hillstream loach

Hillstream Loach Care: Everything You Need To Know!

Fancying up your freshwater tank with the unique and cool-looking Hillstream loach? Great choice! The Sewellia lineolata (Hillstream loach) not only looks attractive, but is also quite easy to care for compared to most other freshwater species.

In this guide, you’ll learn all about the Hillstream loach: from their natural habitat and size, to their suggested tank size and mates, as well as some tips on how to help them live a longer life.

Here’s everything you need to know about Hillstream loach care!

hillstream loach
Hillstream Loaches have a unique flattened body shape and a brown/black coloration with intricate patterns.

Species Summary

The Hillstream loach is part of the Cobitoidea superfamily, and the Cypriniformes order. It’s usually found in rivers and streams in China, Southeast Asia, and India – their home sweet home just needs to have a strong current running through it.

That’s because they’re big fans of fast-moving water, so much so that they’ve developed an awesome body shape and pattern with minimal drag.

You’ll often see them camped out on a rock or slowly patrolling the bottom of the river in search of food.


Provided your Hillstream loaches receive the right level of care and maintenance, they can easily live up to 8-10 years. This can extend to even longer if their environment is properly monitored and kept within the needed parameters.


The Hillstream loach has an appearance that really stands out from the crowd. It has a light gray/yellow base coloration, from which thick black stripes protrude in every which way. These stripes are usually more linear on the dorsal and caudal fins.

They also have very small and short barbels, which may lead some people to mistaken them for catfish or mini-stingrays. Don’t worry though – they’re neither!

The reticulated Hillstream loach has a tapered body shape that helps it resist strong currents, and wing-like pectoral and pelvic fins that it uses for movement and securing itself onto surfaces. You’ll also notice that it has a sucking mouth and a flat underside.


These freshwater fish are very small, with an average size of 2-3 inches in length. Regardless of that, they’ll still be visible since they like to hang at the side of your tank or on rocks.

Hillstream Loach Care

Making sure that your Hillstream loach stays happy and healthy requires minimal effort. As long as you provide them with a tank of around 50 gallons – the larger the better – along with suitable water parameters, they won’t give you too much trouble.

Note that they do best in groups, so try to keep at least 3-4 in the same tank. That will also require more oxygen and an even stronger flow of water, which can be achieved with the help of a suitable filter.

It’s also important to make sure you feed your Hillstream loaches appropriately. Given their small size, choose a food that won’t present a challenge when it comes to biting and chewing.

Avoid food pellets that are too small; these fish only have tiny mouths and won’t be able to eat them properly.

Tank Mates

Hillstream loaches are unique and interesting fish that are adapted to fast-moving water with high oxygen levels. They can be somewhat challenging to care for, so it’s important to choose tank mates that are compatible with their specific needs.

Here are some suitable tank mates for Hillstream loaches:

1. Borneo Suckers: Borneo suckers are bottom-dwelling fish that have a similar water requirement as Hillstream loaches. They are peaceful and can help keep the tank clean by scavenging for leftover food.

2. White Cloud Mountain Minnows: White Cloud Mountain Minnows are small, peaceful fish that can add some extra activity to the tank. They have similar water requirements as Hillstream loaches and can coexist peacefully with them.

3. Danios: Danios are fast-moving fish that have similar water requirements to Hillstream loaches. They are peaceful and can add some extra activity to the tank.

4. Cherry Barbs: Cherry Barbs are peaceful fish that have similar water requirements to Hillstream loaches. They come in a variety of colors and can add some extra color to the tank.

5. Corydoras: Corydoras are bottom-dwelling fish that can coexist with Hillstream loaches. They are peaceful and can help keep the tank clean by scavenging for leftover food.

6. Snails: Snails, such as Nerite snails, are peaceful creatures that can help keep the tank clean by eating algae. They can make great companions for Hillstream loaches.

To sum up, Hillstream loach care is relatively simple, provided you stick to the basics and keep an eye on the water parameters.

With this specialized care, your fish should reach the 8-10 year mark in no time! Get yours today, and let the fun begin.


