Hill Stream Loach Question

greywolf56

Hello, I am new here and am excited to be par of the community.

I run a 300 litre tank with dimensions 157 long, 60 tall and 38 wide (cm)

I currently have guppies, platies, otocinclus and hill stream loach.

My question is this: all the fish are doing well except for the hill stream and I have no idea why. From what I understand, the hill stream eats the same things as the otos and yet the otos are slowly getting bigger and chubbier with wonderful dark colouration and stripe, while my hill streams keep dying.

pH is between 7.2 and 7.4 depending on if it is a water change day and the temp is 25 C. there is 0 amonia, nitrite and nitrate and I have lots of floating plants.

I am pretty sure oxygen levels are alright since my other fish only comes up when they sleep or when they know it's feeding time.

I really like my hill stream but I also can't reduce the temp or the other fish will get whitespot/ich. Please help. If I cannot keep hill streams, what other adorable fish can I keep with my current tank mates?

Oh and I have no problem growing alge for the aufwache to build up, sorry for the spelling, I am pretty sure the otos are eating the aufwache because I never seen them eat the food I put for my guppies and platys and I had them for around a month and a half now.

Thank you so much. I am new to the hobby so I will really appreciate any help from people more experianced. I only started in March this year.
 

jdhef

Welcome to FishLore!

I've never kept any but, I believe that Hill Stream Loaches require a fast moving current. But you'll want to wait for someone who knows more about them than I do to answer.
 
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Dkapp

I doubt temperature is the issue for your lack of success keeping Hillstream Loaches, as it is only nominally above their preferred range, although I may be mistaken. I would make certain there is adequate oxygen available to the loaches via the addition of some air stones &/or plants, and although your parameters seem ideal make sure your turnover rate meets their needs. Although there may be enough food sources for the Otocinclus, you may want to add a sponge filter or two (with the benefit of additional oxygen through the air pump) for them to graze upon. Good luck with your loaches!
 
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Noroomforshoe

Hillstream loaches come from extremely highly oxygenated fast-moving waters. And it is likely that your hillstreams came directly from them, as a wild caught species.

These fish are adapted to the fast-moving streams, they can die from not getting enough oxygen in an average / normal tank setting. You can create more water movement at the bottom, but it's a bit tricky. This is why more people including me, don't keep these amazing-looking fish. I will post a linc for you about them. It would be great if you could get the right setup going. No guilt trip intended= but if you return them They may st around in the wrong setup at the pet store for too long, and they may not survive.
ALSO - ottos are herbivores that eat algae, almost nothing but algae. Hillstream loaches are omnivores, they eat insects, they eat Algae, sinking wafers for omnivores should be added, and or bug bites, daphnia would be awesome, also fruit flies or the larvae.


Other fish you could keep without adjusting your tank -
Chain loaches, yoyo, zebra, angelicouse, kuhlli and many other loaches
or with that tank size why not somthing bigger, like Blue acara cichlids. If they are small, they shouldnt eat the current fish, but a larger acara may eat somthing the size of a platty,
Sooo, I went to you tube to find more videos about Hillstream loaches. And i found more then one post that says the oppisite of what loaches on line says?? I thought this might be interesting. hope its not just confusing.
 
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mimo91088

In my experience most hillstream loaches don't actually need the fast directional current. I kept them successfully without it. I did however feed them algae wafers, mini veg pellets, and a variety of frozen food. They'll eat pretty much anything that is small enough to fit in their mouths.

"Hillstream loach" is an umbrella term that can describe various sewellia and gastromyzon species. Do you know what species you have?

As far as the temp thing, are you actively fighting an ich infection currently? Because the species listed can be kept in unheated tanks (unless you live somewhere with extreme temps)
 
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greywolf56

Thank you jdhef, Dkapp, Noroomforshoe, mimo91088 for replying and helping me. I did not expect such a quick reply.

