Maximum size : 8 cm

Hillstream Loach - Beaufortia kweichowensis : Complete Fish Profile & Care Guide

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The Hillstream Loach (Beaufortia kweichowensis) is an extraordinary and visually stunning fish that often goes unnoticed in the aquarium hobby. This small, peaceful fish not only adds a unique element to any aquarium but also serves as an effective natural algae control. Their intricate body shape and pattern make them truly one-of-a-kind. Butterfly Hillstream Loaches are also known for their energetic and lively personalities. While the Butterfly Hillstream Loach is a fascinating addition, they require specialised care and are not recommended for beginners.

These Loaches lack scales, making them more susceptible to illness and medication. As a result, ensuring proper water purity and temperature is crucial for their health and well-being. Hillstream Loaches are renowned for their peaceful and non-aggressive disposition.

Though they may occasionally engage in territorial disputes, known as "topping", these altercations rarely result in injury as the dominant fish will eventually back off. Ideally, these loaches should be kept in groups of three to seven to promote social behaviour. When considering tankmates for Hillstream Loaches, it is important to choose species that inhabit similar natural waters. Suitable companions include larger Cyprinids, Garra species, Devario species, Stiphodon Gobies, certain Rasboras and several Catfish species.

The body of the Butterfly Hillstream Loach is distinctive, with a flattened shape that tapers from below and is complemented by fan-shaped pectoral and ventral fins adorned with a striking dark edge. A closer look reveals the translucent stomach, enabling a glimpse of its internal organs, while the small and inconspicuous caudal fins only add to its charm. The brown base colouration is accentuated by dark spots, adding an extra layer of visual interest. The mouth, located below the body, is specially adapted to suit its feeding habits. Overall, Butterfly Hillstream Loaches are captivating fish that can thrive in a carefully designed aquarium that provides them with a suitable environment and compatible tank mates.

To provide an optimal environment for these fish, it is recommended to create an aquarium that closely mirrors their natural habitat. Due to their high oxygen requirements, the tank should have a strong water flow, adequate aeration, and plenty of hiding places. Adequate lighting is also essential to promote algal growth in the aquarium, though live plants are not necessary. However, Anubias and Microsorum species are suitable for high-flow tank environments and can be grown on rocks or driftwood.

Hillstream Loach Photos

Sexual Dimorphism

Distinguishing between male and female Hillstream Loaches is a straightforward process. Males exhibit a more vibrant colouration and a sleeker, slender body structure relative to their female counterparts.

Quick Facts

Scientific NameBeaufortia kweichowensis
Year Described1931
Other NamesChinese Hillstream Loach, Hong Kong Pleco, Butterfly Hillstream loach, Chinese Sucker Fish
Max Size8 cm
Aquarium LevelBottom
Best kept asTrios
Diet & FeedingOmnivore
ReproductionEgg Depositor
LifespanUp to 8 Years

Water Parameters

Water TypeFreshwater
pH 6.5 - 8.0
GH 3 - 10
Ideal Temperature
68 - 75
20 - 23

Natural Habitat

Hillstream Loaches inhabit the deep rivers with fast-flowing, oxygen-rich upstreams, small tributaries of streams and rivers, and zones restricted with crests and waterfalls in the Jiangxi River System of the South of China and the main branch of Zhu Jiang River. Hillstream Loaches are a marvel to behold in their natural environment, where they spend their days scouring the substrate for food or basking on rocks.

The substrate is a mixture of sand, small rocks, round stones, and gravel, and in some instances, there is no streamside vegetation. The water is crystal clear, with a small amount of dissolved oxygen, creating the ideal environment for the development of biofilm, consisting of various types of algae and microorganisms that cover the rocks and stones like a cosy blanket. Recreating the ideal environment for Hillstream Loaches in your home aquarium requires a bit of effort, but the rewards are well worth it. 


Hillstream Loaches are known to be challenging to breed in the home aquarium, and successful attempts are rarely recorded. However, it is possible for these loaches to reproduce in artificial environments that replicate their natural riverine habitat, with pits created beneath rocks serving as a potential breeding site. Despite the difficulty in breeding these loaches, their unique reproductive behaviour and habitat preferences continue to fascinate and intrigue aquarists.

Diet & feeding

The Hillstream Loach is an adaptable species when it comes to its diet, but it is important to note that they have small mouths. High-quality small flakes, sinking pellets, and algae wafers are suitable for their consumption. In addition, they accept thawed frozen or live food such as bloodworm, little cyclops, artemia, blanched spinach, mysis shrimp, kale, and natural algae is an advantage for this species. A well-balanced diet is necessary to maintain their health and promote their optimal growth.

Other Loaches of interest