Panda loach stats infographicThe Panda Loach is arguably one of the most sought-after loach species in the aquarium hobby. Its peaceful nature makes it ideal for an aquarist looking for a peaceful yet challenging fish to add to a community tank, or even the experienced fishkeeper who wants to add a rare species to his aquascape.

This particular loach may thrive in a home aquarium if kept under the right conditions. Continue reading to learn all about the Panda Loach and how to maximize its lifespan in your aquarium with appropriate care techniques, the proper diet, and so much more.

What Is a Panda Loach?

The Panda Loach is a freshwater fish that is known for both its black-and-white stripes as well as its near-perfect compatibility with community tanks. This loach is highly-recommended in well-maintained freshwater species-specific setups, but its rarity in the wild makes it difficult to source and sustain in captivity.

Panda Loach Stats

Here is an information table containing the most important facts and figures of the black-and-white loach.

Common Name Panda Loach
Scientific Name Yaoshania Pachychilus
Care Level Moderate
Average Lifespan 6 to 8 years
Maximum Size 2 to 2.5 inches in length
Diet Omnivorous
Breeding Type Egg-layer
Minimum Tank Size 20 to 30 gallons

Furthermore, here are the classification details of the Panda Loach.

Order: Cypriniformes
Suborder NA
Family Balitoridae
Genera Yaoshania
Species Yaoshania Pachychilus

Panda Loach Care

Now that you know all about the Panda Loach’s background and basic information, you can move on to learning about how to care for this rare fish. In this section, we will cover all the aspects related to proper Panda Loach care. This includes creating the proper diet, building an ideal habitat, and addressing common health issues that may shorten the lifespan of your Panda Loach.

This species of loach was originally found in the mountain streams of the Guanxi region of China.

Panda loach the stunning striped loach of freshwater aquariumsWhile the current population of the Panda Loach has been tagged as something of “least concern” on the International Union for Conservation of Nature, the authorities in China regard the fish as a rare species and have enacted several measures to ensure its protection and ethical harvesting.

Today, the Panda Loach is high on the list of aquarists who want to contribute to the conservation effort by caring for their own school of loaches.

– Diet

The Panda Loach is classified as an omnivorous freshwater fish however, it must be noted that their diet should still consist heavily of plant or vegetable matter. This is because, in the wild, Panda Loaches feed off of insects, algae, and tiny aquatic creatures.

In captivity, the Panda Loach will accept most types of food, yet experts have reported that a disproportionate increase of protein and meaty food in their diet can cause them to suffer from a shortened lifespan.

That said, it is important to pay close attention to the kind and amount of food that you provide for your Panda Loach. This freshwater Panda fish can be fed high-quality commercial pellets or flakes that have been formulated for loaches. You can feed this type of food once or twice daily.

Furthermore, you will need to supplement the Panda Loach’s commercial pellet diet with frozen baby brine shrimp, small pieces of bloodworms, and the occasional serving of daphnia.

You may feed these protein-rich foods twice to thrice a week. Aside from this, you should also have algae pellets and small, leafy vegetables on hand to serve as the Panda Loach’s source of fiber. Feed this type of food three to four times a week, depending on your fish’s appetite.

– Water Parameters

Maintaining ideal water parameters is arguably one of the most challenging parts of caring for a Panda Loach. It comes in second only to sourcing a healthy group of Panda Loaches. In the wild, Panda Loaches prefer living in fast-moving and cold bodies of water. You will need to replicate and sustain such conditions if you really want to raise happy and healthy Panda Loaches in your home aquarium.

Temperature 64 to 72 degrees Fahrenheit
pH Level 7.2 to 8.2
Water Hardness Up to 25 DH
Light Level Moderate to Bright
Substrate Sand

– Tank Setup

Setting up the perfect home for your Panda Loach the first thing you need to know is that the Panda Loach tends to fare better in groups of five or more.

While you can keep a single Panda Loach in a 20 or 30-gallon tank, it would be better to provide a larger enclosure with about a 40 to 50-gallon capacity for five full-grown Panda Loaches. Provide enough space for your black-and-white fish even if it reaches the maximum Panda Loach size of 2.5 inches in length.

You also need to equip your aquarium with a strong water filter to provide your Panda Loaches with clear and clean water, as well as the kind of current that best mimics their natural habitat. You should also include a thermometer, thermostat control, and a bright lighting system for your Panda Loach aquarium.

Unlike other freshwater fish, the Panda Loach prefers cold water temperatures and a bright environment, providing these environmental parameters when you set up your Panda Loach’s new aquarium is ideal.

Finally, consider including some live plants in your Panda Loach’s enclosure to help keep the aquarium well-oxygenated and clean. Providing your Panda Loach with places to hide and explore.

Some of the live aquarium plants to add to your setup are the tried and tested Anubias Barteri and the Java Fern; additionally include other plants known for their resilience as the Panda Loach does have a tendency to chew on plant leaves when it is hungry or feeling bored.

