What To Feed Dojo Loaches

Wondering what to feed your dojo loach (aka weather loach, aka weather fish)?

They sure are unusual looking fish; they’re very elongated and have those big whiskers (barbels) around their mouths. Their unusual appearance might make you think that they need a unusual diet? Well, let’s talk about feeding dojo loaches!

Myth: Dojo Loaches Are Bottom Feeders!

First and foremost, I want to examine the idea that dojo loaches are bottom feeders.

It’s an understandable assumption to have. After all, dojo loaches are loaches. And, typically, loaches are “bottom feeders”. However, while most loaches do feed near the substrate, they’re not always unshakable bottom dwellers.

Check out The Fish Beast‘s awesome video of his dojo loaches eating. Give his channel a sub while you’re at it!

The dojo loach is a good example of a fish that roams around everywhere looking for food. Their relentless, enthusiastic foraging is what makes them such a fun fish to observe.

Generally, a dojo loach will “hug” a surface as it moves, i.e. it will go up the corner of your aquarium to reach the surface rather than swimming freely through the water column. However, confident individuals will abandon this technique and will, occasionally, bolt to the surface when floating food is provided.

What Kind Of Mouth Do Dojo Loaches Have?

Looking at a dojo loach’s mouth, you’d be forgiven for thinking that it was a devout bottom feeder; because dojo loaches have somewhat inferior mouths. This means that their mouth points downwards. A neutral mouth points neither up, nor down. Whereas, an upward pointing mouth is known as superior.

terminal superior inferior
Terminal, superior, and inferior: the way a fish’s mouth points often tells us something about how it feeds.

Looking at a fish’s mouth is important because it (usually) tells us where the fish feeds. A downward pointing mouth helps a fish eat things below it. A neutral mouth helps it eat what’s right in front of it! And, finally, an upward pointing mouthed fish typically feeds on the surface or eats things higher than it in the water column.

Mouths Don’t Tell Us Everything!

Just because a fish has a terminal mouth doesn’t meant it’s necessarily a mid-water fish. For example, lots of catfish have terminal mouths but generally spend their time at the bottom of the water column. This is because they prey on fish rather than foraging among the substrate.

And when it comes to the dojo loach, not all is as it seems. While the dojo loach does have a downward pointing mouth, it does not exclusively eat from the bottom of the aquarium. In my experience, dojo loaches swim all over and eat all over!

Dojo loaches are often kept with goldfish can they compete with them for food at the surface
Dojo loaches are often kept with goldfish – can they compete with them for food at the surface?

I cannot speak for the dojo loach’s wild counterparts; perhaps they do mostly feed from the substrate. But their domesticated cousins have no problem at all feeding from the surface of the water alongside their goldfish tank-mates.

So, we have to observe a fish’s behavior to really know how and where it feeds.

So Should I Even Bother Buying Sinking Pellets?

If you throw in sinking pellets for your true bottom feeders (such as corydoras catfish), then the dojo loaches will go after them too! In fact, if you put algae wafers in for your plecos then watch out, because your dojo loaches will eat them too! Which is totally fine.

Bristlenose plceo dojo loaches will share food with algae eaters and bottom feeders
Watch out plecos, dojo loaches will steal your algae wafers!

But, I’ve kept dojo loaches with my goldfish for years and I’ve never seen them go hungry whether I put sinking food in for them or not. They’re far too voracious to lose out to any fish.

Okay, So What Food Should I Buy For My Dojo Loaches?!

Well, as previously mentioned, you can feed them just about any commercial food and they will almost certainly eat it.

fluval bug bites

But, as with any fish, it’s helpful to feed your fish a good food. Because, if you feed your fish well, they will grow faster, grow bigger, and will definitely be much healthier.

Cool Fish Network’s Recommended Foods

Feeding Vegetables To Your Dojo Loach

While there’s nothing wrong with feeding high quality commercial food exclusively, you can feed your fish so much more!

Case in point: vegetables.

Dojo loaches looooove veggies. I like to feed mine zucchini and broccoli. While your dojo loaches will eat either, I tend to favor broccoli for two reasons. Firstly, it’s more nutritious. And secondly, because I can buy a big bag of the stuff frozen. All I have to do is throw it in a bowl of water, put it in the microwave for a few minutes and it’s ready to feed to my dojo loaches.

Feeding Frozen Foods To Your Dojo Loach

Don’t forget you can feed your dojo loach frozen foods!

You’ll find frozen foods in the little freezer at your local Petsmart or Petco. My dojo loaches are big fans of frozen bloodworm.

Further Reading
Watch Bristlenose Plecos Eating Broccoli!