Botia – Twilight Loaches

Fish of the Loach family are not very widespread in the aquarium hobby. However, representatives of the genus Botia (Botia) have a large army of fans around the world. This small genus includes a number of species that differ in size, color, and behavior.

General information

Botia is bottom schooling fish, leading a crepuscular lifestyle. When properly maintained, they are peaceful, very rarely conflict with relatives and other neighbors. But do not forget that the calm nature of the battles is combined with pronounced territoriality – and anyone who encroaches on the possession of the fish will be expelled.

In nature, fighting is widespread in Southeast Asia. The characteristic biotope is small streams.

All types of fights have a distinctive morphological feature – the presence of special suborbital spines, which are difficult to distinguish. While the fish is in a state of calm, they are folded in special sinuses, but in an emergency, they can bulge sharply with a characteristic click, like a switch knife. The punctures from these thorns are quite painful and can even damage the shipping bags.


The body of the battles is torpedo-shaped, triangular in cross-section, well adapted for the near-bottom lifestyle. The abdomen is flat, the stigma is sharp, the mouth is lower. There are three to four pairs of sensitive antennae around the mouth opening.

Below the large eyes are bony suborbital bimodal spines that can stand upright in danger. Suckers can be found on the pelvic and pectoral fins, thanks to which the bots are able to cling to snags and stones to eat algae.

The caudal fin of the bots is very high and sometimes reaches the maximum body height; it is two-lobed with a deep notch. The dorsal fin begins in front of the ventral bases or above them, the anal fin far behind the end of the dorsal. The pectoral fins are low, behind the operculum, and the ventral fins are at the same level near the middle of the body.

Gender dimorphism is not pronounced. Females are usually larger than males and have a more prominent belly. Males are slimmer and brighter. The color of the scales depends on the species: there are both nondescript gray forms (Botsia lekonta) and brightly colored (Botsia clown).

History of appearance/discovery

Since ancient times, large representatives of the family have been the object of fishing among the local population.

One of the first types of battles discovered was Botia macracantha. The description of the species was made at the end of the 19th century (1852) by the famous Dutch ichthyologist Peter Blecker. The fish got their specific epithet – “maracanth” (clown) for their bright and unusual color and very cheerful disposition. Later, the species was introduced to Europe, where aquarists liked it very much.

Botia Morletta has been known to aquarium lovers since 1855.

A few years later, in 1865, the battle of modest was discovered – a very popular type in our time.

The year 1920 was marked by the discovery of a couple more species of the now popular aquarium fish: the marbled battle and the striped strata battle, also known as the zebra battle.

It is worth noting that scientists regularly find new types of battles. For example, quite recently, in 2004, a chess fight was described.

At the same time, the Swedish ichthyologist Morris Kotelata suggested separating the clown battle into a separate genus – Chromobotia.

Thus, now science is only accumulating knowledge about battles and, perhaps, in the future, we will see changes in the taxonomy of this group. It is possible that new colorful species of these wonderful fish will become available to aquarists.


The most popular member of the family is the Bozia clown endemic to the islands of Borneo and Sumatra. Prefers sections of rivers flowing among tropical rainforests. During the rainy season, there is a migration to the upper reaches of the rivers for spawning. Therefore, the fish is able to live in a wide range of parameters and water quality. In a typical biotope, you can find a large number of snags, tree roots, aquatic plants.

Botia marble – a resident of Pakistan and North India. Inhabits rivers with a rocky bottom and lots of shelters.

Botia Modesta and Botia Morleti inhabit the territory of several modern states of Southeast Asia (Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam). They live in the bed of large rivers, and in the rainy season – on flooded coastal areas. They prefer a moderate flow.

Bots Birdmore traces its origins to the territory of modern Myanmar and the bordering Indian states. Found in the rivers Ayeyarwady, Situan, Atari, and others. Prefers slow-flowing water bodies.

Bots Pulhra lives in southwestern China, in the Pearl River basin, which flows through the provinces with the highest population density and the largest number of industrial enterprises. Due to heavy pollution from production, it is possible to find natural specimens only in the upper reaches.

