Freshwater Fish

Jewel Sucker Loach – Sewellia Lineolata – Care Guide

Sewellia Lineolata loaches are a family of fish that live at the bottom of fast-moving streams in Asia. Of all these loaches, the Hillstream Reticulated Loach has the most remarkable appearance and is sure to be a great talking point when seen in any freshwater community tank.

This species of Hillstream loach is not only extremely attractive and unique to look at; These hardy little critters are also relatively easy to care for.

But are Hillstream Reticulated Loaches aggressive? And what size tank do Hillstream loaches need? Read this guide to find out everything you need to know about keeping these lovely little loaches.

Jewel Sucker Loach – Sewellia Lineolata – OVERVIEW

  • Scientific name: Sewellia Lineolata
  • Common Name (species): sucker jewel, sucker loach, reticulated hillstream loach
  • Family: Balitoridae, order Cypriniformes
  • Origin: Southeast Asia, India, China
  • Diet: Omnivore
  • Care level: Easy
  • Activity: Active scavengers
  • Life expectancy: 8 to 10 years
  • Temperament: Pacific community fish
  • Tank Level: Bottom Dweller
  • Minimum tank size: 50 gallons
  • Temperature Range: Mild 68° to 72° Fahrenheit
  • Water hardness: 10-15 dKH
  • pH range: 6.5 to 7.5
  • Filtration/Flow Rate: You need pristine, well-oxygenated water and a high flow capacity.
  • Type of water: Fresh water
  • Breeding: Egg layer, extremely difficult to breed in domestic tanks
  • Compatibility: Peaceful with other non-aggressive community fish
  • OK, for planted tanks? plant insurance


Reticulated loaches are members of a large family of 202 different varieties of Hillstream loaches found in declining numbers in Southeast Asia, China, and parts of India.

The reticulated loach is currently listed on the IUCN Red List as vulnerable, largely due to habitat destruction.


These fish are found in fast-flowing streams, spending much of their time searching for food on the bottom of the stream or clinging to rocks. Reticulated loaches are not strictly considered schools, although they are often seen living in small groups.

A large portion of the loach’s diet is made up of algae that graze throughout the day, supplemented by small worms, insect larvae, and the like.


This species of Hillstream Loach is a beautiful and unique looking fish that is sure to wow all who see it in your home aquarium!

The appearance of the fish is so strange that it is often mistaken for a mini stingray. Hillstream reticulated loaches have very short barbels, so they are sometimes assumed to be a species of catfish, even though they are not.

The body of the fish is light grayish-yellow in color with broad black bands that run randomly all over the fish, including the fins, creating an impressive speckled pattern. The stripes on the dorsal and caudal fins tend to be more linear than those on the body.


Take a look at the body shape of the fish and you will immediately see why they adapt so well to their natural habitat, where the current is very fast. The body is streamlined and hydrodynamic, perfectly adapted to cope with running water with minimal effort on the part of the fish.

The loach’s pelvic and pectoral fins are fan-shaped, and the fish use those fins to move and cling to solid surfaces within the habitat. A sucker mouth and flat belly are also perfect for grazing algae and resisting the force of the water.


Hillstream reticulated loaches are small fish, measuring about 2 to 3 inches in length. Their small size makes them ideal for foraging for food in small cracks and crevices in the rocky landscape of the river bed.

That doesn’t mean you won’t be able to enjoy your fish, as you’ll often find all the loaches firmly attached to observation panels or rocks in your tank in a group. It’s a strange site, but beautiful nonetheless!


Hillstream Reticulated Loaches kept in tanks generally live 8 to 10 years, provided they are fed a high-quality diet and their tank water is kept pristine and well-oxygenated.


Hillstream Reticulated Loaches are peaceful creatures that are a beautiful addition to a community of small, non-aggressive species that share similar water requirements.

>These fish are quite active foragers, spending much of their time grazing on algae, clinging to the glass of the tank, or burrowing among the bases of plants and in rock crevices.



Wild Reticulated Hillstream Loaches are not natural schools. However, when kept in a home aquarium, these little guys seem to prefer the company of their own kind. For that reason, I recommend that you keep a group of at least three loaches.

That said, if the bottom of the tank gets crowded, turf fights can break out. So don’t add more than three loaches to your setup unless you have a lot of room.


Thanks to the loach’s peaceful and merciful nature, there are quite a few suitable tankmates you can choose from to create a community tank.

Remember that these loaches prefer cooler water, so don’t choose tropical species that may not appreciate cold conditions. The extremely fast flow rate must also be taken into account. Many species of fish do not enjoy being hit by a strong current, which will likely stress them out and lead to disease outbreaks.

You may want to consider species such as White Cloud Minnows, Chili rasboras, Zebra danios, and Celestial Pearl. Generally, invertebrates like shrimp and snails are safe to keep with Hillstream Reticulated Loaches.


