Care Guide for Dwarf Chain Loaches – Snail-Eating Nano Fish
Loaches are known for being friendly, but noisy schooling fish. This can cause stress to their tank mates. Dwarf chain loaches are more chill and come in a nano-sized package, making them suitable for peaceful community tanks. If you have a smaller planted aquarium with a pest snail problem, you have to try out the loveable pygmy loach.
What are Dwarf Chain Loaches?
Ambastaia sidthimunki is a species that comes from the rivers and floodplain forests of Thailand. They are also endangered in the wild so the fish you purchase in shops are all commercially raised. Their narrow bodies measure in at just 2 to 3 inches (6 cm) and their noses have very few barbels. Their common name derives from their black, chain-like pattern that runs down their bodies. While most loaches are bottom dwellers, these fish swim both at the bottom and in the middle of the tank by fluttering their fins like hummingbirds. While many loaches are night-active, dwarf chain loaches, on the other hand, are awake and active during daylight hours.
Is it aggressive for dwarf chain loaches? They can be very energetic and are always moving. However, in our experience they have never bullied other fish during mealtimes. They are quite curious though, so they will investigate and “sniff” new fish that are added to the aquarium.
Ambastaia sidthimunki’s high-contrast chain-like pattern at the top of its upper body is well-known.
How to Set Up an Aquarium for Dwarf Chain Loaches
Ambastaia Sidthimunki can be quite small so we recommend a 20-gallon or larger tank. They are active and require a school of 7-10 dwarf chain loaches. The species can be quite expensive at $7-15 per fish. However, a large group of them will make them feel less stressed and establish a social hierarchy. They’ll also display unique behaviors such as “follow the leader” throughout the tank.
Dwarf chain loaches have adapted to living in many temperature and pH levels due to their habitat’s annual rainy season. We typically keep them between 75-82degF (24-28degC) but they can reportedly go even warmer. Provide lots of aquarium plants, little caves, and other hiding spots for them to dart into when startled. You should be aware that they have small spines beneath their eyes.
Do dwarf chain loaches jump? Despite being primarily bottom dwellers, they love exploring their surroundings, including outside of your aquarium, so we recommend getting a tight-fitting lid just in case.
Can dwarf chain loaches be a companion for fish? All kinds of community fish are compatible with them. They have been kept with platies, angelfish, corydoras catsfish, platies and tetras. We also keep them with rasboras and plecos. Sometimes dwarf chain loaches can be shy so adding dither fish to the tank will make them more comfortable and more willing to go out in the open. Be aware that they feed on small bugs and crustaceans in the wild, so they will happily snack on cherry shrimp babies and any other tiny animals they find.
The pointed snout of a dwarf locach makes it ideal for eating small shrimps, snails, or worms.
What do Dwarf Chain Loaches Eat?
Loaches like meatier foods. So, we feed them sinking foods that they can fit in their mouths and eat. We like to give them a good variety of community fish foods – such as nano pellets, Bug Bites, Repashy gel food, frozen bloodworms, and daphnia. If you have speed eaters in the aquarium, make sure the loaches are getting enough food so that they have nice, rounded bellies.
Do dwarf-chain loaches eat snails or are they just curious? Loaches with pointed faces love eating aquatic gastropods. Their snouts can be used to dig into snail shells. Dwarf chain loaches will eat small snails. They can also pester larger snails so don’t put them together.
How to Breed Dwarf Chain Loaches
Home hobbyists are unlikely to breed Ambastaia Sidthimunki as wild chain loaches migrate upstream to lay eggs. Fish farms cannot use hormone treatments to induce spawning. Mark Duffill, the president of the International Loach Association has written articles online about his breeding methods. He feeds many kinds of fish, lowers the pH to 6.8 with catappa leaves and adds rock piles to protect the eggs and shelter the fry.
Ambastaia nigrolineata or the black-lined loach (bottom) sometimes gets confused for Ambastaia sidthimunki (top)
They are a must-have addition to every freshwater hobbyist’s list. To ensure that your family enjoys their cute antics, it is important to save as much money as possible. Although we do not ship live fish, you may see our preferred online vendors list to purchase dwarf chain loaches. You can also read this article about our 10 top-rated loaches.