Zebra Loach Care 101: Tank Setup, Diet, Tank Mates, Diseases & More!

If you’re a fish enthusiast like me, then you know how important it is to provide the best care for your aquatic pets. One of the most fascinating fish species that I’ve come across is the Zebra Loach. These striped beauties are not only visually appealing, but also have unique behaviors that make them a joy to watch.

Zebra Loaches require a well-planted aquarium with soft, slightly acidic water. They are peaceful and should be kept in groups of at least six. They feed on small invertebrates and algae, and their diet can be supplemented with high-quality flakes and pellets. Regular water changes and maintenance are essential for their health.

However, taking care of Zebra Loaches can be quite challenging, especially if you’re new to the hobby. That’s why I’ve put together this comprehensive guide to help you provide the best possible care for your Zebra Loaches. In this article, I’ll cover everything you need to know, from their habitat requirements to their feeding habits and common health issues.

Black Skirt Tetra Care 3

Species Summary


I have always been fascinated by the Zebra Loach, also known as Botia striata.

This freshwater fish is native to the streams and rivers of Southeast Asia, including Thailand, Malaysia, and Indonesia.

It is a popular aquarium fish and can be found in pet stores around the world.


The Zebra Loach can live up to 10 years in captivity with proper care.

However, their lifespan can be shortened if they are not provided with a suitable environment or if they are not fed a balanced diet.


The Zebra Loach is a small fish, growing up to 4 inches in length. It has a slender body and distinctive black and white stripes, which give it its name.

The stripes are vertical and run the length of the body. The fins are transparent, and the eyes are large and round.


The Zebra Loach is a relatively small fish, growing up to 4 inches in length.

However, it is important to provide them with enough space in the aquarium.

A minimum tank size of 20 gallons is recommended for a small group of Zebra Loaches.

Growth Rate

The growth rate of the Zebra Loach is relatively slow. It can take up to two years for them to reach their full size.

However, they are active and playful fish that will provide entertainment in the aquarium.

Behavior & Temperament

The Zebra Loach is a social fish that should be kept in groups of at least 6 individuals.

They are active and playful fish that enjoy exploring their environment.

They are also known for their cleaning abilities and will help keep the aquarium clean by eating leftover food and algae.

Male vs Female

It is difficult to distinguish between male and female Zebra Loaches.

However, during breeding season, the females may appear slightly larger and more rounded than the males.

When I first got my Zebra Loaches, I was amazed by their playful behavior. They would chase each other around the aquarium and even playfully nip at each other’s fins.

I quickly learned that they were social fish that needed to be kept in groups. Now, I have a small school of Zebra Loaches, and they provide endless entertainment in my aquarium.

Tank Setup

Setting up a tank for your zebra loaches is an important part of their care. Here are some key factors to consider:

Tank Size

I recommend a minimum tank size of 20 gallons for a small group of zebra loaches.

These fish need plenty of swimming space and a larger tank will also help maintain stable water parameters.


Zebra loaches prefer low to moderate lighting. Avoid bright, direct light as it can stress them out. A timer can help maintain a consistent lighting schedule.

Filtration & Aeration

A good quality filter is essential for keeping the water clean and healthy for your zebra loaches.

A canister filter or a hang-on-back filter are both good options. Aeration is also important, as zebra loaches need well-oxygenated water.


Zebra loaches are tropical fish and need a consistent water temperature between 75-82°F.

A reliable heater is necessary to maintain the correct temperature.


A fine sand or gravel substrate is best for zebra loaches. Avoid sharp or rough substrates that could damage their delicate barbels.


Zebra loaches love hiding places, so provide plenty of caves, rocks, and driftwood. Avoid sharp or rough decorations that could harm them.


Zebra loaches enjoy planted tanks, but be sure to choose hardy plants that can withstand their digging and burrowing. Java fern, anubias, and mosses are good options.

Black Skirt Tetra Care 2

When I first set up my zebra loach tank, I made the mistake of using a gravel substrate.

I quickly realized that it was too rough for their barbels and switched to a fine sand. Since then, my zebra loaches have been much happier and healthier.