To mimo91088 -I am not fighting ich, but the 25 degrees C seem like a happy medium for most tropical fish, that's all. I did not know most of what I have does not actually need to be in a heated tank. Should I drop the temperature a bit? They are currently active and no fins appear to be folded against their bodies. Would they be happier with a slightly cooler temperature?
I am currently feeding them repashy supper green and bottom feeder on a rotation for nights. During the day I feed them tetra flake, the one with the red cover, alge wafers, though from your reply, it seems like I should crumble it up before putting it in the tank and instant brine shrimp. I am trying to cultivate my own live food, but haven't had success yet. What is the easiest type to try? I've tried micro worm, but since I am sight impaired I couldn't tell if I was successful. Oh, and I live in Cardiff, Wales, it it's always cold here haha

To Noroomforshoe - Awww thank you for helping me research on youtube and make suggestions on the fish. This is so much conflicting information on the hill streams aren't there? I just looked up the blue acara. It seems like an amazing fish if I can get hold of it. I wonder if it would eat my guppies and platys though since it grows to about 7 inches? Or does it have a small mouth despite its size? Any other small but pieceful cichlids you would suggest given my current community? I would like something that is colourful and not always hiding as having the hill streams that hide often is enough shy fish for me lols.

Here is a video of my aquarium and pictures of what I believe I had in terms of hill stream loach.

Here are the hill stream loaches I have attempted to keep.

I have an air stone and the top of the tank are completely covered with dwarf water letus and red root floaters. I also have two mystery plant s and elodia. here is a picture of the tank. This is only part of the tank since it's so long, but it is pretty much all densely planted like this. Yes, I'll need to remove some alge on my next water change day haha.
 

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mimo91088

Looks like you have the reticulated hillstream loach 'sewellia lineolata'. Most common species seen at pet shops. You're at the higher end of their temp range, but not extreme. Maybe try 24?

Like others have mentioned, oxygenation is a concern, and might be worth looking at. The warmer water gets, the less oxygen it holds. You also mentioned you have lots of floating plants which will cut back on gas exchange. I'd look into adding an airstone or sponge filter if you're not already.

As far as live food I can't speak to that. I use mostly frozen.
 
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greywolf56

Thank you mimo91088

Oh I see, I thought the plants would help oxygenate the water. I run one airstone already. Should I get another one to put at the other end of the tank? Also, how much floating plants would be good to make the fish feel safe, but also allow for good gas exchange? My tank is 151 cm long; so only keep half covered with floating plants maybe?
 
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mimo91088

Yea I generally aim for around 1/2 coverage, maybe a bit more.
 
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greywolf56

Thank you! That really helps. I shall go remove some more plants now. What about a second airstone, would that help?
 
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mimo91088

Thank you! That really helps. I shall go remove some more plants now. What about a second airstone, would that help?
It might. Certainly can't hurt.
 
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Noroomforshoe

Thank you jdhef, Dkapp, Noroomforshoe, mimo91088 for replying and helping me. I did not expect such a quick reply.

To mimo91088 -I am not fighting ich, but the 25 degrees C seem like a happy medium for most tropical fish, that's all. I did not know most of what I have does not actually need to be in a heated tank. Should I drop the temperature a bit? They are currently active and no fins appear to be folded against their bodies. Would they be happier with a slightly cooler temperature?
I am currently feeding them repashy supper green and bottom feeder on a rotation for nights. During the day I feed them tetra flake, the one with the red cover, alge wafers, though from your reply, it seems like I should crumble it up before putting it in the tank and instant brine shrimp. I am trying to cultivate my own live food, but haven't had success yet. What is the easiest type to try? I've tried micro worm, but since I am sight impaired I couldn't tell if I was successful. Oh, and I live in Cardiff, Wales, it it's always cold here haha

To Noroomforshoe - Awww thank you for helping me research on youtube and make suggestions on the fish. This is so much conflicting information on the hill streams aren't there? I just looked up the blue acara. It seems like an amazing fish if I can get hold of it. I wonder if it would eat my guppies and platys though since it grows to about 7 inches? Or does it have a small mouth despite its size? Any other small but pieceful cichlids you would suggest given my current community? I would like something that is colourful and not always hiding as having the hill streams that hide often is enough shy fish for me lols.

