Horse-Faced Loach Care Guide: Tank Setup and much more – 2021

Horse-Faced Loach


Are you an experienced fish keeper? Then switching to a hard level of fishkeeping will be very exciting for you! Thus, horse-faced 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.

Horse-faced 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 fishes grow up to 8-11 inches, they are best kept in a 55-gallon tank with sand gravel and soft water.


Category Rating
Level of care A bit hard
Appearance The 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.
Temperament Slightly aggressive to their kinds
Life expectancy 10-12 years
Size 8-11 inches
Diet Omnivorous
Family Cobitidae
Tank size 55-gallon
Tank Environment Soft acidic water with smooth sand substrate and proper plants and rocks
Tankmates Very peaceful

About Horse-Faced Loach


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

These fishes 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, horse-faced loaches strongly resemble the face shape of a horse. And that is why the name is so unique.

Besides, the eyes of these fishes 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 horse-faced 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 fishes are noticed to grow more extensive than the male ones.

Nevertheless, are you wondering, how big do loaches get? Well, they get pretty big and grow up to somewhere between 8-11 inches.


Horse-Faced Loach Temperament


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

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

Thus, it is better to keep one horse-faced loach 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.


Horse-Faced Loach Tank Requirement


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

These loaches 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 loaches will do great in a medium-sized tank. But if you are thinking of keeping a full-grown adult horse-faced loach 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 fishes usually love to live in pristine water. They mostly prefer soft and slightly acidic water with a subdued amount of lighting.

These loaches also prefer good water movement. Besides, the oxygenation in a horse-faced loach 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.


Horse-Faced Loach Tank Set-Up


Horse-faced 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 set-up for these horsehead loaches.

  • The minimum tank size to care for a group of horse-faced loaches 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 these loaches’ 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 6-7.
  • To let your 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.


Horse-Faced Loach Tank Mates


Horse-faced loaches are very peaceful. Hence, you can easily house them in a community tank. Since they are nocturnal fishes, 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 your loaches enough space to create their own territories, you can easily keep them with the same species of fishes with a group of 6 or more. But make sure the tank is large.

As horse-faced loaches are not at all venomous, you can easily keep them with other peaceful, top and mid-dwelling active fishes. But make sure you are not housing them with semi-aggressive fishes. 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 for them. Besides, do not ever house them with large aggressive or predatory fishes.

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

  • Barbs
  • Danios
  • Rasboras
  • Tetras

What Does Horse-faced Loach Eat?


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

Well, these loaches 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 loaches 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 fishes with mosquito larvae or brine shrimps to provide adequate protein to their diet.

At the same time, you can offer your horse-faced loaches 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 fishes. Make sure that their diet primarily includes meaty foods.

Now that you know the right foods that you can provide to your loaches, you must be thinking, 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.


Care for Horse-faced Loach


Now caring for horse-faced 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 of these horsehead loaches, they require regular water change. 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 decor. 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 horse-faced loaches? These fishes are much more prone to diseases than any other aquarium fish. As they have very faint body scales and a scaleless head, they are not so hardy. Thus, you need to be cautious while introducing them to other fishes.

Horse-faced loaches 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 fishes, making them more prone to diseases.

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


Horse-Faced Loach Breeding Guidelines


Well, the breeding habit of horse-faced 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 About Horse-Faced Loach


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

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

Where to Buy Horse-Faced Loach?


Horse-faced 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 a different species of aggressive fish.

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


How Big Do Horse-Faced Loach Get?


Knowing how big do loaches get can help you to care for them properly in your tank. In the wild, these horse-faced 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.

How Long Does Horse-faced Loach Live?


Besides their long height, they also come with a long lifespan. These loaches 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.


Is Horse-Faced Loach Suitable for Aquariums?


Under suitable conditions, horse-faced 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 prone to diseases. Moreover, you should not introduce these fishes 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 fishes in a home aquarium, only then it is better to opt for buying a horse-faced loach. Without experience, it will be tough to care for these scaleless fishes.