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

Updated: November 18, 2022

The skunk loach is a beautiful and unique freshwater fish that is perfect for any aquarium.

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

Species overview

The skunk loach (scientific name: Syncrossus berdmorei) is a type of freshwater fish that’s native to Indonesia. It’s a nocturnal fish, which means it’s most active at night.

This fish is mostly brown with a white stripe that runs down its back. This stripe is what gives the skunk loach its name.

The skunk loach is a peaceful fish that does well in community tanks. It’s an omnivore, so it will eat both plants and meat.

This fish is a good choice for beginner aquarium enthusiasts because it’s relatively easy to care for.


Skunk loach

The first thing you’ll notice about this fish is their black and white stripes that run down the entirety of their body. These horizontal stripes are a dead giveaway for this species.

The base color of their body is a light tan/brown. The stripes are jet black and run from the top of their head all the way to the tail.

The fins on this fish are all black except for the very tips which are white. The dorsal and caudal fins are both forked and relatively large.

The pectoral and ventral fins are both small in comparison. Skunk loaches have a unique mouth that is shaped almost like a sucker.

This is due to the fact that they are bottom feeders and use this mouth to vacuum up food from the substrate.


The lifespan of a skunk loach is about 10 years. This can of course be affected by a number of different factors but, generally speaking, they’re a long-lived fish.

As with any other animal, the environment you keep them in will play a big role in how long they live. If the water quality is poor or the tank is too small, their lifespan will be significantly shortened.

A healthy diet is also important. These fish are omnivores so they need a balance of both meat and plants in their diet. If they’re not getting enough of either one, it can lead to health problems that shorten their lifespan.


The average skunk loach size is around 4 inches, with some specimens reaching 6 inches in length. They are a relatively slim fish, so they don’t require a ton of space in your aquarium.


Tank Size

The recommended minimum tank size for skunk loaches is 30 gallons. If you’re looking for a freshwater fish that can fit in an average-sized tank, this is not the fish for you.

If you want to keep two skunk loaches in the same tank you’ll want to add at least another 30 gallons to that minimum number if you want them to thrive.

Another reason why you need to provide enough space is for the sake of enrichment and comfort. These fish like to roam and will often run gentle but steady laps around your tank. Giving them a little bit of extra space can go a long way in making sure they can comfortably turn around in the tank.

Water Parameters

The skunk loach is a freshwater fish that is native to Southeast Asia. In the wild, they inhabit slow-moving streams and rivers with plenty of hiding places.

To keep your skunk loach healthy, it’s important to provide similar water conditions in the aquarium.

The table below provides a general overview of the water parameters that are ideal for skunk loaches.

  • Water temperature: 72 to 82 degrees Fahrenheit
  • pH levels: 6.0 to 8.0
  • Water hardness: 5 to 19 dGH
  • Alkalinity Levels: 3-10 dKH

What To Put In Their Tank

Skunk loaches are a little bit different when it comes to their living space. For one, they come from fast-moving rivers so they’re used to a fair amount of turbulence.

You can replicate this by using a powerhead in their tank. This will help circulate the water and make sure everyone gets a good amount of oxygen.

Another thing to consider is that these fish like to have a lot of hiding spots. This is due to the fact that they’re bottom-dwellers and are constantly at risk of being eaten.

We recommend using a lot of plants (real or fake) and rocks to give them plenty of options. You can even use driftwood if you’d like! Just make sure it’s not too big since these fish aren’t the best swimmers.

As for the substrate, go with something that’s soft and sandy. This will help prevent any cuts or scrapes if they do happen to bump into something.

Common Diseases

Skunk loaches are a pretty hearty fish, but that doesn’t mean they can’t get sick. The most common illness that affects this species is ich, which is a pretty common freshwater parasite.

This will show itself as white spots on the body, fish, and gills of your fish. We won’t do a full ich treatment guide here (there are plenty of those online) but it’s something you need to take very seriously if it affects your skunk loach.

Other potential illnesses include bacterial infections, fungal infections, and parasites. These are much less common than ich but can still affect your fish if the conditions are right.

The best way to prevent your skunk loach from getting sick is to maintain a clean and stable tank. This will create an environment that is less conducive to disease and will make your fish less likely to fall ill.

Behavior & Temperament

Skunk loaches are nocturnal bottom-dwellers. They’re relatively shy fish that spend most of their time hiding in caves or other dark recesses.

Although they’re skittish, skunk loaches are social creatures that do best when kept in groups. They’re peaceful fish, so you don’t have to worry about aggression levels.

The only time you might see some aggression is during feeding time. These fish can be a bit territorial when it comes to food. But, as long as you have enough to go around, they should be fine.

Skunk loaches are also known for being escape artists. They’re notorious jumpers, so you’ll need to make sure your aquarium is covered. Even the tiniest of gaps can be an open invitation for these fish to make a break for it.

Tank Mates

Skunk loaches are peaceful bottom-dwellers that do well in a community tank. They’re not aggressive and won’t bother other fish.

The skunk loach’s diet consists mainly of algae, detritus, and small invertebrates. They’re not interested in other fish as food.

These loaches do best in a tank with other peaceful fish. They’re not fast enough to compete for food with more aggressive species.

Some good skunk loach tank mates include:

  • Guppies
  • Platies
  • Mollies
  • Swordtails
  • Danios
  • Tetras
  • Corydoras


The skunk loach is a fairly easy fish to breed in captivity. The first thing you need to do is set up a breeding tank. This should be a tank that’s at least 30 gallons in size.

Next, you need to fill the tank with water that has a pH of 7.0 and a temperature between 77 and 86 degrees Fahrenheit. The water should also be soft, with a hardness of around 5 dGH.

Once the tank is set up, you need to add some plants. Live plants are best, but you can also use plastic plants. Make sure there are plenty of hiding places for the fish.

You also need to add a spawning mop or some other type of interwoven material. This is where the female will lay her eggs.

When everything is ready, you need to add two females for every male. It’s also a good idea to add more fish than that to increase the chances of spawning.

Once the fish are in the tank, you need to feed them a diet of live foods. This will help to trigger spawning.

You’ll know spawning is happening when you see the female lay her eggs on the spawning mop. The eggs are small and yellow. After the eggs are laid, the male will fertilize them.

Once the eggs have been fertilized, the parents need to be removed from the tank. The eggs will hatch in about a week.

Once the fry have hatched, you need to feed them infusoria for the first few days. After that, you can start feeding them baby brine shrimp.


The Skunk Loach is a great addition to any freshwater aquarium. They’re relatively small, so they won’t take up too much space in your tank. They’re also very peaceful, so they’ll get along well with other fish.

The only downside is that they can be a bit skittish, so you’ll need to provide hiding places for them. Other than that, they’re very easy to care for and make great pets!