Here is a video of my aquarium and pictures of what I believe I had in terms of hill stream loach.

Here are the hill stream loaches I have attempted to keep.

I have an air stone and the top of the tank are completely covered with dwarf water letus and red root floaters. I also have two mystery plant s and elodia. here is a picture of the tank. This is only part of the tank since it's so long, but it is pretty much all densely planted like this. Yes, I'll need to remove some alge on my next water change day haha.
I Love Loaches, I have some that are at least 8 years old. "i didn't keep a fish diary back then" But when i got hillstreams 15 years or so ago, they didnt last, and it made sense that loaches online knew what they were talking about. So I never tried them again. But maybe it was just my inexperience. When I can set up my 90 gallon again, hillstreams are the first thing I will look for,
I am new to cichlids, I had some comman ones, angels,kribs,rams, but not until last year did I start researching the more cichlidy cichlids. Someone on craigs was breaking down a fish room, he had about 60 juvenile Electric blue acara and was selling them for 3 dollars each. So in my brief experience, They are relatively peaceful, eating out of your hand personable fish. They ate some black neons that I thought were big enough to add. "OOPS" so it might not be the best choice with your small fish, sorry.
Other cichlids that may work in a community tank that I did very limited research on- apistos, keyhole, rainbow, And ones that I have kept - Angles, Kribensis, Rams.
 
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greywolf56

Oh wow nice! What loach do you have now? I am going to try to keep one more small group of hill streams alive, but if they still go, then I'm going to look for something else. I feel sad they keep dying and it's not really fair for the little fish if I can't keep them happy. Are Rams hard?
 
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Chris1212

Lots of good info and advice above. I have two Hillstreams in my 20g that are doing great. Moderate current I'd say, hard water, fairly high pH, and temps around 78. I have a hob filter and then a small sponge in the corner. They eat everything...algae on rocks and the glass, pellets, bug bites, flakes, vibra bites, freezedried worms. They are a lot of fun to watch.
 
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Bruinfishkeeper1

Yeah In my opinion they they don't need much super crazy high flow river tank flow. Mine have bred in med flow environments and they're thriving in there. I'd say keep them lower in temp if possible but really anything below 80 works.
 
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Chris1212

Also, if you don't already, spend some time acclimating them slowly to your water. Goes a long way I think
 
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mimo91088

Also, if you don't already, spend some time acclimating them slowly to your water. Goes a long way I think
Big point here. This is important.
 
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greywolf56

Thank you! Very good points! I shall do this. Hoping it works this time.

also, on tank mates, my aquarium shop doesn’t have blue akras, but have electric blue,German and gold rams. How hard are they to keep? And can they live at 24/25 degrees C? I have heard some who says yes and some who sayno. Some say they are easy and some say not so I am confused lols.
Thoughts?
Thank you in advanced, you guys really helped a lot.
 
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A201

Keeping German Blue Rams is comparable to keeping Discus. Really not the Cichlid for a novice. They require very warm, clean water (82 - 84 degrees).
Their cousins, Bolivian Rams are a bit more forgiving regarding temperature & upkeep.
 
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86 ssinit

There’s a lot to find out about hill stream loaches. I had them years ago and they never did well. I couldn’t keep them alive. Now I’ve heard everything written here about fast moving cool water. But hill stream loaches seem to now be the rage in discus tanks. Which are in the 82-86 degree range. Not only are they doing good many are claiming they are breeding like guppies. I guess there are many types of these loaches. Seems there good algae eaters. Nobody has them by me :(.
 
