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Loach Behavior

Posted By: Doug Swan <swansuite@mindspring.com>
Date: Thursday, 19 June 2003, at 9:07 a.m.

Hi there. First of all, let me say how happy I was to find this forum online--it's always a joy when you find others, who not only share your hobby, but likely have far more extensive technical knowledge.

I've had a huge problem with trying to introduce loaches into my tank(s) from the very beginning of my interest in tropical fish. I maintain a community tank. I now have a 72 gallon bowfront that has 3 bosemani's, 2 New Guinea Rainbows; A variety of dwarf cichlids; 6 cardinal tetras, 3 Calistas tetras; and a variety of corys. My tanks have always been extremely peaceful (and I like them that way). I feed mostly frozen food (brine shrimp, blood worms, etc.)The tank is VERY well planted and has a lot of caves and hiding places.

My problem: I have tried over the past two years to introduce 2 skunk loaches, then 2 yo-yos, then recently, a clown loach. In every single case, the loaches have become aggressors on the most alarming scale. The skunk loaches (particularly one of them) would relentlessly stalk and harass a fish until he killed it. I am not lying here--the fish would literally follow a particular fish around the tank, striking it repeatedly until it either killed it or stressed it to the point where it eventually died. I had to get rid of them--gave them to a friend with a 125 gallon (with about a zillion BIG fish) and he has had absolutely NO problem with that skunk). Second was the yo-yo's. Same situation. The two of them would constantly harass every fish in the tank (no matter if they were three times as big!!). I finally had to get rid of them (after losing 6 fish to them!). Again, I gave them to my friend who has had absolutely no problem with them. Finally, I recently bought a Clown Loach after having read and been told that they are by far the most mellow loach available. I had to euthanize him yesterday. His behavior was beyond over the top. He killed (and I observed it, so I know it happened) 3 fish in one day. By the next morning, he had sent three more fish to the surface (who subsequently died that evening).

Okay, aside from some absurd cosmic occurrence, what the heck is going on here. I have a mellow tank. My fish NEVER attack each other. They do exhibit very normal mating and confrontation behavior. Cripes, even my dwarf cichlids are the picture of community living! Is there a condition that is not being met? Do loaches have to be in groups of 3-4 to be peaceful? Oh, and one other thing--I've heard that zipper loaches (dwarf loaches?) are even MORE peaceful! True?

I'd love to get some response to these questions. Fact is, I love loaches, but the don't seem to like my tank. Any ideas? Thanks so much!! Doug

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