Care Guide for Dwarf Chain Loaches – Snail-Eating Nano Fish
Loaches are known for being friendly, but noisy schooling fish. This can cause stress to their 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 is a species that comes from the rivers and floodplain forests of Thailand. They are also endangered in the wild so the fish you purchase in shops are all commercially raised. As one of the smaller loaches, their narrow bodies range from 2-2.5 inches (6 cm) long, and they have little barbels on their snouts. Their common name is derived from the black, chain-like pattern they have running down their sides. 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. While many loaches are night-active, dwarf chain loaches, on the other hand, are awake and active during daylight hours.
Are dwarf-chain loaches aggressive? Although they are active and move around a lot, we have never witnessed them harass other fish. 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
Ambastaia Sidthimunki can be quite small so we recommend a 20-gallon or larger tank. They are active and require a school of 7-10 dwarf chain loaches. This species is fairly pricey at $7-15 per fish, but a big group will help them feel less stressed, establish a social hierarchy, and display unique behaviors like playing “follow the leader” all over the tank.
Dwarf chain loaches can live in a wide range of temperatures, pH, and GH because of their natural habitat. We keep them at 75-82degF (24-28%C), although they are capable of living up to 10 degrees higher. Provide lots of aquarium plants, little caves, and other hiding spots for them to dart into when startled. You should be aware that they have small spines beneath their eyes.
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.
Can dwarf chain loaches be a companion for fish? All kinds of community fish are compatible with them. 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. They will happily eat small insects and crustaceans, so be aware that they can eat cherry shrimp babies and other tiny animals in the wild.
The pointy snout of a dwarf loach is perfect for eating small shrimp, snails, and worms.
What do Dwarf Chain Loaches Eat?
Loaches prefer meatier foods, so feed them sinking foods that are either small enough to fit inside their mouths or soft enough to nibble on. 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 smaller snails. However, they can be annoying to larger snails.
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. However, Mark Duffill, president of the International Loach Association, has written online articles about his breeding method, which entails feeding many different kinds of fish foods, lowering the pH from 7.6 to 6.8 using catappa leaves, and adding rock piles to save the eggs and provide shelter for 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. To ensure that your family enjoys their cute antics, it is important to save as much money as possible. You can view our list of recommended online vendors to order dwarf chain loaches. We don’t ship live fish. You can also read this article about our 10 top-rated loaches.