Don’t make the same mistake I did take the time to set up your tank properly for your zebra loaches!

Water Quality

As a proud owner of Zebra Loaches, I know how important it is to maintain a healthy water environment for these adorable creatures.

Water quality is a crucial aspect of Zebra Loach care, and it directly affects their overall health and well-being.

In this section, I will discuss the four key elements of water quality that you need to keep in mind: water temperature, pH, hardness, and changes.

Water Temperature

Zebra Loaches come from the tropical regions of Southeast Asia, which means they require warm water to thrive.

The ideal water temperature for these loaches is between 75-82°F (24-28°C). You should invest in a reliable aquarium heater to maintain a consistent water temperature.

Fluctuations in temperature can cause stress to your loaches and make them more susceptible to diseases.

Water pH

The pH level of your aquarium water is another crucial factor to consider. Zebra Loaches prefer slightly acidic to neutral water with a pH range of 6.5-7.5.

A pH level outside of this range can cause stress to your loaches, affecting their immune system and making them more prone to infections.

You can use a pH testing kit to monitor the pH level of your aquarium water regularly.

Water Hardness

Water hardness refers to the amount of dissolved minerals in your aquarium water. Zebra Loaches prefer soft to moderately hard water, with a hardness range of 5-12 dGH.

Hard water can lead to health problems, such as kidney damage and stunted growth, in your loaches.

You can use a water hardness testing kit to ensure that your aquarium water is within the recommended range.

Water Changes

Regular water changes are essential to maintain the water quality of your aquarium.

I recommend changing 20-30% of the water in your aquarium every two weeks.

This will help remove any accumulated waste and debris, which can cause harmful toxins to build up in your aquarium water.

Make sure to use a dechlorinator when adding new water to your aquarium to remove any harmful chemicals.

Overall, maintaining proper water quality is vital for the health and well-being of your Zebra Loaches.

By following the guidelines above, you can ensure that your loaches live in a safe and healthy environment.

Personal Anecdote: I remember when I first started keeping Zebra Loaches, I didn’t pay much attention to the water quality of my aquarium. As a result, my loaches became stressed and started showing signs of illness. It was a wake-up call for me, and I realized the importance of maintaining proper water quality.

Since then, I have been diligent about monitoring the water quality of my aquarium, and my loaches have been thriving ever since.

Tank Maintenance

Keeping a clean and healthy environment is essential for the well-being of your Zebra Loach. I personally recommend doing a 25% water change every week to keep the water quality in check.

You may also want to invest in a good quality filter that meets the needs of your tank size and the number of fish you have.

Another important aspect of tank maintenance is cleaning the substrate. I like to use a siphon to remove any debris that has accumulated on the bottom of the tank.

This also helps prevent the buildup of harmful bacteria that can compromise the health of your fish.

It’s also important to keep an eye on the temperature of the water. Zebra Loaches thrive in water that is between 75-82°F (24-28°C).

I use a thermometer to monitor the temperature and make adjustments as needed.

Finally, don’t forget to regularly clean any decorations or plants in the tank.

I like to use a soft-bristled brush to gently scrub them and remove any algae or debris that has accumulated on them.

This not only keeps the tank looking nice, but it also helps maintain a healthy environment for your Zebra Loach.

Tank Mates

Compatible Fish Species

When it comes to finding the perfect tank mates for your zebra loaches, there are a few things to consider.

First and foremost, you’ll want to look for fish that are peaceful and won’t bully or harass your loaches. Some great options include Corydoras catfish, neon tetras, and guppies.

These fish are all small, peaceful, and won’t compete with your loaches for food or space.

Another great option for tank mates is the Siamese algae eater. These fish are known for their ability to keep your tank clean by eating algae, and they won’t bother your zebra loaches.

Just be sure to provide plenty of hiding spaces for your loaches, as these fish can be a little territorial.

Incompatible Fish Species

While there are plenty of fish that can live peacefully with zebra loaches, there are also some species that should be avoided.

Avoid adding any fish that are aggressive or territorial, as they may harm your loaches. This includes cichlids, bettas, and angelfish.

