Zebra Loach (Botia Striata)
The Zebra Loach, also known as Candy Stripe Loach, Candystripe Loach, Crossbanded Loach, is a fascinating freshwater fish that is a delight to both novice and experienced aquarists. Known for their striking appearance, these bottom dwellers sport a series of alternating stripes that circle their body vertically, giving them their zebra-like appearance. The colors of these stripes are usually a mix of dark, light, and yellowish-brown. Their fins also have black stripes, adding to their unique look.
Zebra Loaches are peaceful creatures that enjoy the company of their own kind. They are best kept in groups of at least 5 to ensure their well-being and to prevent any aggressive behavior. They are not schooling fish but enjoy being in groups and are often found cruising the tank together. These loaches grow up to 4 inches in captivity.
Their lively behavior may cause stress to timid or shy fish, so avoid housing them with smaller or slow-moving fish. Additionally, Zebra Loaches are known to nip at long trailing fins found on angelfish, bettas, guppies, and any other fish with fancy fins.
These loaches are omnivores and have a varied diet. They will happily munch on sinking catfish pellets, vegetables like cucumbers and zucchini, and protein-rich foods like bloodworms and brine shrimp. They are also known to snack on algae and plant matter that builds up on the substrate.
Zebra Loaches are curious creatures and appreciate a tank with plenty of hiding spots that closely resemble their natural environment. They prefer a soft substrate, like sand, as they spend most of their time foraging at the bottom of the tank. Zebra Loaches also appreciate plenty of hiding spots in the form of smooth rocks, caves, flowerpots, and driftwood to feel secure. However, be mindful to avoid decor with sharp edges, as Zebra Loaches like to explore and squeeze into small spaces. Fill any small gaps or holes that could trap the fish with aquarium-grade silicone sealant. A secure, tight-fitting cover is crucial as these loaches have been known to jump.
Although more active during daylight hours than other loaches, the lighting in their tank should be kept on the dim side to mimic their natural environment. Introduce plants that thrive in such conditions, but ensure they are sturdy, as Zebra Loaches are active diggers. Java fern (Microsorum pteropus), 'Java' moss (Taxiphyllum barbieri), or Anubias species are good choices. These plants can be attached to decor pieces, providing valuable shade and enhancing the natural feel of the tank.
Zebra Loaches requires an aquarium of at least 30 gallons, with the ideal community aquarium size being 50 gallons or more. When it comes to care, Zebra Loaches are relatively low-maintenance and hardy. They thrive in water temperatures between 73°F to 79°F (23°C to 26°C), pH levels of 6 to 7.5, and water hardness of 2 to 10 dKH. Regular water changes and a good filtration system are essential to keep their environment clean and healthy.
To learn more about this fish, be sure to check out the Additional Information tab.