1 Fish, 2 Fish, Red, White, & Blue Fish

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More than a long weekend, Veteran’s Day is a time to honor the many sacrifices of those who’ve served in the United States Armed Forces. Wherever you stand on the political spectrum, we can all agree we owe a great deal of gratitude to those who have protected our right to pursue our passions, whatever they may be. Here at The Wet Spot, it’s sharing our passion for tropical fish keeping. To show our deep appreciation to military veterans, this week we are highlighting loaches named for their resemblance to key military figures including Botia rostrata, Botia dario, and Acantopsis choirorhynchos.

Representing those who have earned their stripes, B. rostrata, or “Sergeant Major Loaches” form their units in their native Ganges river in India and Bangladesh. Gregarious by nature, these loaches form complex social hierarchies and remain orderly and peaceful in groups of 5 or more. Without appropriate grouping, these Sergeants tend towards aggression. Slow moving and ornamental tank-mates are often nipped at, while proper cohabitants include open-water-dwelling cyprinids. Reaching about 5 inches in length, these loaches have flattened bodies with light coloration, dark patterning, and barbels resembling a well-groomed moustache. Botiid loaches require mature tank setups, though decor is the aquarist’s choice. They do well with sandy substrate, several water-worn rocks  of varying sizes and driftwood roots and branches, and low lighting with many shady refuges. Unlike their namesakes, however, Sergeant Major Loaches are liable to jump ship, and tanks should be fitted with tight lids to avoid any chance of an AWOL situation. Mainly carnivorous with some supplemental vegetal diet, these loaches should be fed high quality dried pellets with regular meaty offerings like bloodworm or chopped shellfish, and occasional fresh fruit and vegetables. Gelatin-bound meals are recommended. Tank waters should be maintained with temperatures between 66 and 80°F, pH of 6.0 to 7.5, and hardness between 36 and 215 ppm.

Often seen among their Sergeant Major cohorts, B. dario, or “Queen Loaches” also hail from the riverines of the Ganges drainages. Reaching just over 5 inches in length, these grand bottom dwellers are light brown with regal gold patterning, and black striped caudal fins. Often active among their subjects, Queen loaches charismatically enter mid-waters for feeding and need lots of space. Small fish may be nipped at, or intimidated by their Queens’ behaviors, and open-water-dwelling cyprinids make the best citizens of the kingdom. Tanks should have a minimum base size of 48 X 18 inches, and follow the same aquascaping guidelines characteristic of Botiids. Unlike Marie Antoinette, these queens eat the same meals as other Botiid loaches, and can be fed high quality dried foods, live, frozen, and prepared fare with some fresh fruit and vegetal component. Optimal water conditions include temperatures of 73 to 79°F, pH between 6.0 and 7.5, and hardness of 18-179 ppm.

Long before there were tanks and fighter jets, military officers rode into battle on and fought alongside equestrian fellows. To accompany our retinue today we have A. dialuzona, or “Horseface Loaches”. Reaching up to 8 inches in length, these loaches have slender bodies, white coloration with brown spots, and elongated horse-like snouts. Native to Indonesia, these loaches inhabit the fast flowing river channels with sandy substrate. Spending lots of their time buried in the sand, eyes protruding to the surface, they require soft substrate with no sharp edges. Tanks should be equipped with water-worn rocks, driftwood branches and roots, and some water movement accoutrement. These sand-dwelling loaches form loose conspecific aggregations in nature, and should be kept in groups of 6 or more. Mostly peaceful in community tanks, they are best kept alongside species that inhabit the upper portion of the water column. These loaches typically sift food directly from their substrate nibbling down insect larvae and small crustaceans, and letting inedible materials escape through their gill slits. In captivity they should be fed varied diets of high quality sinking pellets, and live and frozen fare. Tank waters should be kept with temperatures between 60 and 75°F, pH of 6.0 to 8.0, and hardness of 18 to 215 ppm.

This Veteran’s Day get yourself a living reminder of the work military veterans have put in for our rights. Every time you look into your tank, you’ll be actively grateful for the rich life full of pleasures you lead, and their sacrifices will not be in vain.