The Panda Loach (Yaoshania pachychilus) is a very rare freshwater loach that is native to Southern China. It is known for its beautiful juvenile and adult coloration, its peaceful yet outgoing demeanor, and its fascinating social behavior with members of its own species. This fascinating, peaceful fish is an algae and biofilm grazer that is an excellent candidate for the mature subtropical aquarium.
An aquarium with heavy water flow (10-15x turnover per hour) and very clean, clear water is required for the Panda Loach. Like the well-known hillstream loaches, this loach is native to shallow, clear, fast-flowing waters and it is sensitive to declines in water quality, so regular aquarium maintenance and maximum oxygen saturation are absolutely necessary..
The Panda Loach is a biofilm and algae grazer in nature. It is known to usually accept frozen meaty foods, but such foods should only be fed occasionally. This fish will also sometimes accept high-quality dry foods that are rich in plant matter, but it is absolutely essential that biofilm and algae are naturally available in the aquarium to ensure its long-term health or else it may slowly starve. As long as it is kept in a well-maintained, mature aquarium with good biofilm and algae growth as well as high water flow, the Panda Loach is a hardy and entertaining fish. It will not bother aquarium plants. In fact, Anubias species are an excellent plant to keep with this loach because Anubias can foster significant biofilm/algae growth in an aquarium with moderate to high lighting.
The Panda Loach is a very social species, especially as an adult, so it should be kept in groups. Most small rasboras, tetras, hillstream loaches, and other small, peaceful fish are good tankmates for the Panda Loach. Since they inhabit similar waterways, many smaller freshwater goby species are ideal tankmates as well. Due to its small size and diet, the Panda Loach can also be kept with dwarf shrimp, although it might eat a few of their fry. Dwarf shrimp are particularly good tankmates in larger aquariums where they can find areas of lower water flow. Peaceful bottom-dwelling fish are also a possibility, but care must be taken to make sure that the Panda Loach is not outcompeted for food.
Little reliable information is known about the breeding habits of the Panda Loach. However, it is not necessarily unlikely that it will soon be bred in the aquarium world, especially with the recent progress in breeding other loach species by many individuals.