope with a variety of water parameters and conditions.

But which loach should you go for? After all, there are little over 1,040 species available, with over 50 of them ranking as great tank fish.

Today, we will be talking about one of the most popular ones, the yoyo loach. Let’s see what makes this one special and a must-have, especially for more inexperienced aquarists.

What is a Yoyo Loach?

Yoyo loaches are active bottom dwellers that operate as scavengers, keeping the environment clean and stable.

They feed on everything they can find and prefer warmer waters, preferably in the higher 80s.

Yoyo loaches are easily distinguishable by their torpedo-shaped body, flat abdomen, meant for crawling on the substrate, and zebra-like pattern.

Most yoyo loaches are either yellow or white with dark irregular stripes running vertically across the entire body. The trademark whiskers are smaller than in other loach species, but they do their job just fine.

So, what do you need to accommodate this loach, and how should you aquascape its habitat?

Yoyo Loach Requirements

Fortunately, yoyo loaches aren’t too pretentious about their setup. They’re relatively easy to please if you know what you need.

Here are some tips in this sense:

Tank Size & Setup

While the yoyo loach doesn’t need too much space, consider at least 20 gallons for one specimen. This is enough to provide the loach with the ideal setting and all the necessary tank equipment meant to make its life easier and sweeter.

The rule is that you add an extra 5 gallons with each new loach you plan to add to the tank.

When it comes to the overall setup, these loaches prefer specific conditions, such as:

  • A soft and fine substrate – These bottom dwellers often rest and move on the substrate. They may also dig for food occasionally or bury themselves in case of stress or when in need of some alone time. The fact that yoyo loaches have no scales makes the fish prone to skin injuries when interacting with substrates like gravel or rocks. Sand is always the better alternative.
  • Live plants – Live plants are more necessary for a loach setup than any other fish. It’s not only due to the plants’ role as hiding elements but the effects of photosynthesis as well. Plants keep the environment cleaner and oxygenate the water during the day. These 2 benefits are key to preserving your loaches’ health in the long run. Loaches are known as sensitive fish that require, more or less, pristine water conditions to thrive.
  • Hiding areas – You should include a variety of hiding spots, especially when loaches are still new to the tank. Newcoming loaches are more stressed and timid and need to hide in a dark and safe corner during the day. It pays off to have several cave-like structures for them to retreat to during the first several days of their coming into the aquarium. In the long run, though, make sure that your loaches have a lot of open swimming space since these are quite the swimmers.

Also, loaches are notorious explorers, so nothing is off-limits for them. Not even going to the water surface occasionally and even jumping out of the tank if given the chance.

So, you might want to consider a tank lid to prevent that. Just make sure it has holes in it for proper aeration.

Water Requirements

The ideal temperature sits between 75 and 86 F, which is noticeably higher than what other fish require.

PH levels should remain between 6.5 and 7.5, and water hardness is optimal at around 12 dGH.

When housing your loach, though, you should have 3 goals in mind:

  • Replicate the fish’s natural habitat – We’ve already discussed this point previously. Consider a soft substrate, live plants, and a good mix of open swimming space and rocky hiding areas. Subtle water movement is also ideal for loaches, but they’ll be getting that from the filtration system anyway. Oh, yea, a filter is absolutely necessary.
  • Ensure stable water parameters – There are a few things that loaches loathe more aggressively than unstable water parameters. Invest in a heater and a water tester kit to check various water parameters regularly. It’s normal for various parameters to fluctuate slightly over time; your goal should be to reduce the impact and frequency of these fluctuations.
  • Ensure clean and well-oxygenated waters – I couldn’t stress the importance of clean and well-oxygenated waters more effectively. Loaches are particularly sensitive to improper water conditions, so they require pristine water hygiene to remain healthy and prevent disorders like Ich or fin rot.

Finally, make sure that your loaches are happy and stress-free. You don’t want them to endure constant stress, which will take a toll on their immune system.

This will leave loaches vulnerable to parasites and bacterial infections, many of which can turn deadly fast.

Feeding and Diet

Loaches rank as omnivorous, but they require a lot more animal protein than your typical omnivorous fish. In reality, loaches only eat plant matter as a last resort when their favorite foods are not available.

By ‘favorite foods,’ I mean the likes of bloodworms, brine shrimp, snails, small substrate-lurking crustaceans, insect larvae, other types of worms, etc.

You should replicate the fish’s natural diet for the best results. In other words, I recommend providing your loach with at least 70-80% of animal protein and fat, with the rest comprising of various veggies.

Fortunately, loaches will happily consume sinking pellets and pretty much any type of fish food.

Do Yoyo Loach Need a Heater?

Yes, they do. A heater is absolutely necessary for a loach setup, given that these fish require higher water temperatures than most fish.

Do Yoyo Loach Need a Filter?

A good filtration system is a vital addition to your loach tank. These fish are notoriously sensitive to ammonia and nitrites, unlike hardier species like goldfish, for instance.

Oh yea, don’t pair your loaches with goldfish. You understand why if you know anything about the goldfish’s reputation in terms of pooping capabilities.

