The reticulated loach (Botia almorhae) belongs to the family of splendid loaches (Botiidae). They have their origin in the rivers of Nepal, India and the Himalayas.

What are the characteristics of the reticulated loach?

Loaches are active at dusk and at night. Although usually peaceful, they can become rough on other species if their individual resting areas are disturbed. These are claimed, but not identified as a territory. Interestingly, this rough behaviour is limited to their own species. This behaviour does not occur with other loach species.

The fish communicate by posture, head movements and sounds similar to a cracking sound. The range of expression is large and differentiated. Night loaches, which inhabit an aquarium together, know each other well and form a ranking. Each individual fish has its own individual resting zone and its own retreat area, as mentioned above. Aggressive behaviour only occurs if these possibilities are not sufficiently given.

The appearance

Net loaches can grow up to 18 cm in size. They have a silver-grey, light-coloured body, over which dark cross-bars in the shape of a Y run. In the lower half of the body there is a dark half-band between each of them. The fins of the ornamental fish carry the same pattern.
Their scales are fine and close together so that they look like a skin. All ornamental loaches carry a so-called eye thorn under each eye. This lies in a skin pocket and can be folded out if necessary. A bone joint locks it in place. The thorn is curved, pointed and sharp. It serves as a defence against predators; in aquaria it has been observed that the thorn is folded out when “yawning”. A comfort behavior is assumed behind it.

Sex differences

The appearance of male and female net loaches generally does not differ from each other. Only during the spawning season does the female develop a spawning attachment if she is capable of reproduction.

Water values

The optimal water values for keeping the net loach are as follows:

  • Water temperature between 24° and 30° C
  • pH value between 5,0 and 6,8
  • Water hardness between 2° and 16° dGH

Feed and nutrition

Loaches are omnivores. They eat snails and aquatic plants, out of frustration or boredom even other fish.

It is advisable to offer a varied diet. Mosquito larvae, shellfish meat, daphnia, plant-based dry food, chopped shrimps and live snails offer many possibilities for feeding.

The number of feeds depends on the age of the fish and how well they should thrive. For young fish several small meals are recommended, for adult fish one feeding 2-3 times a day is sufficient.

In nature the net loach usually takes its food from the bottom of a river. If it eats from the water surface, it turns on its back.
The amount of food is optimal if all fish have a slightly thickened stomach after feeding.

The ideal aquarium

Since net loaches need resting areas and retreat possibilities, a large aquarium is necessary. The exact dimensions depend on the number of fish to be used. The minimum is 120 cm in length and 150 L capacity. Here 5 to 8 net loaches can live (depending on compatibility).
As the fish design their resting areas individually, there should not be too many net loaches in the aquarium at the beginning, as otherwise injuries up to death biting can occur.
A bottom of sand or fine gravel is optimal. If several net loaches inhabit the aquarium, stones and roots are needed for good structuring. In these the fish create their retreat area.

Keeping conditions

The optimal housing conditions can be summarised as follows:

  • sufficient space for swimming and resting areas
  • Water plants and roots, which allow unlit areas
  • varied food
  • medium-hard to hard water

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