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Schistura balteata

Schistura balteata
Three Banded Sumo Loach
It is among the most colourful members of the genus and is easy to keep, provided its environmental requirements can be catered for. It inhabits fast-moving, highly-oxygenated, often shallow stretches of streams and minor rivers flowing over substrates of rocks, gravel and boulders.
Aquatic plants are unable to colonise such habitats, but the conditions favour the development of a rich biofilm which carpets submerged surfaces. These loaches forage among the rocks, feeding mostly on aquatic arthropods and other forms of zooplankton.
A rocky substrate and high water flow should therefore be essential in the aquarium. While not especially belligerent compared with some Schistura, it is still territorial and in sparsely-decorated tanks any aggression can intensify.
Conversely, when much available space is filled by rockwork, individuals tend to select a shelter beneath a particular stone or pebble and defend it. Otherwise they are relatively peaceful.
Place rocks to enable you observe the fish moving through nooks and crannies as they are normally secretive - except at feeding times. Like many loaches these have a highly developed sense of taste and simply explode into activity when food hits the water.
In a high flow set-up they zoom into midwater to grab morsels, occasionally hovering in the flow or resting for a moment on top of a rock or plant leaf.
Their attractive body patterning is highly variable in terms of the positioning and number of light vertical bars, the extent of black spotting in the dorsal fin and even base colour at the rear of the body.
There are two principal forms; one predominantly pink and the other yellow, with colour varying in intensity depending on specimen. This appears to represent nothing more than pronounced natural variation as wild populations supposedly contain a mixture of both pink and yellow fish.
This is not related to gender as males and females of both forms have been recorded — neither does it appear significant in terms of hierarchical dominance or competitiveness.