You’ll also want to avoid adding any fish that are too large or that may compete with your loaches for food. This includes larger catfish and other bottom-dwelling species.

How Many Zebra Loaches Should be Kept Together

When it comes to keeping zebra loaches, it’s important to keep them in groups of at least six. These fish are social creatures and thrive when they have plenty of companions.

Keeping them in smaller groups can lead to stress and aggression, so be sure to provide plenty of space and hiding places for your loaches.

Personally, I’ve had great success keeping zebra loaches with neon tetras and Corydoras catfish. They all get along great and make for a colorful and lively tank. Just be sure to provide plenty of hiding spaces and keep an eye on your fish to ensure they’re all getting along.


As an experienced Zebra Loach owner, I know how important it is to provide a proper diet for these fish.

In this section, I will cover what to feed your Zebra Loach, how often to feed them, and some helpful tips to keep them healthy and happy.

What To Feed

Zebra Loaches are omnivores, which means they eat both plant and animal matter. In the wild, they primarily eat insects, crustaceans, and small fish.

When it comes to feeding your Zebra Loach in captivity, it’s important to provide a varied diet to ensure they get all the nutrients they need.

I feed my Zebra Loaches a combination of high-quality pellets, frozen or live brine shrimp, bloodworms, and daphnia. I also occasionally give them blanched vegetables like zucchini or spinach.

It’s important to avoid overfeeding, as Zebra Loaches are prone to obesity.


I feed my Zebra Loaches twice a day, once in the morning and once in the evening.

I give them only as much as they can eat in a few minutes, and I remove any uneaten food to prevent it from fouling the water.

It’s important to stick to a regular feeding schedule to keep your Zebra Loaches healthy.


Here are some helpful tips to keep in mind when feeding your Zebra Loaches:

  • Provide a varied diet to ensure they get all the nutrients they need
  • Avoid overfeeding to prevent obesity
  • Stick to a regular feeding schedule
  • Remove any uneaten food to prevent it from fouling the water

By following these tips and providing a proper diet, you can help ensure that your Zebra Loaches live a long, healthy life.

One thing to note is that Zebra Loaches are notorious for stealing food from other fish in the tank. I have to be careful to make sure they don’t hog all the food!

But I love watching them swim around and play, so it’s worth the extra effort to make sure everyone gets their fair share.

Common Diseases


As a zebra loach owner, it’s important to be aware of the common diseases that can affect your fish. Some of the most common diseases that zebra loaches can get are:

  1. Ich (white spot disease)
  2. Columnaris
  3. Fin rot
  4. Parasites

These diseases can be caused by poor water quality, stress, and overcrowding.

It’s important to keep your tank clean and to provide your fish with a stress-free environment to prevent these diseases from occurring.


If you notice any of the following symptoms in your zebra loach, it may be a sign that they have a disease:

  • White spots on their body or fins
  • Discoloration of their skin or fins
  • Clamped fins
  • Loss of appetite
  • Erratic swimming behavior

If you notice any of these symptoms, it’s important to take action quickly to prevent the disease from spreading to other fish in your tank.


If your zebra loach does get sick, there are a few treatment options available:

  1. Medication – There are several medications available that can help treat common diseases in zebra loaches. It’s important to follow the instructions carefully and to monitor your fish closely while they are being treated.
  2. Water changes – Regular water changes can help improve water quality and prevent the spread of disease.
  3. Isolation – If one of your zebra loaches is sick, it may be necessary to isolate them from the other fish in your tank to prevent the disease from spreading.


Black Skirt Tetra Care

The best way to prevent diseases in zebra loaches is to provide them with a healthy and stress-free environment. Here are a few tips to help prevent disease:

  • Keep your tank clean – Regular water changes and tank maintenance can help prevent the buildup of harmful bacteria and parasites.
  • Provide a balanced diet – Feeding your zebra loaches a balanced diet can help boost their immune system and prevent disease.
  • Avoid overcrowding – Overcrowding can increase stress levels and make your fish more susceptible to disease.

Remember, prevention is always better than cure. By taking good care of your zebra loaches, you can help keep them healthy and happy for years to come.

