Last update: November 8, 2023

15 Best Hillstream Loach Tank Mates – FishLab

This harmless freshwater fish (Beaufortia kweichowensis) recognizes its small size and scaleless body, so it prefers to spend its time hunting for food near the substrate or suctioned against the glass at the bottom of the aquarium. Also known as the Butterfly Loach, the Hillstream Loach is a placid algae eater that coexists peacefully with a wide range of easygoing fish.

If you’re looking for the perfect tank companions for a Hillside Loach, consider other non-aggressive species that will mind their own business such as Clown Loaches, Gourami, Tetras, Rasboras, Danios, Platy, Plecos, and shrimp.

Discover these top choices for the 15 Best Hillstream Loach Tank mates to make your aquarium a friendly little community.

What You Need to Know

As you pick out your Hillstream Loach care and tank mates, this fast guide will give you a few pointers to get started. 

Hillstream Loaches can live up to eight years if housed in optimal water parameter conditions and with non-aggressive tank mates.

While they consume algae, this isn’t enough to sustain them, so it’s important to drop sinking wafers, live worms and shrimp, and gel food into the tank so it can reach the bottom. Because a Hillstream Loach has no scales, they are super sensitive to sicknesses, infections, and changes in water temperature.

This fish is best handled by experienced aquarists to ensure that the water is at the correct purity and conditions to help it stay healthy. They need water temperatures that range from 68-75 degrees Fahrenheit, water hardness of kH 10 to 15, and pH that ranges from 6.5 to 7.5.

The 15 Best Hillstream Loach Tank Mates

Check these other popular picks:

1. Bristlenose Pleco

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  • Scientific name: Ancistrus cirrhosus
  • Origin: Rio Negro and Amazon Rivers 
  • Size: Around 5 inches
  • Care level: Moderate

This fish is a catfish variety, so it will stick to the substrate area like Hillstream Loaches. If you keep a large tank and drop plenty of food pellets in during their feeding times, this will help the two species coexist peacefully.

It’s important to install a proper filtration system and change water frequently if you add more bottom feeders to the tank due to increased bio-load.

Pros of Keeping With Hillstream Loach

  •  Great for cleaning biofilm from an aquarium

Cons of Keeping With Hillstream Loach

  • Need plenty of food and lots of fresh water regularly to offset waste production

2. Cherry Red Shrimp

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  • Scientific name: Caridina cantonensis
  • Origin: Northern Taiwan
  • Size: Almost an inch
  • Care level: Expert

A Cherry Shrimp is as cheerful as its name. Its red-and-white-striped body makes it a popular choice for an inoffensive tank mate. The only downside is that they tend to cost more than other kinds of shrimp. They also need careful care because they need a colder water temperature and require harder water to survive.

Pros of Keeping With Hllstream Loach

  • Harmless algae-eaters

Cons of Keeping With Hllstream Loach

  • Tricky to care for due to water needs

3. Congo Tetra

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  • Scientific name: Phenacogrammus interruptus 
  • Origin: West Africa 
  • Size: 2 or 3 inches 
  • Care level: Easy

Congo Tetras are another small, colorful, and robust fish that make great tank mates for the placid Hillstream Loach. They are playful and won’t interfere with bottom dwellers since they swim in the central and top water columns in the tank.

Aim to keep water on the soft side, peat-filtered, and filter light with plants to keep these little guys happy.  

Pros of Keeping With Hillstream Loach

  • Requires similar water conditions to Hillstream Loach, but prefers harder water

Cons of Keeping With Hillstream Loach

  • Need to be kept in a school of at least 6 fish to avoid stress

4.Ghost Shrimp

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  • Scientific name: Palaemontes paludosus
  • Origin: Eastern United States
  • Size: About an inch
  • Care Level: Easy

These sheer-colored shrimp are the passive workhorses in any community tank. They are a perfect, low-maintenance pet that won’t interfere with your Loach and work double-time to clean up bits of food and nibble algae off the glass walls.

Ghost Shrimp are not only easy to care for, but they also polish off lost food and floating bits of tank detritus to help keep your tank clean.

