Dojo Loach


Common Name: Dojo Loach
Scientific Name: Misgurnus anguillicaudatus
Adult Size: 6-10 inches
Life Expectancy: 10 years
Tank Size: 55 gallons minimum

The Dojo Loach, also known as the Weather Loach due to its sensitivity to atmospheric pressure changes, is a popular freshwater fish from East Asia. They have an elongated body and come in colors ranging from golden to gray, with a playful and social nature.

A 55-gallon tank is the recommended minimum size to accommodate the Dojo Loach’s potential length and active behavior. They prefer a soft substrate for burrowing and appreciate the presence of hiding places such as caves, plants, or driftwood.

Dojo Loaches are omnivorous scavengers and will eat a wide range of foods, including sinking pellets, wafers, live and frozen foods like bloodworms, and some vegetables. They are peaceful and can be kept with a variety of tank mates, but due to their size, they are best housed with medium-sized, non-aggressive fish.

Origins and Natural Habitat

The Dojo Loach, Misgurnus anguillicaudatus, is a freshwater fish endemic to East Asia. Your understanding of their origins pinpoints a distribution that includes regions such as Siberia, Japan, Korea, China, and northern Vietnam. These loaches are adapted to environments reflective of their native slow-moving, shallow bodies of water.

In the natural settings, you would typically find Dojo Loaches in ecosystems like swamps, ponds, rivers, and rice paddies. The water in these habitats is characteristically still or slow-flowing, and the depth is relatively shallow. Here, the Dojo Loach thrives in muddy or sandy substrates where they exhibit a preference for burrowing.

When creating an aquarium habitat that resembles their natural environment, consider the following key conditions:

  • Water flow: Gentle to replicate slow-moving rivers and streams.
  • Substrate: Soft and fine, such as sand or smooth gravel, suitable for burrowing.
  • Depth: A setup that allows enough room for the loach to navigate given their potential size of 6 to 12 inches.

By mimicking these characteristics, your aquarium can become a comfortable haven for Dojo Loaches, encouraging natural behaviors akin to their life in the wild.

Aquarium Setup

Setting up the proper aquarium for your Dojo Loach is crucial for its health and well-being. It requires specific tank conditions to thrive, including the right size, substrate, and water parameters.

Tank Size and Environment

Your Dojo Loach will need ample space to roam and explore. You should provide a minimum tank size of 40 gallons for one loach and add at least 10 gallons for every additional loach. A larger tank with dimensions of 48 inches in length and 18 inches in width is ideal as these fish are quite active and enjoy swimming across the tank. For the substrate, opt for a soft, sandy bottom or fine gravel, as Dojo Loaches like burrowing.

  • Substrate: Soft sand or fine gravel
  • Minimum tank size: 40 gallons (151 liters) for a single fish
  • Add tank size: +10 gallons (38 liters) per additional Dojo Loach

Water Conditions and Parameters

Dojo Loaches are not overly demanding when it comes to water parameters, but it’s important to maintain a stable environment. Aim for a pH level between 6.5 and 7.5, with a water temperature range of 64-74°F (18-23°C). These loaches also require moderate water flow and a well-oxygenated tank, so include a filtration system that can provide this without causing excessive turbulence.

  • Temperature: 64-74°F (18-23°C)
  • pH level: 6.5 – 7.5
  • Filtration: Moderate flow with high oxygenation

Behavior and Social Dynamics

The Dojo Loach, known scientifically as Misgurnus anguillicaudatus, demonstrates intriguing social behavior in the aquatic environment. Preferring the company of their kind, they are communal fish and can often be observed interacting with other Dojo Loaches. It is advisable to keep them in groups for their social well-being.

Interaction with Other Species: Your Dojo Loach will generally coexist peacefully with other non-aggressive species of similar size, making them suitable for community tanks. However, it’s important to be cautious with very small tank mates, as they may be viewed as potential food.

Activity Patterns: These loaches are known for being most active during dusk and dawn, displaying a crepuscular lifestyle. During these times, you can expect to see them actively foraging around the tank, which provides an engaging spectacle.