– Lifespan

The average Panda Loach lifespan is six to eight years. However, do not that this might decrease significantly if you raise a Panda Loach in captivity. This rare fish fares better in the wild or in enclosures that are capable of mimicking its natural environment all throughout the year.

– Common Diseases

Like most Loach species, the Panda Loach may suffer from Ich, Fin Rot, and bacterial or parasitic infections if they are housed in a poorly kept aquarium. Remember that the Panda Loach is quite sensitive to its environment that is why if your water or tank parameters fluctuate often, your Panda Loach is more likely to catch a disease because its immune system will already be compromised.

You can also stock on some of the basic fish medications available from your local fish store to use in cases of emergency.

Furthermore, the Panda Loach does not fare well with a high-protein diet despite its classification as an omnivore. Aquarium enthusiasts have shared their observations on Panda Loaches that were fed protein more than three to four times a week and how these fish seemed to be more susceptible to community tank diseases and other health conditions.

With that in mind, you should focus on providing your Panda Loach with an immaculate environment and a balanced diet. Doing so may help your Panda Loach maintain a strong immune system that is capable of warding off common infections and other fish illnesses.

Tank Mates

The Panda Loach is one of the best community tank members because of its peaceful nature and small size. In this section, you will learn all about the freshwater fish you can pair with your Panda Loach as well as the ones you should avoid at all costs.

– Ideal Tank Mates

Aside from keeping your Panda Loach in a school of five or more, you can also house this non-aggressive fish with other species of Loaches, Tetras, Rasboras, and Guppies. In general, any freshwater fish that is non-territorial and about the same size as your Panda Loach will make for a great neighbor. You may also introduce a few shrimp or snails in your Panda Loach tank.

Just be sure to choose types of fish that can tolerate the same water and environment parameters as your Panda Loach. Lastly, consider the space that you have in your aquarium setup; ensure that your Panda Loaches and their neighbors will still have more than enough room to grow and move around stress-free.

– Tank Mates To Avoid

You shouldn’t house Panda Loaches with large and overly aggressive fish as this is just a certified recipe for trouble and stress. Avoid pairing the peaceful Panda Loach with territorial fish like Cichlids, Jack Dempseys, Oscars, and Red Devils. These fish will only bully your Panda Loach and make it difficult for them to feed or explore in the aquarium.


Currently, the Panda Loach has not been successfully bred in captivity. While these fish are quite easy to maintain, they are difficult to breed because of the water and environment parameters they require in order to spawn. Aside from that, we still do not know the best parameters for the newly hatched Panda Loach fry. These technicalities have made it challenging to successfully breed Panda Loaches in a home aquarium setup.

However, if you want to try your luck at breeding Panda Loaches, you can certainly do so with the right equipment.

– Pre Breeding Care

The first thing you need to do is determine the sex of your current Panda Loaches. You will need at least one adult male and female Panda Loach before you move on to the next step of the breeding preparation stage.

Loaches are extremely difficult to sex, and Panda Loaches are no different. The male Panda Loach should have a straighter body and elongated fins, while the female Panda Loach may have a rounder, paler belly, as well as shorter fins.

Next, you will need to prepare a separate breeding tank for your Panda Loaches if they are originally occupying a large community aquarium. This breeding tank will ensure that your Panda Loaches are neither harassed nor disturbed should they ever decide to spawn. Use sand or gravel as the main substrate of your Panda Loach breeding tank. Include a few wood debris and live plants as well.

Ensure that you use a strong water filter for your breeding tank. In addition, you can use a slightly warmer water temperature than your Panda Loaches are used to. Keep the water slightly soft, with the pH level around 7 to 7.5. Place your breeding tank in a dimly lit room away from noise or sudden movements.

– Post Breeding Care

If all goes well, your Panda Loaches should mate with each other, and you should notice when the female has laid her eggs in the breeding tank. Remove the adult Panda Loaches from the breeding tank as soon as possible. This will prevent the parent fish from eating their eggs. Afterward, wait for the eggs to hatch; they should begin hatching within 24 to 48 hours.

Should any Panda Loach fry survive the first 24 hours after hatching, you can support their growth with infusoria. Keep their tank as clean as possible, and pay close attention to their water parameters.


Panda loachThe Panda Loach may sometimes be confused with another striped fish, the Bumblebee Goby; this has resulted in the combination of the names of these two fish so that fishkeepers sometimes mistakenly refer to the former as the Bumblebee Panda Loach. We covered a lot of topics on how to care for the Panda Loach. Here are the key points that we discussed in this article.

  • The Panda Loach is a rare freshwater fish that originated from the rivers of China.
  • This fish is difficult to source but has been successfully raised in captivity by several aquarists already.
  • The Panda Loach has a small size and peaceful demeanor, making it one of the best species for a community or species-specific tank.
  • The Panda Loach is classified as an omnivore, but it should be fed with more plants and vegetables than protein-rich foods.
  • This fish has not been successfully bred in captivity yet.

You can now try sourcing healthy Panda Loaches and adding them to your freshwater aquarium with the utmost confidence.

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