Max Size: 3.5cm

Hovering Zebra Loach (Yunnanilus cruciatus, Micronemacheilus cruciatus, Nemacheilus cruciatus)

The Hovering Zebra Loach is a lively, peaceful fish relatively rare in the aquarium hobby; due to its small size and peaceful non-destructive nature, this fish is the perfect choice when searching for a species of Loach suitable for a nano aquarium. These fish are highly active in the aquarium while in a juvenile state; however, they will become more retiring and discreet as they mature, and you will notice them hiding more often.

These fish are highly sociable and should be kept in large groups of at least eight individuals.

Ideal tank mates for the Hovering Zebra Loach include other small peaceful species such as MicroRasboras, smaller Danios, peaceful Catfish such as Corydoras and other dwarf loaches of similar size and temperament, such as the Rosy Loach.

It is recommended that you do not house these fish with larger or more boisterous species as they will be intimidated or outcompeted for food.

The presence of other similarly-sized schooling fish seems to help reduce their shyness.

The Hovering Zebra Loach should ideally be housed in a planted aquarium with plenty of hiding spaces for them to feel most comfortable. Some driftwood and leaf litter also seem to be welcomed and add a more natural feel.

The water in the aquarium should be well-oxygenated, and a steady current is ideal. You should not add these fish to a biologically immature aquarium as they can be susceptible to fluctuations in water chemistry.

You should also make sure you perform regular partial water changes to maintain quality.

This species occasionally hovers in midwater, but, more often than not, you will see them swimming head down at a 45-degree angle whilst searching the substrate for food.

The body of the Hovering Zebra Loach is translucent with silvery pink to yellow iridescence. They possess 14 to 18 black bars that begin between the eyes and travel through to the caudal peduncle. Their bellies are pearlescent white, and their fins are transparent.

Tank Mates for the Hovering Zebra Loach

2 ideal tank mate ideas for the Hovering Zebra Loach include:

Cardinal Tetra(Paracheirodon axelrodi)
Staeck Endler(Poecilia wingei)
Quick Facts
Scientific NameYunnanilus cruciatus, Micronemacheilus cruciatus, Nemacheilus cruciatus
Other NamesVietnamese multi-banded zebra loach, Laos pygmy multi-stripe loach, banded dwarf loach
Aquarium LevelBottom - Middle
DifficultyBeginner - Intermediate
Best kept asGroups 8+
Lifespan2 - 5 years
Water Parameters
Water TypeFreshwater
PH6.0 - 7.5
GH2 - 12
TDS36 - 215
77 - 82℉
25 - 27.8℃

Photos of the Hovering Zebra Loach

Hovering Zebra Loach
Hovering Zebra Loach
Hovering Zebra Loach
Hovering Zebra Loach
Hovering Zebra Loach
Hovering Zebra Loach
Hovering Zebra Loach
Hovering Zebra Loach
Hovering Zebra Loach


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

Natural Habitat

The Hovering Zebra Loach only occurs in the coastal rivers of Central Vietnam; this includes the An Lao river in Binh Dinh province and the Phong Nha river in Quang Binh province in Southeast Asia.

These Loaches inhabit shallow, relatively still parts of rivers filled with dense aquatic vegetation. The river bed is sandy and muddy in these areas and is often covered with floating plants that diffuse the light.

What to feed the Hovering Zebra Loach

The Hovering Zebra Loach is not fussy and will eat pretty much anything you give them. However, for optimum health and longevity, you should provide a varied diet consisting of small live and frozen food such as baby brine shrimp, daphnia, bloodworm, microworm, tubifex and cyclops alongside good quality dried food containing plant or algae material.

These can include small sinking pellets, granules, algae wafers and crushed flake.

How to sex the Hovering Zebra Loach

It is rather challenging to differentiate between a male and female Hovering Zebra Loach. However, females are more than likely rounder bellied than males, especially when they are full of eggs and slightly larger.

How to breed the Hovering Zebra Loach

Unfortunately, there are currently no reports of the successful breeding of the Hovering Zebra Loach in the home aquarium.

Other Loaches of interest

Bengal Loach(Botia dario)
Blue Botia(Yasuhikotakia modesta)
Clown Loach(Chromobotia macracanthus)
Dwarf Chain Loach(Ambastaia Sidthimunki)
Golden Zebra Loach(Botia Histrionica)
Green Tiger Loach(Syncrossus Hymenophysa)
View all Loaches
Date Added: 16/07/2021 13:08:04 - Updated: 19/01/2022 16:29:00