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Fish of the Month
Issue: February 2010

Yasuhikotakia sidthimunki

(KLAUSEWITZ 1959)

FOM T 0210

Horst Linke

Common Names: Chained loach, chipmunk loach, dwarf botia, dwarf chained loach, dwarf loach, ladderback loach, monkey botia, mouse loach, pygmy loach, Sid, Sid the Monkey, skunk loach, etc.

Type Locality: Loom District, northern Thailand

Range: Chao Phraya, Maeklong, and Mekong basins

Taxonomic Troubles: Originally described as Botia sidthimunki.

Size: 5.5 cm (2 inches).

Preferred Water Chemistry: Tropical freshwater. Prefers warmer temperatures of 26° to 28°C (79° to 82°F).

Difficulty: A hardy and peaceful loach. Should be kept in large schools.

Tank Setup: A soft substrate, plants and/or driftwood for hiding places, and open space for swimming will suit this gregarious species. Tankmates should be peaceful and not likely to be disturbed by the energetic behaviors of the loaches.

Feeding: An omnivore. Will greedily take any aquarium fare, and they go absolutely crazy for live blackworms. Their diet must include some plant material, and sinking wafers produce a feeding frenzy that is fun to watch.

Breeding: There are a few reports of aquarium spawnings, and they are commercially spawned in Asia, presumably with hormone injections. Tank spawnings have all been with very large groups of fish—several dozen or more. Since this fish is alternately reported as extinct or near-extinct in the wild, it is vital to establish captive breeding sources. In the past year or two the typically high price of this animal has dropped a bit, undoubtedly due to increased commercial breeding.

Description: Can be confused with juvenile Yasuhikotakia nigrolineata. Body pale gold or silver, with dark chocolate markings in a chain- or ladder-like pattern. The open areas between the dark markings may be circular or square, even on the same fish. The extent to which the dark markings continue into the belly is quite variable, with some individuals having almost two complete rows of “links” and others having one row with a pale belly beneath. 

Notes: This is truly a dwarf loach. The botiine loaches are aquarium favorites, but many are simply too large for most tanks, especially when you take into account that most species are extremely social and have to be kept in schools. The ever-popular clown loach Chromobotia macracanthus is a perfect example, with an eventual length of 16 inches. This loach, however, packs all the spunk and energy typical for the group into a small package. They are among the most diurnal of the Botiinae and also spend a lot of time off the substrate, swimming up in the water column. This is a perfect fish for many community tanks, but please do both the fish and yourself a favor and purchase a large group. Your pets will be happy, and you will get a grand show every time you stop to watch your aquarium.

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