Burmese Border Loach Stats InfographicThe Burmese Border Loach, also known as Angelicus Loach or Polka Dot Loach, has gained a strong following among aquarists. So, what makes these fish special? Are they easy to care for?

This article will throw light on this mysterious fish and get your questions answered.

Burmese Border Loach Stats

Order Cypriniformes
Suborder Cyprinidae
Family Cobitidae
Genera Botia
Tank Size 30 – 50 gallons
PH 6.8 – 7.3
Hardness Soft to medium, dH range to 20.00
Temperature 75° F to 82° F (24° C – 28 °C)

Place of Origin

Aquarists discovered the Burmese Border Loach in 2002 during an expedition to the Three Pagodas Pass. The fish flourished in Myanmar’s (Burma) tributary rivers that lead to the great Salween River bordering Thailand. Thus, the name.

Appearance: Colors, Patterns, & Size

As with other loach species, the Burmese Border Loach features an elongated body with whisker-like barbels protruding around the mouth. What makes this species so interesting is the exquisite patterns they sport.

The best part? No two adult Burmese loaches look alike!

The variations in the size and number of their stripes and dots are inconceivable. Most of the time, their patterns can look like marbles. That is why some fishkeepers nicknamed them “Marble Loach.”

How Big Does a Burmese Loach Get?

Juveniles measure about 2.5 centimeters in length. Around this size, the dominant body color ranges from tan to dark brown with black vertical bands. Gradually, the bars will start growing in the lateral area and join together to form a pattern.

At about 5 centimeters, the Burmese Border Loach develops silver or gold dots on its black bands; hence, the monikers “Spotted Loach.” As the loach ages, the stripes widen, and the dots extend into ovals. The markings on the fins also become more striking.

Some adults may grow up to 15 centimeters in length, but many tend to be smaller, at around 10 centimeters. Their counterparts in the wild don’t even grow quite as big compared to those kept in aquariums.

Burmese Border Loach Tank Setup: Size, Temperature, & Decorations

The Burmese Loach originated in fast-flowing bodies of water with dense aquatic vegetation. Due to their streamlined bodies, these active fish are more than capable of migrating throughout the Salween River system. That said, you will want to replicate this environment and allow their instincts to kick in.

– Water Conditions

The stunning Polka Dot Loach prefers warm temperatures akin to the streams of Myanmar, ideally ranging between 75° F to 82° F (24° C – 28° C). These fish can tolerate soft to slightly acidic water. To ensure the water is pristine round the clock, you will need a powerful filter.

Besides water quality, you will want to ensure constant movement in the aquarium by using a powerhead. Placing the powerhead near the heater also drives warm water into the lower parts of a large aquarium setting.

– What is the Right Tank Size?

You will need a tank with a minimum capacity of 30 gallons. Angelicus loaches prefer to be kept in schools of six or more; it should now be evident that the aquarium has to be large. Remember, these fish can grow 10 to 15 centimeters.

Should you wish these fish to coexist with other species, you will need to increase the tank size considerably. Upgrading to a minimum of 125 gallons would work best. Otherwise, a smaller tank might stunt their growth and could shorten their lifespan.

– Decorations

  • Lighting: Avoid excessive lighting. Angelicus loaches thrived in rivers with plenty of umbrages provided by forest canopies and a plethora of hydrophytes.
  • Plants: Since these fish love to hang out in the shadows, consider adding aquarium plants to subdue lighting. Unfortunately, Angelicus loaches are quite the curious bunch; they will nibble on soft-leaved plants, such as Amazon Swords and Crypts. The best plants to keep with these loaches are tough-leaved, such as Java ferns and Anubias. These fish are likewise notorious for uprooting small plants when looking for snacks. Thus, plants with fine roots might not be the best option unless they have had enough time to put down enough root systems. Furthermore, you should avoid using artificial plants.
  • Hiding Spots: Angelicus loaches benefit from being in an aquarium with caves, rocks, terracotta pots, driftwood, and other places they can hide when resting. The more hiding spots you give them, the more secure they will be. Therefore, the fish will spend more time in the open.
  • Substrate: These fish love to burrow; thus, you will want to use sand and fine gravel littered with pebbles and rocks.