Fish best avoided are large territorial species such as cichlids and Oscars, and angelfish and tiger barbs which can be pungent and harass and stress loaches.


Regardless of the species of fish you have, it is critical that you provide a high-quality, nutritious diet in the correct quantity.


All Hillstream loaches are omnivores, feeding on biofilms and algae on tank surfaces. You should also include a meaty protein item in your fish’s diet, such as insect grubs, bloodworms, brine shrimp, daphnia, and tubifex. Fish flakes, mini pellets, and algae wafers can also be added to the diet.


Yes, in theory your loaches will enjoy the inclusion of some live food in their diet from time to time.

However, I recommend that you be careful if you decide to feed your fish live.

Unfortunately, live foods sometimes come with unwanted parasites and bacteria that could attack your fish. Therefore, always purchase live feed from a reputable supplier and separate the feed from the water in which it is fed before offering the feed to your fish.

Never catch worms and the like from the environment!You don’t know what else you could be putting into your tank.


It is important that you do not overfeed your loaches as that can cause health problems and uneaten food will spoil and contaminate the tank.

Therefore, feed your fish twice a day and give them only what they will eat in a couple of minutes.


You can really make the most of your loaches’ good looks by replicating their natural habitat in your aquarium. Additionally, most species of fish do best when kept in an environment that closely mirrors the type of environment they enjoy in the wild.


Since you will be keeping a small group of loaches, you will need a large tank of at least 50 gallons.

The best tank shape to choose is a long rectangular aquarium rather than a tall one. This is because loaches live exclusively at the bottom of the tank, so you need something that provides ample floor space. A long tank will also have a larger surface area, which is important for efficient gas exchange; these are oxygen-starved fish.



I recommend that you use a soft, sandy substrate.

Hillstream Reticulated Loaches spend most of their time at the bottom of the tank, foraging on the substrate. If you use coarse gravel, there is a risk that the fish will get hurt.


Hillstream loaches prefer a densely planted tank where they have plenty of places to hide and take refuge when they want. Also, the base of the plants provides an excellent foraging area. Java moss and Anubias barteri are good plants to use, but you can use whatever you think works best for the aquascape you are creating.

These fish like to graze on the biofilm and algae that colonize surfaces within the tank, so be sure to include driftwood, smooth stones, and rocks as well.



It is essential that your tank has a highly efficient filtration system that will keep the environment pristine for Hillstream Loaches.

We recommend that you use powerheads in conjunction with an external canister filter to provide your fish with the flow rate they need, as well as keep the water well oxygenated.


water temperature

Hillstream loaches prefer cooler, temperate water between 68° and 72° Fahrenheit.

These fish do not appreciate warm water temperatures. If the water in your tank is consistently above 75° Fahrenheit, mortality is likely to occur.

pH range and water hardness

Aquarium water should have a hardness level of between 10 and 15 dKH, and the pH should be slightly acidic in the range of 6.5 to 7.5.

Turning on

These fish do not have specific lighting requirements, so choose an LED lighting unit that suits the plant species you have chosen.


Keeping the tank in tip-top condition is essential to the health of Hillstream loaches, and extremely well-oxygenated water is absolutely crucial for these fish to thrive.

Perform weekly 30% water changes and deep clean the substrate using an aquarium vacuum to remove fish debris, decaying plant material, and uneaten food.

As part of your aquarium cleaning chores, rinse the filter media with dirty tank water (never tap water) to remove any sludge that would otherwise clog the media and obstruct the flow of water through the system.

Change the filter media at regular intervals, as recommended by the manufacturer.


Every week, use an aquarium water test kit to check that ammonia and nitrite levels are at zero and that nitrates are around 20 ppm. You should also check the pH and hardness levels of the water.


As with most species of loach, I recommend that you do not introduce these fish to a completely new setting. This is because Hillstream Reticulated Loaches are finicky when it comes to water conditions, so waiting until the tank has had a chance to properly mature before adding them to your collection is preferable.

Before you start setting up your tank, gather everything you need. There is nothing more frustrating than getting this far in the process, only to discover that you forgot something.

