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Gold Zebra Loach (Botia histrionica)

Gold Zebra Loach (Botia histrionica)

The Gold Zebra Loach (Botia histrionica) is also known by tropical fish keeping enthusiasts as the Burmese Loach, Golden Zebra Loach, Asian Loach, Silver Striped Loach and Burmese Zebra Loach.

The Gold Zebra Loach is found from the Indian state of Manipur, Yunnan Province, China (in the upper Ayeyarwady River basin), and throughout much of Myanmar including the Ayeyarwady, Sittaung, Salween, and Ataran river drainages. The Gold Zebra Loach is also believed to inhabit the streams of western Thailand and occurs sympatrically with B. kubotai in the Ataran River.

Gold Zebra Loaches prefer the relatively slow moving, clear, headwaters of rivers and streams with subdued lighting conditions found in shady forest areas. They are usually found over substrates of mixed sand and rock with lots of leaf litter and submerged bogwood or driftwood cover.

Juvenile Gold Zebra Loaches have 5 broad, irregular shaped black bars on each body flank and are frequently confused with juvenile B. kubotai. They are differentiated by the bars of B. kubotai being split or developing horizontally oriented peaks, while B. histrionica‘s bars stay solid for a longer period and the central bar forms a “Y” shape with a pale spot at the top.

Adult Botia histrionica have 5 broad, irregularly shaped bars on the body that each contain a small round spot at the lateral line and another on the ridge of the back.   Their dorsal fins have one interrupted black band with some black at the base.  The pectoral, ventral and anal fins each have two black bands with a black tip on each lobe.

It should be noted that the patterns of Botia histrionica can vary considerably depending on the geographical area that they are collected from.

Sexually mature females normally have a fuller body than the males and a more rounded snout. Males have a more elongated snout with noticeably fleshier lips.

Immature Gold Zebra Loaches are often misidentified and sold as B. kubotai, B. almorhae, or B. rostrata. However, as they mature and develop their adult color patterns, each species quickly becomes more identifiable to their owners.

Gold Zebra Loaches are peaceful, gregarious, curious and are well suited for community tank environments.   Like many members of the Botia genus, they are a nocturnal species but will forage in the daytime if provided heavy cover and numerous spots for them to hide.

In an aquarium environment, Botia histrionica can be kept singly or in small groups of 3 to 6 specimens. Although they are generally peaceful, when in groups they will establish a hierarchy by size and can have disputes until territories are established.  They are peaceful with other species.

The Gold Zebra Loach does best in a large (55 gallon or more) tank with a sand or fine gravel substrate, lots of smooth, water worn rocks and pebbles, some driftwood roots and branches, and plants like Java Fern, Java Moss or Anubias spp. that do well in subdued lighting.

They need plenty of cover for hiding and exploring and although they don’t necessarily require turbulent water conditions, they do best in well oxygenated water with a moderate flow.   They are intolerant of organic wastes and need regular water changes to remain healthy and happy.   A power head or canister filter can be used to simulate these conditions.

There are no documented cases of Gold Zebra Loaches being bred in an aquarium environment although, cooler water changes have initiated courtship displays.

Gold Zebra Loaches are not picky eaters and do well on a diet of high quality flake or pellet foods supplemented with live, frozen, or freeze dried bloodworms, tubifex worms, brine shrimp, etc. They will readily accept omnivore sinking wafers and a variety of fresh vegetables. Like their cousins the Clown Loach, they are avid snail eaters and will quickly eliminate a population from an aquarium.

Gold Zebra Loaches are a specialty item in most tropical fish keeping shops and when available are 2″ to 3″ in length.

Gold Zebra Loach (Botia histrionica)

Gold Zebra Loach (Botia histrionica)








Minimum Tank Size: 55 gallons
Care Level: Moderate
Temperament: Peaceful
Aquarium Hardiness: Hardy
Water Conditions: 76°-84°F, KH 5-10, pH 6.4-7.6
Max Size: 5″
Color Form: Black, Tan
Diet: Omnivore
Compatibility: Social with peaceful, open water dwelling cyprinids
Origin: India, Bangladesh
Family: Cobitidae
Lifespan: 6 years
Aquarist Experience Level: Intermediate

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