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How to Take Care of Dojo Loaches

Dojo (also known as pond or weather loaches) are native to the freshwater lakes/ponds of Asia and are typically farm raised for the aquarium industry. Easy to care for and a treat to observe, these fish are bottom dwellers that like to spend their time exploring their surroundings and foraging for food. If you’ve considered keeping this species, you may be wondering how to properly care for them?

Dojo loaches need at least a 30-gallon tank with plenty of hiding places and aquatic sand for substrate. The temperature of the water should be between 65 and 75 degrees with a pH level of 6.0 to 8.0. While a planted tank is a good idea, be selective in the greenery you choose as the larger fish may uproot plants in their search for food.

Now that you know what dojo loaches require, let’s explore this topic further. Together we’ll learn what types of food they eat; what kinds of aquarium equipment they need; what water conditions they prefer; what plants and/or decoration they like in their tank; if they help keep the tank clean; how to determine if they’re male or female; if they’re aggressive; and what fish make the best tank mates.

So, if you’re ready to learn more about dojo loaches and how to maintain them in captivity, then let’s begin!

What Size Tank do Dojo Loaches Need?

In general, dojo loaches require a 30-gallon tank minimum, though bigger is usually better. Juvenile dojos can be kept in 20-gallon tank, though they’ll need to moved to a larger aquarium once they reach adulthood. If you intent to keep just 2 or 3, then a 30-gallon tank will suffice. If you want to keep 5 or 6, then a larger 55-gallon tank is required. Anything more than 6 will require a 75-gallon tank or greater.

What Type of Water Conditions do Dojo Loaches Prefer?

While dojo loaches aren’t super-sensitive when it comes to water chemistry, they do need to be kept in a clean, fairly stable aquatic environment. A temperature range of 65-and 75-degrees Fahrenheit is recommended as well as pH level between 6.0 and 8.0. You can use treated tap water to fill your dojo loach tank, but you must treat it first with a dechlorinating or conditioning agent.

Check out these aquarium water dechlorinators/conditioners available online through Amazon.

Do Dojo Loaches Require a Heater?

Dojo loaches like cooler water so they usually don’t require a heater. The only time a heater should be installed is if the tank is in an area where the ambient temperature drops below 50-degrees Fahrenheit. If kept in an aquatic environment that’s too warm, this species will not live near as long. The average lifespan of a well cared for dojo loach in a cold-water aquarium is up to 10 years as opposed to less than 4 years in a tropical tank.

Do Dojo Loaches Require a Light?

Dojo loaches prefer low-lighted environments and will appear skittish or hide in a tank that’s too bright. If you provide them with plenty of shaded areas (plants, rocks, decorations, etc.), they’ll be less stressed and more active in their aquarium. A wide-spectrum LED light with a blue light feature is recommended as it won’t heat the water. If you keep the tank in a room with a window, then you likely won’t need an aquarium light at all.

Do Dojo Loaches Require a Filter?

Filtration and oxygenation are important in a dojo loach tank. This species is known to be ‘messy’ with a tendency to uproot plants and disturb substrate. Therefore, a filter is required. While an external canister filter is your best choice, it’s also more costly. Regardless, there’s still no better option when it comes to mechanical, chemical, and biological filtration.

For bottom-dwellers like dojo loaches, canister filters are a great choice since the intake tube can go down much further than standard power filters. Consider covering the intake with a sponge to prevent smaller dojo loaches from getting sucked in. To do this, simply take a sponge for a filter, slice it down the middle and then slide it onto the intake tube.

Do Dojo Loaches Clean Tanks?

Dojo loaches are bottom-dwelling scavengers and as such, can help keep a 30-gallon aquarium clean. A pair or groups of loaches will significantly reduce snail populations as well as microorganism infestations in a tank. That said, they tend to be messy fish with a penchant for disturbing substrate and uprooting plants. Frequent partial water changes will help keep their aquatic environment healthy, clean, and safe.

What Do Dojo Loaches Eat?

Dojo loaches are herbivores and will eat both plant- and meat-based foods. While flake foods work, sinking pellets are better as this species is a bottom-dwellers and this will ensure they get enough food. In the wild, dojo loaches like to forage for crustaceans and insect larvae along the bottom of ponds and rivers so feeding them live foods like brine shrimp and bloodworms is recommended.

weather loach

Are Dojo Loaches Aggressive?

Dojo loaches are generally peaceful in nature but can get aggressive just before or after spawning. When kept together in pairs (rather than groups) and with fish that prefer to swim in the middle or near the top of the tank, you shouldn’t have a problem with this species. In fact, they’ll often appear interactive – even playful – in a safe, healthy aquatic environment.

Can Dojo Loaches be Kept with Goldfish?

Dojo loaches make excellent tankmates for different kinds of goldfish. Both prefer cooler, harder water. Since dojo loaches should be kept in a minimum 30-gallon tank, make sure to choose goldfish that can fit that environment. Some species are too large and require an extra-large tank or outdoor pond. A pair or dojo loaches, for example, can be kept with 2 fancy goldfish in a 30-gallon tank.

What are the Best Tankmates for Dojo Loaches?

The best companions for dojo loaches are peaceful fish that prefer to swim in the center or near the top of the tank. They’ll do well in a community aquarium provided they don’t feel the need to compete for food or space. Fin nipping and hiding out are typical signs of stress with this species. Consider fancy goldfish, white cloud minnows, rosy barbs, leopard danios, harlequin rasboras, and kuhli loaches as possible tankmates.

How Can You Tell if a Dojo Loach is Male or Female?

To determine the sex of your dojo loaches, begin by observing the pectoral fin. Adult male dojo loaches have a longer, thicker second ray which makes them look almost triangular in shape. Mature females, on the other hand, are smaller and rounder in appearance with a fuller belly. As juveniles, it’s much harder to identify gender so you’ll likely need to wait until your dojo loaches are at least 3 or 4 inches in length.


To conclude, dojo or weather loaches need a minimum 30-gallon tank with plenty of hiding places like plants, rocks, and driftwood. Aquatic sand for substrate is recommended as they like to root around in it in their search for food. The temperature of the water should be cooler (between 65 and 75 degrees) with a moderate pH level (6.0 to 8.0). Bloodworms and snails are preferred edibles as well as algae wafers, flake foods, and fish pellets.

I trust this article has been of help to you and answered your questions regarding how to care for dojo loaches. Thanks for reading and good luck with your aquarium hobby.

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