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Catfish - Borneo Sucker/Hillstream Loach (Gastromyzon punctulatus)

Catfish - Borneo Sucker/Hillstream Loach (Gastromyzon punctulatus)

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This fascinating loach is very peaceful with dwarf shrimp, has a very active and outgoing personality, and is very hardy in a mature aquarium with rich algae/biofilm and very high water flow.

The Spotted Borneo Sucker (Gastromyzon punctulatus) is a very interesting freshwater loach that is native to Malaysian Borneo.  It is known for its gray body coloration, white spots, and occasional blue highlights on its fins, its peaceful yet outgoing demeanor, and its fascinating social behavior with members of its own species. This fascinating, peaceful fish is an algae and biofilm grazer that is an excellent candidate for the mature subtropical aquarium.  

An aquarium with heavy water flow (10-15x turnover per hour) and very clean, clear water is required for the Spotted Borneo Sucker. Like other hillstream loaches, this loach is native to shallow, clear, fast-flowing waters and it is sensitive to declines in water quality, so regular aquarium maintenance and maximum oxygen saturation are absolutely necessary.

The Spotted Borneo Sucker is a biofilm and algae grazer in nature. It is known to usually accept frozen meaty foods, but such foods should only be fed occasionally since excess protein can be deadly to most biofilm grazers. This fish will also often accept high-quality dry foods that are rich in plant matter, but it is absolutely essential that biofilm and algae are naturally available in the aquarium to ensure its long-term health or else it may slowly starve. As long as it is kept in a well-maintained, mature aquarium with good biofilm and algae growth as well as high water flow, the Spotted Borneo Sucker is a hardy and entertaining fish.  It will not bother aquarium plants. In fact, Anubias species are an excellent plant to keep with this loach because Anubias can foster significant biofilm/algae growth in an aquarium with moderate to high lighting.

The Spotted Borneo Sucker is a very social species, especially as an adult, so it should be kept in groups. Most small rasboras, tetras, hillstream loaches, gobies, and other small, peaceful fish are good tankmates for this species. Since they inhabit similar waterways, many smaller freshwater goby species are ideal tankmates as well. Due to its small size and diet, the Borneo Sucker can also be kept with dwarf shrimp, although it might eat a few of their fry. Dwarf shrimp are particularly good tankmates in larger aquariums where they can find areas of lower water flow. Peaceful bottom-dwelling fish are also a possibility, but care must be taken to make sure that the Borneo Sucker is not outcompeted for food.

Little reliable information is known about the breeding habits of the Borneo Sucker. However, it is not necessarily unlikely that it will soon be bred in the aquarium world, especially with the recent progress in breeding other loach species by many individuals.  


What We Like About This Fish:

  • Extraordinary-looking with its highly unique, hydrodynamic shape and beautiful pattern
  • Peaceful disposition with fish and peaceful invertebrates
  • Interesting, active social behavior when kept in colonies
  • Long lifespan when kept in optimal conditions
  • Safe with dwarf shrimp


  • Temperature: 68° - 75° F (20° - 24° C). Higher temperatures can be tolerated temporarily with extremely high oxygen content..
  • pH: 6.0 – 7.5
  • KH: 4 - 8 dKH
  • Minimum Tank Size: 20+ gallons for a small group.


  • Diet: Omnivorous.  Typically accepts some dry foods and frozen foods, but requires ample algae and biofilm for longevity.  A diet too high in protein can cause serious health problems or even death in this species.
  • Social Behavior: Peaceful.  Juveniles sometimes appear solitary, but adults exhibit schooling behavior.  
  • Origin: Borneo, Malaysia
  • Average Adult Size: 1.4 – 1.6 inches (3.5 - 4 cm)
  • Average Purchase Size: 1 - 1.5 inches (2.5 - 3.8 cm)
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