Funkyfishgorl

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I’d like help stocking my tank as I’ve heard mixed things online and in pet stores about zebra loaches and a healthy bioload for my tank. I have a 160L / 42 US gallon tank measuring 100cm in length, 50cm high and 40cm wide with plants and driftwood. I have about 20 male guppies in with one ottocinclus, these fish are mature and from my previous tanks.
I got 3 more ottos for the one I have and a zebra loach to help with tank maintenance, however after researching I know they need a shoal to feel happy. Ideally in a couple years when the guppies have died I’d like to add a larger ’showy’ fish so I don’t want the recommended shoal of 6 as I’d like the space and the bioload for that future addition and I’d love suggestions for this too. Also, when they’re older I think 6 would need more than 42 gallons, although I’ve found no definitive answer anywhere.
I added one more today but they are chasing and nipping each other so I’m guessing I should add more and I’d like to know how many more to add? I would like to keep them in this tank their whole lives so I don’t want too many to keep, nor do I want a fully stocked tank with only zebra loaches. Any help and advice on my tank size and stocking would be hugely appreciated.
Tank Size: 42 g
Current Stock: 20 male guppies, 1 otto
In quarantine tank but to be added: 3 ottos, 2 zebra loaches
 
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Wills

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Hi I really like Zebra Loaches great looking fish but I feel I have to ask the question - are you happy with the fish you are keeping? Or have you ended up with your Guppies and Loaches through necessity rather than planning and building a community.

You are right that Loaches really need to be in groups of 5+ and Zebra Loaches are not the smallest Loach getting to about 3 inches each so using inch per gallon as a guide about a third of your capacity in the tank so quite a big commitment in your tank.

Theres no problem with deciding to rehome fish rather than waiting for them to live out their days, you've got to stay engaged and passionate about your tank and hobby otherwise maintenance becomes a chore and starts slipping. So if you are on the fence about the fish you have now with your Guppies and Zebra Loaches it might be worth planning a tank around the big showy fish you want and work out a stocking plan around them?

Wills
 
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Funkyfishgorl

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Hi I really like Zebra Loaches great looking fish but I feel I have to ask the question - are you happy with the fish you are keeping? Or have you ended up with your Guppies and Loaches through necessity rather than planning and building a community.

You are right that Loaches really need to be in groups of 5+ and Zebra Loaches are not the smallest Loach getting to about 3 inches each so using inch per gallon as a guide about a third of your capacity in the tank so quite a big commitment in your tank.

Theres no problem with deciding to rehome fish rather than waiting for them to live out their days, you've got to stay engaged and passionate about your tank and hobby otherwise maintenance becomes a chore and starts slipping. So if you are on the fence about the fish you have now with your Guppies and Zebra Loaches it might be worth planning a tank around the big showy fish you want and work out a stocking plan around them?

Wills
Hi Wills,
Thank you for your great advice. I actually recently had that epiphany so I’m giving away my female guppies and keeping the boys as I still really enjoy them. As for zebras, I was originally enthralled by the yo-yo Loach, but after advice in the fish store I realised they would not get on with the guppies, plus will be far too big. I actually now really love them, whilst they don’t have as cool a pattern I think they are really cute (I originally wanted to go for a school of corydoras) and from what I’ve heard are friendly, inquisitive and perfect for a community tank. When I don’t have guppies I would prefer to have a big fish as I’ve never had something like that, so I would like there to be enough space and bioload for that as well as the zebras and ottos. So I wonder what the minimum I can have but also have space for future fish? I guess I don’t understand how big the tank size would have to be for them to spend their entire lives so I’m unsure how many I can fit. I’m unsure if even 4 are able to live out their lives with my current stock and tank. Thank you again very much for your help.
 

jinjerJOSH22

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Hi Wills,
Thank you for your great advice. I actually recently had that epiphany so I’m giving away my female guppies and keeping the boys as I still really enjoy them. As for zebras, I was originally enthralled by the yo-yo Loach, but after advice in the fish store I realised they would not get on with the guppies, plus will be far too big. I actually now really love them, whilst they don’t have as cool a pattern I think they are really cute (I originally wanted to go for a school of corydoras) and from what I’ve heard are friendly, inquisitive and perfect for a community tank. When I don’t have guppies I would prefer to have a big fish as I’ve never had something like that, so I would like there to be enough space and bioload for that as well as the zebras and ottos. So I wonder what the minimum I can have but also have space for future fish? I guess I don’t understand how big the tank size would have to be for them to spend their entire lives so I’m unsure how many I can fit. I’m unsure if even 4 are able to live out their lives with my current stock and tank. Thank you again very much for your help.
The tank is big enough and I would get 7 or 8 in total. They are fantastic fish to keep in large groups, one of my favourite and I promise you won't be disappointed.

