A Yoyo loach, Almora loach or Pakistani loach, Botia almorhae, is a freshwater fish belonging to the loach family (Cobitidae). It originates in the slow-running and still waters of India and Pakistan, whence the name Pakistani loach originates. It is commonly found in aquariums, but is not nearly as common as its more popular relative, the clown loach. They may attain a length of up to 5 in, and are named for their black and white patterns, which often can be seen to spell “yoyo” (especially in smaller/younger specimens), hence the common name Yoyo loach.
The Yoyo loach, in comparison with the clown loach is more active (in the absence of aggressive tank-mates) than its relative, but it is still relatively docile. They are best kept in shoals of 5 or more; this helps distribute the rare abuse of the largest, alpha loach, and establishes a stable pecking order. The Yoyo loach is fairly hardy and open to water conditions, but they have a tendency to prefer soft, acidic water, from a pH of 6 to around 7.4; however, with gradual acclimation, they can be kept in rather hard, alkaline water, even up to a pH of 8. As tropical fish, they prefer temperatures in a range from 74 to 82 degrees Fahrenheit. Yoyo Loaches prefer to be kept in slow-moving water, although some individuals have shown preference for faster moving waters. Being smaller than the clown loach, they can be kept in smaller tanks: a shoal of 3 can be kept comfortably in a heavily-planted 29/30 gallon aquarium with frequent water changes of 10-20% per week. Lacking other fish or plants in their environment, the yoyo loach may become stressed. Being mostly docile fish, they should not be kept with highly aggressive fish. The yoyo loach can be kept comfortably with a small group of Otocinclus catfish and other loaches, as well as other small, passive fish.
The yoyo loach has a tendency to hide occasionally (or permanently, with aggressive fish), especially when they are unaccustomed to humans, or share the tank with aggressive fish. They prefer to have caves in which they can fit snugly; they will ignore open caves (clown loaches readily adapt to open caves). They have been known to get stuck when the cave is too tight. Once they are accustomed to humans (and not in the presence of aggressive fish), they will often react with excitement at their owner’s approach, either by association with feeding, or out of curiosity. They can often be seen watching their owner, and occasionally following him or her. In the absence of aggressive tank-mates, Yoyo’s will be more out in the open than clown loaches.
Yoyo loaches will eat a variety of foods, and should be fed accordingly. They will eat flakes, pellets, frozen brine shrimp, and freeze-dried tubifex worms. Yoyo loaches have a peculiarity in feeding, in which when they feed from the surface of the water they generate ‘clicking’ noises. These same sounds can sometimes be noted while they are swimming. These clicking sounds are generated when the loach (which can extract oxygen from air) swallows air, which is forced through the gills.
Similar to their relative the Clown loach, Yoyo loaches have a strong personality, and are sometimes considered lazy (though much less so than the clown loach), as they will often at various intervals simply decide to sleep and lie on their sides on whatever surface is nearby. This often causes alarm in aquarists, who may believe that the fish is dead.
Like the clown loach, the yoyo loach will readily devour snails, especially the smaller variety. Invertebrates are one of the Yoyo loach’s natural food sources, and freshwater shrimp and snails are not safe.