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mimo91088

There’s a lot to find out about hill stream loaches. I had them years ago and they never did well. I couldn’t keep them alive. Now I’ve heard everything written here about fast moving cool water. But hill stream loaches seem to now be the rage in discus tanks. Which are in the 82-86 degree range. Not only are they doing good many are claiming they are breeding like guppies. I guess there are many types of these loaches. Seems there good algae eaters. Nobody has them by me :(.
There are indeed a bunch of separate species under the umbrella term "hillstream loach". The conventional wisdom on them is evolving for sure. The sewellia species do seem to breed much more readily outside those high flow cold water setups.
 
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greywolf56

Oh and would hill stream loach show up if I added a black background? Right now I have mo background. But I heard that a black background help enhance fish coloration?
Thank you!
Oh and since redusibg the floating plants and lowering the temperature from 25 to 24 C they have been more active. So thank you for helping me with that! I hope they won’t die now.
 
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Noroomforshoe

I think a black background might be too dark for a black and white species. For neon tetra or pearl gourami, rainbow fish, sure black/dark looks nice, But In my opinion, I would look for something lighter. Hydor makes really cool backgrounds FYI.
 
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Chris1212

Not sure. I have regular tan sand substrate and a lot of white and grey river rocks, my two show up great. They also spend a lot of time on the front glass.
 
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Noroomforshoe

I think a black background might be too dark for a black and white species. For neon tetra or pearl gourami, rainbow fish, sure black/dark looks nice, But In my opinion, I would look for something lighter. Hydor makes really cool backgrounds FYI.
I just remembered, I had Marbled Angel fish/black and white angels, with my tank background, and anytime they moved to the darker areas, I couldnt see them and I wanted to rip the background off!
 
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greywolf56

Hmmm ok. I will look for something else.


I think a black background might be too dark for a black and white species. For neon tetra or pearl gourami, rainbow fish, sure black/dark looks nice, But In my opinion, I would look for something lighter. Hydor makes really cool backgrounds FYI.
I will check it out! Thank you. Yes, I definitely want to see them better and not have them vanish lols. It is a planted tank as well and aqua soil substrate. I have the hill streams, platted and guppies. The plants already dim the light. So is having no background better? If I can’t find a good one from the detour suggestion of course let.
 
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Noroomforshoe

I always think tanks look unfinised without a background. Aquarium backgrounds make the tank POP! unfourtunatly, they can be a pain, some come with a gell goo, "probobbly just glycerine, like in hair gell", it can be hard to keep the background on perfectly , and without bubbles I use modge podge to get mine just right. Im going to design a new background for my tank and print it a staples or costco.
 
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greywolf56

I think I am leaning towards blue. It look better than black. but only trying it out will tell.
Ooo? What are you thinking for the new one? Exciting!
 
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Noroomforshoe

I am working on this image in photoshop. I can't decide if I want the natural look or if i want to add a painterly look.
 

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greywolf56

Oh wow! That looks amazing! What would the painterly look be lije? Maybe post the second option and we can vote?
 
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Valleriani

I have a hillstream loach as well in my 230L. Love these guys!

My tank is around 24.5C-25C. He does very fine in there (I've had him for about a year, he's my first one.) I have lots of aeration, plants, and I've upgraded my 600L/H pump to a 1000L/H. (It's a juwel tank, so most of the pump motors were interchangeable without changing anything else which is sweet. The only reason I have done all of this is mostly for him, because I heard they really need oxygen vs other fish. My water is slightly under neutral, which probably is because of the substrate, but otherwise ok. I'll often throw an wafer in or two for him at night just in case every now and then. Good to have a balanced diet too :)

I haven't had issues with the temps and he's a pretty active guy. He can be a bit of a bully to the danios during feeding time, not sure why, probably because they're zooming so fast around him. I would have to say it's oxygen too (though many have pointed that out too).

I just wanted to throw in my 2 cents about the temp, that so far I've been successful with my HSL.. I've just made sure they have more oxygen in general since it doesn't really hurt the tank as a whole anyways, and I keep aeration since I'm heavily planted and at night the plants will probably produce co2.

