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Zebra Loach Care, Breeding, Feeding And Tank Mates

Zebra loaches are peaceful, active loach that originates from India. Their black and gold striped bodies make a great addition to any community aquarium. Zebra loaches are known to be good at eating algae and other small debris off of aquarium glass and plants, so they are considered good tank cleaners.

If you are a beginner aquarist, the zebra loach is a great fish to start with because they are very hardy. They can tolerate an extended range of water conditions and are not very demanding. This article will provide everything you need to know about zebra loach care.

Zebra Loach

One Look Care guide

Scientific nameBotia striata
Common nameZebra Loach
Care levelEasy
Native toIndia
TypeFreshwater fish
ColorBlack with vertical golden stripes
Tank size30 gallons
Preferred temperature73-79 degrees Fahrenheit
Other water parameters (ammonia, etc.)pH: 6 to 7.5
Hardness: 5 to 12 dGH
Preferred salinityNo salinity
Size3 to 4 inches
Life SpanUp to 15 years
Recommended tank matesSimilar-sized, nonaggressive tank mates
Preferred foodOmnivore scavengers, Any.
Feeding frequency2 times per day
BreedingNot possible in home aquariums.

What is Zebra Loach

Zebra loaches are a part of the Cobitidae family which contains many other loach species, such as the clown loach and weather loach. They are bottom-dwelling fish that reach an adult size of around 3 inches. Zebra loaches have black bodies with gold stripes running vertically down their bodies. Due to deforestation and habitat loss, zebra loaches are now considered an endangered species in the wild.

In the wild, zebra loaches live in fast-moving rivers and streams with sandy bottoms. They are nocturnal fish and will spend most of the daylight hours hiding in caves or among plants. These fish are used as the cleaning staff in many commercial aquariums because they are so good at eating algae and other small debris off of glass and plants.

How big does Zebra Loach get?

Zebra loaches are small fish that reach an adult size of around 3 inches. However, some loaches might reach 4 inches if given proper care.

Is Zebra Loach aggressive?

No. Zebra loaches are peaceful fish that can be kept with other similar-sized peaceful fish. They are known to school in the wild, and since they are bottom dwellers, they don’t bother fish swimming in the aquarium’s upper levels. However, if you have smaller species that can fit in their mouth, you might want to avoid keeping them together because these fish tend to eat them.

Zebra Loach behavior

Zebra loaches are active fish that spend the majority of their time swimming on the aquarium’s bottom. They are known to be good at eating algae and other small debris off of aquarium glass and plants. However, the interesting thing is that they become active only at a specific time of the day. For extended periods of time, these fish will only stay at the bottom, hiding or resting.

Since zebra loaches are nocturnal fish, you might find that they become active mostly at night or in the evening hours. However, you’ll rarely find these fish harassing other creatures in the tank. Zebra loaches are schooling fish in the wild. So, they prefer to stay in groups. It’s best to keep at least five zebra loaches together so they feel comfortable and secure in the aquarium. In general, zebra loaches are a peaceful addition to any community aquarium.

How long do Zebra Loaches live?

The average lifespan of a zebra loach is 5-8 years, but some loaches have been known to live up to 15 years. The time they live can vary depending on their care and living conditions.

Zebra Loach Care

Caring for a zebra loach is extremely easy compared to other freshwater fish. They are strong and adaptable, able to live in a wide range of water temperatures. Also, they don’t have any special feeding requirements. As long as you provide a good environment and proper care, your zebra loaches will be happy and healthy. Let’s go through everything you need to know about zebra loach care.

Zebra Loach Tank Size

A 30-gallon tank is your minimum size for housing a group of 5 zebra loaches. But if you want to keep a larger group, you’ll need an even bigger tank. The rule of thumb is that you need at least 10 gallons for every two zebra loach. For example, a 50-gallon tank can house a group of 10 zebra loaches.

Keep in mind that these fish grow up to 3 inches, so they need enough space to swim around and explore. A larger tank is always better because it provides more space and stability.

How many should Zebra Loach be kept together?

Zebra loaches are schooling fish; therefore, they must be maintained in schools. It’s best to keep at least five zebra loaches together, but more is always better. These fish feel more comfortable and secure in larger groups.

Tank setup

In the wild, zebra loaches live in fast-moving rivers and streams with sandy bottoms. They are nocturnal fish and will spend most of the daylight hours hiding in caves or among plants.

When setting up a tank for zebra loaches, it is important to replicate their natural habitat as much as possible. The tank should be at least 30 gallons and have a sandy bottom. You can also use fine gravel if you prefer. But please keep in mind that these fish like to dig and might sift through the gravel looking for food.

Plants are not necessary, but they can provide a place for the loaches to hide during the day. Zebra loaches are known to graze on live plants, so it’s best to use artificial plants instead. A power filter with strong water flow is also necessary.

As for the decorations, the tank should have plenty of hiding places, such as caves and plants. Caves and other hiding places are a must because these fish like to have a place to retreat when they feel stressed or threatened. You can also use driftwood and rocks to create a more naturalistic look.

Since zebra loaches are bottom dwellers, you don’t need to have a lot of open space at the top of the tank. In fact, too much open space can make them feel exposed and stressed. A tank lid is not necessary unless you have other top-dwelling fish in the tank. Lighting is not a big concern either because these fish are nocturnal and prefer low-light conditions.