Environmental Response: The Dojo Loach is sometimes referred to as the ‘weather loach’ due to its sensitivity to barometric pressure changes. They may become more active or display unusual swimming patterns when a change in weather, such as a storm, is imminent.

Playful Nature: Despite their eel-like appearance, Dojo Loaches can be quite playful and are even known to engage with humans, showing a degree of social interaction not commonly seen in fish. Providing them with a stimulating environment that includes hiding spots and room to explore will cater to their curious and active disposition.

Compatibility and Community

When choosing tank mates for your Dojo Loach, you should look for other peaceful and social fish that thrive in similar water conditions. Your Dojo Loach prefers companions that won’t compete aggressively for food or territory. Selecting fish with similar temperaments is essential for creating a balanced and stress-free aquarium environment.

Ideal Water Conditions:

  • Temperature: 50-82°F (10-28°C)
  • pH Levels: 6.5-8.0
  • Water Hardness: 5-12 dKH

Suitable Tank Mates:

  • Tetras
  • Corydoras
  • Danios
  • Guppies

Avoid aggressive species that may stress or harm your Dojo Loach. Your tank’s ecosystem should include hiding spots and plenty of space to allow Dojo Loaches and their tank mates to exhibit natural behaviors.

Quick Tips:

  • Ensure your aquarium filter keeps the water clean and oxygen-rich.
  • Regularly check that the water parameters stay within the ideal range for Dojo Loaches and their companions.
  • Condition the tank with plants and substrate that mimic the natural habitat of Dojo Loaches to provide comfort and security.

Health and Maintenance

Maintaining the health of your Dojo Loach is crucial for its longevity and well-being. A clean environment and vigilant disease management are essential components of proper care.

Cleaning and Maintenance Routines

Weekly Water Changes: Perform partial water changes of at least 30% to keep the water quality high. Ensure you’re removing debris and waste during each change to reduce the risk of disease.

Substrate Cleaning: Use a siphon to gently vacuum the substrate and remove waste without disturbing your Dojo Loach, as they enjoy burrowing.

Filter Maintenance: Regularly check and clean your filtration system to keep the water well-oxygenated, which is vital for these loaches.

Disease Prevention and Management

Quarantine New Arrivals: Keep new fish in a separate quarantine tank for a few weeks to monitor them for any signs of illness before introducing them to your main tank.

Regular Observations: Familiarize yourself with your fish’s normal behavior and appearance. Look for any changes that may indicate stress or sickness, such as inactivity or visible injuries.

Immediate Action: At any sign of illness, consult with a vet and begin treatment immediately. Make sure to isolate sick fish to prevent the spread of diseases.

Diet and Feeding

Your Dojo Loach, scientifically known as Misgurnus anguillicaudatus, thrives on a diverse diet that encompasses various food sources. In practice, these loaches are not strictly bottom feeders; they will actively forage throughout the aquarium. It’s essential to include a mix of dry and live foods to cater to their nutritional needs.

Dry Foods: Incorporate high-quality flakes and sinking pellets into their daily diet to ensure they receive a balanced intake of essential nutrients.

Live Foods: To enhance their diet and mimic natural feeding habits, provide live or frozen foods such as brine shrimp and bloodworms. Brine shrimp can be offered every other day, while bloodworms make an excellent weekly treat.

Feeding Schedule: To prevent competition with tank mates like goldfish, which often share their environment, be diligent in scheduling feedings. Dojo Loaches are known for their competitive nature when it comes to surface feeding, so ensure all fish get their share.

Remember to observe your Dojo Loach’s behavior and appetite, adjusting their diet as necessary to maintain optimal health and well-being.

Breeding and Reproduction

Understanding the breeding process and environmental needs of Dojo Loaches is essential for successful reproduction. Detailed knowledge of gender differences and optimal aquarium conditions will guide you in encouraging these bottom-dwellers to breed.

Gender Identification and Breeding Behavior

You can distinguish male from female Dojo Loaches by observing physical characteristics and behaviors, particularly during breeding readiness. Males typically have a thicker, more elongated body and may exhibit a more intense coloration. During breeding, males perform a mating display and, if receptive, wrap their body around the female to stimulate egg release. After the eggs are laid by the female, fertilization occurs externally when the male sheds milt over them.

