The Loachaphile's Blog

Discussion in 'Member's Blogs' started by Sean S, Mar 9, 2016.

  1. Sean S

    Sean S Executive Board

    Hey gang,
    I have always been a big fan of loaches, I can’t remember a time where I didn’t have any loaches in my tanks for more than a short period. There doesn’t seem to be too many loachaphiles in the club so I thought loaches might be a good topic for me to blog about.
    I will start with some loach basics, provide some resources, and move on to loach taxonomy and sprinkle in some loach stories of my own. Hopefully I will have some breeding reports to add in eventually. I hope that through my ramblings some of you might come to appreciate the loaches and even dedicate some tank space to them.
    Loaches are a diverse group so you can probably find a loach that fits your fishkeeping abilities, limitations, and personality.
    What is a loach? Loaches are primarily bottom dwelling fish with barbels and no (or few) scales. Wait, isn’t that a catfish? No! Loaches fill similar ecological niches as catfish but are more closely related to minnows and danios than cories and plecos. Loaches are found primarily in Asia and nearby islands in the Indian and Pacific Oceans but there is at least one species found in Europe. Their habitats include slow flowing rivers and backwaters to fast flowing mountain streams. Knowing which loach (or at least which type of) is critical to providing the conditions they need to survive. Some loaches are relatively easy to keep and some require very specialized setups to survive.
    Most of you have seen eel loaches (erroneously lumped together as kuhlii or coolie loaches, only one species that is rarely seen is an actual kuhlii) and clown loaches and you may have seen others like yoyos, dwarf (sidthimunki), or hillstream (think Hong Kong plecos, lizard, or reticulated) loaches. These all have different care requirements. We will discuss that in future instalments just know that they are not all the same and many could not (or should not) be housed together.
    While I am by no means an elite loach keeper I have kept many different species, some more successfully than others, and I do enjoy them and have learned a lot about them. I hope this blog makes you come to appreciate the loaches that I love.
    Look for future posts to learn how to do the loachy dance (well… maybe leave that to the loaches, we don’t want you to hurt yourself ;))

    Sean
  2. Sean S

    Sean S Executive Board

    Loach Keeping 101
    Rule number 1-
    Don’t get just one! By and large loaches are gregarious by nature (they like to have friends) and while they are not a schooling fish it is important to keep them in groups, the more the merrier. There are a few exceptions to this rule like the sumo loach but when preparing your loach tank and purchasing your loaches plan for them like you would a schooling species. Five to seven is a good minimum. Some of the botiine loaches can get aggressive with one other so, like African cichlids, they need multiple targets so no one gets unduly harassed.
    Most loaches of the same general type will go together just fine so if a particular species can only be found in ones and twos putting them with congeners will typically work fine. This might be trickier if you are trying to breed them (we don’t want to encourage hybridization) but for general care it will be fine. I have kept different types of eel loaches together and different species of hillstream loaches before and they got along fine. The only caution here would be to make sure your mixed species are roughly the same size, an 8 inch clown loach would likely pick on a 2 inch skunk loach.
    Rule number 2- Know which type of loach you are getting and plan accordingly. This is common sense for fish in general but can be disastrous for certain loaches if not followed. Some loaches get extremely large (clown loaches typically don’t reach sexual maturity until they are a foot long), some need cooler fast flowing water (hillstream loaches come from high mountain streams), and others thrive in leaf litter (eel loaches).
    Along with this is diet, although if you keep catfish the loaches fall into the same general classifications- you have your scavengers and your algae/ aufwuchs eaters, I don’t know of any loaches that would be true piscivores like some larger catfish but otherwise the same rules apply. The scavengers relish worms and will eat pretty much anything designed for catfish. Some of the algae eaters will eat live worms occasionally as well but seem less interested in prepared catfish foods other than algae wafers.
    Rule number 3- Beware of the wasting disease! Almost all loaches are wild caught and most of them can often be afflicted with internal parasites. This leads to the loaches wasting away as the parasites consume most of the food the loach eats before it gets to the fish’s digestive system. Being scaleless or nearly so makes treating the parasites difficult. I have not tried treating for parasites, instead I carefully observe potential purchases to pick ones that do not appear to be wasting away. If it looks like the loach is unusually thin or you can see bones through the skin stay away from that fish and I would recommend passing on the whole tank, the others may manifest similar symptoms soon.
    I have not seen this in the eel loaches but have observed it in botiine loaches frequently and hillstream loaches often. It is much harder to detect in the more flattened hillstreams so more observation of these fish is necessary before purchasing. I rarely buy a loach the first time I see it in my LFS unless I trust the owner and he tells me it has been there for at least a couple of weeks.
    That’s about it, once you know your loach, their care is generally not too difficult.
    Next time I will help you know your loach with some basics in loach identification.
    Aquaticus likes this.
  3. Sean S