Pros of Keeping With Hillstream Loach

  • Practical and affordable

Cons of Keeping With Hiillstream Loach

  • May get eaten by bigger fish

5. Lace Gourami

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  • Scientific name: Trichopodus leerii
  • Origin: Malaysia and Borneo  
  • Size: Just over 1 inch
  • Care level: Basic

A Lace Gourami is a flattish, disc-shaped fish with beautiful, pearlescent scales that thrive with other peaceful fish such as the Hillstream Loach. They are low-maintenance, share similar water needs, and stick to the top of the tank, so they won’t get in your loach’s way or steal their food.

Pros of Keeping With Hiillstream Loach

  • Easy care

Cons of Keeping With Hiillstream Loach

  • Their delicate fins are susceptible to rot

6. Harlequin Rasbora

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  • Scientific name: Rasbora heteromorpha
  • Origin: Thailand and Sumatra 
  • Size: About 2 inches 
  • Care: Intermediate

This friendly little tank mate adds colorful interest to the surface of a community tank. It’s best to skip floating plants if you have Harlequins in the same tank as your Loach since this can block Rasboras from using their labyrinth organ to inhale air at the top of the tank. They also need water that is soft, acidic, and in the same temperature range as Hillstream Loaches.

Pros of Keeping With Hiillstream Loach

  • Hardy and peaceful

Cons of Keeping With Hiillstream Loach

  • Require careful water conditions, especially for breeding.

7. Celebes Rainbowfish

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  • Scientific name: Marosatherina ladigesi
  • Origin: Sulawesi Island
  • Size: 3 inches 
  • Care: Intermediate to expert

Gold and blue shimmering scales help this fish stand out in any aquarium. There are a lot of colors and patterns to choose from that make them fun to watch after dark. As omnivores, they are easy to feed. They require water that is hard and on the alkaline side.

Pros of Keeping With Hiillstream Loach

  • Generally peaceful and can change color 

Cons of Keeping With Hiillstream Loach

  •  Need strict water chemistry and contract diseases easily 

8. Neon Tetra

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  • Scientific name: Paracheirodon innesi
  • Origin: Brazil
  • Size: 1 to ½ inches
  • Care: Basic

Neon Tetras are a great tank mate option if you need to dial in water parameters for another fish and need an adaptable and low-maintenance breed. This is a good fish if you’re just starting out or don’t want a lot of upkeep.

If you make sure to break up food small enough for them to eat and add some rocks and plants to the tank, these little fish are sure to thrive.

Pros of Keeping With Hiillstream Loach

  •  Easy care and can live a long life

Cons of Keeping With Hiillstream Loach

  • Sensitive to bright light and prone to stress if crowded

9. Leopard Danio

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  • Scientific name: Brachydanio froskei
  • Origin: India
  • Size: 2 to 2 ½ inches
  • Care level: Intermediate

These active fish are spotted with black and gold like the forest predator that they are named after, but they are friendly little beings who enjoy exploring their tank. They need a tank that is large enough to contain a shoal of Danios and any other fish that you might have. They enjoy swimming in the top or middle of the tank, so won’t bother loaches at the bottom.

Pros of Keeping With Hiillstream Loach

  •  Active and robust

Cons of Keeping With Hiillstream Loach

  • Disadvantages: Prone to health issues if the water chemistry isn’t precise

10. Honey Gourami

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  • Scientific name: Trichogaster chuna
  • Origin: Bangladesh and India 
  • Size: Close to 2 inches
  • Care: Moderate

If you want to add some warm golden tones to a dimly lit aquarium, consider a Honey Gourami as a tank mate. They are cheerful, shy, and non-aggressive. They even come in lots of different color varieties, so you can pick your favorite. Add some live plants, turn the lights down, and keep water temps to around 82 degrees Fahrenheit and water in a soft to a hard range.  

