Banded tiger loach Care Guide: Diet, Tank Mates, Diseases, Breeding & More

Updated: December 17, 2022

The banded tiger loach is a beautiful and unique freshwater fish that is perfect for the beginner aquarist. They are easy to care for and don’t require a lot of special attention.

This guide will teach you everything you need to know about banded tiger loach care. You’ll learn about their diet, size, lifespan, and more!

Species overview

Banded tiger loaches (scientific name: Syncrossus hymenophysa) are a freshwater fish that is found in Borneo.

They prefer habitats with a lot of leaf litter and woody debris. This is because they are proficient at foraging for food in these types of environments.

Banded tiger loaches are omnivores, which means that they will eat both plants and animals. In the wild, their diet consists of things like small invertebrates, worms, and insects.

Due to their unique patterning and coloration, banded tiger loaches are a popular choice for freshwater aquariums. They are also known to be relatively hardy, which means that they are a good choice for beginner aquarists.


Banded tiger loach

The Banded Tiger Loach is a very striking fish that is sure to stand out in any aquarium. As the name suggests, this loach has beautiful tiger-like stripes that run the length of their body.

These stripes are a dark brown or black color and are set against a light brown or tan background. The number of stripes and their thickness can vary quite a bit from fish to fish.

The body of the Banded Tiger Loach is long and slender with a slightly flattened shape. This gives them a very eel-like appearance.

They have a small mouth that is located at the end of a long snout. This snout is lined with tiny little barbs that the fish uses to help find food.

The fins on the Banded Tiger Loach are all fairly small and unremarkable. The dorsal fin is located about two-thirds of the way back on the body and is slightly rounded.

The caudal fin is forked and the anal and pectoral fins are both fairly small.

This loach also has a pair of small barbels on their chin that they use to help find food.


Banded tiger loaches have a lifespan of about 5 to 8 years in captivity. Of course, this can differ based on the individual fish and the care it receives.

Banded tiger loaches are very sensitive to changes in their environment. So, if the water quality in their tank isn’t up to par, this can lead to a shorter lifespan.

These fish are also known to be susceptible to a number of diseases. So, if they contract something, it can shorten their lifespan quite a bit.


The banded tiger loach grows to an average length of about 4-5 inches.


Tank Size

The minimum tank size for keeping banded tiger loaches is 50 gallons. This is assuming you want to keep them in a school of 5 or more fish (which we recommend).

As with most fish, the more space you can provide the better. Every extra gallon will make a big difference and allow you to keep a larger school or more tank mates if you’re interested in a community tank.

Water Parameters

The banded tiger loach is a tropical freshwater fish that does best in warm water with a slightly acidic to neutral pH.

They are a schooling fish, so you will need to provide them with plenty of space and hiding places.

Banded tiger loaches are not very demanding when it comes to water parameters, but you will need to maintain a consistent environment.

Here are a few guidelines to help you create a healthy banded tiger loach habitat.

  • Water temperature: 75 to 86 degrees Fahrenheit
  • pH levels: 6.0 to 7.5
  • Water hardness: 5 to 19 dGH
  • Alkalinity Levels: 3-10 dKH

What To Put In Their Tank

When it comes to the inside of their tank, these fish don’t have any specific needs. You can get away with a pretty basic setup.

Gravel or sand for the substrate is perfectly fine. As for plants, they’re not going to bother anything too much so feel free to add whatever you want.

These fish love to hide, so we recommend including some driftwood, rocks, or caves. This will give them plenty of places to feel safe and secure.

One last thing to keep in mind is that these fish like to jump. It’s not unusual for them to make it out of the tank entirely if you’re not careful. Make sure your aquarium is covered!

Common Diseases

Banded tiger loaches are a hearty and robust species of fish. They’re not particularly prone to disease, but that doesn’t mean they can’t fall ill from time to time.

The most common disease that these fish experience is ich. This is a parasitic infection that’s fairly easy to spot. It appears as white spots on the body, fins, and gills of your fish.