Will need:

  • sandy substrate
  • LED lighting unit
  • canister filtration system
  • Powerheads
  • Heater
  • aquarium thermometer
  • Tank decoration, including driftwood, smooth rocks, and caves.
  • many live plants


  1. Start by washing the substrate under running water to remove loose dirt and dust. If you add the sand to the tank without rinsing it first, you risk ending up with cloudy water that can take years to clear completely.
  2. Place the sand in your aquarium to a depth of about two to three inches.
  3. Install the filter and heater in the tank, but do not turn them on yet.
  4. Fill the tank with non-chlorinated tap water. To avoid spreading the sand everywhere when you pour the water into the aquarium, place a saucer upside down on the sand and slowly pour the water over it.
  5. To set the nitrogen cycle in motion in the biological filter medium, the water must contain some ammonia. To add ammonia to water, you can add a few drops of pure ammonia, put in a pinch of fish scale, or add some sand or filter media from an existing tank.
  1. Rinse your chosen tank decoration to remove dust and place the decorations in the aquarium.
  2. Now take your plants and remove any dead stems or leaves. To prevent loaches from uprooting plants while feeding, use plant weights to anchor stems securely in the sand. Leave enough space between stems to allow for growth and spread.
  3. Turn on the heater and the filtration system. You will also need to have your tank lights on for eight to ten hours per day so your plants have enough light to photosynthesize.
  4. Now, you must wait at least ten days for the nitrifying bacteria to have a chance to colonize the tank and biological filter media. Once that happens, the bacteria will process the ammonia in the water that would otherwise be toxic to the fish.
  5. Test the water levels. Ammonia and nitrites must be at zero, and nitrates close to 20 ppm for the tank to be recycled and safe for introducing fish. You may need to allow more time if the levels are still too high.


Hillstream reticulated loaches are fairly hardy fish, although they can succumb to some of the common fish diseases that affect most species of tropical fish kept in aquariums.


These are quite active fish that enjoy being part of a group and going on feeding trips with their mates.

Loaches also like to graze on algae that grows on surfaces inside the tank, and you’ll often see them clinging to the display panel with their suction cup mouths.


If your loaches exhibit any of the following behaviors, health problems may be brewing:

  • Do not eat or graze on surfaces inside the tank.
  • Do not socialize with your peers.
  • Inactivity
  • Reddened areas of skin, ulcers, sores, torn or bloody fins
  • Hitting objects in the aquarium


Health problem Symptoms or causes suggested action
Ich (white spot disease) Ich is a very common fish disease that is sometimes also called white spot disease. White spot is caused by an aquatic parasite.
Infected fish develop a scattering of small white spots all over their bodies, fins, and gills, and usually hit things in the tank.
Dose the water with an over-the-counter loach-safe treatment.
external parasites External parasites include flukes, anchor worms, and fish lice. These parasites attach to the gills or skin of the fish and can often be seen with the naked eye.
Infected fish often secrete excessive mucus.
Dose the entire tank with a loach-proof antiparasitic treatment.
fungal infections White, fluffy growths on the fish’s head, mouth, and body. Treat the water with a loach-safe antifungal medication.
Bacterial infections Ulcers, sores, bloody fins, open wounds. Fish affected by quarantine;
Treat the tank with loach-safe antibacterial medication.
skinny disease The fish appear to eat normally, but lose weight rapidly and do not thrive. Treat the water with a loach-safe antibacterial treatment.


Hillstream reticulated loaches found for sale in fish stores and online are often commercially bred by professional fish farming operations in Asia and Eastern Europe. However, it is possible to breed these fish in the home tank with a bit of luck and in the right conditions.


Before you can even think about breeding your Hillstream Reticulated Loaches, you need to know if you have boys or girls.

All things being equal, you would expect to get a mix of both sexes if you keep a small group of fish. However, it is quite easy to tell the males from the females.

Take a look at the fish from above and below, what you can do when the loaches are glued to the aquarium glass. Males have a much more prominent head than females. Therefore, the females have a much rounder front part than the males. Males are also usually slightly longer than females.


When the fish are in optimal reproductive conditions, the male will begin to flirt with the females performing a kind of «dance». If a female finds the male’s gyrations attractive, she will stay close to him, indicating that she is interested.

The male loach builds a nest in the substrate, worrying about the structure until he is convinced it is perfect. The female then lays her eggs in the nest and the male fertilizes them.

It usually takes a couple of weeks for the eggs to hatch and the fry emerge. Unlike many other fish species, Hillstream Reticulated Loaches are good parents who don’t tend to eat their eggs and fry. That means you can leave the family together in their aquarium.


Hillstream reticulated loaches are generally available at good fish stores and from dealers and online auctions for around $12 per fish.

  • a grid
  • algae magnet
  • aquarium thermometer
  • aquarium vacuum cleaner
  • Books on tropical fish farming
  • canister filtration system
  • power head
  • Aquarium (minimum size 50 gallons)
  • Heater
  • High quality tropical fish flakes or pellets
  • LED lighting unit
  • Floors
  • Rocks, driftwood, smooth stones, caves
  • sandy substrate
  • Frozen food selection
  • water conditioner


I hope you enjoyed our guide to keeping the unusual and beautiful Hillstream Reticulated Loach.

Have you successfully raised these loaches in your home aquarium? We’d love to hear about your experiences, so let us know in the comment box below.

Remember to share our guide if you loved it!

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