Botia tiger inhabits the rivers of the islands of Kalimantan and Sumatra, as well as the peninsular part of Malaysia. Inhabits rivers and lakes, prefers dense thickets of aquatic plants with a large number of snags at the bottom. Unfortunately, due to human economic activity, natural populations are almost not found.

Botia histrionica (Botia histrionica) is another representative of the battles, native to Southeast Asia. Lives in the Ayeyarwaddy River basin, which flows through Myanmar, India, and China. He prefers clean water, with a sand and gravel bottom and a lot of snags.


  • Botia Clownfish (Botia Chromobotia macracantha)

The most famous species from the Bockius family. In aquariums, it grows up to 15-20 cm. The body color is represented by wide alternating black and orange vertical stripes. Gender dimorphism is not pronounced. When kept alone, it can show aggression, therefore, a flock of at least 5 individuals is recommended. For such a number of fish, an aquarium of 350 liters and more and high-quality filtration are needed, but without a strong current. The best soil is fine pebbles or sand. It gets along well with proportionate fish. Can bite long fins from neighbors. In the aquarium, it is advisable to create a large number of shelters from rocks and snags. In an aquarium, reproduction is difficult, hormonal injections are necessary. It feeds on food for bottom fish, frozen motels, and brine shrimp well eats small mollusks (for example, Melania). It is imperative to add food with a plant component, otherwise, the fight can damage live plants in the aquarium.

  • Botia marble (Botia Balmorhea)

The fish is medium in size, the body length usually does not exceed 15 cm. The body color is marbled: on a light background, there is a dark pattern of irregular stripes. Gender dimorphism is not pronounced. An aquarium from 200 liters is suitable for keeping. The soil is best mixed – sand + pebbles. It is recommended to install stones and driftwood in the aquarium, overgrown with ferns and mosses. As inhabitants of natural flowing bodies of water, these fish love high-quality water. It is not recommended to create a strong current, very bright light is also undesirable.

It is best to contain marble beads in groups of 5 or more (there should be both males and females). When living in smaller quantities, aggressiveness towards congeners and other inhabitants of the aquarium sharply increases. Small fish with well-developed veil fins will not be the best neighbors for battles – they can easily bite off the fins of other fish. The species is not picky in its diet: special tablets for bottom fish (especially with a high content of spirulina) are well eaten.

  • Botia Modesta (Yasuhikotakia modesta)

One of the best candidates for keeping in a general aquarium. They are distinguished by a calm character. The maximum size is up to 25 cm. It has a gray-blue body, which, if well maintained, can acquire a bright blue tint. The fins and tail are orange in color. Gender dimorphism is not pronounced; it is difficult to identify females. It is best to contain flocks of 5 or more. When kept alone, Modest’s battles can conflict with neighbors and bite off the veil fins. For a minimum flock, an aquarium of 200 liters or more with sandy soil is required. You should not install bright lighting, it is better to choose shade-tolerant plants. The water should be well oxygenated and clean. Good filtration and weekly water changes are a must.

The diet is dominated by the food of animal origin. The best option would be quality pelleted feed for bottom fish. Natural reproduction without the use of hormonal drugs is difficult.

  • Botia Morley

This fish can also be found under the names Ribbon battle and Botia skunk. She received this name for a special color. The main body color is white with a golden tint. Juveniles have dark vertical stripes all over the body, in adult fish there is only one left, running along the entire back, and a kind of “belt” is formed around the caudal fin. Botia does not have a bright appearance, but it is quite simple in content.

In good conditions, the fish grows up to 7-8 cm. It is difficult to distinguish the female from the male. For maintenance you need an aquarium of 100 liters It is optimal to fill up sand or small rounded pebbles as soil. Shelters of stones and snags are needed, it is advisable to place shade-tolerant plants (Javan moss, anubias, etc.) in the aquarium. Botia are quite active fish and are able to jump out of the aquarium, so you need to cover it with a lid.