    Sean S Executive Board

    Know your Loach- The basics
    Loaches are a diverse group of fishes that form the Superfamily Cobitioidea which was comprised of 2 families, Balitoridae (hillstream loaches) and Cobitidae (true loaches). Recently revisions by Maurice Kottelat in 2012 have revised this significantly to include suckers (like the Chinese algae eater) and the sucking loaches (Garra sp.) as well as elevated several subfamilies to full family status (Babuccidae, Botiidae, Ellopostimatidae, Gastromyzontidae, Nemacheilidae, Sepenticobitidae, and Vaillantidae.
    For those of you who are not taxonomy geeks, I apologize, but scientific nomenclature is often the only way to accurately identify loaches as many are lumped under the same common name. The rest of this post will be much more general but I wanted to give you an overview of the group from the scientist’s viewpoint so we have a starting point. I am a biologist so I would be a traitor if I didn’t at least reference the scientific terms!
    The best resource easily accessible to all with an internet connection is loaches on line ( www.loaches.com ) . They have a great species index organized both by scientific name and body shape so whether you are an expert or a novice you should be able to get some idea what type of loach you have or want to buy.
    Body type usually will give you the first indicator of the type of loach you are looking at. There are a few general forms that I will go over here that will be covered in depth later on.
    • My loach looks like a snake or worm with fins- there are two types; weather loaches which prefer cooler water (60 to 70 degrees F) and eel loaches which prefer warmer water (75 to 82 degrees). Weather loaches are typically larger than the eel loaches as well. Other than temperature care is similar- these are leaf litter and detritus dwelling species so planted tanks with debris are ideal, than prefer slow to moderate current and a sand substrate is preferred, many species will burrow in the substrate- avoid sharper substrates
    • My loach still looks like a fish but is elongated and kinda wormlike- these fish are usually lumped together as brook loaches, there are a lot of different types with extremely different levels of aggressiveness. Most will still stay relatively small (4 to 5 inches or less). These loaches will do best in moderate to high current setups but research these fish carefully as there may be additional considerations and often multiple species can come in the same shipment. Temperature extremes should be avoided but each species might need a slightly different range so research your fish.
    • My loach looks like a clown loach- it’s a clown loach :D -these loaches will get huge so plan for upgrading your tank unless you own a public aquarium. How large of a tank do you think you would need to house 6 or more fish that will grow to 12 to 16 inches? These fish are awesome but be prepared to be a monster fish keeper. Moderate to high current, 78 to 87 degrees F
    • My fish looks like a clown loach but it has a different pattern and might be not quite as tall- these fish are botiine loaches often called botias. Many of these fish can be quite aggressive, especially in smaller numbers. Their aggression would be somewhere between tiger barbs and mbuna. There are a wide range of maximum sizes in this group so don’t mix and match unless you know what size they will get to. Similar sized fish usually get along fine. Moderate to high current, 75 to 85 degrees F
    • My fish looks sort of like a clown loach but is more elongated, it might have stripes, spots or both- these would be the tiger loaches. In general these fish get larger (8+ inches) and can be more aggressive. There are also many species that look very similar so it can take careful examination to determine the species. Their care is similar to the botias although the may need a larger aquarium that most of the botias.
    • My fish looks like a pleco- these would be the hillstream loaches. These fish are very interesting but have very specific requirements. They come from very fast flowing mountain streams so they need very high current tanks with cooler water. Definitely read up on these guys before you get them and set up your tank accordingly. With the proper setup these fish have proved to be relatively easy to keep if they make through the first couple of weeks. Several species have already been bred by hobbyists and new reports are coming in often.
    • There are two loaches that don’t fit into these categories because they look a little weird- the horse faced and moose faced loaches. Horse faced loaches are seen with some regularity but I have only see moose faced loaches once (I took them home and will tell that tale later). Sand substrate is a must for these loaches as both are burrowers and the moose faced loaches are sand sifters. Otherwise the horse faced needs warmer temps (77-84 degrees) and the moose faced cooler (68-72 degrees).
    Well that was more detailed than an overview usually is but there is a lot of diversity in the loach group. I didn’t talk about the newer editions to the superorder because I am not as familiar with them (suckers and sucking loaches) but will try to include them in the more detailed posts that will come later.
    I hope you are enjoying this so far, I am having a great time talking about loaches.
    Next time I will try to point you to some resources and reference material so you can research your next loach purchase.
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  4. Sean S

