Care Guide for Dwarf Chain Loaches – Snail-Eating Nano Fish
Loaches are known for being playful, but noisy schooling fish. This can stress their tank mates. Dwarf-chain loaches are calmer and come in a small package. This makes them ideal for peaceful community tanks. If you have a smaller planted aquarium with a pest snail problem, you have to try out the loveable pygmy loach.
What are Dwarf Chain Loaches (or Dwarf Chain Loaches)?
Ambastaia sidthimunki is a species that comes from the rivers and floodplain forests of Thailand. They are also endangered in the wild so the fish you purchase in shops are all commercially raised. As one of the smaller loaches, their narrow bodies range from 2-2.5 inches (6 cm) long, and they have little barbels on their snouts. Their common name comes from the black, chain-like pattern running down the sides of their bodies. While most loaches are bottom dwellers, these fish swim both at the bottom and in the middle of the tank by fluttering their fins like hummingbirds. Although loaches tend to be nocturnal, dwarf chain loaches remain awake and active during daytime.
Are dwarf-chain loaches aggressive? Although they are active and move around a lot, we have never witnessed them harass other fish. They are quite curious though, so they will investigate and “sniff” new fish that are added to the aquarium.
Ambastaia sidthimunki’s high-contrast chain-like pattern on its top half is well-known.
How to Set Up an Aquarium for Dwarf Chain Loaches
Ambastaia sidthimunki, while small, can thrive in 20-gallon tanks. Although this species is quite costly at $7-15 per individual fish, they will feel less stressed and have a better social hierarchy.
Because they are accustomed to living in extreme temperatures, pH, or GH, dwarf chain loaches can adapt to a variety of conditions due the year-round rainy season in their natural habitat. They can be kept at temperatures between 75-82degF (24-28%C), although they are capable of living up to much higher temperatures. Provide lots of aquarium plants, little caves, and other hiding spots for them to dart into when startled. Be aware that they can have small spines under their eyes.
Do dwarf chain loaches jump? Despite being primarily bottom dwellers, they love exploring their surroundings, including outside of your aquarium, so we recommend getting a tight-fitting lid just in case.
How can dwarf chain loaches live with fish? They are good with all kinds of small-sized community fish. We keep them with angelfish and corydoras catfish as well as platies, platies, rasboras, plecos, and many other fish. Dwarf chain loaches can sometimes be a little shy, so adding some dither fish will help them feel more comfortable and willing to come out into the open. You should be aware that they eat tiny crustaceans and insects in the wild. They will happily eat cherry shrimp babies, and any other tiny creatures they find.
A dwarf loach’s pointed nose is ideal for small shrimp, snails and worms.
What do Dwarf Chain Loaches Consume?
Loaches like meatier foods. So, we feed them sinking foods that they can fit in their mouths and eat. We give them a variety of community fish food options, including Repashy gel foods, Bug Bites and frozen bloodworms. If you have speed eaters in the aquarium, make sure the loaches are getting enough food so that they have nice, rounded bellies.
Do dwarf chain loaches eat snails? In general, loaches with pointy faces enjoy eating aquatic gastropods because their snouts are well-suited for digging into the openings of snail shells. Dwarf chain loaches will eat smaller snails and they have been known to pester bigger snails, so put them together at your own risk.
How to Breed Dwarf Chain Loaches
There are very few accounts of home hobbyists breeding Ambastaia sidthimunki because wild chain loaches normally migrate upstream to lay eggs and fish farms must use hormone treatments to artificially induce spawning. Mark Duffill, the president of the International Loach Association has written articles online about his breeding methods. He feeds many kinds of fish, lowers the pH to 6.8 with catappa leaves and adds rock piles to protect the eggs and shelter the fry.
Ambastaia Nigrileata, or the black-lined loach (bottom), can sometimes get confused for Ambastaia sidthimunki.
If you’ve never kept dwarf chain loaches before, it is a must-have item for any freshwater hobbyist. To ensure that your family enjoys their cute antics, it is important to save as much money as possible. You can view our list of recommended online vendors to order dwarf chain loaches. We don’t ship live fish. Also, check out this article about our top 10 favorite loaches of all time.