The optimal number of battles for keeping will be 10 individuals (at least 5). The fish has a calm character and will get along with most fish without problems. It is not recommended to plant with fish of a similar size that occupies the lower layers in the aquarium (for example, corridors), conflicts are possible.

Reproduction without the use of hormones is impossible.

  • Botia Beardmore (Syncrossus Beardmore)

The fish has a very interesting color: there are a number of uniform dark stripes on a yellow background. In young individuals, black dots can be observed, which disappear as they mature. The tail and other fins are reddish. The fish is often called the tiger fight. In aquariums, the bird of Beardmore grows up to 25 cm, so an aquarium of at least 300 liters is required for a minimum flock of 5 individuals. The ground should not contain sharp stones, it is best to use sand or small pebbles. A large number of shelters are encouraged. Snags overgrown with ferns and mosses look very good in the aquarium.

Not compatible with small fish, as well as those with long veil fins (cockerels, goldfish, etc.). Feeding is easy, and sinking spirulina tablets are a good choice. Natural reproduction in an aquarium is impossible since it is difficult to recreate the natural conditions of spawning: seasonal migrations with a change in the hydrochemical parameters of the water. Potassium is bred on special farms using hormonal injections.

  • Botia Pulchra (Sinibotia pulchra)

This fish can be found on sale under the name “Golden Zebra” battle. Unpretentious and peaceful, perfect for keeping in shared aquariums. Coloring “brindle” – alternating wide yellow and brown stripes. The size of the aquarium is 8-10 cm. There are practically no external gender characteristics. It is necessary to keep it in flocks of 3-4 individuals. The minimum volume of the aquarium is from 100 liters. Sandy soil is a good choice. Do not forget about a variety of shelters and islands of vegetation. They eat all types of feed with pleasure. The more varied the diet, the better. The way of life is secretive, but they always come up in the process of feeding. It is not possible to obtain natural offspring in an aquarium.

  • Tiger Botia (Syncrossus hymenophysa)

This fight is much less common in hobbyist aquariums. This is due to the fact that the fish has a cocky character and is capable of offending many neighbors in the aquarium. The average size in an aquarium is 15-20 cm, females are larger than males. The body color of an adult battle is yellow with 10-13 transverse stripes of dark blue, the abdominal part is strewn with numerous spots. The juvenile coloration is different: juveniles of the tiger botia are gray in color.

It is best to keep it in flocks of 5-6 in an aquarium from 300 liters. It is important to remember that with a shortage of territory, conflicts between relatives are inevitable. The ground must be sandy and a large number of shelters must be installed. In the aquarium, tiger battles eat well bottom feed with plant concentrate. Forced aeration is imperative. The fact is that tiger battles prefer warm water up to 30 ° C, as the temperature rises, the oxygen content in the water decreases. They become pubertal at the age of 12 months. Reproduction is possible only with hormonal injections.

  • Botia histrionica

One of the few days leading the way of life, which makes it easy to enjoy curious behavior in the aquarium. The main body color is silvery with dark transverse stripes; from a distance, these patterns can resemble the number eight. As they grow older, the stripes change: they completely disappear in the lower part and two appearances on the caudal fin. A distinctive morphological feature of the species is characteristic stripes similar to the letter “Y”. In aquariums, body length rarely reaches 15 cm. The optimal volume for keeping is 100 liters. Schooling fish, it is desirable to have 5-6 individuals in the aquarium. It is necessary to feed the battle with special high-quality food for bottom fish. They tend to overeat, so the feed must be strictly dosed. Life expectancy in an aquarium is about 5 years. Natural reproduction in an aquarium is impossible, hormonal injections are necessary.

Alice White

Written by Alice White

Alice White, a devoted pet lover and writer, has turned her boundless affection for animals into a fulfilling career. Originally dreaming of wildlife, her limited scientific background led her to specialize in animal literature. Now she happily spends her days researching and writing about various creatures, living her dream.

Leave a Reply


Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *