The Blue Botia is a member of the loach family, known for its distinct, heavily built body. Other common names it is known by are Redtail Botia, Blue Loach, Redtail Blue Loach, and a few other less-commonly used names as well.
Blue botia originated in Southeast Asia, from Northeast India, through to Vietnam and the Malaysian peninsula. They are often found in large rivers and flooded fields, as they prefer to live in areas with muddy bottoms and lots of trees. Botias are nocturnal fish, preferring to hide out in rocks and tree roots by day, only emerging once it gets dark.
Blue botia have a long, compact body with an arched back. Their body shape is very similar to a loach. Their body is bluish-grey, with fins that can be red, yellow, orange, or blue. If they haven’t reached sexual maturity yet, their bodies sometimes have a greenish color. As a rule, the brighter the fish’s colors, the healthier and more favorable the tank conditions are.
Blue Botia Care
Blue botia is considered relatively easy to fish to care for, although they generally aren’t recommended for beginner aquarists. They are quite hardy and resistant to disease, however, they do require their water to be kept quite pristine. For this reason, they are recommended only for more experienced aquarists.
Temperature for Blue Botia
Blue botia thrive in water temperatures that are between 72 – 86° F (22 – 30° C).
Water pH and Hardness for Blue Botia
The ideal pH level for blue botia is between 6.0-7.5. The water hardness should be between 8-12 dGH.
Blue Botia Size
In the wild, the average blue botia size is around 10 inches. They don’t grow to nearly as large in captivity, rarely reaching 7 inches when kept in a tank.
Blue Botia Lifespan
In captivity, blue botia have a lifespan of roughly 5 years, with proper care.
Food & Diet for Blue Botia
Blue botia are omnivores, so they feed on both plants and animals. In the wild, their diet consists mostly of worms, insects, and small crustaceans, as well as small plant matter.
In captivity, blue botia are not picky eaters, and will usually eat anything they are fed. Any combination of live, frozen, and commercial foods will suffice, as long as they are high-quality foods. Daphnia, Tubifex, bloodworms, micro worms and algae wafers are all known favorites.
To maintain a healthy balance, it is recommended they are provided tablets or flake food daily. Blue botia should be fed twice daily, as long as they aren’t given too much at each feeding. Feed as much as can be eaten in 3 minutes or less. This will avoid overfeeding, and also help maintain higher water quality.
Tank Size for Blue Botia
The ideal tank size for adult blue botias is 75 gallons or larger. They need ample room to be able to swim around freely.
If you are setting up a temporary tank while your juvenile botias grow, a 55-gallon will suffice until they grow in size.
Tank Setup for Blue Botia
In their natural habitat, blue botia live in environments with muddy bottoms. The ideal tank conditions mimic this as closely as possible. Sand and gravel are also suitable substrates, as long as whatever you choose isn’t sharp. As they are scaleless fish, they are susceptible to scratching themselves on sharp gravel or rocks. As long as the substrate allows them to burrow it will make an ideal choice.
As for decorations, blue botia need to have lots of places to hide. The ideal tank setup has multiple hiding options for each fish. Natural rocks that create caves, plants, tubes, and overturned pots all make great decorations and hiding places. The more places you have for your fish to hide, the less likely you are to have aggression problems.
The lighting in the tank should be dim, as they are nocturnal fish. Also remember to only choose plants that can survive in these darker conditions, such as Java moss or Java fern.
Breeding Blue Botia
Blue botia are seasonal migrants, meaning they move to other bodies of water to spawn. For this reason, spawning them in captivity is a very complicated process, with little to no success being recorded. The process is also rather poorly described in available references.
Most specimens that are sold in stores were either caught in the wild or bred using complicated hormonal stimulations. Wild-caught members of this species will not mate in a tank. Females will sometimes fill up with eggs in captivity, but the eggs will not be fertilized.
Telling the difference between Male and Female Blue Botia
There isn’t much of a difference between male and female blue botias, with the exception of their size. Male botias are generally smaller and slimmer than their female counterparts.
Common Diseases of Blue Botia
Blue botia is fairly resistant to diseases, provided their water is kept in pristine conditions. If they aren’t kept in ideal water conditions, they can be exposed to many freshwater fish diseases, as they are mostly scaleless. This also makes them quite susceptible to most fish medications used to treat common diseases, so if they do get sick they can be quite tricky to care for.
One of the most common diseases found in tropical aquariums, Ich will show as small white spots on the body and gills. The fish will also frequently scrape against an object in the aquarium.
If you have a botia with Ich, separate it immediately in a smaller tank, and give half of the recommended dose of Ich medication.
Body fungus usually develops after high-stress situations, such as handling. Less-than-perfect water conditions will also exacerbate the condition. Symptoms include white, fibrous spots on the body.
Remove the infected fish, and treat it with malachite green-based medication in a smaller tank. Do a deep clean on your main tank to avoid it spreading to other fish as well.
Flukes (monogenean trematodes) are another common parasite. They cause holes and slime to develop on fish, resulting in reddened skin and destroyed gills. Fish will scratch themselves on sharp edges, and will also have trouble breathing.
Stress is a contributing factor to flukes, so ensure your tank is a healthy environment for everything living in it. Use antiworm medication such as Praziquantel to treat a fluke breakout.
Are Blue Botia Aggressive?
Blue botia is a schooling fish, and therefore should be kept in a school with a minimum number of 5-6 fish, with the optimal size being around 10 fish. The fewer fish you have, the more likely blue botia are to become aggressive. In small numbers, they will be aggressive towards other blue botia, or any other fish that has a similar appearance.
Similar to loaches, botia will have an alpha male in the school. He is the leader and controls the rest. They are also known to be territorial, so there should be many shelter choices in their tank to avoid this.
Tank Mates for Blue Botia
Due to their size and temperament, blue botia should only be kept with other large, active species of fish. Slow fish or fish with long fins (or both) should be avoided as tank mates.
Compatible Tank Mates for Blue Botia
Some suitable tankmates are tiger barbs, tinfoil barbs, or danio species, such as zebrafish or giant danios.
Incompatible Tank Mates for Blue Botia
Any fish with long fins, or slow-moving should be avoided. This includes fish such as goldfish, guppies, and rainbowfish.
Where to find Blue Botia for sale?
Despite the fact that most specimens sold are caught in the wild, blue botia can be purchased relatively inexpensively. With some searching online, they can be found for purchase for around $20 USD. They are quite often listed under one of their other names, so it may take a few searches before finding the correct species. Blue botia can also be purchased at some larger fish stores, but their availability isn’t always guaranteed.
As they are schooling fish, some retailers sell them in groups of 3-5, so make sure you double-check the quantity of fish you are receiving, especially if the price seems high.
Blue Botia vs Yoyo Loach
The body shape of a blue botia and a yoyo loach is very similar, as they are both members of the same family. They also both have whisker-like barbels around their mouths, and both are nocturnal fish.
Their coloring is what really sets the two fish apart. While blue botia have a solid body color, with bright fins, yoyo loaches are covered in a spot and stripe pattern from mouth to tail.
Yoyo loaches are also considerably smaller than blue botia, averaging only 2.5 inches in length when fully grown.