Care Guide for Dwarf Chain Loaches – Snail-Eating Nano Fish
Many loaches have the reputation of being playful, boisterous schooling fish and can stress their shyer tank mates. Dwarf-chain loaches are calmer and come in a small package. This makes them ideal 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 come from rivers and floodplain forests in Thailand, and because they are endangered in the wild, the fish you buy from stores are all commercially bred. Their narrow bodies measure in at just 2 to 3 inches (6 cm) and their noses have very few barbels. Their common name comes from the black, chain-like pattern running down the sides of their bodies. Although most loaches live at the bottom, these fish can swim in the middle and bottom of the tank. They flutter their fins like hummingbirds to make it seem like they are fluttering. Many loaches are active at night, while dwarf chain loaches can be awake during the day.
Are dwarf-chain loaches aggressive? Although they are active and move around a lot, we have never witnessed them harass other fish. They are quite curious though, so they will investigate and “sniff” new fish that are added to the aquarium.
Ambastaia Sidthimunki is well-known for its high-contrast, chains-like pattern on the top of its body.
How to Set Up an Aquarium for Dwarf Chain Loaches
Ambastaia sidthimunki, while small, can thrive in 20-gallon tanks. This species is fairly pricey at $7-15 per fish, but a big group will help them feel less stressed, establish a social hierarchy, and display unique behaviors like playing “follow the leader” all over the tank.
Dwarf chain loaches can live in a wide range of temperatures, pH, and GH because of their natural habitat. 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. They also have tiny spines under their eyes so be careful when handling them or netting.
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.
How can dwarf chain loaches live with fish? They are good with all kinds of small-sized community fish. They can be kept with angelfish and corydoras catfish as well as platies, platies, tetras (rasboras), plecos, and many other fish. Dwarf chain loaches can sometimes be a little shy, so adding some dither fish will help them feel more comfortable and willing to come out into the open. You should be aware that they eat tiny crustaceans and insects in the wild. They will happily eat cherry shrimp babies, and any other small animals they find.
The pointed snout of a dwarf locach makes it ideal for eating small shrimps, snails, or worms.
What are Dwarf Chain Loaches Eating?
Loaches love meaty foods so give them small, soft foods they can eat. We love to feed them a wide variety of community fish foods such as Repashy gel food and nano pellets. 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? In general, loaches with pointy faces enjoy eating aquatic gastropods because their snouts are well-suited for digging into the openings of snail shells. Dwarf-chain loaches will eat smaller snails. However, they can be annoying to larger snails.
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 is the International Loach Association’s president. His breeding method involves feeding many types of fish food, lowering pH from 7.6-6.5 with catappa leaf, and adding rock piles for protection and shelter.
Ambastaia nigrolineata or the black-lined loach (bottom) sometimes gets confused for Ambastaia sidthimunki (top)
Dwarf chain loaches are an essential addition to any freshwater enthusiast’s collection. Make sure you save enough money to buy the largest group possible to ensure your family gets to enjoy their hilarious antics. Although we do not ship live fish, you may see our preferred online vendors list to purchase dwarf chain loaches. This article also features our top 10 most loved loaches.