Java loach Care Guide: Diet, Tank Mates, Diseases, Breeding & More

Updated: November 17, 2022

The Java loach is a peaceful and social freshwater fish that is perfect for beginners.

This species is easy to care for and is very tolerant of different water conditions. They’re also great at getting along with other fish.

The Java loach is a great addition to any community tank. In this guide, we’ll teach you everything you need to know about Java loach care.

Species overview

The Java loach (Botia javanica) is a freshwater fish that’s native to Southeast Asia. It’s most commonly found in Indonesia, Malaysia, and Thailand.

This fish prefers slow-moving water with a lot of vegetation. This is something that’s common among many loach species.

Java loaches are bottom-dwellers and are known to be quite shy. They like to stay hidden among the plants and other decorations in the tank.

Because of their shy nature, Java loaches are best kept in groups of 3 or more. This will help them feel more comfortable and less stressed in their environment.


Java loach

The Java loach is a freshwater fish that’s native to Southeast Asia. These bottom-dwellers have a long and slender body that can grow up to 12 inches in length.

The Java loach has a light brown body with dark brown spots. The spots are more prominent on their head and tail. They have a barbel on their chin that’s used for sensing food in murky waters.

Their fins are all translucent with a hint of brown. The dorsal and anal fins are both located towards the back of their bodies. They have a forked caudal fin that’s slightly taller than their dorsal fin.

Java loaches are a nocturnal fish, so they’re more active at night. During the day, they like to hide in dark places like caves or under rocks.


The average lifespan of a Java loach is around 10 years. This is rather impressive and means that if you take good care of them, they’ll be around for quite a while!

Just like any fish, the lifespan of your Java loach can change significantly based on how they are treated. Things like poor water quality, stress from bad tank mates, or a suboptimal diet can drastically shorten their lifespan.


The adult size of a Java loach is approximately 3-4 inches (8-10 cm). They are a relatively small aquarium fish that does well in groups.


Tank Size

The minimum tank size for java loaches is 30 gallons. If you’re looking for a bottom-dwelling fish that can fit in a smaller tank, this is a good option.

Java loaches tend to do best in groups of 3 or more fish, so you’ll need to add at least 10 gallons for each additional fish.

Water Parameters

The Java loach is a freshwater fish that is native to Southeast Asia. In the wild, they are found in slow-moving rivers and streams with a sandy bottom and plenty of hiding places.

They are a schooling fish, so it’s best to keep them in groups of six or more.

As far as water parameters go, they are pretty adaptable. They can live in a variety of water conditions, but the ideal parameters are:

  • Water temperature: 72 to 82 degrees Fahrenheit
  • pH levels: 6.5 to 7.5
  • Water hardness: 4 to 12 dGH
  • Alkalinity Levels: 4-8 dKH

What To Put In Their Tank

When it comes to setting up the inside of an aquarium for a Java loach you can be as creative as you want. There aren’t any specific things that this species NEEDS to have, which gives you plenty of options.

We recommend some of the standard decorations that you find in a lot of freshwater tanks. There are a ton of great plants you can include (like hornwort or water wisteria). You can even throw in some floating aquarium plants too!

Rocks, driftwood, and caves are all suitable as well. It’s important to avoid going overboard with this since these fish like some room to swim.

Also, if you’re keeping your Java loaches in a smaller tank then it’s going to be difficult to include a lot of this stuff anyway.

A classic gravel substrate is always a good choice, but you can do with something soft and sandy if needed too (use other species you keep as a guide with this).

Common Diseases

There are a few diseases that you should be aware of if you’re keeping Java loaches. These fish are rather hardy, but they can still succumb to poor water conditions or other problems.

The most common disease that affects Java loaches is ich. This is a parasitic infection that will show itself as white spots on the body, fins, and gills of your fish.

If left untreated, ich can be fatal. However, it is fairly easy to treat if you catch it early. There are many commercial ich treatments available, and most of them are quite effective.

Another disease to watch out for is fungal infection. This can affect any fish, but it seems to be more common in loaches.

Fungal infection will present itself as white patches on the skin of your fish. It is usually not fatal, but it can be if it’s left untreated.

The best way to prevent these diseases is to maintain clean and stable water conditions in your tank. Regular water changes and filtration will go a long way towards keeping your Java loaches healthy.

Behavior & Temperament

The Java loach is a nocturnal creature, so you won’t see much of it during the day. It’ll spend most of its time hiding in caves or other dark places in the tank.

At night, when it becomes more active, you may see it swimming around looking for food. It’s not uncommon for these fish to dart in and out of hiding places rapidly.

Java loaches are peaceful fish that typically don’t bother other tank mates. The only exception is if they feel threatened. If that happens, they may use their sharp fins to defend themselves.

Otherwise, they are gentle fish that prefer to stay out of the way.

Tank Mates

Java loaches are peaceful bottom-dwellers that do well in a community tank. They’re not fussy when it comes to water conditions and can get along with most species.

Since they come from slow-moving waters in Southeast Asia, they do best with tank mates that prefer similar environments. That being said, they’re not too picky and can adjust to different tank set-ups.

Here are some compatible tank mates for java loaches:

  • Borneo Suckers
  • Clown Loaches
  • Kuhli Loaches
  • Weather Loaches
  • Dojo Loaches
  • Hillstream Loaches

*Yo-Yo Loaches

*Botia Striata


The Java loach is a fairly easy fish to breed in captivity. That said, there are a few things you need to do to give them the best chance of success.

First, you need to sex your fish. Females are a bit larger than males and have a more rounded body shape. Males tend to be thinner and have longer fins.

Once you’ve sexed your fish, you can start to set up your breeding tank. It should hold at least 20 gallons of water. The water should be soft with a pH of 6.5-7.0.

You’ll also need to add some plants and other hiding places. Java loaches like to lay their eggs in dark, hidden places.

When everything is set up, add two females for every male. Then, begin feeding them live foods. This will help to condition them for breeding.

Once the fish are ready, you’ll see the female lay her eggs in a hidden place. The male will then fertilize them.

After about two weeks, the eggs will hatch. You can then start to feed the fry live foods. Baby brine shrimp are a good option.

As the fry grow, you can slowly introduce them to flakes and other pellets.


The Java Loach is a great beginner fish because they are very easy to take care of.

They are a peaceful fish that gets along well with other community fish.

They are also very hardy, so they can tolerate a wide range of water conditions.

The only thing to be aware of is that they like to hide, so make sure you have plenty of hiding places in your tank for them.

Other than that, they are a great fish for beginners and experienced fishkeepers alike!