Zebra Loach Care & Tank Set Up Information For Newcomers


Zebra loaches are a terrific match for many group tanks. They typically simply stick with themselves and do their very own factor.

I really like my college of zebra loaches, and on this information, I’ll train you find out how to arrange a tank and supply the fitting look after zebra loaches.

Fast Stats

  • Care Degree: medium
  • Min. Tank Measurement: 30 gallon (113 liter)
  • pH: 6.5-7.5
  • Temperature:  73°-79°F (23°-26°C)
  • Weight loss program: omnivore
  • Temperament: peaceable shoaling fish
  • Lifespan: 10-15 years
  • Measurement: 4 inches (10 centimeters)
  • Household: Botiidae
  • What number of will be stored collectively: as many as you want, must be stored in a gaggle of at the very least 5
  • Scientific Identify: Botia striata
  • Widespread Identify: zebra loach, sweet stripe loach, crossbanded loach, lined loach, striped loach, tiger loach, zebra botia


zebra loaches in aquarium

I feel zebra loaches are actually stunning fish.

They’ve the everyday physique form of Botia loaches: sharply pointed nostril, flattened stomach, slim physique total with brief fins and tail.

They’ve a brief set of barbels that encompass their mouths. They appear to be slightly tuft of whiskers.

This species has a extremely beautiful shade sample. They’re lined from nostril to tail in a sample of skinny, diagonal grey and gold stripes. Every fish has a barely completely different sample, similar to fingerprints with people, making every fish distinctive.

The factor that I really like about these loaches, they hold their stunning patterns and colours all through their lives. 

Many different species of loach look actually cool once they’re juveniles, however as they age their shade and patterns could also be fairly completely different. However, zebras will look simply as beautiful their complete lives. 

Zebra Loach Species Profile

Within the Wild

This superb little fish is native to Western India. They’re present in fast paced rivers and streams, making them very robust swimmers. 

Zebra loaches group collectively in giant, irregular shoals that cruise the river backside, in search of any little tasty morsels. 

They’ll dine on worms, insect larvae, fish eggs, and particularly, snails. 

These fish have advanced robust grinding enamel behind their mouths, able to crushing snail shells to tiny bits.

Any snail sufficiently small to slot in their mouths is immediately doomed.

If they arrive throughout a big snail that doesn’t disguise rapidly sufficient, they may assault it as a gaggle to grab the tender physique out of the exhausting shell. 

The varsity of zebra loaches will snap aside the snail like a shark feeding frenzy. It’s loopy.

These fish are amazingly good at their jobs as backside feeders. They may also scavenge any useless fish they occur to seek out.

Zebra loaches love to do every part as an enormous group. They depend on a “there’s energy in numbers” technique. These fish hunt, spawn and relaxation as a faculty. They wish to pile into hiding locations, cramming themselves in in order that they’re at all times touching one another. 

Sadly, zebra loaches are critically endangered of their native vary due to habitat destruction and air pollution. Fortunately, the fish you see within the aquarium commerce have been captive bred.

Within the Aquarium

I’ve actually beloved protecting zebra loaches in my tanks through the years. I’ve obtained a faculty of 5 in with my Boesemani rainbowfish proper now. They’re someplace round 4 years outdated at this level. 

In my view, they’re a significantly better species for the typical aquarist than clown loaches. I actually want that reside fish shops would put extra emphasis on this species than clowns.

Clown loaches look little and cute within the retailer, however they develop to be over 12 inches (30 centimeters) lengthy and require at the very least a 150 gallon (568 liter) tank. And their shiny orange coloration turns into increasingly more uninteresting and dusky as they age.

By comparability, zebra loaches solely develop to be about 4 inches lengthy, solely want a 40 gallon tank, and their coloration stays simply as stunning all through their whole life. 

It’s so far more lifelike for the typical aquarist to have the ability to home zebras versus clowns.

That may be a sentence I by no means imagined writing in my whole life, however there you’ve it, I stand by the assertion.

Folks usually flip to clown loaches for his or her skill to eliminate pest snail infestations, however this actually isn’t mandatory.

I’m telling you, you’ll by no means see a extra environment friendly snail consuming machine than a pack of zebra loaches. They are going to seek out each single final snail in your tank, and they’re going to achieve this rapidly.

You may go from having a tank the place it looks as if snails are masking every part, to not with the ability to discover a single snail within the tank, inside every week or two.

They’re additionally good total backside feeding fish that can eliminate meals that sinks previous their prime dwelling neighbors.

And, as if all this weren’t sufficient, they’re very fascinating to look at and their conduct is fairly hilarious at occasions. They’re like a pack of goofy children working round taking part in; it’s nice.

The best way to Set Up a Zebra Loach Tank

Tank Measurement

I like to recommend that you simply hold these fish in at the very least a 40 gallon tank, however as at all times, the larger the tank, you’ll be able to handle the higher.

They are going to do higher in a tank that has a much bigger footprint fairly than a tall tank. You wish to maximize the quantity of substrate they must feed from.


Zebra loaches are pretty hardy fish, however they’re delicate to ammonia spikes. 

They completely will should be stored in a filtered tank.

Typically, filters are extraordinarily vital for a profitable aquarium.

It would appear to be all they do is transfer water across the aquarium, however that is unfaithful, they achieve this far more than this. 

With no filter, fish waste (urine and feces) will rot within the tank, pushing aside lethal ammonia and nitrite. 

