Profile Photo

Maximum size : 3.5 cm

Hovering Zebra Loach - Yunnanilus cruciatus : Complete Fish Profile & Care Guide

Table of contents


The Hovering Zebra Loach (Yunnanilus cruciatus) is a captivating and peaceful fish that is relatively uncommon in the aquarium trade. This diminutive species is the perfect choice for those seeking a non-destructive loach species for a nano aquarium due to its small size and tranquil demeanour. These fish are incredibly lively and active during their juvenile stage, but as they mature, they tend to become more reserved and hide more often. To thrive, the Hovering Zebra Loach needs to be kept in large groups of at least eight individuals, and they enjoy the company of other small, peaceful species like MicroRasboras, smaller Danios, peaceful Catfish such as Corydoras, and other dwarf loaches like the Rosy Loach. Avoid housing these fish with larger or more aggressive species, as they may become intimidated or outcompeted for food.

A planted aquarium with plenty of hiding spaces is ideal for creating the perfect environment for your Hovering Zebra Loaches. Adding driftwood and leaf litter will enhance their natural habitat and make them feel more at ease. These fish prefer well-oxygenated water with a steady current, so make sure to keep the tank well-maintained and perform regular partial water changes to keep the water quality high. It's worth noting that this species can be sensitive to fluctuations in water chemistry, so avoid adding them to a biologically immature aquarium.

Although the Hovering Zebra Loach occasionally hovers in midwater, you'll most often see them swimming head down at a 45-degree angle as they search the substrate for food. These fish have a translucent body with silvery pink to yellow iridescence, and they possess 14 to 18 black bars that begin between the eyes and travel through to the caudal peduncle. In addition, their bellies are pearlescent white, and their fins are transparent.

Hovering Zebra Loach Photos

Sexual Dimorphism

It can be a difficult task to distinguish between male and female Hovering Zebra Loaches. Nevertheless, it is believed that mature females tend to have fuller bellies than males, particularly when they are gravid and generally a bit larger in size.

Quick Facts

Scientific NameYunnanilus cruciatus
Year Described1944
Other NamesVietnamese multi-banded zebra loach, Laos pygmy multi-stripe loach, banded dwarf loach
Max Size3.5 cm
Aquarium LevelBottom - Middle
DifficultyBeginner - Intermediate
Best kept asGroups 8+
LifespanUp to 5 Years

Water Parameters

Water TypeFreshwater
PH6.0 - 7.5
GH2 - 12
TDS36 - 215
77 - 82
25 - 27

Natural Habitat

The Hovering Zebra Loach is a captivating fish species found exclusively in the coastal rivers of Central Vietnam, including the Phong Nha River in Quang Binh Province and the An Lao River in Binh Dinh Province in Southeast Asia. These Loaches thrive in the shallow, slow-moving regions of rivers adorned with thick, lush aquatic vegetation, creating a picturesque natural habitat. The riverbeds of these areas are predominantly muddy and sandy, dotted with a beautiful assortment of floating plants that create a diffused light effect, an added attraction to these charming little fish.


Regrettably, there is a lack of documented evidence regarding the successful propagation of the Hovering Zebra Loach within the confines of a domestic aquarium.

Diet & feeding

To ensure the best health and longevity of the Hovering Zebra Loach, a varied diet is recommended, consisting of both live and frozen foods such as baby brine shrimp, daphnia, bloodworm, microworm, tubifex, and cyclops. In addition, high-quality dried foods containing plant or algae material, such as small sinking pellets, granules, algae wafers, and crushed flakes, can also be included. These loaches are not picky eaters and will consume most foods provided, but a varied diet will promote the best colouration and overall health of the fish.


Hovering Zebra Loach (Yunnanilus cruciatus) Aquarium Fish Species Profile & Care Guide Thumbnail

Other Loaches you maybe interested in