Old tank photo, remodeled my tank recently, but here is my little dude :D
 

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greywolf56

Thank you! I will see how to improve airatiin awwww he is adorable! Did you name him? Mine has just discovered the wonderful feeding ground also known as drift woood lols. My main concern is the guppies will eat everything before my hill stream and rams get to the food. Any tips? I tried spreading out the food but the guppies still manage to find them lols I love my guppies though and I don’t want to get rid of them.
 
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Valleriani

Thank you! I will see how to improve airatiin awwww he is adorable! Did you name him? Mine has just discovered the wonderful feeding ground also known as drift woood lols. My main concern is the guppies will eat everything before my hill stream and rams get to the food. Any tips? I tried spreading out the food but the guppies still manage to find them lols I love my guppies though and I don’t want to get rid of them.

Yes they need driftwood I think anyways, so that's good! I name all my non schooling fish. (So pretty much all but the danios).

This one is called Leo.

I put the food in 30 minutes after lights out. The fish are inactive at this time so it's a much higher chance. Leo has no problem though. Do not shine light in their tank or have ambient light, they'll eat anything that goes down otherwise if they can see you or it. Eternally hungry little things.
 
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Chris1212

I have some decent algae growth that forms a good base of the diet for my two. A couple times a week I'll put in things most of the other fish leave alone: algae wafers and veg. They also get their fair share of sinking food - pellets, vibra bites, and the occasional tubifex worm that makes it to the bottom or gets stuck on some leaves.
 
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Noroomforshoe

Oh wow! That looks amazing! What would the painterly look be lije? Maybe post the second option and we can vote?
THANKS, A less realistic look might be nice, I cant decide =
 

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ShannyB

I love my Hillstream loach! I have the Sewellia lineolata, which appears to be the same that you have had. They are funny little guys with tons of personality...and yes, can definitely be a bit of a bully at feeding time! Tonight he went after the Otos pretty aggressively but to be fair they'd been leisurely grazing on the algae wafer in the feeding dish for a long time and I think he just finally decided it was his turn!

I have him in a 20 gallon long. My heater is set at 75* (so temp probably fluctuates from 74-76ish) and my tank is moderately planted. pH is steady at 7.4. In preparation for getting him (I knew I wanted them and hope to get a couple more in the coming months, he was the only one at my LFS) I set up my tank with 2 sponge filters with internal air stones along with a 4 inch long air diffusor (I like the bubble wall look!) While he does disappear some I wouldn't call him shy. He's out on rocks, driftwood, the front glass, or bathing in algae wafers in the feeding dish *a lot*. But, my tank is pretty lightly stocked (3 pearl danios, 5 Otos, 4-6 Amano & the lone HSL) and all his tank mates are peaceful and calm, though the danios can be quite hyper of course.

I hope you can figure out the key to keeping some...definitely agree with everyone that it may be that you just need to up the oxygen levels with air stones & increasing surface agitations...they really are fun and so interesting to watch!
 
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Noroomforshoe

I love my Hillstream loach! I have the Sewellia lineolata, which appears to be the same that you have had. They are funny little guys with tons of personality...and yes, can definitely be a bit of a bully at feeding time! Tonight he went after the Otos pretty aggressively but to be fair they'd been leisurely grazing on the algae wafer in the feeding dish for a long time and I think he just finally decided it was his turn!

I have him in a 20 gallon long. My heater is set at 75* (so temp probably fluctuates from 74-76ish) and my tank is moderately planted. pH is steady at 7.4. In preparation for getting him (I knew I wanted them and hope to get a couple more in the coming months, he was the only one at my LFS) I set up my tank with 2 sponge filters with internal air stones along with a 4 inch long air diffusor (I like the bubble wall look!) While he does disappear some I wouldn't call him shy. He's out on rocks, driftwood, the front glass, or bathing in algae wafers in the feeding dish *a lot*. But, my tank is pretty lightly stocked (3 pearl danios, 5 Otos, 4-6 Amano & the lone HSL) and all his tank mates are peaceful and calm, though the danios can be quite hyper of course.

