Gold Zebra Loach (Botia histrionica): Ultimate Care Guide

Common Name(s)Gold Zebra Loach
Scientific NameBotia histrionica
OriginMyanmar, India
Temperature72 – 82.4 degrees Fahrenheit
Size4 to 5 inches, fully grown
Minimum Tank Size75-gallon tank or larger for a group
Food & Dietomnivorous
Lifespan6 years
Water pH6.0 – 7.5

The Gold Zebra Loach (Botia histrionica) is a freshwater fish originally from Myanmar, India. This is a loach type that can be kept by fishkeepers of various levels of experience, including beginners.

Gold Zebra Loaches are commonly referred to by many other names: Burmese Loach, Golden Zebra Loach, Asian Loach, Silver Striped Loach, and Burmese Zebra Loach. They are small gold-colored fish with black stripes. They have 5 broad black bars on their body with other black markings on their head and tail.

The Gold Zebra Loach is an incredibly active fish. They can almost always be found swimming and foraging for food. These fish like to hang out in the middle or lower levels of the aquarium. They are hardy, adaptable, semi-aggressive fish. Gold Zebra Loaches prefer to be kept in schools of 6 to 9 fish.

In the wild, they live in slow-moving streams and rivers. They like to hang out in the shady areas over a rocky, sandy riverbed with a lot of wood and leaves. They make a great addition to a freshwater aquarium with the proper care.

Gold Zebra Loach (Botia histrionica)
Gold Zebra Loach (Botia histrionica)

Gold Zebra Loach Care

Gold Zebra Loaches prefer warmer waters. If the tank is at the higher end of the temperature range, it is important to maintain the high levels of dissolved oxygen in the water. These fish will be between 2 and 3 inches when bought from a pet store. They usually range between 4 and 5 inches fully grown.

Gold Zebra Loach Diet

The Golden Zebra Loach is an omnivorous species. They need a diet full of meaty foods with regular supplements of fruit and vegetable matter. While the fish will accept dry foods, it is recommended to also include regular meals of live or frozen meaty foods such as cyclops, Daphnia, Artemia, Tubifex, and bloodworms. Plant matter can include cucumber, zucchini, melon, and more.

It is not clear if the Golden Zebra Loach eats algae. The Zebra Loach will munch on some algae here and there, but aquarists do not recommend using them as the only cleaner-fish in the tank. It is probably safe to say Golden Zebra Loaches should not be counted on to do the heavy cleaning in the tank, either.

The Golden Zebra Loach is a predator of many invertebrates, including snails. Most loaches will prey on tiny shrimp and snails making them a great fish to reduce pest snails.

Gold Zebra Loach Tank Setup

The aquarium needs to have plenty of plants, rocks, and driftwood for the Golden Zebra Loach to explore. They prefer an area with cover. They are an active species that likes to swim, explore, and forage. Gold Zebra Loaches prefer very clean water with high levels of oxygen.

The Golden Zebra Loach may munch on some of the soft leaf plants in the tank, so it is a good idea to keep an eye out for that. They do great with more durable plants and most mosses. Making sure the fish has enough food, including fruit and vegetable matter, will decrease the chances of the fish chomping on the aquarium plants.

Golden Zebra Loaches are known to jump, so a secure lid is necessary to keep this fish.

Gold Zebra Loach Breeding

Gold Zebra Loaches have not been bred in an aquarium environment. Aquarists have been able to document courtship displays during cooler water changes.

Males and females are fairly easy to differentiate. Mature females usually have a fuller body with a more rounded snout. The males will have a more elongated nose and fuller lips.

Gold Zebra Loach Disease

Gold Zebra Loaches are hardy fish, but that does not mean they are invincible. They do not have any species-specific diseases reported, but many ailments can plague freshwater fish.

The Zebra Loach is listed as being most susceptible to Ich, a common parasite found in freshwater fish. It can become a problem if it is not dealt with quickly. Signs to look out for are white spots that will cover the fish’s body.

