Max Size: 8cm

Sumo Loach (Schistura balteata)

Sumo Loaches are a territorial species that you should provide with numerous hiding places amongst bogwood, plants, rocky caves and cobbles. When keeping more than one individual, it is essential that you create visual barriers between each hiding place.

Although these Loaches are quite a shy species, they can be nippy towards their own kind when defending their territory. Ideally, these loaches should be provided with brook or hillstream aquarium conditions, including a high flow rate and well-oxygenated water.

Dither fish such as Rasboras, Barbs, Danios, and Tetras make ideal tankmates, and these Loaches will not bother 'sucker-belly' type hillstream loach species. However, it is advised that you do not house these Loaches with slow-moving or long-finned species because they are likely to struggle with the necessary flow of water movement and may end up with nipped fins. Placid bottom-dwellers such as Corydoras are also easy targets for Sumo Loaches and are also best avoided.

You can distinguish Sumo Loaches from other Schistura species by its unique markings consisting of two to three thin vertical dark bars below its dorsal fin. Some individuals appear to 'lose' these vertical bars with age, and others can quite dramatically change colour depending on their aggression or mood. As a result, Sumo Loaches body can vary from pink to yellow, varying in intensity depending on the individual. There are geographical variations in colour also, and sometimes the vertical bars may be red.

Quick Facts
Scientific NameSchistura balteata
Other NamesTri-Band Sumo Loach
OriginsMyanmar, Thailand
Aquarium LevelBottom
Best kept asLoners
Lifespan3 - 5 years
Water Parameters
Water TypeFreshwater
PH6.0 - 7.5
GH4 - 12
TDS36 - 215
72 - 79℉
22.2 - 26.1℃


Sumo Loach
Sumo Loach
Sumo Loach

Natural Habitat

Sumo Loaches can be found in hill streams draining from the Myinmoletkat Taung Mountain in Tenasserim in southern Myanmar as well as Kayin and Mon and has now been recorded in western Thailand where the Ataran is known as the Kasat.

These Loaches inhabit clear, fast-moving, highly-oxygenated, often shallow stretches of flowing streams and minor rivers that are often shaded by forest cover over substrates of gravel, rocks and boulders.

They also occur in some especially high-gradient streams, even cascades, with minimal vegetation. Finally, during the dryer months of the year, they can survive in isolated, stagnant pools at some locations.


Sumo Loaches are omnivores by nature. The bulk of their diet consists of worms, crustaceans, small insects, and other zooplankton, with only relatively small amounts of other organic detritus and plant matter consumed.

These Loaches will accept high-quality dried foods of a suitable size in the aquarium, but you should not feed these exclusively. Providing your Loaches with daily meals of small live and frozen fares such as bloodworm, daphnia, artemia, and similar will result in the best condition and colouration of your fish. They will often shoot up to snatch morsels passing in the flow in a set-up with moving water.

Sexual Dimorphism

Young individuals can be challenging to sex accurately. However, fully developed male Sumo Loaches usually possess noticeably enlarged cheeks, this being most noticeable when the fish are viewed from above or head-on. In contrast, females should be slightly thicker-bodied, especially when gravid.


As far as breeding the Sumo Loach goes, there looks to have been just one reported success with this fish. They frequently obtained small numbers of fry from a large 567-litre river aquarium and the connected external filter. Apparently, the pair had excavated a space underneath a flat rock and sealed themselves inside using bits of the substrate when they were spawning.

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)
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Date Added: 07/05/2021 09:40:23 - Updated: 19/01/2022 16:34:01