    Sean S Executive Board

    Knowledge is Power!- Loach Resources
    I think I have mentioned this in every post so far, but the best source for information for free (and more comprehensive than anything you pay for) is Loaches Online- www.loaches.com
    There are a couple of relatively recent books (both of which I own and would be willing to lend to members) that have great information
    · Loaches Natural History and Aquarium Care – This is a great book for the new loach keeper and has a lot of information that will help anyone keep loaches. It was co-written by the team of experts that run Loaches Online.
    · The Borneo Suckers – This book is definitely a more scientific tome but Dr. Tan does a great job putting in material that the average aquarist can benefit from. While this book does not cover all the hillstream loaches the basic principles are applicable to other hillstreams. One of the great things about this book that historical has not been done in scientific publications is the addition of color photos of live specimens. This makes it particularly useful for parsing out which species you have. If you want to keep hillstreams, read this book!
    · There are other, older books available as well (Loaches Online has a list) but I have not read these and, as we know, the older a book is the less pertinent the information. If anyone has an older loach book I would be interested in borrowing it if one is willing, I always want to learn more about loaches!
    Magazine articles and online articles have been written by various people and can be found in various places. Some caution must be exercised here because I have read loach articles that were poorly written, and occasionally wildly inaccurate.
    For potential hillstream keepers Martin Thoene wrote an article for Loaches Online entitled Hillstream Loaches - The Specialists at Life In The Fast Lane (working link to article) that is a must read. Again the Loaches Online website has a list of articles, many available on the website, for you to access.
    The last and probably least helpful resource (although maybe the quickest in a pinch) would be me. As I mentioned earlier, I do not claim to be an expert but I have learned a lot about loaches over the years and would be happy to give you my two cents worth!
    Next time- A more detailed look at one of the loach groups.
    Last edited: Mar 14, 2016
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  5. Sean S

    Sean S Executive Board

    The Clown Loach
    So I thought I would tackle the most popular loach around, the clown loach, first.