Other diseases are not as common. The best way to keep a happy, healthy school of fish is to keep a high quality of water in the tank. Keeping the tank full of clean, stable water will help maintain a healthy ecosystem. 

Gold Zebra Loach Tank Mates

Gold Zebra Loaches are schooling fish that do best in schools of 6 to 8 fish. They may begin to withdraw or show signs of aggression if they are kept by themselves or in small groups. They show signs of social hierarchy. The fish will “compete” to see who swims in front as the leader. This behavior is usually a peaceful event as long as there are enough fish in the school. Aggression and bullying are kept down to a minimum as long as there are at least 6 fish in the school.

The Golden Zebra Loach is considered a generally peaceful fish but can be semi-aggressive if it is stressed or left alone.

Compatible Tank Mates

The active nature of the Golden Zebra Loach may be stressful to passive fish. It is recommended to place them with fish of a similar nature. Golden Zebra Loaches get along well with most rasboras, tetras, danios, and livebearers. Some schooling fish that live in the middle and upper levels of the aquarium can be good tank mates. Depending on how big the tank is, Golden Zebra Loaches can be kept with other bottom-dwelling fish that are not too timid. Those other bottom-dwellers will need to be able to hold their own when feeding time comes around.

Incompatible Tank Mates

Shrimp and snails are a no-go with Golden Zebra Loaches. Betta fish are also out of the question. Gold Zebra Loaches are bottom-feeders and Bettas like to stay near the top of the tank. This might seem like they would make good tank mates, but Bettas are territorial and will get stressed easily with an active fish. Betta fish are calm fish who do well in small tanks. They also do well as solo fish.

Where Can I Find Gold Zebra Loaches for Sale?

Petco sells Gold Zebra Loach for $6.99 each. Getting a group of at least 6 loaches is recommended.

Gold Zebra Loach vs Yoyo Loach

Gold Zebra Loach and Yoyo Loach are similar in coloring and size when they are juveniles. This changes a little when they reach adulthood. The Gold Zebra Loaches have stripes running vertically across their bodies while Yoyo Loaches have a more random-looking pattern.

The Yoyo Loaches do not grow to be as big as the Gold Zebra Loach. Yoyo Loaches only reach about 2.5 inches or half of an adult Gold Zebra Loach. They have a similar lifespan. The Yoyo Loach lives between 5 and 8 years and the Gold Zebra Loach lives around 6 years.

Yoyo Loaches are best kept in schools of 6. This will keep any individual fish from getting bullied too much. They are known to be curious fish that will interact with other tank mates regularly. They are generally peaceful but will hold their own if necessary. 

Yoyo Loaches are different from other loaches because they are not nocturnal. Yoyo Loaches can be seen bobbing up and down in the tank like a yo-yo during the day. They will spend most of their time foraging at the bottom of the tank or hiding in rocks or caves in the aquarium.

Golden Zebra Loaches can be seen at night or during the day. They will be more active if there are plenty of obstacles to explore and hide in.


Golden Zebra Loaches are a great addition to a freshwater aquarium. They are beginner-friendly, but it is important to follow proper care requirements. Slow-moving water with a high oxygen concentration is best. Having a lot of plant matter and wood in the tank will give them a lot to explore.

They are small, only growing to be around 5 inches long, but a school of Golden Zebra Loaches will need at least a 75-gallon tank. Golden Zebra Loaches are incredibly active. These fish enjoy swimming, exploring, and foraging for food in the bottom of the tank. They are also known for jumping out of the tank, so a lid is recommended.

Golden Zebra Loaches are hardy fish, but should not be solo. They need to be kept in schools of 6 or more to avoid fighting. They are omnivores and need a diverse diet. They will not be a part of the full-time cleaner crew, but they might chomp on some algae here and there. Golden Zebra Loaches will eat shrimp, and they are too active to be kept with Betta fish. Compatible tank mates include most rasboras, tetras, danios, and livebearers.