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Banded Dwarf Loach

Scientific Name: Micronemacheilus cruciatus
Family: Nemacheilidae

About the Banded Dwarf Loach

Species Type: Freshwater Fish
Category: Cyprinids

Care Level: Easy. Does well in a slightly more narrow range of water parameters and shouldn't be used to cycle an aquarium. Will eat most prepared foods. May have some specific care requirements in terms of particular water parameters, social behaviors, food items etc.

Origin: Known only from the coastal rivers of central Vietnam. Found in shallow, still parts of rivers and streams thick with aquatic vegetation, mud or sand substrate, and usually floating plants providing shade.

Compatibility/Temperament: Peaceful. Must be kept in a small group, preferably of at least 5 or 6 to avoid stress. Suited to a SE Asian aquascape with rasbora (Boraras, Trigonostigma sp), small gourami (Trichopsis, Parosphromenus, Parasphaerichthys sp). The writer (Byron) has maintained this species in the same aquarium with a group of Yasuhikotakia sidthimunki very successfully; the two loaches inter-relate within their own species.


A playful small loach well suited to the smaller community aquarium. The aquarium should be well planted, with many pieces of wood containing tunnels and crevices, a substrate of sand or fine gravel, and floating plants to shade the light as this fish prefers less light [see notes above on its origin habitat]. Minimal water flow from the filter will replicate this fish's natural habitat.

Like most loaches, it is highly social and must be kept in a group, preferably of 5 or more. This fish swims mid-water as well as along the substrate, frequently at a 45-degree angle. It must have several chunks of bogwood preferably having tunnels; the fish enjoy chasing each other as if in a game of tag through these tunnels.

The species was described in 1944 by H. Rendahl as Nemacheilus cruciatus who later that same year erected the genus Micronemacheilus for this sole species. The genus name Nemacheilus derives from the Greek nema [filament] and cheilos [lip], a reference to the furrowed lip, and Micronemacheilus means "small filament lip." The species epithet cruciatus derives from the Latin for torment or torture.

Frehyof and Serov (2001) transferred this species to the genus Yunnanilus which originally had been a subgenus of Nemacheilus. The genus name Yunnanilus derives from the SW China city Yunnan. This placement resulted in this species being the only one of the 30 species in the genus that has vertical stripes, 8 branched dorsal fin rays, and a pair of large papillae in the middle of the upper lip. The genus was in the Menacheiliinae subfamily of Balitoridae, a family of hillstream or river loaches; there were more than 700 species in 60 genera within two subfamilies, the Balitorinae and the Nemacheilinae. Some ichthyologists believed the subfamilies were not monophyletic, and some proposed that Nemacheilinae should be raised to the status of a distinct family, Nemacheilidae. This was the largest and most complex group in the superfamily Cobitoidea.

Dr. Maurice Kottelat began work on a comprehensive review of the loaches in 1980, and after more than 30 years the review was published on December 28, 2012. The subject species is returned to the genus Micronemacheilus as the sole species (to date), due to its distinctive physiology. The subfamily is raised to family status.


Freyhof, J. & D. V. Serov (2001), "Nemacheiline loaches from Central Vietnam with descriptions of a new genus and 14 new species (Cypriniformes: Balitoridae)," Ichthyological Exploration of Freshwaters, 12(2), pp. 133–191.

Kottelat, Maurice (2012), "Conspectus cobitidum: an inventory of the loaches of the world (Teleostei: Cypriniformes: Cobitoidei)," Raffles Bulletin of Zoology Supplement 26, pp. 1-199. Available online:

Banded Dwarf Loach Diet

Omnivore. Prepared foods including small sinking pellets, disks and tablets, frozen and/or live daphnia, cyclops, artemia (brine shrimp).


Attains close to 2 inches.

Minimum Tank Suggestion

30 inches in length, such as a long 20g and up.

Ideal water parameters for Banded Dwarf Loach

Soft to slightly hard (< 12 dGH), acidic (pH 6-7) water, temperature 25-28C/77-82F.

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