    There is a lot of misunderstanding about clown loaches and, probably, lots of bad information. I once saw, I think at Petsmart (one of the big chains anyway), a care sheet for the clown loach saying it would be fine in a 20 gallon aquarium!
    First, scientifically speaking the clown loach is known as Chromobotia macracanthus. You may also see it listed as Botia macracantha, or Cobitis macracanthus. These are invalid synonyms but some texts may refer to the clown loach by those names.
    Care requirements are relatively simple with one glaring exception- tank size. An aquarium with neutral, slightly soft water and a temperature of 78-87 degrees F will keep these fish healthy. A larger flow rate will benefit clown loaches as with most of the loaches but the extreme high flow rates needed for hillstreams are unnecessary. The main emphasis and major reason responsible aquarists don’t keep clown loaches is the tank size needed to house them. They also, like most loaches, thrive in groups, especially when young. I would not consider getting clown loaches unless I had a tank of at least 75 gallons for smaller ones with the expectation that they will need larger and larger aquaria as they grow. Don’t have a big tank- don’t get clown loaches.
    Clown loaches along with all the botiine loaches often suffer from a high parasite load when imported from the wild. There are large fish farms in southeast Asia that seem to be producing captive bred clowns but it is usually difficult to ensure your clowns have been captive bred and given the large ponds that are likely required for captive breeding I have my doubts whether this produces parasite free fish. Carefully observe any clown loaches you want to purchase for evidence of parasites. For loaches these tend to be internal so the signs require more observation than the obvious external parasites like ich and velvet (which clowns can get as well but that is something we should all be looking for anyway). If the loaches have sunken stomachs or overall thin appearance these fish likely have internal parasites and I would avoid them. If there are a mix of healthy looking and sickly looking fish in a tank its likely all have some parasites. The best approach would be to pass on the tank but the healthy looking ones could probably be treated for parasites and an experienced aquarist could save them. Unless the store owner was giving them away I would never take home clowns that have obvious signs of the “wasting disease” (internal parasites).
    Because they are scaleless fish treating them can be tricky and I rarely treat my fish so I will let others handle that topic. I think selecting healthy stock is the best “treatment” we can use.
    In my younger, brash, inexperienced days as an aquarist recently afflicted with “multiple tank syndrome” I had a clown loach in a 25 gallon community tank. It was relatively happy until, probably due to some error on my part, it came down with ich. I moved him to a quarantine tank and dashed to the pet store to get something to treat it with. This turned out to be an extremely valuable experience for me as it was the first case of ich I was able to deal with. I read a lot about the ich parasite’s lifecycle which enabled me to successfully cure my clown loach using ich guard II (for scaleless fish). Unfortunately, I did not have all the holes on my Q-tank sealed so the night before it was going to get moved back to the community tank it jumped out and I found fish jerky in the morning. :(
    This leads into another extremely important aspect of keeping loaches. You must have a tight fitting lid with no holes! Use plastic wrap, loaches are the best escape artists I have kept. Probably the only ones better would be eels. I have lost several loaches to escape attempts even when I thought I had everything covered. I have had them jump up the outflow of a HOB that didn’t have a lid, through holes that I thought were too small. If there is a hole, they will find it.
    So, you still want to keep clown loaches? So do I they are fantastic creatures but be responsible and make sure you can meet the demands of keeping this fish happy and healthy and be prepared to put them in your will, they have be reported to live more than 50 years in the wild.
    Again, check out Loaches Online, they have some great articles and pictures of clown loaches that you should read before you buy them.
    Aquaticus and Chuck like this.
  6. Marine590622

    Marine590622 Advisory Board Staff Member

    How about a list of the loaches you currently have?
  7. Sean S

    Sean S Executive Board

    Currently I have 8 Pangio semicincta, 2 P. myersi, 2 P. doriae, 1 P. shelfordi, and I will be picking up to Somileptus gongota on Friday.
    For those who don't speak scientific names-
    Pangio is the genus almost all the eel loaches are in, semicincta is a striped loach often referred to as a "Kuhlii", these are probably the ones seen most often for sale. myersi is the largest striped eel loach, sometimes called Myers' or giant kuhlii loach, doriae is a silvery species with a pinkish belly, mine came in as by catch with "black kuhliis" (P. oblonga) but are sometimes called sand eel or sand kuhlii loaches. The shelfordi I posted a picture of in the What fish did you get today thread a while back, they are a variably pattern eel loach with the same dark brown to black and pink to tan colors as the other striped eel loaches. Somileptus gongota is the moose faced loach, I am very excited about getting these guys from the Fish Factory in Milwaukee on Friday.

    For your convenience I have linked the scientific names to their corresponding species page on Loaches Online
  8. Marine590622

    Marine590622 Advisory Board Staff Member

    Any luck breeding any of the eel loaches?
  9. Sean S

    Sean S Executive Board

    Not yet, but the semicincta look like the are well conditioned and I occasionally see what looks like the green eggs showing through the abdomen. I have had them les than a year so they may still be bulking up. I am trying different techniques to see what works. I hope to have at least one successful spawning by the end of the year.
  10. Sean S

