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  • Source: Copyright Tropicalfishfinder

    Species: Botia nigrolineatus

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    Species: Botia dario

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    Species: Botia lohachata

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    Species: Botia macracanthus

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    Species: Botia modesta

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    Species: Botia striata

  • Source: Copyright Tropicalfishfinder

    Species: Botia kubotai

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    Species: Botia lecontei

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    Species: Botia hymenophysa

Botias ---- An Introductory Article

By Michael Ophir

5 years ago, I was in a Local Fish Shop and was looking through some of the fish tanks. I got a glimpse of what was a small Skunk Loach, and then it quickly disappeared into the plants. I looked all over the tank, and still couldn't find it when it was time to leave. About a week later, I was in the shop again and was determined to find the fish that I briefly saw the week before. I finally found it under a piece of driftwood, and purchased it. I bought the lone specimen and placed it in my community aquarium at home. After that, I was hooked on Botias. I started to look for more species, and purchased Clown Loach as well as Botia Lohachatas. This was the beginning of my life long research of the genus Botia, which so many people tend to ignore and disregard.

Botias come from the family of Cypriniformes of which around 40 species belong to the genus Botia. Coming from Thailand, India, Pakistan, China, Bangladesh and some of the Indonesian islands, Botias a predominately bottom dwellers, and spend much of their time looking for food, or just exploring their surroundings. Botias are probably the most diverse group of fish in the hobby, both in their patterns and behaviour. They range from the extremely peaceful Botia Histrionica, to the aggressive Botia Beauforti. Patterns range from plain grayish bodies of the interesting Botia Lecontei, to bright yellow, red, orange and black Clown Loach. Most Botias prefer slightly acidic water ranging from 6.6-7.0, but some species can tolerate water conditions of up to 7.3!

Scavengers?…. Not these fish

Many fish hobbyists consider Botias bottom feeding scavengers that do not need to be fed any type of other food such as sinking tablets, blood worms, or other such foods. Definition of a scavenger: one who eats dead or discarded foods. Although Botias do eat foods left over from top dwelling fish, this is not enough to keep them healthy and happy. I feed my Botias frozen blood worms, flake foods, sinking tablets and on occasions, daphnia. Some species of Botia even accept vegetables such as zucchini and cucumbers. The way to feed them these vegetables, is to put a small stone or piece of gravel on it to keep it from floating upwards. Within a day or so, the piece of cucumber will be all gone. Botias are very good snail exterminators as well. People often buy Botias to get rid of a snail population that they have in their tanks. I on the other hand rarely see a snail in my tanks, since I keep so many different Botia species. The best species that eat snails readily are: Botia Dario, Botia Lohachata, Clown Loaches and Botia Rostrata. See, feeding Botias is actually not really hard.

Keeping Botias in your Aquarium

Juvenile stages of Botias are often very active and action packed, but as they mature, the Botias often need places to hide, or rest during the day. Without a sufficient amount of hiding spots, the Botias will slowly become less active and not as healthy. Provide caves, rocks and wood for Botias to hide in before adding them in the tank. Substrate is also a very important matter for Botias just as it is for catfish. The under body of a Botia is scaleless, and for good reason. If these fish had scale, the scales would most likely chip off due to the contact of the gravel. Soft substrate is best such as fine gravel or sand. Please make sure that there are no sharp edges on the substrate you are using, because it may hurt the barbells of the Botias. One behaviour that the Botias are famous for are lying on their sides. They often trick their owners into thinking they are dead, and when the net goes in to get them out, the just calmly swim away. This is a very common form of resting for the Botias, and I find it very interesting and amusing at the same time.

Choosing tank mates for Botias

The process of choosing tank mates for Botias can be either easy or difficult, depending on what species of Botia you are planning to keep. For example, if you want to keep peaceful Botias in your aquarium, then add community fish to the tank. Good examples of this would be: swordtails, tetras, dwarf cichlids, pencilfish, angelfish, platys, corydoras catfish, etc. If you are planning to keep semi aggressive or aggressive Botia species, then I would recommend Gouramis, Rainbowfish, and other South American Cichlids as suitable companions. Of course you can choose other fish to keep, but this gives a rough idea of what would be suitable for the Botias.

Botia Species

There have been many misidentified Botias over the past few years by giving them wrong scientific names and in this section of the article, I hope to clarify this for you, as well as give you a list of all of the Botias I have heard of, and keep. I will give you the current name of the fish first, and then the old name, of which the fish is synonymous with.

Botia Morleti synonymous with Botia Horae
Botia Almorhae synonomous with Botia Lohachata
Botia Rostrata synonymous with Botia Geto
Botia Dario synonymous with Botia Macrolineata
Botia Modesta synonymous with Botia Rubripinnis
Here is a list of all the Botias I know of:

Botia Almorhae
Botia Hyemenophysa
Botia Rostrata
Botia Beauforti
Botia Lecontei
Botia Sidthimunki
Botia Berdmorei
Botia Longidorsalis
Botia Superciliaris
Botia Birdi
Botia Longeventralis
Botia Striata
Botia Cuadipunctata
Botia Macracanthus
Botia Robusta
Botia Dario
Botia Morleti
Botia Pulchra
Botia Eos
Botia Modesta
Botia Pupurea
Botia Helodes
Botia Nigrolineata
Botia Splendida
Botia Histrionica
Botia Reversa
Botia Curata
Botia Dayi
Botia Lucas Bahi
Botia Hirdi

Listed here are 30 species, but I am very sure that there are more than this, that people still didn't discover. I love all the Botia species I currently own, and am always on the look out for more. Many Botias resemble the behaviour of humans, by resting on their sides, defending themselves, and being the smartest fish in the tanks.

Breeding Botias

Breeding Botias in the home aquariums has been done only accidentally, but I have witnessed some type of courtship behaviour between my large Botia Modestas. They would come out at night and start swimming in circles around each other. Then, they would swim upside down together. This behaviour pattern would last 10-15 minutes and then it would stop. I witnessed this on several occasions during the year. Botias are being bred on a commercial scale in Thailand and Florida, by injecting hormones into them. In the wild, these fish breed during the dry season, and they fry hatch during the rainy season. Many water changes, and lots of aeration may do the trick in breeding this genus.

New Species of Botia

There have been a recently large amount of different Botia species imported within the last 2 years. New species imported now are: Botia Dario, Botia Rostrata, Botia Longeventralis, Botia Cuadipunctata, Botia Nigrolineata, Botia Histrionica, and Botia Superciliaris. These are all great peaceful species of Botia to keep, but Botia Superciliaris tends to become quite nasty a it ages.


Botias in the hobby are gaining more popularity every month and year. People are even using some smaller Botia species such as Botia Rostrata as substitutes for Corydoras catfish in 10 gallon aquariums. You can not get any type of Botia all year long, because these fish only come in large quantities during the breeding season, which is October-March. Because of this, hobbyists get a great deal of pleasure keeping such a variety of Botias in their homes. You can always learn something about these fish no matter how long you keep them. All of these examples of the Botia behaviour and patterns as well, are what makes them, and will make them more popular in the future.

This article has been used with the kind permission of Michael Ophir and cannot be reproduced without his permission

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