Creating Optimal Breeding Conditions

To optimize breeding conditions in captivity, you must replicate the Dojo Loach’s natural habitat. This includes maintaining a tank size of at least 29 gallons, with 55 gallons recommended. The water temperature should be kept between 50-72°F (10-23°C), and a moderate to hard water condition is ideal with a pH range of 6.5-8. Your Dojo Loaches should reach a mature size of at least 4.3 inches (110 mm) and be around 2-3 years old before attempting breeding. A separate breeding tank helps to mitigate stress and allows for easier monitoring of the process.

Growth, Development, and Lifespan

When you raise a Dojo loach (Misgurnus anguillicaudatus), its growth rate and final size can be quite impressive. On average, they grow to about 8 to 10 inches in length. However, with optimal care, some individuals can reach up to 12 inches. This growth is achieved gradually over a period of three to four years.

Your Dojo loach’s development is contingent upon its environment. To ensure healthy growth, it’s crucial to provide them with a diet that is both varied and rich in nutrients. They thrive on a mix of flakes, pellets, and live foods such as bloodworms, brine shrimp, and daphnia. It is advised to feed them in small portions two or three times a day.

In terms of lifespan, Dojo loaches are long-lived creatures. In their natural habitat, they can reach around ten years of age. In a well-maintained aquarium, you can expect them to live anywhere from five to eight years. Quality of water and stable water temperatures are essential in maximizing their lifespan. Keeping the water cool can help in extending their life expectancy.


Where Do Dojo Loachs From?


What Is the Natural Habitat of a Dojo Loach?

Dojo Loaches are native to the cool, fast-flowing rivers and ponds of East Asia. Their natural habitat is rich with soft, muddy bottoms, which allow them to burrow and play. In captivity, replicating their natural habitat will make them feel right at home. To do this, it’s crucial to include plenty of hiding spots, soft substrate for burrowing, and a water temperature between 50-75°F.


These intriguing creatures have a diet as diverse as their colors! They are omnivores, feasting on a variety of food in their natural habitat which includes insects, small crustaceans, plant matter, and even algae. In a home aquarium, a balanced diet of high-quality flake food, fresh vegetables, and live or frozen foods like brine shrimp or bloodworms are ideal for their nutritional needs.


The Dojo Loach, despite its seemingly serene demeanor, is quite the active fish. Their behavior is captivating to observe, as they spend much of their time exploring the bottom of the tank, burrowing, and even interacting with other fish. Don’t be alarmed if you see your pet Dojo Loach playing dead – it’s a common behavior and just one of the ways they express their unique personality.

Tank Setup

The ideal home for Dojo Loaches is a tank that mimics their natural habitat. A minimum of 30-gallons with a soft substrate to burrow in, plenty of hiding spots, and a moderate water flow is recommended. The water pH should be kept between 6.0 and 8.0, and the water temperature should be maintained between 50-75°F to keep your loaches happy and healthy.


These social fish are typically peaceful and do well in community tanks. They enjoy the company of their own kind and thrive in groups of at least three. They can also coexist with other peaceful fish species. However, small invertebrates might become a tasty snack for your loach, so it’s best to avoid housing them together.


Breeding Dojo Loaches in captivity can be quite a challenge, but not impossible. They are egg layers and require specific conditions for spawning. This usually involves a drop in water temperature, followed by a gradual increase, to simulate the changing seasons in their natural environment.


Dojo Loaches are generally robust fish, but they are not immune to health issues. Maintaining optimal water conditions and providing a balanced diet is key to keeping your Dojo Loach healthy. Regular water changes, attention to any changes in behavior or appearance, and timely veterinary intervention when needed will help ensure a long, healthy life for your loach.


What Do Dojo Loach Eat?


Are Dojo Loachs Aggressive?

Tank Size

How Big of a Tank Does a Dojo Loach Need?


What Are the Best Tank Mates For Dojo Loachs?


How Big Do Dojo Loachs Get?