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Hillstream Loaches

Hillstream loach Image

Hillstream loach is a common term for any fish in the Balitoridae family of loaches. These fish all hail from cooler rivers or streams. They are highly adaptable, several being able to stand mildly brackish water as well as freshwater. These fish are commonly sold under names like Hong Kong Pleco, Stingray Pleco, Lizard Loach, and several others. The most commonly available genus' are listed below.

  • Beaufortia
  • Nemacheilus = Noemacheilus
  • Homaloptera = Balitoropsis
  • Shistura
  • Gastromyzon
  • Pseudogastromyzon
  • Protomyzon
  • Sinogastromyzon

All these fish share a few characteristics, but to varying degrees. Beaufortia, Gastromyzon, Pseudogastromyzon, Protomyzon, and Sinogastromyzon are all built to hug rocks. Their fins are modified suckers,and their mouths are below their bodies, like saltwater rays. Homaloptera have enlarged paired fins, that also help them cling to rocks, or glass. Nemacheilus and Shistura have slightly enlarged fins and flattened bodies, but are normally found in lower current than the other families.

These fish are best suited to a River Tank habitat, and in one, several species can be bred, Pseudogastromyzon cheni, and Liniparhomaloptera disparis being examples. These fish breed if fed and cared for well. Foods I've had success with are listed below.

(Click to enlarge)
Hillstream Mix
Image provided by Jim Powers Left top: Liniparhomaloptera disparis,
Right top: Beaufortia, Lower Right: homaloptera smithi
  • Tetra Min Tropical Granules
  • Sinking Tablets
  • Algae Wafers
  • Lettuce (Romaine)
  • Standard Flake
  • Algae (good source for new fish)
  • Frozen / Live Bloodworms
  • Frozen Brine Shrimp
Examples of Balitoridae Fishes



Click images for species information

Nemachelius spec. Nemacheilus spec.

Schistura spec. Shistura spec.

Beaufortia kweichowensis Beaufortia kweichowensis

Homaloptera spec. Homaloptera spec.

Gastromyzon ctenocephalus Gastromyzon ctenocephalus

Gastromyzon ctenocephalus Gastromyzon ridens

Gastromyzon ocellatus Gastromyzon ocellatus

Gastromyzon ocellatus Pseudogastromyzon cheni