All it takes is one drop of ammonia or nitrite in 13 gallons of water to begin to kill fish.

Filters detoxify these dangerous substances. Particular useful micro organism develop on media contained in the filter that eat these byproducts and remodel them into nitrate, a substance that’s non-toxic at low ranges. This is called the Aquarium Nitrogen Cycle. 

With no filter, dangerous wastes simply construct up within the water till the tank turns into poisonous to any fish dwelling in it.

For extra detailed details about how the Aquarium Nitrogen Cycle works, please see our in-depth article here

Water Parameters

  • Temperature: 73°-79°F (23°-26°C)
  • Ammonia/Nitrite: 0
  • Nitrate: <30 ppm
  • pH: 6.0-7.5
  • GH: 3-18 dGH
  • KH: 3-7 dKH


Zebra loaches are a tropical species and would require a heater. I personally hold mine at about 79°F (26°C). 

They’re in with a bunch of Boesemani rainbowfish that additionally like their water fairly heat. Each faculties of fish have fortunately lived in that setup for years. 


Zebra loaches are backside feeders that can poke and dig round within the substrate all day in search of meals. 

Their barbels can get scratched, scraped, and even worn away fully if the substrate is just too jagged.

I’d suggest:

  • Clean gravel
  • Sand 
  • Mushy aqua soils

Tough baked clay substrates should not a good suggestion. 


This species doesn’t have any form of sure lighting necessities. 

Zebra loaches are simply wonderful with popping out beneath shiny lights or dim lights, or after the lights are off. 

They only come out and do their factor every time they really feel prefer it. 

So, simply go along with no matter lights tickle your fancy.

Crops and Decor

Zebra loaches undoubtedly have some necessities on the subject of decor of their tanks. They wish to have quite a lot of caves and hiding locations.

Mine have arrange their dwelling base inside a resin TARDIS ornament that’s hole inside.

zebra loach hiding in tardis

Regardless that it’s form of tiny, they simply pile in there collectively to go take little naps in any respect hours of the day and night time.

You may present them with plenty of little hidey holes by including rock work, driftwood and/or hole resin decor. 

They don’t care what their little cave is made out of simply so long as they’ll all get in there and retreat every time they need.

Zebra Loach Weight loss program

These guys should not choosy eaters within the slightest. 

They’ll adapt to eat no matter is out there within the tank.

They’ll take:

  • Flake meals
  • Sinking pellets
  • Sinking wafers
  • Bloodworms
  • California blackworms 
  • Brine shrimp
  • Tubifex worms

I feed mine primarily Omega One Veggie Rounds. Just about each fish within the tank goes after these, really. 

Veggie Rounds are a top quality meals and the fish actually love them.

Omega One Veggie Rounds, 14mm Rounds, Sinking, 8 Oz Container

Omega One Veggie Rounds, 14mm Rounds, Sinking, 8 Oz Container

Final replace on 2023-04-27 / Commissions Earned / Photographs from Amazon Product Promoting API

Zebra Loach Breeding

Zebra loaches actually don’t breed in dwelling aquariums. They require particular situations which can be extraordinarily tough to re-create in captivity.

Business breeders introduce giant doses of synthetic hormones into the water column to set off their fish to spawn.

Zebra Loach Tank Mates

These fish have the occasional tussles amongst themselves, however they beautiful a lot ignore different species of fish.

I’ve stored zebra loaches with all kinds of different fish: rainbowfish, giant and small plecos, tiger barbs, angelfish, cory cats, oto cats, guppies, platies, cherry shrimp, Amano shrimp, ram cichlids

I’ve had zero issues with them being aggressive in direction of different tank mates, even with fish which can be a lot smaller than them.

I’ll say, when you’re going to combine them with different backside feeding species, be sure there’s a giant number of hiding areas. That method, everybody can decide a spot to make their dwelling base.

My zebra loaches have picked the resin TARDIS ornament of their tank as their favourite hiding spot. They cram themselves in there prefer it’s a clown automobile, regardless that there are a lot roomier choices obtainable. It’s fairly hilarious.

On the entire, I feel you’ll be able to safely combine this species with any peaceable group fish and even some which can be listed as semi-aggressive, like barbs, gouramis or small cichlids. 

Tank Mates to Keep away from with Zebra Loaches

As extremely appropriate with so many species as zebra loaches are, there are some tank mates that gained’t be a very good match:

  • Giant and/or aggressive fish – these guys are feisty and difficult, however giant fish that can nip and harass the loaches gained’t be good. This additionally consists of smaller aggressive fish, like puffers.
  • Decorative snails – if you would like your snails to reside, don’t combine them with zebra loaches. They are going to suck snails out of their shells and tear them aside, even massive snails, like mysteries or nerites. They’re fairly brutal about it, be warned!

Are Zebra Loaches Proper for You?

In my view, zebra loaches are a terrific match for many group tanks. They typically simply stick with themselves and do their very own factor.

They’re a significantly better alternative as a backside feeder, and a snail eater, then clown loaches are, and I actually want they’d change into far more prevalent within the aquarium passion.

I’ve actually, actually loved proudly owning my college of zebra loaches. I’m considering I’ll even add some extra into one in all my different tanks.

Typically, I feel there are extra causes to get this fish than to not. Simply don’t attempt to combine them with decorative snails. It gained’t go properly for the poor snails.

I hope you discover this text useful.

I want you and your fish the perfect.

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