I hope you can figure out the key to keeping some...definitely agree with everyone that it may be that you just need to up the oxygen levels with air stones & increasing surface agitations...they really are fun and so interesting to watch!
If you can find more, or get the store to order more, hilllstreams, please consider getting more, they are social schooling fish, 6 is a the minimum for a school.
 
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ShannyB

If you can find more, or get the store to order more, hilllstreams, please consider getting more, they are social schooling fish, 6 is a the minimum for a school.

Yeah I definitely want to get him some friends. Originally I'd planned to keep 3-4...you think 6 would be better? I'd like to get my Otos up to 10-12. Would I be okay stocking wise to keep 6 HSL, say 12 Otos, 6 pearl danios (will be bumping their numbers up to give them a fuller school), and the 4-6 amanos? Oh, and the nerite I always forget is in there. I know Otos and HSL like pristine water so don't want to get overstocked, but want to keep them with good schooling numbers. Appreciate any insight you have on this!
 
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FishDin

I keep mine in an unheated tank which varies from about 67F-73F with the season. There is medium water flow, 15x turnover per hour, bright light to help grow agae etc for them.
pH=7.5
KH 4
GH 5
The tank has a planted drip wall that is about 36" x 14". The drip wall keeps the nitrates at zero and hopefully oxygenates the water as it trickles down through the wall. Tankmates are White Cloud Mountain minnows and Ram's Horn snails. I did all this based on the best advice at the time that I set the tank up, but I really don't know for sure what matters. I know there are people keeping them successfully with very little current and at higher temps. More and more people seem to be breeding them without even trying, and in conditions that are not supposed to be "ideal".

I feed them Repashy Soilent Green. I also add Bacter AE daily (I add much less than recommended) to try to boosts the Aufwuchs (I don't know if it helps). They may forage for left over minnow food as well.

Based on my experience and on what others here have said, I think the dissolved oxygen may be key. If keeping them at higher temps (mid to high 70's IMO), attention should be on achieving higher dissolved O2 than you would for tropical fish.

mrsP on this site has been successfully breeding them

Also, low temperatures do not cause ich

Welcome to fish keeping greywolf56! There's no turning back now... :~)
 
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ShannyB

I keep mine in an unheated tank which varies from about 67F-73F with the season. There is medium water flow, 15x turnover per hour, bright light to help grow agae etc for them.
pH=7.5
KH 4
GH 5
The tank has a planted drip wall that is about 36" x 14". The drip wall keeps the nitrates at zero and hopefully oxygenates the water as it trickles down through the wall. Tankmates are White Cloud Mountain minnows and Ram's Horn snails. I did all this based on the best advice at the time that I set the tank up, but I really don't know for sure what matters. I know there are people keeping them successfully with very little current and at higher temps. More and more people seem to be breeding them without even trying, and in conditions that are not supposed to be "ideal".

I feed them Repashy Soilent Green. I also add Bacter AE daily (I add much less than recommended) to try to boosts the Aufwuchs (I don't know if it helps). They may forage for left over minnow food as well.

Based on my experience and on what others here have said, I think the dissolved oxygen may be key. If keeping them at higher temps (mid to high 70's IMO), attention should be on achieving higher dissolved O2 than you would for tropical fish.

mrsP on this site has been successfully breeding them

Also, low temperatures do not cause ich

Welcome to fish keeping greywolf56! There's no turning back now... :~)

Ah yes, I also feed Soilent Green a couple of times a week and dose Bacter AE (much less than rec as well) a couple of times a week, along with algae wafers a couple of times a week. He also frequently grazes on the fresh veggies I have on a clip pretty much constantly for the Otos.
 
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