Why is this loach bothering my rainbows?

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Botiid loaches can be a little exuberant , or in some cases downright aggressive. Bob Mehen explains…

Q: We have five Kubotai loaches and a rescue adult Yoyo loach in our 450 l tank.

The Yoyo frequently swims alongside my Boesmans rainbowfish, hugging close up to them and they seem quite stressed about it, trying to shake him off, sometimes dashing all around the tank. I’m worried that one of the rainbows will damage itself and also because of the stress it’s causing. He only does it to the rainbows. Why is he doing this and can we stop him?

ANDY MAY, VIA EMAIL

A: Bob says: Botiid loaches can be a little exuberant, or in some cases downright aggressive. The two species you have are both relatively peaceful, but with potential adult sizes of around 15cm they can be a little intimidating to some fish, especially when they get boisterous. Your group of five B. kubotai probably keep this behaviour within their group, but it’s likely that the lone Yoyo is not included despite being a similar looking fish, and so is expressing typical Botia behaviour onto the unfortunate rainbowfish. Basically, it’s probably a bit lonely.

These are highly social fish that should be kept in groups of a minimum of five, so the best solution, if space allows, is to add more Yoyos. Hopefully with a group of its own kind it will be too busy bickering over hierarchy to bother the rainbows.

If you don’t have sufficient space, then it’s probably best to re-home the one you do have.