FIA is community supported website. When you purchase through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission. Learn More.

HorseFace Loach Overview & Care Guide for Beginners

Are you an experienced fish keeper? Then switching to a hard level of fishkeeping will be very exciting for you! Thus, horseface loaches will be a great one to pet in your fish tank. They are good-sized fish and live happily with a proper level of care.

Horseface loach comes with a quirky striped horse-like face and scaleless head. They are pretty hard to care for; thus, primarily suitable for expert aquarists. As these fish grow up to 8-11 inches, they are best kept in a 55-gallon tank with sand gravel and soft water.

Species Overview

Level of CareA bit hard
AppearanceThe backside of their body has a light brown color, along with various spots and several stripes. The lower part of the fish is white with slightly brownish fins.
TemperamentSlightly aggressive to their kinds
Life Expectancy10-12 years
Size8-11 inches
Tank Size55-gallons
Tank EnvironmentSoft acidic water with smooth sand substrate and proper plants and rocks
Tank MatesVery peaceful

The horseface loach is famous for its horse-like head. They are good-sized fish, growing quite large and come with a unique appearance.

These fish have a fascinating elongated body and come with a flat belly. Also, their snout is characteristically very long and bent downward about halfway between their eyes and nose. Thus, they strongly resemble the face shape of a horse. And that is why the name is so unique.

Besides, the eyes of these fish are covered with a very transparent layer. Though their eyes lie near the top area of their head, they slightly protrude from their head.

Do you know what’s the fun fact about Horseface loaches? They usually don’t have scales on their head. Their body’s backside is light brown in color and various spots, along with several stripes, are present on it. Also, the lower part of the fish is white-colored with slightly brownish fins.

Besides, the male counterparts of this species of fish are usually slimmer than the females. The full-grown adult females typically come with a rounder abdomen. Also, sometimes the female fish are noticed to grow more extensively than the male ones.


Knowing how big loaches get can help you to care for them properly in your tank. In the wild, these Horseface loaches appear as good-sized ones. They can get up to 8-11.8 inches or 20-30 cm in the wild. However, they usually grow smaller in the aquarium.


Besides their long height, they also come with a long lifespan. These can easily live up to 10-12 years if they receive the proper amount of care.

You only need to make sure that the water parameter and diet are appropriate so that they can survive for longer years.

Behavior & Temperament

Horseface loaches are usually nocturnal. They hide during the daytime and become very active after the evening.

Besides, these are great as a community fish. They go better with other peaceful tank mates. Usually, these fish are slightly aggressive towards the members of the same species.

Thus, it is better to keep one in your aquarium. Also, it is crucial to add enough hiding spaces, caves, and rocks so that they can mark their territory.

In case you want to keep a group, then you can keep these loaches with 6 specimens. But be ready to see some occasional territorial fights. However, they will not injure each other much during their fall-outs.

Tank Requirements

While caring for a Horseface loach, the most important thing you need to keep in your mind is meeting all tank requirements.

These especially love to swim at the bottom area of the tank. However, they might occasionally swim in the middle of the upper section of the aquarium.

So, the smaller ones will do great in a medium-sized tank. But if you are thinking of keeping a full-grown adult in your tank, then you must ensure that it has sufficient space to hover around freely. For a group, the tank size needs to be much larger to avoid territorial fights.

These fish usually love to live in pristine water. They mostly prefer soft and slightly acidic water with a subdued amount of lighting.

These also prefer good water movement. Besides, the oxygenation in the tank needs to be top-notch.

Since they are burrowers, the substrate must comprise very fine gravel sand. Make sure the substrate does not have any sharp edges.

It is essential to add a lot of rooted plants to ensure a beautiful aquascape in the tank. You can also add other decors like plastic tubes to let them have enough spaces to hide.

Tank Setup

Horseface loaches are not too easy to care for. However, you can facilitate them with a proper level of care by setting up an appropriate tank with all essential assortments for their better well-being.

So, here is how you can acquire a proper tank setup:

  • The minimum tank size to care for a group is 55 gallons. Juveniles will easily live in a 20-gallon aquarium, but full-grown adults will need at least 35-45 gallons of tank capacity.
  • Pick a sand or gravel mixed substrate. But make sure it is soft enough not to offer any injury to their delicate bodies.
  • Subdued or low lighting will be fine for the tank.
  • The water temperature needs to be within 79-84 ℉.
  • Also, maintain the pH range of tank water between 6 and 7.
  • To let your horse faced loaches thrive well, it is better to keep the water hardness level between 1-10 dGH.
  • Also, make sure the specific gravity of aquarium water is less than 1.005.
  • Additionally, the water movement in the tank needs to be moderate. So, to achieve a good water current, you can even add an external power filter to the tank.

