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SUMO LOACH (Schistura cf. balteata)

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Scientific name: Schistura balteata (Rendahl, 1948)

Common name: Tri Band Sumo Loach

Synonyms: Nemacheilus balteatus

Distribution: Malwedaung, in Tenasserim, Myanmar.

Sexual Dimorphism: Unknown. Mature males are said to have 'puffed cheeks' when viewed head-on. Mature females likely to have a much rounder abdomen.

Maximum size: 10cm (4").

Similar to: Schistura cf balteata, Schistura sp. aff paucifasciata, Schistura paucifasciata, Schistura cincticauda.

Care: As with other species of Schistura, this is a territorial species that should be provided with numerous hiding places amongst bogwood, plants, rocky caves and cobbles. When keeping more than one specimen it is important to create visual barriers between each hiding place. Although quite a shy species, it can be nippy towards it's own kind (or other Nemacheiline loaches) when defending its territory.

Ideally, these loaches should be provided with brook/hillstream aquarium conditions incorporating a high flow rate and well oxygenated water - please see Hillstream Loaches: The Specialists at Life in the Fast Lane for a more detailed explanation.

Dither fish such as some species of Danio, Rasbora, Barb, and Tetra make good candidates for tankmates. Will not bother 'sucker-belly' type hillstream loach species.

Feeding: Will eagerly accept most aquarium fare offered - sinking catfish pellets, flake, frozen foods such as mosquito larvae, brineshrimp, daphnia etc.

Water parameters: pH: 6-7.5, Hardness: soft and slightly acidic is best. Max dh: 12.

Temperature: 73ºF to 79ºF (23-26°C)

Breeding: Unknown

Distinguished from any other Schistura species by its usual unique markings consisting of 2-3 thin vertical dark bars below dorsal fin. Some specimens appear to 'lose' these vertical bars with age/maturity (it is not clear whether this is a sexual difference) and others can quite dramatically change color depending on mood or aggression.

 There are regional variations in color also, and sometimes the vertical bars may be red.