The zebra loach (Botia striata) is a freshwater loach native to rivers and streams in the Western Ghats of India. They prefer to live in streams and rivers that don’t move very fast since they spend extended periods of time in one place. Their habitat substrate is usually made up of rocks, boulders, gravel, sand and leaf litter.
According to the IUCN, the zebra loach is currently endangered in the wild due to habitat alteration combined with a small native range. Aquarists interested in keeping zebra loach specimens are strongly advised to investigate the source of locally available fishes, and only to purchase those known to be captive-bred. Home aquarium breeding is unknown, but the species is bred on a commercial basis with the use of hormones.
COMMON NAMES: Candystripe loach, crossbanded loach, lined loach, striped loach, tiger loach, zebra botia, zebra loach
SCIENTIFIC NAME: Botia striata
Care Level: Moderate
Life expectancy: 10 years
Water Conditions: 21–26 °C (70–79 °F) , pH 6.5-7.0
Minimum Tank Size: 50 gallons
Zebra Loach Care
A beginner can manage proper Zebra Loach care without much difficulty. Their hardy and low-maintenance nature is part of what makes them such a popular choice in the aquarium community. But don’t fall for the trap of assuming they can handle whatever conditions you throw their way. While they’re less sensitive to suboptimal conditions than some other freshwater species, it’s still essential to provide them with the best possible care!
A typical Zebra Loach lifespan is around 10-15 years when given well care. This care can vary a bit based on many factors (including genetics), but most specimens end up in this range.
Behavior and Compatibility
Zebra loaches are peaceful fish suitable to community aquarium tanks. However, being bottom feeders, they may show some aggression against other smaller bottom feeders. Therefore, small corydoras are not suitable tankmates. They should be kept in groups of at least five. Any fewer and they will become stressed. They require some caves in which to hide during most of the daylight. This species is shy and will spend much of its time hiding. Also rarely, during times of stress, it has been seen to attack smaller fish such as tetras.
While Botia spp. Appear to be chiefly carnivorous they will also eat vegetative matter if available, often including soft-leaved aquatic plants. The natural diet comprises aquatic mollusks, insects, worms, and other invertebrates. Zebra loaches will accept a wide variety of fish foods, including live food such as blackworms, snails, and small shrimps, and most commercial brands of sinking fish foods.