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Zipper Loach (Acanthocobitis botia)

by Jeff Shafer last modified Dec 29, 2007 10:28 AM


Scientific name: Acanthocobitis botia (Hamilton, 1822)

Common name: Zipper Loach

Synonyms: Cobitis botia, Nemacheilus botia, Botia nebulosa, Botia mackenziei.

Distribution: Widespread - India, Pakistan, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Butan,Thailand, Burma and Myanmar.

Sexual Dimorphism: Females fatter than males.

Maximum size: 3 inches.

Similar to: Acanthocobitis pavonacea, Acanthocobitis rubidipinnis, Acanthocobitis urophthalmus.

Acanthocobitis botia

Care: Live in fast-flowing, clear streams and rivers. Appreciate rockwork or driftwood for secure cover, plus good aeration and reasonably good water movement.

Feeding: Accepts all regular aquarium foods, particularly loves Bloodworm and Daphnia.

Water parameters: pH: 6.5 -7.2 Hardness: Medium Max dh:

Temp: 75.2ºF to 78.8ºF (24 - 26ºC)

Breeding: Breeds in the wild around May to June. Has bred in aquaria, though it appears to be rare and accidental when it happens.


Acanthocobitis botiaThis fish is a common import and relatively easy to keep. They habitually sift sand through the gills, extracting microscopic foodstuffs from within it. Therefore, they should be provided with a soft substrate.

Breeding Notes

On January 1st 2007, Rick Mau posted that he was changing the gravel in an aquarium housing two A. botia along with other species. The original substrate had been very large in size and they decided to put smaller grain size in.

Acanthocobitis botia - Change of substrateAs can clearly be seen,  gravel in the tank is now substantially smaller than the previous substrate. AA cell batteries provide scale.

While pulling out all the plants and decor, two baby fish were found.

Acanthocobitis botia - Two babiesHere they are on the new gravel.
It is obvious that they are young Zipper loaches.

It seems that the large substrate allowed the eggs to fall through and not get eaten. These two fry obviously missed predation by other tank mates until big enough not to be viewed as food.
Acanthocobitis botia - Female.
This is Mom.
Acanthocobitis botia - Baby with measureHere's an attempt to gauge the size.
Acanthocobitis botia - Two babiesThe two little guys are out and about a lot it seems.
Acanthocobitis botia - Baby with TetraThis Tetra gives some indication of size.
Acanthocobitis botia - Closeup of baby.A closeup shows how well the eye spot on the caudal upper base, plus the caudal markings are designed to confuse a predator.
Acanthocobitis botia - Baby on 3.5" diameter log surface.
A better size gauge. Rick says the  log is 3.5 inches in diameter.
Acanthocobitis botia - Tank setup with new smaller substrate.Here is the tank settled down after the substrate change. The parents are visible close to one another.

As stated above, most successful breeding of this species is by chance, but congratulations to Rick anyway on the new offspring and thanks for sharing the experience.

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