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Skunk Loach (Yasuhikotakia morleti)

by Martin Thoene last modified Dec 10, 2006 12:54 PM


Scientific name: Yasuhikotakia morleti

Common name: Skunk loach, Hora's loach.

Synonyms: Botia morleti, Botia horae.

Distribution: Cambodia, Laos, Thailand.

Sexual Dimorphism: Mature females likely to have a rounder abdomen.

Maximum size: 10cm (4").

Similar to: Yasuhikotakia caudipunctata, Yasuhikotakia longidorsalis

Yasuhikotakia morleti

Care: Keep in a fairly sizeable aquarium, and ensure that the substrate is fine and sandy in order to protect the delicate sensory barbel area. Provide plenty of hiding places in the aquarium amongst bogwood, caves, and plants. Clean, well-aerated water is a must.

Feeding: Will accept most brands of dry sinking catfish pellets, but should be offered a variety of frozen foods to supplement the diet - mosquito larvae, brineshrimp, and daphnia are usually taken with much enthusiasm. In the wild, this species feeds on mollusks, and as can probably be deduced, is a very effective snail eater.

Water parameters: pH: 7.0 or below. Hardness: Soft and slightly acidic is best. Max dH: <12 degrees.

Temperature: 79ºF to 86ºF (26-30°C)

Breeding: Not known to have been bred in aquaria.


Considering its relatively diminutive size, this is a very feisty loach species, which is not suitable for community aquariums. Must be maintained in groups of 5 or more in order to spread any aggression and to allow the fish to form a natural hierarchy.

Yasuhikotakia morleti

It is not uncommon to observe this species creating burrows around or under rocks and other tight crevices. Ensure such structures are stable.

Skunk loaches usually come with an attractively low price tag. However, think very carefully before you purchase, ensuring that you can provide them with the correct tank-mates, conditions and care.

Tank-mates must be robust and fast-swimming. Can be kept with other moderately aggressive species such as Yasuhikotakia eos, Y. lecontei, Y. modesta and many of the Syncrossus (Tiger loach) species. Many fish-keepers report Skunk loaches to be a crepuscular species, which often remains hidden during the day.

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Posted by Daniel at Feb 02, 2007 07:03 AM
I have seen them six inches!

Watch out!

Posted by Hannah at Jun 03, 2007 11:09 AM
These loaches are adorable, but they can be trouble, especially for other bottom feeders. I got them because I was having a snail problem in one of my tanks. I purchased 2, one 1.5" and one 1.75", and put them in my 20 gallon community. As soon as I had released them, they went right after my beloved kuhlis! I moved the kuhlis to another tank and that problem was solved, except the 1.5" skunk disappeared, presumably dead and eaten by the other skunk, because no body was found. In fact, no bodies have been found in the tank since I got them...

My skunk loach gets along fine with my large-ish harlequin rasboras, serpaes and black neon tetras, but when I temporarily moved a guppy into the tank, it's tail was gone after a few hours and I knew who the culprit was! (Luckily the guppy's tail grew back once it was removed.) The skunk loach chases the other fish around a bit, but not enough to really bother them.

When not eating fish corpses, it feeds on flakes sprinkled onto the surface of the tank at the same time as the other fish. Otherwise, it can usually be seen swimming around in the lower half of the tank or resting in rock caves.

And oh yes, it didn't eat the snails.