Botia kubotai – Polka-dot Loach

Botia kubotai is a peaceful bottom dweller that is best kept in a small group. The substrate should consist of fine sand.

Botia kubotai – Polka-dot Loach

The young of the Botia kubotai have 3 black/brown stripes and 5 black/brown crossbars on the body. This leaves 4 pairs of yellow spots. As the fish ages, the stripes and crossbars will become wider and the yellow spots will become smaller, but sometimes they will also become larger or smaller, but then there will be more. In short, this means that there are clear differences between adult fish and they each have their own pattern. Small yellow spots will also appear in the stripes and crossbars later on.

The shape of the Polka-dot Loach is similar to most other botias. The body has a typical botia shape and has four “whiskers” around its mouth and, like most botias, also 2 spines under its eyes. Because of these spines it is not possible to catch larger botias with a fine net. They will remain stuck in it with all the consequences that entails.

The Aquarium

The Polka-dot Loach can be kept very well in an aquarium. The water should have a temperature of 24-28 degrees Celsius and a pH between 6.5-7.5. They are generally not demanding but there are a few things to keep in mind such as the fact that loaches are river fish and they are used to living in the clean fresh water that their natural waterways provide. They are not accustomed to the accumulation of organic waste that can all too easily occur in the closed system of an aquarium. Regular partial water changes are essential. You should aim for at least two partial changes per week, changing a minimum of 25 percent of the total tank volume each week

Loaches in general appreciate a good flow in the aquarium. This mimics their natural environment of moderately fast-flowing rivers and streams. You can often see these fish swimming in the current, which clearly pleases them.

The substrate should consist of fine aquarium sand. Avoid sharp substrate to protect the delicate barbels. In some cases, especially if the gravel is not free of debris, the barbels can ulcerate and become infected.

The decoration must also be carefully chosen to protect this very small scaled fish from harm. Rocks that are rough and sharp (such as lava rock) should be avoided at all costs. A good choice for furnishing is driftwood and slate, which allow you to construct many natural caves that your fish can retreat to if they feel threatened. Without adequate hiding places, the loach will be in a permanently overwrought state and therefore vulnerable to problems such as Ich (Ichthyophthirius mulitibiliis).


Plants can be placed in the aquarium, but they generally do not live long. Most loaches either make holes in the leaves or even cut small stemmed plants completely. Microsorium pteropus (Java fern) and Anubias species are known to be the most robust, and seem to survive the loaches’ attention the longest. Another point to keep in mind is that Botias prefer subdued lighting, another reason why plants may not always do well in such a setup.

An open swimming zone should be included in the aquarium, as the Polka-dot Loach like to swim back and forth in schools along the length of the aquarium, usually doing so in the evening or under subdued light. Always remember to keep the hood tightly closed as all loaches are excellent jumpers.


Botia kubotai can be kept with most fish, but it is probably better to avoid very small fish or long-finned varieties. It is a fairly peaceful species, although there may occasionally be some disagreement between individuals within the shoal, or with other Botia species sharing the tank if they have similar markings, but no real harm is ever done.

The Polka-dot Loach is also a very social fish, which appreciates living in a large group of 6 or more specimen. This makes them a bit more “naughty” towards other fish.


The Polka-dot Loach is omnivorous; and will eat both dry food and frozen/live food. They do eat vegetables such as cucumber, but to a much lesser extent than other Botia species.

Breeding Botia kubotai

Unfortunately I couldn’t find anything about breeding these beautiful Polka-dot Loaches in the aquarium.


Margie van der Heijden – Ons Natuurgenot Gouda

Copyright images

Hristo Hristov
Mark Duffill
Margie van der Heijden – Ons Natuurgenot Gouda
Emma Turner –

Additional information





Common name

Polka-dot Loach

First described by

Maurice Kottelat



Social behaviour





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