Hillstream Loach – Care, Tank Mates, Breeding, Feeding & Details!

Hillstream Loach is a small freshwater fish that is also known as Borneo Sucker, Gastromyzon Punctulatus, or butterfly loach. It belongs to the Balitoridae family. In nature, Hillstream loach can be found in Borneo, China, Laos, and Vietnam, where it swims in fast mountain rivers, streams, and waterfalls.

Hillstream loaches that are sold in pet stores are born in their natural habitats and then caught for sale, but they easily get used to the conditions of aquariums, if they are kept in their natural-looking environment.


Hillstream loach grows to sizes from 3 to 6 cm, maximum – up to 7 cm. These fishes can live up to 3 years. They have a peculiar body shape – it is flat, narrowed from below, with rounded fins.

Due to the fan-shaped pectoral and ventral fins, Hillstream loach can swim well against the tide. In nature, they can even climb waterfalls. The caudal fins are small, almost invisible.

The abdomen is translucent, through it you can see the internal organs, the mouths are located below. Fish can only eat soft food – they do not have horny scrapers.

Depending on the mood, the coloring of these loaches may vary. In a calm state, it is brownish with milky white spots. When the fish is frightened, it brightens, spots on the body merge with the main color.

With the manifestation of aggression, a black band appears on her ridge, and the fins darken. An angry hillstream loach raises its dorsal fin and spreads its tail.

In these loaches, sexual dimorphism is quite pronounced: in males, the color is brighter, the body is smaller and slimmer than in females. Hillstream loach moves very fast from one stone to another in a blink of an eye.

They do not have scales on their stomachs, but there are suction cups with which they stick to stones, the walls of the aquarium and aquarium decorations.

In captivity, fish do not breed. Scientists were not able to track their reproduction in natural conditions, so there is no information about how offspring appear in hillstream loaches.

Selection of Hillstream loach for your aquarium

For the fish to develop well and live long, you need to buy healthy individuals.

The following selection rules exist for hillstream loaches:

  • Hillstream loaches are bought at pet stores with good living conditions or from trusted sellers.
  • Typically, fish are caught in habitats and then transported in tight containers. It is better to choose young individuals who have not reached 3-4 cm in length – they can more easily tolerate stress during transportation.
  • When caught with a net or when transported together with aggressive tankmates, the fish may suffer. It is better not to buy individuals with any kind of injuries – they can die quickly.
  • Do not choose a sluggish fish taking food poorly. Individuals that were poorly maintained can be recognized by their emaciated appearance and bulging eyes.

Purchased fish need a period of acclimatization. It is especially needed for adults, 4-6 cm in size. Young individuals quickly get used to new places. To prevent diseases from appearing in the aquarium, New fishes are first put into a separate tank.

Aquarium Condition

Hillstream loach requires a shallow aquarium with a large bottom area. If there is not enough space, fights between males can begin: they will chase each other and push the tank mates from the glass.

It is necessary to take into account the following rules for the maintenance:

  • 15L of water is required per fish;
  • Hillstream loach do not like loneliness – it is better to buy a group of 4-5 individuals;
  • they should not be kept together with large, aggressive, or predatory fish.

The conditions in the aquarium for fish should be close to their natural habitat

To do this, it is necessary to maintain the following water parameters:

  • water temperature – from 20 to 26ºС;
  • acidity – from 7.0 to 8.0 pH;
  • stiffness – from 10 to 15 dgH.

The water in the aquarium should be clean, Thus 20% of the water should be changed every week.

Aquarium Decoration

You should install a powerful filter and compressor to enrich the water with oxygen because Hillstream loach likes to be near them, as the current reminds them of their natural habitats.

Lighting in the aquarium should be moderate. Hillstream loach is very sensitive to chemicals dissolved in water. When using drugs for other fish, they need to be kept in a separate tank.

Coarse sand or small pebbles are used as soil for the aquarium. At the bottom, you can put several large smooth stones – the fish will settle on them and consider them their territory.

Hillstream loach loves to dig in the ground, so for the aquarium, you need to choose plants with large leaves and powerful roots that they can not damage. A good choice is ferns, anubias, echinodorus.

It is necessary to ensure that there are no sharp objects or stones at the bottom of your aquarium. To observe how the fish change color depending on the surface, several colorful sections are made at the bottom.

It is important that there is sufficient space for the maintenance of Hillstream loach and that no conflicts arise. The feed should also be enough for everyone so that other tank mates do not eat portions of slow-moving hillstreams.

Hillstream Loach Tank Mates

Aquarium sharks like the rainbow shark, large catfish, cyprinids, cichlids, or Arowana are not ideal tank mates for hillstream loach.

harlequin rasboras, tetras, and other small, peaceful fishes that can take strong water currents are ideal tank mates for hillstream loach.


Hillstream loach is good aquarium cleaners from blue-green and green algae. They eat fouling from the glass of the aquarium, stones, and leaves of plants, without damaging them.

Fish need to be given live food in limited quantities, otherwise, they will quickly die. When hillstream loaches settle in a new aquarium, they can completely refuse food. The starting food for them will be fouling on stones and decorations.

Hillstream loach is quite unpretentious in food but prefers slowly soluble feed for bottom fish, as well as vegetable flakes. The basis of their diet is chopped vegetables – lettuce, cucumbers, zucchini, which must be put to the bottom in a clay plate so that the fish find them faster.

As a live feed, a tubule, small cyclops, bloodworms, artemia are used. It is advised to give them frozen. One day a week should be unloading – the fish will eat only organic deposits, which will be collected from glasses, algae, stones, and decorations.

Hillstream loach has a peaceful and accommodating character. They like to settle on large stones near the current created by the compressor. These wonderful fish will be real helpers in cleaning the aquarium from algae and bacterial deposits.

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