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Are Yoyo Loaches Aggressive?

The yoyo or Pakistani loach is a type of freshwater fish that originates in the slow-moving water basins of northern India. This unique looking (silver with dark markings) fish can reach lengths of up to 6 inches and likes to spend its day foraging along the substrate at the bottom of an aquarium. But what about its temperament – is it aggressive or territorial in nature? Well, the answer is…

Yes, yoyo loaches can become aggressive, especially with members of their own species. They usually won’t target other fish in a tank but can get ‘nippy’ at times. If kept in an aquarium alone, they may team up with more aggressive fish and bully the smaller, weaker ones. Keeping yoyo loaches with docile fish of similar size (or even slightly bigger) will help maintain a peaceful aquatic environment.

Now that you know yoyo loaches can – though rarely – be hostile towards other fish in a community tank environment, let’s dive deeper into this topic. I’ll explain whether or not yoyo loaches bite, if they have the potential to kill other fish, and what species make the best tankmates for these bottom dwellers. I’ll also outline ways to reduce yoyo loach aggression to keep your freshwater aquarium safe and healthy.

So, if you’re ready to learn more about the yoyo loach and its behavior – most notably in captivity – then let’s get to it!

Do Yoyo Loaches Bite?

Yoyo loaches are omnivorous and like to eat both plant- and meat-based foods. Their teeth are located down their throats and create an audible ‘clicking’ sound when they eat blood worms or brine shrimp. Therefore, they can nip or bite one another, especially during a feeding frenzy.

Yoyo loaches are highly active and can easily frighten or intimidate other fish in a community tank environment. If you notice one getting ‘nippy’ with the others, try quarantining the aggressor for a few days either inside a hang-on breeding net or in a separate tank and see it that curbs its hostile nature.

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Are Yoyo Loaches Fin Nippers?

As mentioned above, yoyo loaches can get ‘nippy’ around feeding time when they’re competing for every last morsal! As a result, they’re not the best species to keep with fish that have long fins like gouramis or male guppies.

If the tank is large with plenty of space, fin nipping shouldn’t be a problem. Yoyo loaches are territorial and will often claim an area in the aquarium as their own. In a big 40-gallon tank (or larger), they won’t feel the need to ‘defend their turf’ which can reduce aggression levels significantly.

What Fish Can Live with Yoyo Loaches?

The best tankmates for yoyo loaches are fish that are the same size or slightly larger. Since loaches are bottom dwellers that prefer to swim along the substrate, filling your freshwater tank with fish that like to swim in the middle or near the surface will help keep aggression levels at bay.

The top 5 tankmates for yoyo loaches include angelfish, catfish, goldfish, mollies, and tetras. Other peaceful bottom dwellers such as plecos and clown loaches will also do well with yoyo loaches. Make sure to avoid highly aggressive fish such as bettas, cichlids, tigerfish, peacock bass or red-finned sharks.

darker colored yoyo loach

Can Yoyo Loaches Live with Guppies?

It appears yoyo loaches can live quite peacefully with guppies – provided the tank is big enough and there are plenty of hiding places throughout. Guppies are a fairly docile, sociable fish but can get ‘nippy’ with other guppies if there are only a few together in the tank. For this reason, you should keep at least 10 guppies in a planted, 40-gallon tank (with 3 yoyo loaches).

Will Yoyo Loaches Eat Tetras?

Yoyo loaches will eat snails and shrimp in a community tank environment. They’re naturally predatorial and therefore can become more aggressive towards other bottom dwellers in a freshwater aquarium. Though not typical, yoyo loaches may attack and kill tiny neon tetras for the purpose of eating them! Therefore, it’s best to keep larger tetra fish (such as the congo tetra) with yoyo loaches.

How Many Yoyo Loaches Should I Get?

It’s best to keep yoyo loaches in groups of 3 or more. If you keep just a single loach, there’s a good chance it’ll team up with other fish and bully the smaller, weaker ones. The company of other yoyo loaches in a community tank environment tends to lessen hostility levels in this species towards other fish, though they can get aggressive with each other on occasion.

Do Yoyo Loaches Kill Other Fish?

It’s highly unlikely for yoyo loaches to kill other fish. They may nip at fins on occasion but if you quarantine the loach for a few days, it usually helps to curb any aggressive behavior. That said, yoyo loaches are opportunistic and will eat anything lying at the bottom of the tank, including dead fish!

Any freshwater tank containing yoyo loaches should have plenty of caves and plants to provide them with a sense of security. They’re aggression is usually targeted at each other rather than other aquatic creatures. Should they feel harassed by other fish, they’ll often retreat to a safe hiding place.

How to Reduce Aggression Levels in Yoyo Loaches?

To keep your freshwater tank both healthy and peaceful, there are certain things you can do regarding the care of your yoyo loaches. Begin by keeping them in a large aquarium with plenty of hiding places for cover. The tank should be at least a 40-gallon size with an under-gravel filter. As juveniles, they can be kept in a 20-gallon tank but should be moved to a bigger aquarium as they grow.

Check the water parameters regularly since aggression levels in fish are elevated when the aquatic conditions aren’t balanced properly. The temperature should be 75 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit. As well, the pH range should be between 6.5 and 7.5 with a hardness factor of 3 to 10 dGH. Doing partial water changes (25%) every other week will help keep the tank clean and reduce dangerous ammonia levels.

Make sure you’re feeding your loaches adequately. They’re greedy, voracious eaters and will compete for food in a frenzy of activity. As yoyo loaches aren’t fuzzy and will eat anything given to them, they’re easy to feed.  A few sinking pellets offered just before ‘lights out’ will be devoured come morning. As omnivores, they’ll also gorge on meaty foods such as brine shrimp and blood worms.

As mentioned earlier, keeping yoyo loaches in a shoal of 3 (1 male and 2 females, if possible) will also help reduce aggression levels in a community tank environment. In my opinion, as both an experienced aquarium hobbyists and lover of fish, keeping just a single yoyo loach an aquarium is cruel and can lead to hostility issues as it ages – followed by the increased likelihood of an premature death.


In summation, aggressive behavior in yoyo loaches is usually directed at members of its own species. While it’s highly unlikely for them to bully other fish in a community tank environment, they can get nippy, especially around feeding time. To reduce hostility, yoyo loaches should be kept in groups of 3 with other freshwater fish of like size and temperament.

I hope this article has provided you with the information you seek regarding yoyo loaches and their temperament in captivity. Thanks for reading and good luck with your freshwater aquarium hobby.

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