Weather Loach, Misgurnus angullicaudatus
The weather loach, also sometimes referred to as the Dojo Loach or Pond Loach, originates from parts of Asia. It's particularly known for being able to detect storms and changes in weather patterns, which is where its common name comes from. These loaches are said to show an added amount of activity just before a storm as the barometric pressure changes in the atmosphere.
Although this isn't usually the most colorful fish around, it's big on personality, charm, and entertainment. In fact, it has sometimes been called the puppy dog of the aquarium.
Coloration of the weather loach can vary greatly, but typically they exhibit shades of yellow, green, grey, and brown. They often possess dark mottling dorsally and have a lighter ventral hue. Weather loaches have a golden variety (called the Golden Dojo Loach) as well. These loaches are often mistaken for eels because of their long, slender, bodies and small fins.
Possibly the most distinctive feature is the barbels that surround their mouth, which are presumably used in search of food.
The weather loach is more ideal for a larger, subtropical aquarium. (Read our subtropical aquarium blog here). Because of their size and activity level, a 50 gallon aquarium or larger is ideal. Very fine aquarium sand is a preferred substrate, as they like to dig in the sand.
While the weather loach isn't known for eating aquatic plants, they will often dig and uproot them. Hardy plant species that can handle a lower water temperature are ideal. Some recommendations are java fern and anubias varieties, which can also be tied down to a rock or log rather than being buried in substrate. (I've personally had good luck with putting crinum calamistratum and crypotcorine spiralis in my weather loach tank). You may also want to try Brazilian pennywort or hornwort as floating plants. If you wish to use rooted plants, putting some rocks around the base once planted will help them remain planted if a loach starts digging through the substrate.
Plenty of hiding places should be available for your loaches. Caves, rocks, and commercial decorations will all be utilized. Likewise, overturned flower pots, sections of PVC pipe, or other household items can also provide places where your loaches can retreat.
They will often exhibit bouts of high activity followed by long periods of rest. At these times, they will often look for a comfy hiding spot.
Weather loaches typically reach a length of around 6 inches in captivity. Sometimes they can reach up to 10 inches, and it's been reported that they've gotten to as much as 12” in large tanks. However, 6 inches is a more typical adult size in the home aquarium.
Temp: 65-75 is their preferred range, though they can tolerate a wider parameter. If kept in a tropical temperature, however, their life span will likely be shorter.
For the weather loach, there are several things to keep in mind when considering possible tankmates. Basically, ideal choices are fish that can live in the same subtropical temperatures, are not aggressive, and not easily spooked. The weather loach will sometimes make sudden movements and dart around the aquarium, so shy fish may be too stressed to be housed with them. Some recommended tankmates include golden barbs, Lake Tebera rainbowfish, bloodfin tetras, congo tetras, phantom tetras, rosy barbs, fancy goldfish. Fry or any fish and inverts small enough to be eaten should be avoided. These loaches are fiesty eaters. In my experience, they will even try at times to fend other fish away from food. For this reason, it's best if other fish in the aquarium are equally active and excited at feeding time. Timid fish may be outcompeted for food.
Additionally, weather loaches prefer the company of their own species, and will socially interact when kept in groups.
Speaking of food, these omnivores are not shy eaters whatsoever! They also aren't picky. They will gladly accept all types of standard foods, and variety in their diet is the key to optimal health. Fish pellets, flakes, and thawed frozen foods can be offered, as well as skinned peas and blanched vegetables. They have also been known to eat snails. This Aquarium Breeder article provides details on blanching vegetables for your aquarium friends.
Small fry or shrimp that are small enough to fit into the loach's mouth will likely become a snack.
Weather loaches are egg layers, but there are not many reports about successful breeding of them in captivity.
It is illegal to keep or import Weather Loaches into some states, as they can become very invasive if released. Their hardy nature allows them to thrive in many conditions, even cool climates where other tropical fish would simply perish. While this is great for keeping them in aquariums, it can be detrimental to natural environments where they could outcompete native inhabitants for resources. At Josh's Frogs, we always discourage improperly releasing live animals, plants, and insects, and these fish are no exception. Please don't release a weather loach into a pond, lake, stream, etc. Often, a pet/fish store or local aquarium club will be able to help with rehoming if necessary.
The weather loach is an extremely hardy species that is sometimes referred to as the puppy dog of the aquarium due to its playful nature. If you have enough space and the correct habitat conditions, these can make a great addition to your aquarium.