    Sean S Executive Board

    The Eel Loaches (AKA Kuhlii Loaches) Part 1
    This is the group of loaches that I have probably kept the most and have done the best job keeping. I have kept at least 7 different species and have 4 currently in my fish room. I am always on the look out for the less common ones. I hope to have some breeding success with my group of P. semicincta by the end of the year.
    There are two genera of eel loaches but only one that is seen regularly. The genus Pangio is where the so called “kuhlii” loaches hail from. The other genus, Vaillantella, is comprised of three species of scissortail loaches. I have only seen these offered for sale once.
    The genus Pangio can be broken into a few groups based on appearance. Most of them fall into the striped variety with alternating vertical bands of brown to black and beige to orange. There are a small number of Pangio species that are solid colored varying from pink to nearly black. There are also a few species that have irregular patterning somewhere been the striped ones and the solid colored ones. To round out the genus are a number more elongated species that are sandy or silvery in appearance.
    Care for all the Pangio species is very similar. They are all found in areas with leaf litter and detritus with sand or mud bottoms. They all may burrow into the substrate to some extent but the more elongated species may spend significant amounts of time there. I had a group of P. angullaris that typically only came out of the sand at feeding time. Because of this a sand or dirt substrate is vital (Chuck, I think these guys would love your dirt planted tanks). A wide range of temperatures will be tolerated but mine have seemed to prefer mid to lower 70sF. In nature their habitats have lower to neutral pH and softer water. I have kept them in hard Wisconsin water in pHs from 7.4 to 8 with no apparent ill effects. Overall these fish have proved to be hardy fish that are highly adaptable. They do not get large with most staying under 4 inches and, other than Myers loach, not very tall either. The biomass of a 4 inch long cichlid would be much greater than a 4 inch long eel loach. If you want to get your feet wet with loaches the Pangio species are a good place to start.
    More on Pangio next time!
  11. Sean S

    Sean S Executive Board

    A New Loach in the Fish Room
    So I promised more on eel loaches but I am too excited about my new loach (soon to be loaches) that I have to interrupt the eel loach discussion. Some of you may may have noticed my post in the What new fish did you get today thread, but for those of you that didn't I got 1 moose faced loach from Living Art yesterday and I have already purchased 2 from the Fish Factory in Milwaukee that I will be picking up tonight. Paul might be able to get me some more so hopefully I can get a group large enough to breed if I figure out what they need. These fish are some of the oddest looking fish I have see but thats only part of what makes them cool. The are sand sifters that make tracks throughout the aquarium. Its like they make their own zen garden and it changes everyday. Just last night my single loach made tracks throughout the entire aquarium. The also have an amazing talent to disappear in the blink of an eye. Despite their apparent ungainly appearance they can burrow under the sand in a instant and be undetectable. Sometimes you can only see their eyes poking up out of the sand. I am not sure that there is a more entertaining and fascinating aquarium resident.
    Unfortunately they are not easy to keep. The ones I had before always seemed to be a little thin but behaved naturally. They lived for several years so I must not have done too poorly. They were much smaller than the one I got yesterday so hopefully this batch will be healthier and live a productive life. I have learned a few tricks in the interim as I continue to scour the internet for information. I have deepened the sand bed this time and added oak leaves, peat, and some driftwood to help provide water conditioning, softening, and providing additional microfauna for the loaches to browse upon. I will post some pictures soon and try to give all some updates on this challenging project.

    Eel loach breeding tank idea- feedback encouraged!
    I have had some thoughts on how to design an aquarium for breeding eel loaches and think I came up with a breakthrough. Its quite a daunting task to try to come up with a way to separate a fish known for getting under undergravel filters and into all kinds of places they don't belong from their eggs and fry. I think I may have a solution and would love thoughts and feedback from some of the DIYers in the group.
    So, my design goes like this- take a small hole plastic mesh screen (hole diameter 2mm) add suspend this an inch or 2 off the aquarium floor. Cut a hole in the mesh large enough for a siphon tube. Silicone the siphon tube in place and silicone the mesh all the way around the aquarium sides. Either cap the siphon tube or keep the open end out of the water away from the eel loaches. Use Oak and/ or almond leaves as the substrate and add the desired eel loach species. In theory either the eggs or the fry or both will fall under the mesh and can be siphoned out. The only thing that I see that could be a flaw is that eel loaches tend to scatter eggs in surface plants, but as long as the wigglers fall through before being eaten it might work
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  12. Sean S

    Sean S Executive Board

    When I got to the Fish Factory for my moose faced loaches one had died. I was a little sad but the other one is doing fine. It is much smaller than the one I got from living art, but at least the loaches are not alone. Hopefully one of the two stores will be able to get me some more. The picture below is the tracks the first moose face made the first night in its new home[​IMG]

    I was asked a bunch of loach questions at the meeting yesterday. That was awesome, great to see the interest in the loaches. Hopefully I can help you all figure out which eel loach you have and answer your loach questions. Maybe we'll have a club full of loachaphiles in a year or two!
    Aquaticus likes this.
  13. Sean S

