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Maximum size : 12.5 cm

Saddleback Loach - Homaloptera Orthogoniata : Complete Fish Profile & Care Guide

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The Saddleback Loach, (Homaloptera Orthogoniata) is a fascinating and rare species that will make a striking addition to any aquarium. These peaceful fish are herbivorous, feeding mainly on biofilm and algae. While they are best kept in a species-only aquarium, they can also be kept alongside other types of Loaches and peaceful fish such as Barbs, Gobies, Devarios, Rasboras, and smaller Catfish. To keep these fish happy, it 's best to keep them in groups of six or more. This will allow them to exhibit natural behaviors and interactions, which are fascinating to watch. They prefer a well-aerated aquarium with a good amount of water flow and hiding places formed by rocks, driftwood, and smooth pebbles and stones to graze on. Although plants are not necessary, they will help to maintain water quality, and some species such as Microsorum and Anubias can grow on rocks and driftwood. Bright lighting is also recommended to encourage algae growth on the decor. The Saddleback Loach 's body features three distinct dark brown stripes across its back, a dark band from the mouth to the lower gill plate, and another dark bar from the eye to the caudal fin. The body 's surface has three large, saddle-shaped markings, and the bottom of the caudal fin is dark brown. Overall, the Saddleback Loach is a beautiful and captivating fish that will make an excellent addition to any aquarium, provided its unique needs are met.

Saddleback Loach Photos

Sexual Dimorphism

Sexually dimorphic traits in Saddleback Loaches are relatively subtle, and discerning the gender of these fish is indeed a challenging task. However, mature females tend to be slightly larger in size and more plump in appearance than males, which can be used as a potential identifying factor.

Quick Facts

Scientific NameHomaloptera Orthogoniata
Year Described1902
Other NamesOrchid Loach, Gecko Loach, Lizard Loach, Red Gecko Loach, Saddleback Hillstream Loach
OriginsIndonesia Laos Thailand Malaysia
Max Size12.5 cm
Aquarium LevelBottom
Best kept as6+
Lifespanup to 5 years

Water Parameters

Water TypeFreshwater
PH6.0 - 7.5
GH3 - 12
KH1 - 10
TDS18 - 179
68 - 78
20 - 25.6

Natural Habitat

Saddleback Loaches are native to Southeast Asia and are endemic to Indonesia, Laos, Thailand, and Malaysia. These fish can be found in various river basins, including but not limited to Sungai Baram, Sungai Tatau and Sungai Rajang, Sungai Sambas, Sungai Kapuas, and the Sungai Mahakam River Basins. In their natural environment, Saddleback Loaches inhabit fast-flowing, shallow, oxygen-saturated blackwaters, with a substrate comprising rocks, boulders, gravel, and bedrock. The rich biofilm that develops on these surfaces is home to an abundance of microorganisms and algae, providing a vital source of food for these remarkable fish. In some habitats, small patches of lush aquatic plants are also present, adding to the vibrant beauty of their surroundings. Recreating the ideal environment for Saddleback Loaches in your home aquarium requires a bit of effort, but the results are well worth it. With their unique behaviours and stunning appearance, Saddleback Loaches are an excellent addition to any aquatic community. So why not take a plunge into the enchanting world of Southeast Asia 's aquatic life and discover the wonders of Saddleback Loaches for yourself?
 Baram River - Malaysia
Malaysia Flag


Regrettably, due to the scarceness of this fish, no data is available on successful breeding of Saddleback Loaches in home aquariums. It is assumed that they are seasonal spawners in the wild, but no concrete information is currently available.

Diet & feeding

Saddleback Loaches are predominantly herbivorous, with their diet primarily consisting of biofilm and algae. However, they also readily accept high-quality, small dry foods such as flakes, algae wafers, and sinking pellets. To ensure their optimal health, a combination of live or frozen foods, such as brine shrimp, Mysis shrimp, daphnia, and bloodworm, should also be provided. A varied diet will help to promote the fish 's overall health and vitality.


Saddleback Loach - Homaloptera Orthogoniata - Rare Freshwater Loach Aquarium Fish Profile Thumbnail

9 tank mate ideas for the Saddleback Loach

Looking for some awesome tank mate ideas for your Saddleback Loach? Look no further! Here are 9 of the most captivating and fascinating options that will liven up your aquarium!

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