Tank Mates

Horseface loaches are very peaceful. Hence, you can easily house them in a community tank. Since they are nocturnal fish, they will not disturb others during the day hours.

However, they are loosely aggressive towards their own type of fish species. So, it is better to keep them alone if you do not have much space in your tank to let them have their separate territory.

In case you provide them enough space to create their own territories, you can easily keep them with the same species of fish with a group of 6 or more. But make sure the tank is large.

As these are not at all venomous, you can easily keep them with other peaceful, top and mid-dwelling active fish. But make sure you are not housing them with semi-aggressive fish. In case you do, you need to monitor them thoroughly.

Similarly, if you keep slow swimmers or eaters in the tank, you need to keep an eye on them consistently. Also, shrimps, crabs, and snails serve to be very aggressive to them. Besides, do not ever house them with large aggressive or predatory fish.

So, the following are a few tank mates that you can add with your horseface loach:

  • Barbs
  • Danios
  • Rasboras
  • Tetras
Face closeup of group of horse face loaches

Food & Diet

To make your horseface loaches grow healthily, you need to provide them with a top-quality diet. But are you wondering, what food do they like to eat?

Well, these are omnivorous by nature. They are not at all a picky eater. Hence, you can feed them any healthy fish food.

In the wild, these usually fed on insect larvae or small crustaceans. Also, they prefer having other kinds of benthic organisms.

But in the aquarium, they will eat any live foods. Also, you can offer them algae or flakes. Nevertheless, these horsehead loaches also love to have frozen foods.

Now, to maintain the right balance in their diet, you can offer them high-quality flake or tablet food. You can also feed these fish with mosquito larvae or brine shrimps to provide adequate protein to their diet.

At the same time, you can offer tubifex or daphnia and many other vegetable foods like algae wafers so that they can have a good variety in their diet and grow well.

You can also occasionally offer them shrimps, worms, or tiny fish. Make sure that their diet primarily includes meaty foods.

Now that you know the right foods that you can provide to them, you must be thinking about how often you should feed them, right?

Well, it is better to offer them several feedings per day. But make sure to give them small meals. Do not feed them with only one large meal a day. They won’t be able to finish the entire food at once.

Horseface Loach Care

Now caring for Horseface loaches is a bit difficult. To take good care of them, the most important thing you need to focus on is offering them proper clean water every time.

For the healthy growth, they require regular water changes. It is better to opt for a weekly change of 30-50% of tank water. Also, it is highly recommended to keep the water clean and well-oxygenated.

During changing the water weekly, make sure to vacuum the gravel substrate to remove traces of any excess food or waste matter. But be careful, while cleaning, don’t remove the biofilm on the rocks or décor. You can even use a magnet algae cleaner to keep the fish tank clear.

But do you know what is the most worrying part of keeping Horseface loaches? These fish are much more prone to diseases than any other aquarium fish.

As they have very faint body scales and scaleless heads, they are not so hardy. Thus, you need to be cautious while introducing them to other fish.

Thye are also very sensitive to different types of medications. So, it is better to ensure a hospital tank for their care when they are sick. Coldwater and frequent tank condition changes can also impose stress upon these fish, making them more prone to diseases.

The most common disease for a Horseface loach is ICH. It is usually known as the white spot disease. And a great amount of care is vital to save them from this life-threatening disease.

Breeding Guidelines

Well, the breeding habit of horseface loaches is not so popularly known. There is no proof or instances that they have spawned in captivity. It includes commercial breeding as well.

All the specimens that you get from an aquarist shop are mostly wild-caught. Their population in the wild is vast and robust.

Interesting Facts

Do you know there are various interesting facts about horseface loaches you need to know while petting them? So, let’s have a look at those facts below.

  • They are relatively shy.
  • These have common names like banana fish, horsehead loch and long-faced loach.
  • These fish are usually bottom-dwellers.
  • Their origin is in Southeast Asia.
  • As they uproot plants very often, place sturdy plants like anubias in the aquarium.

Where to Buy?

Horseface loaches are commercially available in many aquarist stores. They are not at all rare or uncommon. However, be careful while purchasing, as you may tend to get confused with long-nosed loaches. These long-nosed loaches are different species of aggressive fish.

Thus, it is better to ask your aquarist properly before buying. Also, there are plenty of online shops from which you can easily find them.

Wrapping Up

Under suitable conditions, Horseface loaches are very hardy. But they are not ideal for beginner aquarists as they need too specific tank requirements for living.

Also, they have small body scales and no scales on their head. And due to this, they are much more prone to diseases. Moreover, you should not introduce these fish to a very biologically immature tank as it can ruin their health more.

So, if you are experienced enough and know how to manage such delicate fish in a home aquarium, only then it is better to opt for buying one. Without experience, it will be tough to care for these scaleless fish.