|Distribution||Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, and Vietnam.|
|Sexual Dimorphism||Mature females likely to be fuller bodied.|
|Maximum Size||32.5cm (12.8")|
|Temperature||24-29 deg C (75-84 deg F)|
|Water Parameters||Soft and slightly acidic. pH: 6.0-7.0, dH: up to 15 degrees.|
|Compatibility||Non-community. Highly aggressive (see Care section).|
|Lighting||Dim - although brighter lighting can be diffused by robust planting.|
The Banded Tiger Loach is known from a variety of habitats including lakes, rivers, and upland streams. During the rainy season, when water depth/flow increases and the water temperature drops, they migrate into flooded areas to spawn, usually staying close to submerged trees, logs, and roots. The waterways are usually lined with riparian vegetation, and the substrate is comprised of mud/sand, water-worn cobbles, and small boulders, creating an endless labyrinth of effective hiding places. In some areas there will be fast current as water is forced past haphazard rockwork. As with all botiids, these loaches must only be added to aquariums that are biologically mature. However, unlike their close relatives, the Botia spp., the pointy-faced Syncrossus genus of loaches grow larger and are exceptionally aggressive and territorial. It is essential that a spacious aquarium is provided, and numerous hiding spots and ‘visual barriers’ created with driftwood, smooth rounded rocks, cobbles, and pebbles of varying sizes. Ensure that the substrate has no sharp edges as these loaches will enjoy digging around the bottom of the tank in their search for titbits of food, and it is important that nothing damages their delicate sensory barbels. Dim lighting is preferable, and a well-covered tank is a must as these loaches are expert jumpers and can escape through the smallest of openings. Powerful filtration (ideally provided by external canister/s) and a decent level of oxygenation are requisite, as are frequent partial water changes. Like other fish from riverine habitats, these loaches are intolerant of a build up of organic pollutants, so ensure that a regular partial water change schedule is in place. As mentioned above, Banded Tiger Loaches are extremely hostile towards other fish, and in the confines of the home aquarium, this can include their own kind. However, despite the hostility, they do form fascinating highly complex social structures within a group, and their physical health will suffer if they don’t have contact with more of their own species. To this end, they should always be maintained in large groups of 8 or more. This will not only meet their social needs but it will help spread any aggression amongst the shoal, so that no one fish bears the continual brunt of the antagonistic behaviour. It is also why adequate space and visual barriers are so important. Tankmates, if desired, must be chosen with much care - only large, robust, fast-swimming species that can hold their own should be considered (large but placid species, even if larger than the loaches, will be mercilessly bullied). Some aquarists like to keep more than one species of Syncrossus loach together; this usually works well, but do make sure there are several of each species and not just single specimens. In addition to the tiger loaches, some of the Yasuhikotakia species of loach also cohabit well with Syncrossus due to their similar belligerent behaviour and environmental needs. The Banded Tiger Loach is sometimes confused with the similar looking Green Tiger Loach (S. hymenophysa). They can be told apart by the absence of a dark blotch on the dorsal fin in S. helodes (present in S. hymenophysa). S. helodes also sports a series of small dark spots on the lower half of the flanks, whereas S. hymenophysa has none. S. helodes is adorned with 10-12 vertical bars without green iridescent borders, and S. hymenophysa displays 12-15 vertical bars with green iridescent borders.
Meaty frozen foods such as bloodworm, white mosquito larvae, vitamin-enriched brineshrimp, Mysis shrimp, chopped prawns etc. In time these fish will take prepared foods such as sinking pellets, granules, wafers and flakes.
This species has not been bred in the home aquarium.