Aquarium fish: Zebra loach (Botia striata)
Size: 8 – 10 cm
Water temperature: 21-26 ° C
Aquarium volume: 110 l
Zebra loach (Botia striata ) – a small, freshwater fish from the Bocjowatych family (Botiidae) .
Asia. It occurs in rivers and streams in the area of the Western Ghats in India, incl. in the Tunga River in Karnataka and in the Koyna and Panchganga Rivers in the state of Maharashtra. Most often they live in shallow (up to 1.5 m), slowly or moderately flowing waters, often through forest areas.
Typical surfaces for these places are stones, gravel, sand and decaying leaves. During the dry period, water has approx. 21 ° C, pH 7.0 and 2.5 ° hardness there.
Characteristics and disposition
Striped loaches can reach up to 10 cm in length , but usually less in an aquarium. There are about 9 very wide, blue-green stripes on their yellow-green body.
These, in turn, are decorated with thin, light, vertical stripes, usually straight, but they can also be broken or branched. Transparent fins. Stripes of brown spots on the tail. There are four pairs of whiskers by the mouth. There are sharp spines around the eyes , usually hidden under the skin, and raised under stress, e.g.
when fishing out of the water (be careful not to get tangled in the net). Mature females tend to be slightly larger and fuller than slender males . They lead a nocturnal lifestyle, but after acclimatization in an aquarium, they are also very active during the day. In nature, they live in larger groups with hierarchies and complex relationships. It is recommended to keep at least 5 individuals in captivity , preferably 10 or more.
In smaller numbers, they can hide or be aggressive towards other similar fish. With 2 or 3 heads, the dominant fish may intimidate the others and will not eat. The most frequently dominant individual in the group is the largest fish, often the female. In an aquarium, interesting behavior can often be observed when younger fish swim beside or in the shadow of an adult, mimicking her every move. It is supposed to be some kind of communication.
They also use click-like audible cues to communicate, which increase with their satisfaction. They also rest quite originally, often lie at different angles or even on their backs. They live on average 5-8 years, but sometimes they can live 15 or even more.
Nutrition and feeding
Although they appear to be primarily carnivores, they also eat available green foods, including delicate plant leaves. Their natural diet mainly includes molluscs, insects, worms and other invertebrates.
They are not picky in the aquarium, but must have a varied diet of dry mixtures, live or frozen food (e.g. bloodworm, tubifex, artemia, chopped earthworm) and fruit and vegetables (e.g. cucumber, melon, spinach, zucchini). They are also eager to eat snails , but they should not be chosen as a solution to fight them – they will usually choose more accessible food.
For a group of these active fish, a 110-liter and above all long aquarium will be necessary.
Roots, branches, smooth stones and sand mixed with gravel will give the tank a more natural character. The light shouldn’t be too bright. When it comes to plants, the most durable ones, attached to decorations, Microzoria, Anubias, etc. The tank should have a lot of hiding places and nooks and crannies that loaches love to visit. They are eager to squeeze between narrow gaps, so decorations must be free of sharp edges, and the gaps must be large enough not to get stuck in them.
The tight cover will prevent them from jumping out of the aquarium. They do best in oxygen-rich water with a moderate current. They do not tolerate any water pollution very well. Efficient filtration and weekly changes of 30-50% are recommended. They should never be introduced into freshly set, immature tanks .
When selecting company, avoid fish that are much smaller, slowly swimming and ornamental, with long veil-like fins. They can be combined with deepwater, gentle cyprinids, in larger reservoirs with the genus Barilius, Luciosoma, Balantiocheilos , Barbonymus , other bots (Magnificent loaches) and catfish.
Bred only on livestock farms with the use of special hormones . Unfortunately, more and more often with poor commitment, which means that many hybrids appear on the market, even with the great loach (Chromobotia macracanthus) or histrionica loaches.