I wouldn't be overly concerned with the bioload of the tank also for your future stocking ;)
 

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The first thing to clarify is the species. In other threads here, "Zebra Loach" has referred to two (maybe three) very different species. I will go with the assumption the species is Botia striata, pictured below, since this I believe is what other members in this thread are assuming.

This species, like all loaches, absolutely must have a group and they must be put together at the same time. It does not take long for a solitary loach to become detrimentally affected by being alone, nor does it take long for two or three to become a real problem because of insufficient numbers to establish the hierarchy that is inherent to this species. Five is as few as you should consider, or more if space permits. They attain 3-4 inches, and require at minimum a 36-inch (90 cm) long tank, so you are OK here.

Generally peaceful, and usually more-so than most species in this genus, but like all loaches (to some degree) they establish a social structure within the group and there will be some in-fighting though not damaging if the fish are maintained in a group of at least five and there are numerous hiding places in the aquarium. They must have several chunks of bogwood, Malaysian Driftwood available in fish stores and online is ideal as pieces can have tunnels and crevices; or similar artificial "wood" is fine, provided each loach is able to select its "home."

I don't understand about, "a zebra loach to help with tank maintenance," since these loaches eat and contribute to the bioload just like any fish, and they do not eat algae. If you like the fish for itself--and it is a lovely loach--get a group of five or six. Do not leave the lone loach on its own any longer than absolutely essential, as believe me it is being harmed by this.
 

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Funkyfishgorl

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The tank is big enough and I would get 7 or 8 in total. They are fantastic fish to keep in large groups, one of my favourite and I promise you won't be disappointed.

I wouldn't be overly concerned with the bioload of the tank also for your future stocking ;)
Hey Josh,
Thanks so much for your help. It’s great to know it’ll be big enough although I’m unsure if I’d get 7 right away as it’s still new (although it has my old filter and sponge filter.) Would it be okay to go with 5 then add 2 more when the tank is more established? Thank you again, I’m very excited now!
 
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Funkyfishgorl

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The first thing to clarify is the species. In other threads here, "Zebra Loach" has referred to two (maybe three) very different species. I will go with the assumption the species is Botia striata, pictured below, since this I believe is what other members in this thread are assuming.

This species, like all loaches, absolutely must have a group and they must be put together at the same time. It does not take long for a solitary loach to become detrimentally affected by being alone, nor does it take long for two or three to become a real problem because of insufficient numbers to establish the hierarchy that is inherent to this species. Five is as few as you should consider, or more if space permits. They attain 3-4 inches, and require at minimum a 36-inch (90 cm) long tank, so you are OK here.

Generally peaceful, and usually more-so than most species in this genus, but like all loaches (to some degree) they establish a social structure within the group and there will be some in-fighting though not damaging if the fish are maintained in a group of at least five and there are numerous hiding places in the aquarium. They must have several chunks of bogwood, Malaysian Driftwood available in fish stores and online is ideal as pieces can have tunnels and crevices; or similar artificial "wood" is fine, provided each loach is able to select its "home."

I don't understand about, "a zebra loach to help with tank maintenance," since these loaches eat and contribute to the bioload just like any fish, and they do not eat algae. If you like the fish for itself--and it is a lovely loach--get a group of five or six. Do not leave the lone loach on its own any longer than absolutely essential, as believe me it is being harmed by this.
Hi Byron,
I appreciate all your detailed information, it’s really helpful. And yes I do mean the straita thank you.

• It’s such a shame I didn’t wait to put them in together. I got the first on day 1, 1 more on day 2 and I’ll get 3 on day 3, do you think the short intervals may help? Or will they likely be quite aggressive and fight for a while? They’re young but as I didn’t plan on many they’re quarantining in a 50 litre for 10-14 days (from day 3) which is very small for 5.