Pros of Keeping With Hiillstream Loach

  • Omnivores who aren’t picky about diet

Cons of Keeping With Hiillstream Loach

  • Need water maintained at a rather precise warm temperature

11. Asian Stone Catfish

  • Scientific name: Hara jerdoni 
  • Origin: Bangladesh and India 
  • Size: 3 inches
  • Care: Intermediate

This miniature speckled catfish likes to hide at the bottom of the tank. Even though they are considered micro-predators, they are also friendly and like to stay buried in the substrate for safety. Like the Hillstream Loach

They do well on a mixed, nocturnal diet of live worms, blood worms, and frozen shrimp. 

Pros of Keeping With Hiillstream Loach

  • Peaceful and non-aggressive

Cons of Keeping With Hiillstream Loach

  • Need a dark tank and don’t adapt to imprecise water temperature, hardness, or pH conditions

12. Clown Loach

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  • Scientific name: Chromobotia macracanthus 
  • Origin: Indonesia
  • Size: 6 to 9 inches
  • Care level: Moderate to difficult

This loach is peaceful with a yellow or deep orange body decorated with thick black segments. They enjoy anything from bananas and shrimp to blood worms and algae wafers. Water parameters are compatible with Hillstream Loach.

Pros of Keeping With Hiillstream Loach

  • Peaceful temperament

Cons of Keeping With Hiillstream Loach

  • Needs at least a 100-gallon tank

13. Platy

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Platies come in a rainbow of yellow, orange, blue, black, green, and multicolored varieties. They are great beginner fish and don’t need a lot of maintenance. While they prefer water that is higher on the acidic scale, they can tolerate a range of fluctuations in water conditions.

  • Scientific name: Poecilia  
  • Origin: Mexico and South America
  • Size: Between 3 and 4 inches
  • Care: Beginner

Pros of Keeping With Hiillstream Loach

  • Adaptable

Cons of Keeping With Hiillstream Loach

  • Short lifespan

14. Silvertip Tetra

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  • Scientific name: Hasemania nana
  • Origin: Brazil
  • Size: 1 inch
  • Care level: Easy

These cute, friendly fish enjoy following your finger if you move it along the tank glass. They aren’t easily spooked and love to spend their time in shoals of at least 6 fish. Their water parameters fit with Hillstream Loaches and they swim in the middle and upper water columns.

Pros of Keeping With Hiillstream Loach

  • Fun and interactive

Cons of Keeping With Hiillstream Loach

  • May get aggressive if kept by itself

15. Yoyo Loach 

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  • Scientific name: Botia almorhae 
  • Origin: Nepal 
  • Size: Around 3 inches
  • Care: Moderate to difficult

The final pick for Hillstream Loach tank mate is the Yoyo Loach. With dramatic black patterns on a gold or silver body, Yoyo Loaches are energetic, peaceful fish. A downside is that they love to leap out of the water like a yoyo, so it’s good to keep a lid on the tank if you don’t have labyrinth fish such as Rasboras who need open air to breathe.

These schooling fish like acidic water with a nice rocky or gravel substrate.

Pros of Keeping With Hiillstream Loach

  • Friendly and adaptable to water parameters 

Cons of Keeping With Hiillstream Loach

  • Tend to jump out of the tank and get lots of bacterial infections


Hillstream Loaches are some of the most popular tank dwellers. They get along well with most other kinds of fish, especially those that inhabit the middle or upper portions of the tank.

It’s possible to add other bottom dwellers such as other loaches or catfish to the mix. Just make sure that you provide a big enough tank and plenty of food to enable each species to create its own space and prevent anyone from going hungry.

Hillstream Loaches are fast and beautiful swimmers and can be a lot of fun when paired with other interesting and peaceful tank mates.


Are Hillstream Loaches Aggressive to Tank Mates?

Hillstream Loaches are some of the gentlest fish that you can pair with other non-aggressive fish species. 

If you have other fish that live in the substrate level, the Hillstream Loach will tend to leave these alone unless they come into their territory. Even if the Hillstream Loach gets territorial, it only chases other fish around the tank for a short time, and can’t physically hurt other fish.

David Kusner

Veteran fish keeper and keen hobbyist with a serious case of MTS. My midlife crisis was the establishment of a fish room, much to my wife's horror. Little does she know it could be worse!!

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