    Sean S Executive Board

    moose tracks.jpg

    The image didn't show up in the last post. this pic only shows 2/3 of the tank, the rest was similar. I saw both loaches out this morning before leaving for work so they are both alive and seem to be blazing new trails, I bet you've never see moose tracks like these! I will try to get the glass cleaned up and get some pics of the actual fish but they are a bit secretive at the moment. At some point I want to catch the dive under the sand on video, that is something amazing to see.
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  14. Sean S

    Sean S Executive Board

    The Eel Loaches (AKA Kuhlii Loaches) Part 2
    The genus Pangio currently has 34 recognized species according to Fishbase and there are some variants that have been seen in the hobby that are undescribed.
    When it comes to the striped eel loaches there are many described species. Some of these are found in the hobby with varying frequency. The following list includes those at least occasionally available.
    • Pangio semicincta- often sold as kuhlii or super kuhlii loach, likely the most commonly available one, similar in appearance to the true kuhlii
    • Pangio myersi- often sold as giant kuhlii or Myer’s loach, much taller than the other eel loaches, also has thicker dark bars.
    • Pangio cuneovirgata- rarely available, smaller than P. semicincta and bars only go half way down the side, look for extremely long nasal barbels
    • Pangio kuhlii- debate exists as to whether this species makes it into the hobby any more- this is the true kuhlii loach and the only one that should be called a kuhlii (technically)
    • Pangio malayana- rarely available, similar in appearance to P. cuneovirgata but larger, size is similar to P. semicincta and P. kuhlii. Main characteristic to look for- the bars on the head do not met under the chin.
    There may be others see occasionally but typing them out can be difficult. My best recommendation is to get a group all at once and note who you got them from. Try to get more information about the source; that can help narrow down the possibilities. Getting a group all at once does not guarantee a common origin or species since some species are found together or in close proximity but it at least makes it more likely. Then you can take your time trying to decipher your species so if you are fortunate enough to get them to breed you know what you have. With the small size and quick movements of the Pangio species it can be difficult to impossible to note the characteristics like fin rays or barbell number and placement necessary to determine the species, but if you are just keeping them for the sheer enjoyment with no plans to breed them it may not be important to you to know which is which. Just call ‘em Larry, Darryl, and his other brother Darryl and sit back and watch the loach dance.
    Next time (if we don’t have cool loach alert interruptions) the rest of the Pangios and maybe the other eel loaches.
  15. Sean S

    Sean S Executive Board

    Moose faced loach pics
    When I got home last night the tank light was off and the moose faces were in a cooperative mood. I got a bunch of pictures, including some close ups of the larger one. Its the best view of the barbels and mouth structure I have seen. There is some reflection in many of the pictures since the tank light was out and the room light was on but you can still see the fish. There wasn't enough light for a video but they didn't really move anyway so it would have been a boring video.
    Enjoy!




    larger on leaf rear zoom out.JPG larger on leaf rear.JPG larger on leaf 3 qtr.JPG larger on leaf side.JPG close up 1.JPG close up 2.JPG close up max.JPG close up max 2.JPG smaller top view zoom out.JPG smaller top view.JPG
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  16. Sean S

    Sean S Executive Board

    A few more pictures


    smaller side.JPG smaller close up.JPG smaller close up head shot.JPG
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  17. Sean S

