Why is this loach shad­ow­ing my big­ger fish?

Practical Fishkeeping (UK) - - FISHKEEPING ANSWERS -

I have a Kub­o­tai loach that con­tin­u­ally pesters two of the larger fish in my 180cm/6ft com­mu­nity tank.

He swims close up along­side one of the adult Red rain­bow­fish and also the Si­amese al­gae eater, vir­tu­ally touch­ing, and copy­ing their move­ment so that if they turn, he turns with them and so on. This must be re­ally an­noy­ing and they can’t seem to shake him off.

He doesn’t do it con­tin­u­ally, but I see it hap­pen­ing most nights and it can go on for some time. He is one of a group of six other Kub­o­tai loaches, so he has plenty of ‘friends’ of his own kind.

Is this any­thing you have come across be­fore? Do you know why he’s do­ing it? KEV HYDE, EMAIL

NEALE SAYS: Bo­tia species are a cu­ri­ous mix of so­cia­bil­ity, bel­liger­ence and sim­ple high spir­its, and your Bo­tia kub­o­tai is no ex­cep­tion. In the wrong aquar­ium Bo­tia can be trou­ble­some, and the other fish in the tank may in­deed find them an­noy­ing, even stress­ful. So, let’s re­view their ba­sic needs and work from there.

As you know, these are so­cial fish. Their so­cial in­ter­ac­tions are based as much on touch as any­thing else, and in groups you’ll see Bo­tia do­ing ex­actly the same things with each other as you’ve seen be­tween your Bo­tia kub­o­tai and its tank­mates. Nuz­zling, mock nib­bling at fins, head-butts, tail swishes, and side-by-side swim­ming are all fea­tures of their be­havioural reper­toire, help­ing each loach in the group to es­tab­lish the size and strength of its peers.

More sub­tle cues may be con­veyed that we can’t eas­ily de­ter­mine, given that their bod­ies are cov­ered in pres­sure re­cep­tors and taste buds, and it may well be they can fig­ure out things like health, sex and ma­tu­rity just by swim­ming closely along­side each other.

While six spec­i­mens usu­ally pro­vides enough for ev­ery­one to be happy, you should un­der­stand that in the wild they will be liv­ing in groups that may be much larger than that. So, if you can, adding a cou­ple more spec­i­mens might re­set the hi­er­ar­chy, en­cour­ag­ing the lone loach to mix back into his group. Some­times, re­mov­ing the trou­ble­some fish – in this case, all of the loaches – re­jig­ging the dec­o­ra­tions, and then re­turn­ing the fish is an­other way to force the hi­er­ar­chy to be re­built. The loaches don’t recog­nise their en­vi­ron­ment, so re­vert to school­ing to­gether as a de­fence mech­a­nism. They then need to es­tab­lish the peck­ing or­der and, with a bit of luck, a more am­i­ca­ble ar­range­ment en­sues.

Your Bo­tia kub­o­tai are river-dwelling fish, and ap­pre­ci­ate a com­plex en­vi­ron­ment that in­cludes brisk (though not tur­bu­lent) wa­ter cur­rents, plenty of rocks and bog­wood roots, and suit­ably

Bo­tia species are a cu­ri­ous mix of so­cia­bil­ity, bel­liger­ence and sim­ple high spir­its

soft sub­strate that al­lows them to dig. With­out these things, their swim­ming and for­ag­ing in­stincts will be di­rected into less help­ful ex­pres­sions. What they don’t want is an open tank with coarse gravel and a few rocks or plants pro­vid­ing lit­tle cover or in­ter­est.

Bot­tom line, your Bo­tia kub­o­tai might need more friends, and he may need a more in­ter­est­ing world. If nei­ther of these helps, ei­ther move the loaches to a tank tai­lored to their needs, or else move the fish be­ing ha­rassed some­where more peace­ful. Bo­tia are rarely ‘easy’ com­mu­nity fish in the same way as, say, Co­ry­do­ras, and find­ing tank­mates that get along with them of­ten in­volves a de­gree of trial and er­ror.

So­cial is­sues may stem from group size or the en­vi­ron­ment.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.