Personally, I’ve found that keeping a close eye on my zebra loaches and monitoring their behavior and appetite has helped me catch any signs of illness early on. By being proactive and taking action quickly, I’ve been able to prevent diseases from spreading to other fish in my tank.

Signs of a Healthy Zebra Loach

As an avid zebra loach enthusiast, I have learned that keeping these beautiful creatures healthy requires close attention to their behavior and appearance. Here are some signs that your zebra loach is healthy:

  1. Active and Alert: A healthy zebra loach is active and alert, constantly swimming around and exploring its environment.
  2. Appetite: A healthy zebra loach has a healthy appetite and eagerly eats the food you provide. Make sure to feed them a varied diet of live, frozen, and dried foods.
  3. Breathing: A healthy zebra loach breathes easily and steadily, without any signs of labored breathing or gasping at the surface.

Another important sign of a healthy zebra loach is its appearance. Here are some things to look for:

ColorationBright and vibrant colorsFaded or dull colors
Body ShapeSlim and streamlinedBloated or swollen
FinsStraight and intactTorn or ragged

If you notice any signs of illness or distress in your zebra loach, it is important to take action immediately.

Consult with a veterinarian who specializes in fish care or a knowledgeable aquarium professional for guidance on how to treat your zebra loach.

Signs Your Zebra Loach Is Sick

As a fish owner, it’s important to keep an eye on your zebra loach and take note of any changes in behavior or appearance. Here are some common signs that your zebra loach may be sick:

  1. Loss of appetite: If your zebra loach is not eating or seems uninterested in food, it could be a sign of illness.
  2. Abnormal swimming: If your zebra loach is swimming erratically or struggling to swim, it could be a sign of a swim bladder disorder or another health issue.
  3. Changes in color: If your zebra loach’s color is fading or changing, it could be a sign of stress or disease.
  4. Visible signs of illness: Look for any visible signs of illness such as white spots, redness, or sores on the body.
  5. Gasping for air: If your zebra loach is gasping for air at the surface of the water, it could be a sign of poor water quality or a respiratory infection.

I once noticed that my zebra loach was not eating as much as usual and seemed to be hiding more often.

After doing some research, I discovered that these were signs of stress and could be caused by a number of factors such as poor water quality or overcrowding in the tank.

I made some changes to the tank environment and within a few days, my zebra loach was back to its happy, active self.

Remember, early detection is key when it comes to treating sick fish. If you notice any of these signs or anything else unusual about your zebra loach, it’s important to take action and seek advice from a veterinarian or experienced fish keeper.


Breeding Setup

Before attempting to breed Zebra Loaches, you will need to set up a breeding tank. I recommend using a tank that is at least 20 gallons in size.

You will need to provide plenty of hiding places for the loaches, such as caves or PVC pipes.

You should also provide a substrate of fine gravel or sand, as this will allow the loaches to burrow and lay their eggs.

I also recommend using a sponge filter in the breeding tank, as this will provide gentle filtration without creating too much water flow.

The water temperature should be kept between 75-80°F, and the pH should be around 7.0-7.5.

How To Breed

When breeding Zebra Loaches, it is important to have a good male to female ratio. I recommend keeping at least two females for every male.

The males will begin to chase the females around the tank, and the females will lay their eggs in the hiding places you have provided.

After the eggs are laid, the male will fertilize them. The eggs will hatch in about 24-48 hours, and the fry will become free-swimming in about 5-7 days.

It is important to remove the adults from the breeding tank once the eggs have been laid, as they may eat the eggs or fry.


Once the fry are free-swimming, you will need to provide them with plenty of small, live foods such as baby brine shrimp or microworms.

It is important to keep the water clean and well-oxygenated, as the fry are very sensitive to poor water quality.

I have found that the fry grow best when kept in a densely planted tank with plenty of hiding places.

As they grow, you can gradually increase the size of their food and begin to introduce dry foods.

Personally, I have found breeding Zebra Loaches to be a rewarding experience. Watching the fry grow and develop their unique patterns is truly fascinating. With the right setup and care, anyone can successfully breed these amazing fish.