The filter is a key addition to a loach setup for several reasons:

  • Improved water cleanliness – The filtration system will eliminate a variety of floating particles and dead matter that could alter the water chemistry. It’s not ideal as a standalone tank maintenance tool, but it’s a welcoming addition to your loaches’ habitat. Especially when paired with a steady and balanced maintenance routine plan.
  • Improved oxygenation – The improved water movement and greater amount of dissolved oxygen at the water surface are key for a balanced and healthy aquatic ecosystem. The filtration system will benefit all life forms populating your aquarium, loaches included.
  • Chemical filtration – Your filter should offer reliable chemical filtration to keep the environment healthy and safe. Loaches aren’t particularly messy, but other fish might be. The added fish poop, uneaten food residues, and other types of decaying organic matter can destabilize water chemistry fast. A good chemical filtration system will preserve the system’s balance and keep your loaches healthy and happy over the years.

On top of everything else, you need a reliable maintenance plan in place. Most importantly, don’t get complacent about skipping the maintenance day.

Your loaches require weekly water changes and regular tank cleaning. They might forgive one or two misses, but don’t make that a habit.

How Much do Yoyo Loach Cost?

Depending on the seller and the fish, you should get a yoyo loach for about $5-$8. Other specimens can reach $15-$20, but they won’t go any farther than that.

Loaches are relatively cheap for their on-site value and effect on the ecosystem. This is one of the best tank cleaners you can get, so the fish is well worth the price.

What is the Lifespan of Yoyo Loach?

Yoyo loaches live up to 8 years in good conditions, although most will remain closer to 5-6. The fish’s lifespan is drastically influenced by environmental conditions and water quality.

The seller also makes a massive impact in this sense. Generic fish shops aren’t exactly popular for putting out top-notch fish in terms of genetic fitness and overall health.

I would stay away from those if you need tier-one loaches. Instead, go for professional loach breeders who can guarantee for the fish’s pedigree.

How Big do Yoyo Loach Get?

Well-fed yoyo loaches can grow up to 5 inches, with several factors influencing the fish’s size and growth rate. These include the diet, water quality, the stability of water parameters, and even the available tankmates.

Regarding the latter factor, well-fed loaches kept in ideal conditions can still experience growth problems due to stress related to aggressive tankmates.

Are Yoyo Loach Aggressive?

Yoyo loaches rank as peaceful fish, especially when kept in ideal conditions and in good company.

The ideal tankmates should be similar in size and temperament and, preferably, inhabit different areas of the tank. Loaches don’t like food or territorial competition.

I recommend keeping at least 3-4 loaches in the same aquarium. Yoyo loaches are social creatures that enjoy the company of other members of their own species.

Yoyo Loach Tankmates

Fortunately, Yoyo loaches can cohabitate with virtually any peaceful fish species like Congo tetras, mollies, plecos, other loaches, angelfish, etc.

When it comes to choosing the ideal tankmates for your yoyo loach, consider the following tips:

  • Avoid aggressive species – Yoyo loaches are peaceful and won’t fight back when targeted for bullying or territorial or food-related aggression. Avoid notoriously aggressive species like cichlids, Oscars, red-tail sharks, or any similar fish.
  • Avoid slow swimmers – Yoyo loaches are known as active fish that like to explore and move through their habitat a lot. Their activity can bother slow swimmers that don’t like overly active tank companions.
  • The tank layout matters – It never hurts to have a bit more live plants and some extra decorations in case any of your fish showcase bullying tendencies. This approach is particularly useful during the breeding season when pretty much all fish show their ugly face.

Are Yoyo Loach Good for Beginners?

Yes, these fish are great for beginners. As a complete novice, you should always include at least one species of tank cleaner into your plans.

Fish, like loaches, contribute to the ecosystem’s stability by eating food leftovers and other organic residues that other fish won’t touch.

It also doesn’t hurt that yoyo loaches are adaptable and hardy, although they do require strict tank maintenance and a personalized tank layout.

But, hey, these are basic living conditions for all fish; loaches are not the exception but the rule.

How to Tell if Yoyo Loach is Male or Female?

There aren’t too many differences between yoyo males and females, but there are a few.

Males are typically more slender-bodied than females, which can get fuller, especially when the mating season approaches.

Yoyo males also showcase visible redness around their barbels, whereas females don’t.

How do Yoyo Loach Breed?

The breeding process is nothing to write home about, with one exception – we have only observed it in the wild. Yoyo loaches do not breed in captivity due to one critical reason: they are considered migratory fish.

This means that yoyo loaches tend to swim upstream during the breeding season to reach the breeding grounds. This makes it impossible to replicate the fish’s natural breeding conditions in captivity.

This interesting fact should incentivize you to value and cherish your loach even more now.


Yoyo loaches are great cleaner fish that can live in both single-species and community tanks.

You only need to pair them with peaceful and calm tankmates, feed them properly, and keep their habitat clean and fresh, and they won’t ask for much else.

Author Image Fabian
I’m Fabian, aquarium fish breeder and founder of this website. I’ve been keeping fish, since I was a kid. On this blog, I share a lot of information about the aquarium hobby and various fish species that I like. Please leave a comment if you have any question.
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