Barboach is a small, serpentine Pokémon that resembles a loach. The main body is a soft gray with a jagged black line running its length. Its eyes are very small, and it has a round, blue nose. It has several blue barbels that are used as a superb radar in murky water and can be used for taste as well. These whiskers are left exposed when it hides in the mud to wait for prey. There are two rounded, blue pectoral fins and a single dorsal fin, all of which have black spots. Its tail fin is also rounded and blue but possesses no spots.
A slimy film covers its body, which protects Barboach from bacteria and allows it to easily escape from predators like Bird Pokémon. Barboach remains in its aquatic environment to prevent itself from drying out and becoming weak. Barboach can use its whiskers to detect the location of its prey, and to detect both smell and flavor similar to a human.
Barboach seems to be based on the pond loach found in East Asia, which also buries itself to hide from view, uses its whiskers to detect its surroundings, secretes a slimy substance, and encases itself in mud. Considering its evolved form, Barboach may also be based on loach catfish, a family of catfish similar to loaches. Given the aforementioned catfish-like attributes, as well as its small, slender body, it may also be based on the small catfish known as the candiru, also known as the toothpick fish. Barboach could also be based on Electric catfish due to being able to learn the move Spark.
Barboach may be based on the Namazu, a catfish in Japanese mythology known for causing earthquakes. Its move Future Sight and ability Anticipation could allude to that myth, which possibly originated from the observation that catfish are capable of predicting earthquakes and become agitated a few hours before their occurrence. Sometimes Namazu is depicted as dragon-serpent which may explain why it can learn the move Dragon Dance.
Barboach's Platinum Pokédex entry mentioning the belief that Barboach was born from hardened mud may be a reference to spontaneous generation, an old scientific theory which held that living creatures could arise from nonliving matter, more specifically it may be a reference to Aristotle's idea that eels emerged spontaneously from mud due to their enigmatic way of reproduction.
Barboach may be a combination of barb or barbel (whiskerlike sensory organ in a catfish) and loach.
Dojoach may be a combination of 泥鰌 dojō (pond loach) and loach.