Maximum size : 8 cm

Red Tail Zebra Loach - Schistura vinciguerrae : Complete Fish Profile & Care Guide

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Red Tail Zebra Loaches (Schistura vinciguerrae) are intriguing and lesser-known species within the world of freshwater fish, belonging to the Schistura genus found predominantly in Southeast Asia. This particular fish species exhibits a remarkable blend of unique characteristics, ranging from striking colouration to distinct behaviour. Dedicated aquarists often seek these Loaches for their captivating presence within home aquariums. As with other members of the Schistura genus, understanding the intricate nuances of its care and habitat requirements is essential for those enthusiasts who wish to incorporate this species into their aquatic collections.

Red Tail Zebra Loaches exhibit a tranquil disposition and can be maintained singularly or in groups, although group dynamics may occasionally entail territorial disputes. Furthermore, fish species sharing a similar body structure may also face exclusion from the established territory. Schistura species prove to be compatible tankmates, with Danios, Tetras, Rasboras, and Barrilius species serving as suitable inhabitants of the upper water layers.

To ensure their well-being, it is imperative to provide an aquarium environment featuring robust aeration and a substantial water flow, complemented by a substrate composed of smooth stones and sand. The presence of flat stones with reasonably horizontal surfaces is essential, as each loach designates a raised flat stone as its territory centre, steadfastly defending it. A spacious tank footprint and ample hiding places are indispensable, allowing individuals to seek refuge from dominant conspecifics.

Moreover, adequate lighting is pivotal, as these loaches derive a significant portion of their sustenance from the aufwuchs that flourish on the tank's stones. The ideal aquarium setup mimics a hill-stream design, although the inclusion of plants is optional, as they are infrequently encountered in their natural habitats due to prevailing currents. Although these loaches can adapt to somewhat stagnant water conditions, replicating their native habitat with a flowing, oxygen-rich environment is considered optimal for their overall welfare.

Red Tail Zebra Loaches boast yellowish-brown body pigmentation adorned with a series of 10 to 16 dark bars, notably wider than the spaces separating them, with most bars featuring distinct darker margins. These distinctive fish are characterized by the absence of adipose crests on the caudal peduncle. Instead, they exhibit a vertically elongated dark marking on the caudal peduncle, descending from the terminal point of the lateral line. Additionally, one to two small spots are discernible at the base of the upper caudal-fin rays. Furthermore, their caudal fin displays one to two irregular rows of spots, occasionally interspersed with vivid red hues, enhancing their striking visual appeal.

Red Tail Zebra Loach Photos

Sexual Dimorphism

Distinguishing between male and female Red Tail Zebra Loaches presents a challenging endeavour due to the subtlety of sexual dimorphism in this species. Typically, males exhibit a slightly larger head surface area on both sides, while females tend to display a somewhat plumper body shape.

Quick Facts

Scientific NameSchistura vinciguerrae
Year Described1935
OriginsChina , Myanmar , India
Max Size8 cm
Aquarium LevelBottom
DifficultyBeginner - Intermediate
Best kept asGroups 5+
Diet & FeedingOmnivore
ReproductionEgg Depositor
LifespanUp to 8 Years

Water Parameters

Water TypeFreshwater
pH 6.0 - 7.5
GH 5 - 15
TDS 36 - 215
Ideal Temperature
68 - 77
18 - 25

Natural Habitat

Red Tail Zebra Loaches are indigenous to the Irrawaddy and Salween River Basins, as well as the Chindwin drainage region spanning Myanmar, China, and Manipur, India. This species is primarily characterized by its preference for environments characterized by strong, swift water currents flowing over smooth substrates, which are commonly comprised of rocky formations and are frequently found under the canopy of forest foliage. These loaches exhibit a proclivity for traversing shallow regions atop stone surfaces, which are frequently adorned with a luxuriant biofilm growth facilitated by the prevailing light intensity.


Breeding Red Tail Zebra Loaches represent a complex undertaking due to the limited information on their reproductive behaviour in captive environments. In their native habitat, these fish are believed to engage in egg-laying behaviours, depositing their eggs on suitable substrates. However, replicating such conditions in a home aquarium setting remains a challenge, as there is limited documentation regarding the specifics of their breeding behaviour and requirements. Successful breeding endeavours often involve meticulous attention to water quality, suitable water parameters, and creating a habitat that mimics their natural environment.

Diet & feeding

The dietary preferences of Red Tail Zebra Loaches encompass a predominantly omnivorous regime. In their natural habitat, these fish exhibit opportunistic feeding behaviour, foraging on a diverse array of food sources. Their diet typically consists of various aquatic invertebrates, such as insect larvae, crustaceans, and small aquatic organisms. Additionally, they may consume algae and detritus present in their environment. 

In a captive setting, this multifaceted diet can be replicated by providing a well-rounded menu, including live and frozen foods such as bloodworms, daphnia, and brine shrimp, alongside high-quality flake or pellet formulations. A varied diet contributes to the overall health and vitality of Schistura vinciguerrae within the confines of an aquarium.

Other Loaches of interest