    Sean S Executive Board

    The Eel Loaches (AKA Kuhlii Loaches) Part 3
    For the non-striped Pangios there a few different flavors- the irregular patterned, the (relatively) uniform color with the same shape, and the more elongated (typically uniformly colored) species.
    For irregularly patterned Pangios you might see a couple species rarely available-
    • P. alternans which looks like a striped Pangio on top and then it forgot what it was doing and becomes extremely dappled on the bottom half.
    • P. shelfordi, I have one that has more of a tiger striped pattern as opposed to the regular barring of the striped Pangios. P. shelfordi can be highly variable in its patterning so can be difficult to confidently ID.
    It is just speculation on my part but there could be multiple species based on location but location info is not commonly given with loaches like it is with catfish and cichlids. We, as hobbyists, should probably request location data on all our wild caught fish. If catfish and cichlids have taught us anything, it’s that there is a lot of speciation among fish when in separate river systems unlike the brown dog so we may not always have what we think we have.
    There are a few uniformly colored eel loaches available-
    • P. oblonga is dark brown with the underside typically a little lighter. This is almost always the species sold as black kuhlii loaches. I have seen other species come in as bycatch within these shipments but the majority of the group will still be P. oblonga. I have kept several groups of these over the years and they have proved to be great aquarium residents.
    • The Panda Kuhlii loach is an undescribed eel loach that is similar to P. oblonga but is slightly more elongated and has alternating tan and brown bands on the head. These seemed to be occasionally available about a decade ago but I have not heard reports of there availability recently.
    • P. pangia is the type species for the genus and may be occasionally sold as black or cinnamon kuhlii loaches. Their color is more uniform than P. oblonga with less lightening on the ventral surface.
    • P. piperata might occasionally be seen as a brown kuhlii loach but they can be more grayish in appearance. Some speckling may occur extending from the ventral surface.
    • P. filinaris is an almost pink version of the eel loaches that is rarely if ever available.

    The more elongated eel loaches in the genus Pangio are few-
    • P. anguillaris is golden to silver from the dorsal to ventral surfaces with a faint dark strip running the length of the body and is sometimes sold as golden kuhlii or sand kuhlii loach. I have kept these loaches and they prefer to burrow in the sand and spend much of their time there coming out to feed or at night.
    • P. cf anguillaris is an undescribed species similar to P. anguillaris but with a thick distinct dark brown to black strip running the length of its body.
    • P. doriae is sometimes sold as golden, silver, or eel kuhlii loach. It is more silver than gold and has a pink ventral surface. It can also be distinguished from P. anguillaris by the presence of nasal barbels. I currently have two of these that came in as by catch with a shipment of P. oblonga. They will burrow but do not seem to spend as much time under the sand as P. anguillaris.
    That gets us through the genus Pangio but not the eel loaches. I did not cover every eel loach in the genus but only the ones I have seen or heard of being available. There are many more and if I see any of them I will definitely chime in with an update on my new fish, you can count on me picking up a group of any new eel loach species I run across, these are my favorite group of loaches, with the possible exception of the moose faced loach.
    There is a small genus (3 species) of even cooler eel loaches. I will talk about Vaillantella next time.
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  18. Sean S

    Sean S Executive Board

    The Eel Loaches Part 4- The Genus Vaillantella

    There are only three fish in this genus and I have only seen one species one time. That was Vaillantella maassi and I was able to get just one back in 2006 from Living Art. I dug up a couple of old photos taken when I moved it from quarantine to a tank with several Pangio oblonga. I have placed the pictures at the end of the post but they do not do this fish justice so look it up yourself. This is a dark brown to black fish with a single orange stripe running along its dorsum from head to tail. All the fish in this genus are even more serpentine than the Pangios and have very long dorsal fins with a forked caudal fin. They remind me of the dragons in Chinese parades with how they move. This is a very striking fish that was shy at first but eventually it would come out to feed. They can be more territorial than the other eel loaches but since I only had one I cannot verify that. It did seem a bit more aggressive toward the P. oblonga when they came close to the V. maassi's hideout in the driftwood. I had my loach for about 2 and a half years until it found its way into my HOB. :(

    The other two members of the genus are V. euepiptera and V. cinnamomea. All 3 species would likely be listed under the name scissor tail or fork tail loach if available.

    Enjoy a couple of vintage pics from a crappy camera!

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  19. Sean S

    Sean S Executive Board

    I saw the smaller of my two moose faced loaches eating some repashy after I threw it in the tank tonight. I have been putting small amounts in every other day or so hoping they would try it. It always seemed to disappear but is about the small color as the substrate and could have just been plowed under. It was great to see one feeding on it, it is usually difficult to get them to eat much other than live or frozen food.
  20. Sean S

    Sean S Executive Board

    Eel Loach Spawning?

    I observed some potential spawning activity from my Pangio semicincta group this morning. Couldn't tell if any eggs were dropped and not sure I'd be able to se them since they are supposedly small but I will make a carful search tonight and hope the adults didn't eat them.

    If they did spawn I'm guessing they would be class D spawns but there isn't much listed for loaches (just Sewellia lineolata). Anyone have any insights? I know eel loaches have been spawned in aquaria but it is not common and rarely intentional.

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