Tiger Hillstream Loach

Sewellia lineolata, commonly known as the Tiger Hillstream Loach or Gold Ring Butterfly Sucker, is a fascinating freshwater fish species that has captivated aquarium enthusiasts around the world. Its distinctive appearance, interesting behavior, and relative ease of care make it a popular choice for hobbyists. In this comprehensive guide, we will delve into various aspects of Sewellia lineolata, including its size and appearance, natural habitat, behavior, dietary preferences, and tips for keeping them successfully in your home aquarium.


Sewellia lineolata is a small-sized fish that typically reaches an average length of 6-7 centimeters (2.5-3 inches) when fully grown. Its elongated body is adorned with unique reticulated patterns and dark brown or black vertical stripes, which add to its overall charm. The ventral surface features an array of suckers that assist the fish in clinging to rocks and other surfaces in fast-flowing streams, its natural habitat. Safe to say one of the most unique looking algae eaters out there, resembling something of a ‘’UFO’’ flying disc.


The Tiger Hillstream Loach is native to the cool, fast-flowing streams and rivers of Southeast Asia, specifically in countries like Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia. These streams are typically characterized by rocky substrates and are known for their high levels of dissolved oxygen. Sewellia lineolata has adapted to such habitats, allowing it to thrive in aquarium setups that mimic these conditions.


Tiger Hillstream Loach is a highly active and social fish that prefers to live in groups. In the wild, they are commonly found in large shoals, darting between rocks and actively foraging for food. In an aquarium environment, they will exhibit similar behavior, constantly exploring their surroundings and searching for algae and small organisms to feed on. Their strong suction-cup-like ventral fins enable them to cling to surfaces in the presence of strong water currents. A cover glass is preferable as these fish are known to be able to climb out of the aquarium into the light hood of the aquarium.


The natural diet of Sewellia lineolata consists primarily of algae and small invertebrates. In an aquarium, it is important to provide a varied diet that includes high-quality sinking pellets or wafers specifically formulated for herbivorous fish. Additionally, they will readily consume small live or frozen foods such as brine shrimp, daphnia, or bloodworms. Regularly supplementing their diet with algae-based foods or blanched vegetables like zucchini or spinach is also beneficial for their overall health.

Keeping the Tiger Hillstream Loach at home

Creating a suitable environment for Sewellia lineolata requires careful attention to water parameters, tank setup, and tank mates. Here are some essential tips to consider:

Tank setup: Provide a spacious aquarium with a minimum capacity of 75 liters (20 gallons) to accommodate a small group of Sewellia lineolata. The tank should have a rocky substrate, plenty of hiding spots formed by caves or driftwood, and ample water flow to simulate their natural habitat.
Water parameters: Maintain a temperature range of 20-27 degrees Celsius (68-81 degrees Fahrenheit) and a pH level between 6.5 and 7.5, but most importantly to keep the pH stable.
A moderate level of hardness around 5-12 dGH is ideal. Regular water changes of around 20% should be performed to keep the water clean and well-oxygenated.
Tank mates: Sewellia lineolata is a peaceful species that can coexist with other small, non-aggressive fish that share similar water requirements. Suitable tank mates include other small loach species, peaceful tetras, rasboras, or dwarf shrimp. Avoid housing them with larger, more boisterous fish that may intimidate or outcompete them for food.
Feeding: Offer a balanced diet consisting of algae-based sinking pellets or wafers, supplemented with occasional live or frozen foods. Ensure that the food reaches the bottom of the tank where Sewellia lineolata can access it easily.

In conclusion, the Tiger Hillstream Loach – with its captivating appearance, active behavior, and relative ease of care – is an excellent choice for aquarium enthusiasts looking to add a unique and engaging species to their collection. By replicating their natural habitat and providing a varied diet, you can create a thriving and visually appealing environment for these delightful Hillstream Loaches in your own home aquarium. With proper care and attention, Sewellia lineolata will reward you with endless enjoyment and a fascinating glimpse into the world of freshwater fishkeeping.

Scientific nameSewellia lineolata
Type of aquariumFreshwater aquarium
Size6-7 cm / 2.5-3 inches
RegionSoutheast Asia (Vietnam, Laos)
Ideal tank sizeMinimum 75 liters / 20 gallons
Ideal water temperature20-27 °C / 68-81 °F
pH6.5-7.5, keep pH stable
DietAlgae, small invertebrates, sinking pellets
ReproductionEgg laying
Life spanBetween 5 to 10 years with proper care


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