The Zebra Loach (Botia striata)

Posted by Aquatropic Staff on September 22, 2022

The Zebra Loach (Botia striata) thumbnail image

The Zebra Loach (Botia striata) is a member of the family Botiidae better just known as the loaches. It is a light-colored fish with vertical, black stripes running the length of its body, and reaches a length of about four inches, or less.

Distribution and Habitat Zebra Loaches come from mountain streams in the Western Ghats Mountain range in India. The rivers they inhabit have sandy bottoms with rocks, and occasionally some detritus such as leaves or wood from the forests that they run through.

Aquarium Requirements An aquarium of at least 30 gallons is a good minimum tank size for a Zebra Loach. They are social fish, and when possible, should be kept in groups of at least three to five individuals. Generally peaceful and with a small mouth – these fish can be housed in a community setting without fear of harming their neighbors. Very small ornamental invertebrates are potentially at risk as these are the natural diet of Zebra Loaches. Water quality, flow, and oxygenation are important; add these fish to an established aquarium with good filtration and regular water changes. Subdued lighting is best to emulate the forest streams in their natural habitat, and always make sure that the substrate (sand preferably) and décor (smooth river rocks and some driftwood) don’t have any sharp edges for these fine scaled fish to injure themselves or their mouth on as they go about their daily routines.

Feeding Zebra Loaches spend their entire day foraging in the wild. They use their barbels to search the substrate for small invertebrates – this can be easily emulated in aquaria with offerings of live or frozen meaty foods that are of an appropriate size for them. A quality sinking pellet will also help round out this diet. Snails or baby shrimp could also be offered as enrichment.

Breeding Females will be slightly larger and plumper than males, especially when in breeding condition. That said, Zebra Loaches are not known to breed in home aquaria.

Conclusion The Zebra Loach is an ornate, and beautiful member of the Loach family that reaches a manageable size, displays fascinating social interactions, and provides the ultimate challenge for any freshwater breeder looking to make history. Call your local fish store and ask them to order you a sustainably sourced group from Aquatropic today!