When setting up your tank, it’s important to create a lot of hiding spots and caves. Hillstream loaches like to scour the bottom of the tank, which means they’ll be happier with plenty of areas to explore. You can also add some driftwood and rocks for decoration, but make sure not to overcrowd the tank.

Water Parameters

Your Hillstream loaches will be happiest in water that is slightly acidic (6.0-6.5 pH), with a temperature between 70-80°F (21-27°C).

It’s good to maintain stable and consistent parameters for your water, so make sure to use a quality filter.


Hillstream loaches will enjoy small insects, insect larvae, and live foods such as black worms and bloodworms. Since these fish are omnivores, you can also give them commercial fish food pellets or flakes.

When feeding your Hillstreams, be sure to do it in small amounts throughout the day instead of one big meal. This will help keep your tank clean and the water parameters stable.

Disease Prevention

It’s important to watch out for signs of disease in your Hillstream loach. This can include sluggishness, rapid breathing, loss of appetite, and white spots.

If you notice any of these symptoms, take a water sample to your local pet store and have them test it for any harmful bacteria or parasites.


If you’d like to re-create their natural biotope, you can fill your tank with large stones, pebbles, and sand.

Create a strong current by using an external power filter, and add floating and rooted plants for decoration. The plants should be robust enough to hold their own against the current, and it’s ideal to pick ones that can tolerate low/medium light levels.


Hillstream loaches are quite sensitive to sudden changes in their environment, which is why acclimating them properly is important.

Introduce them to the new tank gradually to avoid any shock, and monitor their behavior over time.

Be sure to adjust the parameters according to their needs, if necessary.


Hillstream loaches should never be handled directly. The chemicals and bacteria on our hands could hurt or even kill the fish, and we can also easily damage their delicate bodies. If you need to move them, always use a net or net bag to do so.


Because Hillstream loaches are small and peaceful, they make an ideal addition to most aquariums.

They get along well with other non-aggressive species such as tetras, barbs, catfish, and rasboras. Avoid stocking them with larger aggressive fish, as this could lead to bullying.

Health Concerns

Hillstream loaches are fairly hardy, but like all other creatures, they can be susceptible to diseases and parasites if their environment isn’t properly taken care of.

Make sure to regularly check the water parameters and do partial water changes every now and then. Additionally, inspect your loaches regularly to make sure they’re free from any parasites or diseases.


To keep your Hillstream loach tank looking great, you should perform regular maintenance. This includes removing excess food, algae, and debris that may have accumulated.

Also, keep an eye out for any signs of unhealthy behavior in your tank’s inhabitants, and inspect the tank for any signs of damage or wear.


Breeding Hillstream loaches in captivity can be a bit challenging, but it is not impossible. First, you need to create the right environment for them to breed, which means providing a well-established, well-maintained, and well-cycled tank with a steady water flow. Hillstream loaches also require specific water parameters, so you’ll need to ensure that your tank meets these requirements.

Once you’ve established the right environment, you’ll need to introduce a breeding pair. Hillstream loaches are egg layers, so you’ll need to create a spawning site, such as a flat rock, where the female can lay her eggs.

Hillstream loaches are not known for their breeding habits in captivity, so it’s difficult to predict when and how they’ll breed. However, you can try to encourage breeding by providing live or frozen foods, increasing the water flow, and keeping the water clean.

If breeding is successful, the eggs will hatch in 4-6 days, and the fry will start to swim freely in about a week. The fry are very small, so you’ll need to provide them with tiny live foods, such as infusoria and newly hatched brine shrimp.

Breeding Hillstream loaches can be a challenging and rewarding experience for experienced hobbyists.

However, it’s important to keep in mind that breeding can be stressful for the fish, so it’s essential to provide a healthy and stable environment throughout the process.


In conclusion, hillstream loaches are fascinating fish that require special care due to their unique physiological and behavioral characteristics. They are well-suited for aquariums with strong water flow and plenty of oxygenation, and will thrive in a well-maintained tank with proper filtration and water parameters.

Feeding hillstream loaches a varied diet and providing them with plenty of hiding places will help ensure their health and happiness. As with any aquarium fish, it’s important to do your research and provide the best possible care for your hillstream loaches.

With the right setup and attention to their needs, these active and interesting fish can be a rewarding addition to your aquarium.