Water conditions

Zebra loaches are resilient fish that can withstand a wide range of water temperatures. The ideal temperature for zebra loaches is 73-79 degrees Fahrenheit. The pH should be between 6 and 7.5. As for the water hardness, zebra loaches prefer soft to medium hardness. However, they can also tolerate hard water if necessary.

Although these fish are known as tank cleaners, they still need to have their water quality checked on a regular basis. You should test the tank for ammonia, nitrites, and nitrates. If the levels of ammonia or nitrites are high, this could be harmful to the fish.

To avoid this, you can change the water, do a partial water change, or add an aquarium filter. As for nitrates, zebra loaches are relatively tolerant of high levels. However, it is still best to keep the nitrate levels as low as possible. You can do this by changing the water on a regular basis and/or using an aquarium filter. Perform a water change every two weeks or as needed.

Zebra Loach Breeding 

Zebra loaches are a relatively new addition to the aquarium trade, and so far, there is no reliable information on how to breed them in home tanks. While they may be bred commercially with access to special equipment and hormones, the average aquarist is likely to have no success trying to do this themselves.

Therefore, we recommend that you don’t try breeding zebra loaches in your aquarium. There’s no assurance of a positive outcome, and you could wind up causing more harm than good. Instead, focus on providing your fish with great care and healthy habitat. We’ll update this guide if anyone figures out how to breed these fish successfully at home.

How to feed Zebra Loach?

These fish are mostly scavengers in the wild and will eat just about anything they can find. In the aquarium, you should feed them a variety of foods such as live, frozen, or freeze-dried foods. You can also give them sinking pellets or flakes. Feeding them small amounts 2-3 times a day is best.

As for the diet, zebra loaches are not fussy eaters and will eat just about anything. However, giving them a varied diet that includes live and frozen foods is still best. If you feed them pellets or flakes, make sure that the pellets are small enough for them to eat. You can feed them with vegetables such as cucumber, zucchini, or spinach if you prefer. However, do not overfeed them, as this can lead to obesity.

What fish can live with Zebra Loach?

As for the tank mates, zebra loaches require species of the same kind to feel comfortable and secure in the aquarium. Therefore, you must keep them in groups of 5 or more. If this number is not met, they may become stressed and aggressive.

As for the other fish types, they will get along well with many other fish species as long as they are not too small or too large. If your fish are too small, zebra loaches might mistake them for food. If they are too large, they may be aggressive toward them.

Some suitable tank mates for zebra loaches include:

  • Gouramis
  • Barbs
  • Danios
  • Rasboras
  • Tetras
  • Platies
  • Swordtails
  • Goldfish
  • Koi

Zera loaches will also do well with other bottom-dwelling fish, such as:

  • Corydoras catfish
  • Yoyo loach
  • Clown loach
  • Kuhli loach
  • Botiine loach
  • Weather loach
  • Plecostomus

You may have to avoid adding smaller snail species like Malaysian trumpet snails and nerite snails because zebra loaches may eat them. They may also try to harass smaller long-finned fish, such as bettas, smaller cichlids, and long-finned goldfish. So, you may also have to avoid adding these fish to the tank. As for the plants, zebra loaches will not bother most plants. However, they may uproot smaller plants in the search for food. To avoid this, you can add larger plants or plants that are securely anchored to the substrate.

Some suitable plants for zebra loaches include:

  • Anubias
  • Java fern
  • Sword plants
  • Cryptocoryne
  • Wisteria

Zebra Loach Diseases

Unlike many other fish species, zebra loaches are relatively resistant to disease. However, they can still fall prey to a few common diseases. Zebra loaches are susceptible to a variety of illnesses, including:

  • Ich
  • Fin Rot
  • Velvet
  • Columnaris
  • Dropsy

Most of these diseases are caused by poor water conditions. Therefore, it is important to maintain a high level of water quality in your aquarium. You can do this by performing regular water changes and using a good filter. You should also avoid overfeeding your fish and overcrowding the tank.

If you notice any of these diseases in your fish, we recommend that you seek professional medical help. If your tank setup is not suitable for zebra loaches, they may also fall prey to stress. This can make them more susceptible to disease. They may also get infections through cuts and scrapes. To prevent this, provide them with a well-oxygenated tank with lots of hiding places. You should also safeguard them against sudden changes in temperature and water parameters.


Zebra loaches are fantastic fish for any aquarium. They get along well with other species of fish, and they’re quite easy to care for, making them ideal for novice aquarists. If you are thinking about adding zebra loaches to your aquarium, we hope that this guide has been helpful.

Related questions 

Are Zebra Loach rare?

No, zebra loaches are not rare. In fact, they are quite common in the aquarium trade. However, they are rare in the wild due to habitat loss.

Do Zebra Loaches jump out of the tank?

No, zebra loaches do not jump out of the tank. In fact, they are quite timid fish and will usually stay close to the bottom of the tank.

Do Zebra Loachs bite?

No, zebra loaches do not bite. However, they may nip at other fish if they feel threatened. Otherwise, they are docile fish that get along well with other community fish.

How long does a Zebra Loach live?

Zebra loaches can live for up to 15 years if given the proper care. However, the average lifespan is 5-7 years.

Credit to : Dans Fish

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About Dr.Chamika

Hello, I'm Dr. Chamika. I am a Researcher in Water quality, Aquatic organisms, and Environmental chemistry. I am a passionate fish keeper, with10 years of experience. My mission is to help other aquarists experience the joy of fish keeping.