Product recommendations for Zebra Loach:

  1. Hikari Sinking Wafers – This is a high-quality fish food that is perfect for Zebra Loach. It contains all the essential nutrients that your fish need to stay healthy and vibrant.
  2. API Aquarium Test Kit – It is important to keep an eye on the water quality in your aquarium, and this test kit makes it easy to do so. It includes tests for ammonia, nitrite, nitrate, and pH.
  3. Seachem Prime – This is a water conditioner that helps to detoxify ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate in your aquarium. It is safe for use with Zebra Loach and other fish.
  4. Hikari Micro Pellets – These small pellets are perfect for Zebra Loach, as they are easy to digest and contain a balanced mix of protein, fat, and fiber.
  5. Fluval Plant and Shrimp Stratum – If you plan on keeping live plants in your aquarium, this substrate is a great choice. It provides the nutrients that plants need to thrive, and also helps to maintain a stable pH.
  6. AquaClear Power Filter – This filter is highly effective at removing debris and maintaining water quality in your aquarium. It is also very quiet and easy to maintain.
  7. Aqueon Aquarium Water Changer – This device makes it easy to perform regular water changes in your aquarium. It is designed to be safe and easy to use, and can help to keep your Zebra Loach healthy.
  8. Zoo Med Nano 10 External Canister Filter – This is a small and efficient filter that is perfect for smaller aquariums housing Zebra Loach. It is easy to install and maintain, and will keep the water in your aquarium clean and healthy.
  9. Marina LED Aquarium Kit – This is another great aquarium kit that is perfect for Zebra Loach. It includes a filter, heater, and LED lighting, and is easy to set up and maintain.


As someone who has cared for Zebra Loaches for years, I can confidently say that they are a wonderful addition to any aquarium. These fish are full of personality and are a joy to watch as they swim and play.

However, it’s important to remember that Zebra Loaches require specific care to thrive. From providing a suitable environment to feeding them the right diet, there are several factors to consider before bringing these fish home.

One of the most important things to keep in mind is that Zebra Loaches are social creatures that thrive in groups. If you’re considering adding these fish to your aquarium, I highly recommend getting at least three or four to ensure they have the companionship they need.

Another key factor in Zebra Loach care is providing them with plenty of hiding spots. These fish are known for being shy and will feel more comfortable in an environment that offers plenty of places to retreat to.

Overall, caring for Zebra Loaches requires a bit of effort and attention to detail, but the rewards are well worth it. If you’re willing to put in the work, these fish can provide years of enjoyment and companionship.


As a zebra loach owner, I have encountered several questions from people interested in caring for these fish. Here are some of the most frequently asked questions:

Q: Can zebra loaches live with other fish?

A: Yes, zebra loaches are social fish and can live with other peaceful fish. However, they may become aggressive towards other bottom-dwelling fish, so it is best to avoid keeping them with other loaches or catfish.

Q: What do zebra loaches eat?

A: Zebra loaches are omnivores and will eat a variety of foods, including algae, live and frozen foods, and sinking pellets. It is important to provide them with a balanced diet to keep them healthy.

Q: How often should I feed my zebra loaches?

A: Zebra loaches should be fed small amounts of food 2-3 times a day. Overfeeding can lead to health problems and water quality issues.

Q: Do zebra loaches need a heater?

A: Zebra loaches are tropical fish and require a consistent water temperature between 75-82°F. A heater is necessary to maintain this temperature.

Q: How often should I clean my zebra loach tank?

A: It is recommended to perform a partial water change of 25% every week to maintain good water quality. You should also vacuum the substrate and clean the filter regularly.

Overall, zebra loaches are fascinating fish that make great additions to any aquarium. With proper care and attention, they can live for many years and provide endless entertainment.

Reference: Wikipedia.


Hi there! My name is Jacob, and I'm the founder of this Pet people blog that talks all about aquarium and fishkeeping. I've been passionate about fish and aquatic life since I was a kid, and I've spent countless hours learning about different species, their habitats, and how to create the perfect environment for them to thrive in.

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