Hillstream Loach (Sewellia Lineolata)
Native Location: Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia
Maximum Size: 6.5cm (2.5 inches)
Temperature Range: 20 – 24℃ (65 – 75℉)
Preferred pH Range: 7.0 – 7.8
Minimum Aquarium Size: 75L (20 gallons)
Potential Tankmates: Danios, Rasbora
Care Level: Easy
Hillstream Loaches are unique little fishes that deserve so much more attention, and they are so easy to keep.
Hillstream Loaches enjoy a diet of small crustaceans and algae. In aquariums, they will happily eat anything that grows on plants, driftwood and rocks. Things like hair, soft diatom, and even black beard algae. But know that they cannot survive off algae alone. Hillstreams will need a variety of top-quality foods, try sinking wafers, frozen brine shrimp and blanched vegetables. A good diet will encourage the adults to start breeding. The Hillstreams gentle nature means you have quite the pick of the bunch when it comes to tankmates. Danios and Rasbora species are great choices. Aside from staying away from aggressive fish, one other thing you will have to look out for is temperature preferences. Hillstreams usually prefer colder waters, so, are not suitable as tropical fish friends. Hillstreams are so small they know not to start any trouble with other fish.
Instead, they prefer to spend their time scavenging for food or may latch on to rock surfaces or even the glass of your tank. This can be very amusing to watch and will probably make you love these little guys even more. Hillstreams can express territorial behaviour in particular situations, by keeping them in groups of 3 to 4 of their kind will curb this. But, they will require a 190L (50 gallons) tank. Otherwise, they may be prone to scuffles and could lead to stress. As the little guys spend a lot of their time scavenging, their substrate will need to be soft and sandy to prevent injuries. Consider smooth rocks as they would love these as places to rest and double as great surfaces to collect algae. Live vegetation like Hornwort make great hiding places. Giving Hillstreams a place to retreat to and hide away will help them feel safe and reduce stress levels.
It is difficult to tell the sex between juvenile Hillstreams. When you have these loaches and mean to breed them, you will need to house several to make sure you have both males and females. Adult female Hillstreams are usually plumper in the body, whereas males have jagged silhouettes. It has been known as a difficult task to breed Hillstreams, as you will need to provide them with their perfect water parameters, and even then, it may not happen. In a separate breeding tank, provide plenty of hiding spaces. And, cover filter intakes with a
sponge to avoid fry getting sucked up into them. Males will try to attract a female by doing a mating dance. If the female approves of this, she will indicate her interest by stay near him. The male will then create a nest by digging through the substrate; this is where the female will put her eggs. After fertilisation, it will take some weeks for hatching to begin. A plus side to breeding Hillstreams is that you will not need to separate the parents and fry.