The angelicus botia (Botia kubotai) is a medium sized fish native to headwaters of the Salween River basin around the border between Myanmar and Thailand. It is also found in the deeper parts of main river channels, and in general is considered a bottom dwelling species. This fish grows to an adult size of up to 6 inches long. Sexually mature females are normally fuller bodied than males with a rounded snout, while males have an elongated snout with noticeably fleshier lips.
This species is quite variable in pattern and can change dramatically as it grows. In general, the dark areas gradually increase in size as the fish matures. Some populations start off with much more dark coloring than others, and some feature almost sky blue spots within the dark areas.
This species was available in the aquarium hobby prior to being described by scientists and is still sold under various trade names including Botia ‘angelicus’, ‘marbled loach’, ‘Burmese border loach’, ‘cloud Botia‘, ‘leopard loach’, ‘gold-striped loach’ and ‘angelicus loach’.
The angelicus botia prefers a temperature of 72°F to 82°F. They will do well with a pH of 6.0 to 7.5, and a hardness from 2 to 12°H or higher.
Adult angelicus botias should be maintained in an aquarium of 40 gallons or larger. Juveniles may be maintained in an aquarium of 20 gallons or larger. Keep in mind that floor space is more important than height. Decor is not critical, although the angelicus botia does appreciate plenty of cover. Large stones and pieces of driftwood (ZM2000), twisted roots, and live plants all work well. A dark colored soft, sandy substrate (CS6631) is a good choice for bringing out the best color.
The angelicus botia is not especially aggressive but but shouldn't be kept with much smaller fish as they may be intimidated by its size and sometimes very active behavior. Slow moving, long finned species such as bettas, guppies and many cichlids should also be avoided as trailing fins can be nipped. More suitable tank mates include peaceful, open water dwelling cyprinids including many danio, rasbora, and barb species. In terms of other bottom dwellers, they will do well alongside most other Botia and in very large tanks, Chromobotia macracanthus (clown loach). Some cobitid and nemacheilid loaches are also possibilities as are members of Epalzeorhynchos, Crossocheilus, Garra and many catfishes.
Botia spp. are gregarious, form complex social hierarchies and should be maintained in groups of at least 5 or 6 specimens. When kept singly they can become withdrawn or aggressive towards similarly shaped fish, and if only a pair or trio are purchased the dominant individual may stress the other fish to the extent that they stop feeding.
In the wild, the angelicus botia appears to be chiefly carnivorous, although they will also eat vegetative matter if available, often including soft leaved aquatic plants. The natural diet is comprised of aquatic mollusks, insects, worms, and other invertebrates. In the aquarium it may be fed live and frozen foods. Good choices include frozen bloodworms(SF4792), live blackworms, earthworms, and pellets (AL166). For maximum color, growth, and health these fish will look their best when given probiotics (AL169) in addition to a balanced diet.