Polka-Dot Loach Care Guide: Diet, Tank Mates, Diseases, Breeding & More

Updated: December 17, 2022

The Polka-Dot Loach is a beautiful and peaceful freshwater fish that’s perfect for beginner aquarists.

This loach is easy to care for and can be kept in a community tank with other peaceful fish. They’re also a very active fish that loves to play and explore their surroundings.

If you’re thinking about getting a Polka-Dot Loach, this guide will teach you everything you need to know about their care. Tank size, diet, tank mates, and more!

Species overview

The Polka-Dot Loach (Botia kubotai) is a freshwater fish that is native to various parts of Southeast Asia. The most common countries you’ll find them in are Laos, Cambodia, and Vietnam.

This loach prefers still or slow-moving waters with a muddy bottom. This environment is usually found in ponds, swamps, and rice paddies.

The Polka-Dot Loach is a peaceful fish that does well in community tanks. They are known to be compatible with a wide variety of other freshwater fish.

One of the most notable things about this fish is its unique coloration. As you can probably guess from its name, the Polka-Dot Loach is covered in small black spots on a white or cream-colored body.


Polka-Dot Loach

The Polka-Dot Loach is an eel-like freshwater fish that is easily recognized by the distinct black dots that cover their entire body.

These dots are actually unique to each individual fish and can be used to tell them apart.

The body of the Polka-Dot Loach is long and slender with a slightly curved belly. They have a small head with a pointed nose.

Their fins are all fairly small and thin. The dorsal fin is located about halfway back on their body and is slightly taller than their anal fin.

The caudal fin is forked and extends back almost to the end of their body.

The Polka-Dot Loach is a bottom-dweller and uses their barbels (whisker-like appendages) to help them find food in the substrate.


The average lifespan for Polka-Dot Loaches is around 5 to 8 years. Like most fish, their lifespan will be greatly impacted by the level of care they receive.

If you provide them with a good diet, a stress-free environment, and keep their tank clean, they can easily live on the higher end of this range. However, if you neglect them, they may only live for a few years.


The average Polka Dot Loach size is between 2 and 3 inches when fully grown. These bottom-dwelling fish are relatively small, which is good news for those with limited aquarium space.


Tank Size

Polka-Dot Loaches should be kept in groups of 3 or more in an aquarium of at least 20 gallons.

Ideally, you want to provide them with a bit more space than that. A 30 or 40 gallon tank would be a better size if you can accommodate it.

Water Parameters

Polka-Dot Loaches are a tropical freshwater fish that come from fast moving waters in Southeast Asia.

They’re used to a lot of movement in the water and need clean, well-oxygenated water to stay healthy.

To replicate this in your aquarium, you should aim for the following water parameters.

  • Water temperature: 68 to 86 degrees Fahrenheit
  • pH levels: 6.0 to 7.8
  • Water hardness: 2 to 12 dGH
  • Alkalinity Levels: 4-8 dKH

What To Put In Their Tank

The first thing you need to do is find a good quality aquarium with a secure lid. This species is notorious for being jumpers, so a tank with an open top is a recipe for disaster.

As for the inside of the tank, these fish like to have a lot of places to hide. Driftwood, caves, and rocks are all good choices. Just make sure that the rocks you choose aren’t too big.

The Polka-Dot Loach is a small fish, so you don’t want anything that they can’t easily swim around.

As for the substrate, these fish don’t really have any preferences. Gravel or sand will both work just fine.

One thing to keep in mind is that these fish like to burrow. If you use a gravel substrate then you might want to go with something on the larger side. This will prevent the fish from accidentally swallowing any gravel while they’re digging.

Common Diseases

The Polka-Dot Loach is a hardy fish that doesn’t usually succumb to disease. However, they can still get sick if they’re not kept in the proper environment.

The most common disease that these fish experience is ich. This is a parasitic infection that will present itself as white spots on the body of your fish.

If you notice this, it’s important to take action immediately. Ich can quickly spread and become fatal if it’s not treated.

Other potential diseases include bacterial infections, fungal infections, and parasites. These are all relatively rare but can still occur if the conditions in the tank are not ideal.

As always, the best way to prevent your fish from getting sick is to maintain a clean and stable tank. This will create an environment that is not conducive to disease and will help your fish stay healthy.

Behavior & Temperament

The Polka-Dot Loach is a peaceful community fish that does well with other peaceful fish. They are active and love to play but can be a little shy, so be sure to provide plenty of hiding places in your aquarium.

These loaches are known to be hardy and can tolerate a wide range of water conditions, making them a good choice for beginner aquarists. They are also resistant to most diseases, making them a healthy addition to your tank.

When it comes to feeding, the Polka-Dot Loach is not a picky eater. They will accept most kinds of food, including flakes, pellets, frozen, and live.

Tank Mates

Polka-Dot Loaches are peaceful community fish that do well with a wide variety of tank mates.

These fish are not aggressive and are too small to pose a threat to most other species. In fact, they’re often the target of bullying by larger fish!

You’ll need to be careful about tank mates that are too small, however. Polka-Dot Loaches are bottom-dwellers and might see smaller fish as food.

To be safe, stick to species that are at least as large as the loach. As long as everyone has their own space, everyone will be happy.

Here are some compatible tank mates that tend to work well:


Polka-Dot Loaches are one of the easier loach species to breed in captivity. They aren’t as picky as some other loaches when it comes to their breeding environment.

To start, you’ll need a breeding tank that holds at least 20 gallons of water. The tank should be set up with live plants, driftwood, and other hiding places. You can use a sponge filter to keep the water clean.

Next, you’ll need to sex your loaches. Polka-Dot Loaches are easy to sex because the males have larger pectoral fins. Females also tend to be a bit rounder when they are full of eggs.

When you’re ready to breed, add two females for every male. Then, begin feeding them live foods. This will help to trigger spawning.

Once the female is full of eggs, she’ll lay them in a hidden area of the tank. The male will then fertilize them. After that, he’ll stay close by to protect the eggs.

The eggs will hatch in about a week. You can then remove the adults and begin feeding the fry baby brine shrimp.


The Polka-Dot Loach is a great beginner fish because they’re so easy to take care of.

They’re also a lot of fun to watch because of their playful nature.

If you’re looking for a low-maintenance fish that will add some personality to your tank, the Polka-Dot Loach is a great choice!