If left untreated, ich can be fatal. However, it’s relatively easy to treat if you catch it early enough.

Other potential diseases include fungal infections, bacterial infections, and parasites. These are all fairly common in the freshwater aquarium world and your loaches are not immune to them.

As always, the best way to prevent your fish from getting sick is to maintain clean and stable water conditions in their tank. A healthy environment will go a long way in keeping your fish happy and disease-free.

Behavior & Temperament

The banded tiger loach is a peaceful and social fish that does best in groups. They are relatively active and love to play. Banded tiger loaches are also known to be very curious, so don’t be surprised if they start investigating you when you’re near the tank!

Like most loaches, the banded tiger loach is a bottom-dweller. They will often be seen sifting through the substrate in search of food. These fish are also known to be good algae eaters.

Banded tiger loaches are not aggressive and get along well with other peaceful fish.

Tank Mates

Due to their small size and peaceful temperament, banded tiger loaches make great tank mates for a wide variety of fish.

These bottom-dwellers are relatively timid and won’t bother other fish in the tank. In fact, they’re often the ones who get bullied by larger and more aggressive species.

For that reason, it’s best to keep them with other peaceful fish. Here are some good banded tiger loach tank mates to consider:

  • Clown loach
  • Corydoras catfish
  • Otocinclus catfish
  • Loricariids (plecos)
  • Hillstream loach
  • Glass catfish
  • Danio
  • Tetra
  • Rasbora


Breeding banded tiger loaches is not an easy task. These fish are quite difficult to breed in captivity. They require a very specific environment and can be quite stubborn. However, with some patience and know-how, it can be done.

The first step for breeders is usually sexing. Unfortunately, male and female banded tiger loaches don’t have a ton of differences in their appearance when they’re not breeding. They look virtually identical. Some say that males have larger pectoral fins, but the difference is very minor.

It’s only when they are ready to breed that females start to stand out. Banded tiger loaches don’t reach maturity until about two years of age. When they are ready to spawn, females can balloon in size. In some cases, you may even see their ovaries through the skin.

Luckily, banded tiger loaches are communal breeders. You don’t have to pair them off to get results. To maximize the chances of spawning, you can keep a large group together and put them all in a specialized breeding tank.

The key to successful breeding is to make them as comfortable as possible. The best way to do that is to recreate their natural spawning grounds. Wild banded tiger loaches lay eggs in very shallow waters with dense vegetations.

Your breeding tank should have lower water levels and live floating plants. Some extra plants in the water may also help to promote breeding. Keep the light levels low and adjust the quality of the water. Lower the water hardness a bit and raise the pH to 6.5.

Once your tank is set up, give the fish time to acclimate and get comfortable. Then, feed them plenty of live food. If everything goes according to plan, you should start to see the females get larger. You can sometimes see the green eggs through their bellies.

When this happens, monitor your fish closely. You must act fast, as banded tiger loaches will feed on the eggs and any fry that hatches. Keep an eye out on those floating plants. Eggs are usually laid on the underside of the plants.

The eggs will have a very vibrant green color to them, so they shouldn’t be too hard to spot. Plus, hundreds of eggs are laid at one time. Just look for large clumps of green. Once you see them, return your adult banded tiger loaches back to their regular tank.

Eggs only take 24 hours to hatch. Those tiny little fish fry will feed on the Infusoria that’s on your live plants. You can supplement that meal with freshly-hatched brine shrimp or crushed-up flake food. Make sure to feed the fry regularly to increase survival rates.


If you’re looking for a freshwater fish that is both beautiful and unique, the Banded Tiger Loach is a great option.

They’re not the easiest fish to care for, but they’re definitely not the hardest either. With a little bit of knowledge and commitment, you can successfully keep these fish healthy and happy.

They make a great addition to any community tank and will add a splash of color and personality.

Overall, we think the Banded Tiger Loach is a great choice for any fish keeper!