Matt Clarke look at the most stunning loach from the subfamily Balitorinae, the gorgeous Sewellia lineolata.
Scientific name: Sewellia lineolata (Valenciennes, 1846).
Origin: Mainly reported from Vietnamese Mekong, but also reported in the Mekong in China and Cambodia.
Size: Up to about 5 cm/2.5.
Diet: Algae, detritus and invertebrates.
Water: Clean, well-oxygenated, low-pollution water is essential. Balitorines are not tolerant of infrequent water changes. Neutral conditions are best, but they do OK (and can breed) in alkaline water. Temperature should be in the low 20Cs.
Aquarium: Like other balitorine loaches, Sewellia live in boulder-strewn fast-flowing hillstreams containing cool, well-oxygenated clean water.
They are best kept in groups in spacious aquaria lit by bright lighting to encourage algal growth. The substrate should be gravel or sand and dcor should consist of large quantities of smooth, water-worn cobbles and rocks.
Add a number of additional powerheads or power filters to the tank to make the current more torrential. They mix well with other rheophilic species, such as danionins and loaches.
Notes: The Sewellia genus contains nine species: S. albisuera, S. breviventralis, S. diardi, S. elongata, S. speciosa, S. pterolineata, S. patella, S. marmorata and S. lineolata. A Sewellia very similar in appearance to S. lineolata, but with greater spotting, has been imported into the UK but may be a distinct species.
Breeding: Quite a few fishkeepers have reported accidental spawnings, which is good considering it s hardly a widely kept species. Few have witnessed spawnings, with breeding only becoming apparent when young fish are spotted, usually in the safety of a filter chamber.
Availability: This fish is widely regarded as one of the best-looking bottom dwellers money can buy, so it s highly sought after by loach fans. They ve become much more common in recent years, due to an increase in exports from Vietnam, and lots of shops have had them in stock. These were photographed recently at Wildwoods in Middlesex (0208 366 0243).
Price: Never cheap. These ones were on sale for 7.95.
This article was first published in the April 2007 issue of Practical Fishkeeping. Pictures by Neil Hepworth.