Care Guide for Dwarf Chain Loaches – Snail-Eating Nano Fish
Many loaches have the reputation for being fun-loving but boisterous schooling fish that may stress out their shyer tank mates. Dwarf chain loaches are more chill and come in a nano-sized package, making them suitable for peaceful community tanks. If you have a smaller planted aquarium with a pest snail problem, you have to try out the loveable pygmy loach.
What are Dwarf Chain Loaches and How Do They Work?
Ambastaia Sidthimunki are native to rivers and floodplain forests of Thailand. Because they are threatened in the wild, all fish sold in stores are commercially bred. Their narrow bodies measure in at just 2 to 3 inches (6 cm) and their noses have very few barbels. Their common name derives from their black, chain-like pattern that runs down their bodies. While most loaches are bottom dwellers, these fish swim both at the bottom and in the middle of the tank by fluttering their fins like hummingbirds. Also, many loaches are nocturnal, but dwarf chain loaches are awake and active during the daytime.
Are dwarf chain loaches aggressive? They are pretty energetic and constantly moving, but in our experience, we’ve never seen them bully other fish, even during mealtimes. They are quite curious though, so they will investigate and “sniff” new fish that are added to the aquarium.
Ambastaia sidthimunki’s high-contrast chain-like pattern at the top of its upper body is well-known.
How to Set Up an Aquarium for Dwarf Chain Loaches
While Ambastaia sidthimunki are fairly small, we recommend getting a 20-gallon tank or bigger because of their activity level and need to be in a larger school of at least 7-10 dwarf chain loaches. The species can be quite expensive at $7-15 per fish. However, a large group of them will make them feel less stressed and establish a social hierarchy. They’ll also display unique behaviors such as “follow the leader” throughout the tank.
Because of the annual rainy season in their native habitat, dwarf chain loaches are used to living in wide ranges of temperature, pH, and GH. They are usually kept between 75-82degF (24 to 28degC), but some have reported that they can live up to 105 degrees. Provide lots of aquarium plants, little caves, and other hiding spots for them to dart into when startled. They also have tiny spines under their eyes so be careful when handling them or netting.
Do dwarf chain loaches jump? Despite being primarily bottom dwellers, they love exploring their surroundings, including outside of your aquarium, so we recommend getting a tight-fitting lid just in case.
How can dwarf chain loaches live with fish? They are good with all kinds of small-sized community fish. They have been kept with platies, angelfish, corydoras catsfish, platies and tetras. We also keep them with rasboras and plecos. Some dwarf chain loaches are shy and can become timid. Dither fish will help make them more comfortable and open to being exposed. Be aware that they feed on small bugs and crustaceans in the wild, so they will happily snack on cherry shrimp babies and any other tiny animals they find.
A dwarf loach’s pointed nose is ideal for small shrimp, snails and worms.
What do Dwarf Chain Loaches Eat?
Loaches love meaty foods so give them small, soft foods they can eat. We like to give them a good variety of community fish foods – such as nano pellets, Bug Bites, Repashy gel food, frozen bloodworms, and daphnia. If you have speed eaters in the aquarium, make sure the loaches are getting enough food so that they have nice, rounded bellies.
Do dwarf loaches eat snails, or do they have to? The pointy-faced loaches love snails. This is because their snouts allow them to reach into the snail shell openings. Dwarf chain loaches will eat small snails. They can also pester larger snails so don’t put them together.
How to Breed Dwarf Chain Loaches
Because wild chain loaches usually migrate upstream to lay eggs, there are not many accounts of home hobbyists raising Ambastaia sidthimunki. Therefore, fish farms have to use hormone treatments in order to artificially stimulate spawning. Mark Duffill, the president of the International Loach Association has written articles online about his breeding methods. He feeds many kinds of fish, lowers the pH to 6.8 with catappa leaves and adds rock piles to protect the eggs and shelter the fry.
Ambastaia Nigrileata, or the black-lined loach, sometimes gets confused with Ambastaia sidthimunki.
They are a must-have addition to every freshwater hobbyist’s list. Just remember to save up to get the biggest group possible so that you and your family can fully enjoy their adorable antics. Although we do not ship live fish, you may see our preferred online vendors list to purchase dwarf chain loaches. You can also read this article about our 10 top-rated loaches.