Burmese Border Loach Diet: Do They Eat Smaller Fish?

Yes. A Burmese loach is a benthic predator. As a full-grown adult, it may eat a smaller fish or even a dead one when there is a lack of food. However, it is unlikely that it will attack smaller fishes when there is an abundant supply.

What Can You Feed to a Burmese Loach?

In the wild, Burmese Border Loaches feed on various food ranging from small aquatic organisms to vegetable matter.

These fish will take care of all the food that gets past the others in the aquarium, such as:

  • algae wafers
  • crisps
  • flakes
  • shrimp pellets
  • brine shrimp
  • bloodworms
  • krill
  • mosquito larvae
  • tubifex worms

Since these loaches are omnivorous, they will also benefit from regular feedings of blanched vegetables, including cucumber, kale, and peas.

Burmese Border Loach Tank Mates

Yes, they are. You should not be concerned with aggression. Burmese Borders are friendly and playful in general. They like to interact with other loach species, as well. These fish are not carbon copies of each other, so don’t be surprised if a few naughty ones hover over others.

What Happens When They are Alone?

A Burmese loach will not last long on its own. If you are a new owner and made the mistake of buying just one, your lone schooling fish will feel vulnerable to predation.

Being in constant stress leaves your pet even more susceptible to disease. And to avoid drawing attention, it will either rock around in the current or lie on one side to play dead or hide and refuse to eat. Either way, your pet will end up dead.

On the bright side, the fish can recover if you will immediately add more of its kind.

Burmese loaches are active fish with interesting schooling habits. These loaches love to dart and dash around playing cat and mouse.

Burmese Border Loach Breeding

Despite its discovery in 2002, we still know little about the breeding habits of this particular species. We have yet to document this species’s successful breeding in captivity.

Burmese Border Loach Care: Do They Get Sick?

Ichthyophthirius, commonly known as ich, is a protozoan parasite. While it affects all aquarium fish, the Burmese Border Loach is particularly susceptible to its lack of scales.

Among its symptoms include:

  • the appearance of white spots that resemble sugar
  • rapid breathing
  • redness around the gills

As the parasite burrows deep into the skin’s outer layer, infected fish will make sudden rubbing motions against rocks, gravel, or walls of the tank.

How Do You Prevent Ich?

You will need to set up a quarantine tank. A simple 10- or 15-gallon will do. Any newly bought fish should be quarantined for at least two weeks before adding them to the community tank. If ich is present in the water, a smaller tank is much easier to medicate using Rid Ich or White Spot Cure.

How Long Can a Burmese Border Loach Live?

With proper care, Burmese Borders can live eight years. Some can even survive up to 12 years.


Caring for the Burmese Border Loach is a rewarding experience for any fish enthusiast. Their splendid patterns bring a magnificent display to your tank, while their quirks are sure to make you giggle.

Before you get them in your possession, let’s reiterate what we discussed:

  • The Burmese Border Loach has a streamlined body that can grow 10 to 12 centimeters in length
  • Burmese Borders require water currents, and they appreciate having an abundance of aquatic plants and resting places
  • Also known as the Polka Dot Loach and Marble Loach, this sport a unique set of dots and stripes
  • No two Burmese loaches look the same, and they look drastically different compared to their juvenile state
  • It is a bottom feeder that will eat anything that fits its mouth, including snails and dead fish
  • The Burmese loach needs to be in a group; otherwise, it will get stressed out and die early
  • Burmese loaches have no scales, making them highly susceptible to Ich; you will need to quarantine new fish before introducing them to the community tank

As you can see, these fish are a breeze to care for, and the task can be quite fulfilling. Now, are you ready to take care of the Burmese Border Loach? I bet you are!

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