Borneo hillstream loach Care Guide: Diet, Tank Mates, Diseases, Breeding & More

Updated: December 17, 2022

The Borneo hillstream loach is a beautiful and unique freshwater fish that is native to the island of Borneo.

This fish is not commonly found in the aquarium trade, but is becoming more popular as hobbyists learn about this amazing fish.

The Borneo hillstream loach is a peaceful fish that does well in a community tank. They are easy to care for and make a great addition to any aquarium.

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

Species overview

The Borneo hillstream loach (Noemacheilus barbatulus) is a type of freshwater fish that’s native to, you guessed it, the island of Borneo. They can be found in a variety of different habitats but prefer streams with a moderate to fast current.

One of the most notable things about this fish is its unique coloration. They have a dark brown or black body with bright orange spots. This makes them stand out quite a bit in most aquariums.

They are a peaceful fish that does well in community tanks. They are known to be a bit shy, so it’s important to provide them with plenty of places to hide.

Overall, the Borneo hillstream loach is a unique and beautiful fish that’s a great addition to most freshwater aquariums.


Borneo hillstream loach

Borneo hillstream loaches are a very unique and interesting-looking fish. They have a long and slender body with a somewhat flattened appearance overall.

These fish are dark brown or black on their dorsal side and light brown or tan on their ventral side. There is often a dark stripe that runs along their body from head to tail. This stripe is usually black but can be dark brown as well.

One of the most unique things about this fish is the fact that they have suckermouths. This allows them to attach themselves to rocks and other objects in their habitat.

They also have a very long and slender barbels. These are used to help them find food in the water.

Borneo hillstream loaches have a very long and deeply forked caudal fin. This fin is dark brown or black on the dorsal side and light brown or tan on the ventral side.

The pectoral fins of this fish are very long and thin. They are dark brown or black on the dorsal side and light brown or tan on the ventral side.

The dorsal fin of this fish is very long and extends almost the entire length of the body. It is dark brown or black on the dorsal side and light brown or tan on the ventral side.

The anal fin of this fish is very long and extends almost the entire length of the body. It is dark brown or black on the dorsal side and light brown or tan on the ventral side.


The average lifespan of a Borneo hillstream loach is around 5 years. This can obviously vary based on a number of different factors.

The quality of the water they’re kept in, for example, will play a role in how long they live. These fish are also fairly delicate, so they’re not the best choice for a beginner aquarium.


3 inches

This little loach only grows to be about 3 inches in length, making it one of the smaller options on our list. Despite its size, the Borneo hillstream loach is a robust and hardy fish that can do well in a variety of different aquarium setups.


Tank Size

The recommended minimum tank size for Borneo hillstream loaches is 30 gallons.

While this fish can technically live in a smaller tank, it’s not going to be very happy and will likely be more prone to stress and disease.

A 30 gallon tank will give them enough space to swim around and also provide a good number of hiding places.

Water Parameters

The Borneo hillstream loach is a beautiful, unique fish that is perfect for the right aquarium setup. As with any fish, it is important to understand their natural habitat and recreate it as closely as possible in your home aquarium.

This includes replicating the water parameters of their natural habitat. The Borneo hillstream loach is a tropical fish that comes from fast-flowing rivers in Southeast Asia.

The water in these rivers is typically cool, clear, and well-oxygenated. It is also quite soft.

When replicating the natural habitat of the Borneo hillstream loach, it is important to keep the following water parameters in mind.

  • Water temperature: 68 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit
  • pH levels: 6.5 to 7.5
  • Water hardness: 2 to 12 dGH
  • Alkalinity Levels: 4-8 dKH

What To Put In Their Tank

The Borneo hillstream loach is a unique fish that comes from fast-moving rivers in Southeast Asia. In the wild, these fish are used to a lot of water movement and a rocky substrate.

When it comes to setting up their tank, you’ll want to replicate these conditions as best as you can.

A good rule of thumb is to have at least 10 gallons of water for each fish. These fish are also very active, so you’ll want a tank that’s at least 30 inches long.

The substrate in their tank should be a mix of sand and gravel. The ratio isn’t too important, but we recommend more gravel than sand.

These fish also love hiding places. Driftwood, rocks, and caves are all great options to include in their tank. Just make sure that any openings are big enough for them to swim through (they’re not the biggest fish in the world).

As for plants, you can include them if you want. Just be aware that these fish might uproot them from time to time.

Common Diseases

Luckily, Borneo hillstream loaches are pretty hardy fish. They’re not too susceptible to the usual diseases and parasites that can affect other freshwater fish.

However, that doesn’t mean they can’t get sick at all. There are a few things you need to look out for to make sure your loaches stay healthy and happy.

The most common illness you’ll see in these fish is ich. This is a parasitic infection that will present itself as white spots on the body of your fish.

Luckily, ich is relatively easy to treat if you catch it early. There are plenty of ich medication options available, and most of them will work just fine.

Another thing you might see is fungal infections. These are more common in fish that have open wounds or cuts, but they can affect healthy fish as well.

The most obvious sign of a fungal infection is a white/fuzzy growth on the skin of your fish. These are relatively easy to treat as well, but you’ll want to act fast to make sure it doesn’t spread.

As always, the best way to prevent these illnesses is to maintain a clean and stable tank. Borneo hillstream loaches are pretty hardy fish, but they’re not immune to poor water conditions.

By keeping the tank clean and providing the fish with everything they need, you’ll significantly reduce the chance of them getting sick.

Behavior & Temperament

The Borneo hillstream loach is a peaceful and social fish. They do best in groups of 3 or more, and they love to play and hide together.

They’re not shy fish, so you’ll often see them out and about in your aquarium. They’re curious by nature, so they’ll often check out new things in their environment.

The Borneo hillstream loach is a great addition to any community aquarium. They’re not aggressive and they get along well with other fish. The only thing to be aware of is their fin nipping behavior. They may nip at the fins of long-finned fish, but they’re not known to do any serious damage.

Tank Mates

Borneo hillstream loaches make excellent tank mates. They’re peaceful, low-maintenance, and don’t require much in terms of care.

These fish are also relatively small, so they won’t outcompete larger fish for food.

Because they come from fast-moving waters, Borneo hillstream loaches do best with tank mates that can handle a bit of turbulence.

Some compatible species include:


Borneo hillstream loaches are not easy to breed in captivity. They are a mouth-brooding species, which means the female carries the eggs in her mouth until they hatch. This makes it very difficult to ensure that the eggs are properly fertilized and cared for.

For starters, you need to have a group of at least six fish. This will give you the best chance of getting a male and female. sexing these fish can be difficult, as males and females look very similar. The best way to tell them apart is by their size. Females are usually a bit larger than males.

Once you have your group, set up a breeding tank. It should hold at least 20 gallons of water. The water should be well-oxygenated and have a moderate flow. The temperature should be between 68 and 72 degrees Fahrenheit.

You also need to add some plants and hiding places. Borneo hillstream loaches like to lay their eggs in caves and among plants.

When everything is ready, add the fish to the tank and let them acclimate. Then, begin feeding them live foods. This is important, as Borneo hillstream loaches are very picky eaters.

After a few weeks, you should start to see the females getting larger. This is a sign that they are carrying eggs. Once you see this, remove the adults from the tank. The fry will hatch a few days later.

You can feed them finely-ground flake food and live baby brine shrimp.


The Borneo hillstream loach is a great fish for experienced aquarists who are looking for a challenge.

They’re not the easiest fish to keep, but they’re definitely not impossible. With the right setup and care, they can be a great addition to your tank.

If you’re up for the challenge, we say go for it! These fish are definitely worth the effort.