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.


Sumo Loach
Sumo Loach
Sumo Loach
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℃


In the home aquarium, the Sumo Loach will readily accept most good quality dried foods such as granules, flakes and sinking pellets. These modern food products have been developed to provide all adequate nutrition to maintain your fish's health and dietary requirements.

Providing additional foodstuffs such as live, frozen, and freeze-dried meals such as bloodworm, daphnia, and tubifex once or twice a week will provide additional benefits to your fish's health and well-being but is not a must for this fish.

It should be noted that bloodworms should only be given as an occasional treat and should not be used as the staple diet as they are difficult for fish to digest and can potentially cause blockages.

This fish is an omnivore in the wild, meaning it will consume some vegetable matter. Although most modern fish foods take this into account and include them in their products, you can still supplement your fish's diet with blanched vegetables such as spinach, broccoli, and zucchini. Ensure you do not overfeed your fish and remove any leftovers the following day.

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.

Other Loaches of interest

Bengal Loach(Botia dario)
Blue Botia(Yasuhikotakia modesta)
Chinese Hillstream Loach(Pseudogastromyzon cheni)
Clown Loach(Chromobotia macracanthus)
Crimson Loach(Schistura sp. Crimson)
Dwarf Chain Loach(Ambastaia Sidthimunki)
View all Loaches
Date Added: 07/05/2021 09:40:23 - Updated: 19/01/2022 16:34:01