Skunk loach

Aquarium fish: Skunk loach (Yasuhikotakia morleti)
Size: 7.5 – 8.5 cm
Origin: Asia
Water temperature: 23-28 ° C
Aquarium volume: 150 l

Skunk loach (Yasuhikotakia morleti ) – a small, interestingly disposed aquarium fish from the Botiidae family.


Asia. It occurs in the Mekong basin, in Chao Phraya, Maeklong and on the Thai peninsula. Found in stagnant and flowing waters, in places with various stone gaps or hollows, e.g. under stones or roots.

It has a migratory lifestyle and can therefore inhabit different areas and environments depending on the season, from major river channels to smaller tributaries and flooded areas.

Characteristics and disposition

One of the smaller loaches reaches up to 8.5 cm of standard length. The body is massive, light cream, brown or pale pink. There is a black line, similar to that of a skunk, which is why it is commonly called “skunk loach” from the mouth through the back to the black vertical, rounded stripe on the tail. Skunk in Polish means skunk, but in Poland the name “mouse loaf” has been adopted.

Juveniles usually have four (or more) vertical stripes evenly spaced along the sides of the body which disappear in adulthood. Unlike other species of loaches, their color remains the same throughout their lives. The pectoral, anal and abdominal fins are transparent. Dorsal and caudal fins are transparent and yellow in color. There are rows of tiny brown dots on the heavily bifurcated caudal fin.Under the eyes, they have sharp spines hidden under the skin, which show themselves in an emergency or under stress.

Be especially careful when catching fish from the water, it is best to use a net with wide meshes for this purpose. Gender difficult to distinguish . Females are usually larger and more massive than slender and smaller males. Storks lead a nocturnal lifestyle, they start to show their high activity only in the evening. In the aquarium, after acclimatization, they can also be active during the day.

They spend most of their time in the lower parts. In their natural environment, they live in large groups with complex relationships. It is recommended to keep min. 5 individuals, preferably 10 or more. In smaller numbers, they can hide or show aggression towards other inhabitants.

In the case of keeping 2-3 pieces, the dominant fish may intimidate the others even to such an extent that they will stop eating. During fights for domination, which often take place, for example, after changing the environment or enlarging the group, the duelists show an almost complete loss of colors and patterns. Sometimes this type of fights also takes place within an already established group, e.g. in order to improve your current position in it. Interestingly, some observations suggest that the nature of the highest-ranking individual appears to have an impact on the rest of the herd, although it should be noted that scientific research on loaf behavior is practically non-existent.

Loons certainly show some degree of personality, some specimens are, for example, bolder or more aggressive than others. The alpha fish are usually the largest of the group, often the female. Also in the aquarium they show interesting behavior. Juveniles swim fin to fin with an adult, mimicking their every move, with up to four fish on each side. The reason for this is unknown, it may be related to staying in touch when the water level rises sharply during inundation, reduces drag, or has some other communication function.

In aquariums, this behavior is observed both in those with slow water flow and in strong ones, and seems to be a habit, because in the absence of representatives of their species, some individuals may even imitate other fish. Loons can make clicking sounds, which is probably also some kind of communication, e.g. in case of danger, excitement or hierarchy. Sounds intensify as emotions increase. They appear to be caused by rubbing your throat teeth or the spines under your eyes.

Aspects of such behavior also largely remain unexplored. Another interesting behavior is the so-called “Loaf dance”, which includes the whole group, which swims restlessly and continuously, using the full length and height of the reservoir. This behavior can trigger food intake, a fresh water change, or the addition of new individuals to the group, and can last from a few minutes to a day or even longer. Loons also often rest in bizarre positions , arranging themselves at different angles, and even on their backs.

Nutrition and feeding

Yasuhikotakia fish are predominantly carnivores, but they also eat plant foods, and often plants with soft leaves.

Their diet includes aquatic molluscs and other animal and plant organisms living in the bottom structures (so-called bentos). They are not picky in the aquarium, but their diet should be varied. They can be given good-quality dry, frozen and live food, such as tubifex, artemia, water, and additionally fresh fruit and vegetables such as cucumbers, melons, spinach and zucchini. Chopped earthworms can be a good source of protein, but they shouldn’t be served too often. Most loaches also eagerly eat snails, but they should never be bought as a solution to their plague problems, because they do not eat only snails and, if other food is available, they are more likely to choose the easier one.

After acclimatization in the aquarium, they will willingly swim to the food in the higher parts of the water.


For a small group of mouse loaches, despite their small size, it is recommended to min. The length of the aquarium is 120 cm , due to their more courageous nature than other representatives of the genus. The substrate should be soft, sandy or with fine gradation. Smooth stones, small pebbles (pebbles), wood and roots can be used to decorate the natural environment.

These fish prefer not too brightly lit aquariums, in which you can place more durable and less demanding plants such as Microzoria, Anubias or mosses. They like to explore their surroundings, unfortunately they also love to squeeze into any crevices, holes, caves and other hard-to-reach places. For this reason , decorations with sharp edges should be avoided, as well as spaces in which they could become wedged or trapped. Sometimes they also jump over the surface of the water and can jump out of the aquarium, so it should be covered. They feel good in oxygen-rich water with a fairly strong flow.

They do not tolerate higher concentrations of nitrates and excessive accumulation of organic debris, and require flawless water quality. They should never be introduced into a newly established, not yet stabilized aquarium. Weekly large water changes of approx. 30% -50% are recommended. Although Y.

morleti shows similar behavior to other loaches, she is more aggressive, has a tendency to nibble and harass other roommates, especially when kept in smaller numbers. For this reason, it is only suitable for larger, well-laid-out tanks to socialize with other vigorous fish. Mixing with slowly swimming and / or veiled fish should be avoided. Active species swimming in the higher parts of the water will be a good company, for example many from Devario ( Danio Malabarski), Rasbory, Puntius ( Brzanka denisonii ), Barilius and some Danio species. Among loaches, other species of Yasuhikotakia or Botia almorhae , B.

kubotai will work well.and all representatives of Syncrossus . Other possibilities may be Epalzeorhynchos ( Grubowarg ), Crossocheilus ( Lawn Mower ) and Garra species , plus some catfish. Quiet fish close to the bottom, such as Kiryski , should be avoided.


There are no recorded cases of successful breeding of Y. morleti in an aquarium.

Fish sold in stores come from breeding farms where they are bred with the use of special hormones. In the wild, they reproduce seasonally and migrate to spawn.


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