Name: Acanthocobitis botia
Origin: Southeast Asia
This is yet another one of the loach species with many names. Most commonly called the Zipper Loach, but also refered to as many of the other names above in local fish stores. They're found naturally in India, Pakistan, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Butan, Thailand and Burma/Myanmar. Females are plumper in appearance than males. They accept all regular aquarium foods and enjoy fresh/frozen bloodworms.
Zipper Loaches are among the rare species that stay small. They only grow to around 10 cm at the absolute maximum. I keep mine very happily in a 140 L tank with Kuhlis and a pair of Kribs. I would recommend that zipper loaches be kept in any tank with soft sand substrate from 75 L and up. They need a little bit of room to scoot around, so that's the least amount of space I would suggest. Long tanks are always better than high, as most loach species like a long footprint.
Appearance/Coloration: Zipper loaches get their common name from the zipper-like design on the side of the fish. This pattern runs from head to tail. As the fish grows the zipper stretches out and appears more spotted or "mottled". There is also a black dot by the caudal fin that mimics an eye; this causes confusion to predators, as they don't know which way the fish is moving.
Care: This loach comes from fast-flowing, clear streams and rivers. They will thrive with rocks and driftwood to provide cover. Provide good aeration, pristine water quality. To simulate fast moving streams as a natural habitat, you could use the smallest powerhead for your aquarium size. Overuse of powerheads may cause overheating of the water, and also too much stress on the inhabitants. Acanthocobitis botia require soft fine substrate such as sand as they are sifters. While sifting sand through the gills they will eat microscopic organisms and food left behind.
They get along well with all other Botia species. Kuhlis and tetras also make great tankmates. They are shy loaches that appreciate "dither" fish in the tank to help draw them out into the open. Zipper loaches are mostly nocturnal fish that may make a few appearences during the day, if they feel comfortable enough in their environment. They like subdued lighting so low tech, low light tanks are best. Plants are not necessary but will be appreciated; they will not uproot plants as other loach species tend to do. They do not need to live in groups like other loaches, but more than one is certianly welcome as they will not battle over territory. Zippers are a peaceful fish that will get along with any fish with similar water requirements, that will tolerate a sand sifting bottom dweller.
Breeding: Breeds in the wild from May to June. Has been proven to breed in home aquariums, although it appears to be very rare.
These guys are great for efficient snail removal from your aquarium. They are full of energy, somewhat territorial, and really love to chase and nip at other loaches, particularly the same species. My experience is that they are semi-aggressive and do not like to live in groups, like most other loaches.
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