• Great to know, I’m hoping I’ll have enough cover. Thanks to your reply if I see fighting or abnormal behaviour I’ll get more driftwood. In terms of selecting their homes, will they potentially need large territories to themselves? I have a few ottocinclus and as the loaches get large, if they’re aggressive over territory it could be dangerous. I’m also worried about getting too many for them to have their own space as full grown adults with the other fish I had in mind.

• Sorry I meant to say snail maintenance/population control, although I also feed them frozen food like my guppies.

Thank you again for your great advise!
 

Byron

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It’s such a shame I didn’t wait to put them in together. I got the first on day 1, 1 more on day 2 and I’ll get 3 on day 3, do you think the short intervals may help? Or will they likely be quite aggressive and fight for a while? They’re young but as I didn’t plan on many they’re quarantining in a 50 litre for 10-14 days (from day 3) which is very small for 5.

I do not see an issue here, if you stay with those day intervals. Shoaling fish like these obviously need some time to adjust to a new environment, and if we (the aquarist) are lucky the fish may be concentrating on this for a day or so, but I would not push it. Another factor in your favour is the relatively peaceful nature of this species, compared to many in the genus. I would proceed as indicated.

The QT is fine, just make certain there are chunks of wood or comparable artificial decor (clean unpainted clay flower pots work, PVC pipe in several sections). This will allow them to settle down, and when they are subsequently moved into the display they have new homes to establish, another factor in your favour.

In terms of selecting their homes, will they potentially need large territories to themselves?

No. There is not really much of a territory issue with these loaches (most all the Botia species), it is more the hierarchy so each knows its place--and BTW, the alpha fish that controls the shoal is usually a female--and within that each has its own home in a chunk of wood or whatever. And the otocinclcus won't matter to the loaches, or vice versa.

I’m also worried about getting too many for them to have their own space as full grown adults with the other fish I had in mind.

Space here is OK for five or six. But rgardless of that, if any of us keeps this or that species, we must provide what the fish expect or we have no business having them. You have the space, five loaches will live in this space, and other fish will have to be selected accordingly. No ong-finned fish like gourami, as loaches are known to fin nip these. But so far as fish go, not worrying about space, most of the peaceful barbs, danios, the more active tetras, are suited.

I have not found this loach especially effective at eating snails, but they may or may not be.
 
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Funkyfishgorl

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I do not see an issue here, if you stay with those day intervals. Shoaling fish like these obviously need some time to adjust to a new environment, and if we (the aquarist) are lucky the fish may be concentrating on this for a day or so, but I would not push it. Another factor in your favour is the relatively peaceful nature of this species, compared to many in the genus. I would proceed as indicated.

The QT is fine, just make certain there are chunks of wood or comparable artificial decor (clean unpainted clay flower pots work, PVC pipe in several sections). This will allow them to settle down, and when they are subsequently moved into the display they have new homes to establish, another factor in your favour.



No. There is not really much of a territory issue with these loaches (most all the Botia species), it is more the hierarchy so each knows its place--and BTW, the alpha fish that controls the shoal is usually a female--and within that each has its own home in a chunk of wood or whatever. And the otocinclcus won't matter to the loaches, or vice versa.



Space here is OK for five or six. But rgardless of that, if any of us keeps this or that species, we must provide what the fish expect or we have no business having them. You have the space, five loaches will live in this space, and other fish will have to be selected accordingly. No ong-finned fish like gourami, as loaches are known to fin nip these. But so far as fish go, not worrying about space, most of the peaceful barbs, danios, the more active tetras, are suited.

I have not found this loach especially effective at eating snails, but they may or may not be.
Hey Byron,
Thank you for your reply. Luckily I stayed to those parameters and the group of 5 seem okay, they are swimming around together or in a group of 3/4. There was some nipping initially like you explained from the ‘tank boss’ (who was the original lone zebra) but now that’s subsided.
Great to know the QT tank will be okay and that their generally peaceful nature won’t cause any issues!
That’s so interesting so thank you for all the information. I love that they have a bit of a matriarchal organising! I can’t wait to see more of their behaviours as already with 5 now they are much more active.
Yes I agree. I was just concerned I wouldn’t have enough floor space for full grown adults but I’m really glad that’s not the case.
Oh good to know, I wanted it more for control not culling so I’m happy with a few snails.
Thanks again Byron you’ve really helped me out.
 

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