Beaufortia leveretti

Common Names: Butterfly algae eater, butterfly hillstream loach, butterfly loach, butterfly pleco, Chinese butterfly loach, Chinese sucker, hillstream loach, Hong Kong pleco, pleco loach, stingray loach, UFO pleco, etc.

Type Locality: N/A

Range: China and Vietnam

Taxonomic Troubles: Originally described as Gastromyzon leveretti.

Size: 12 cm (5 inches).

Preferred Water Chemistry: Subtropical freshwater; native to moderately hard, neutral to slightly basic waters. These fish require cool, highly oxygenated water. Maintain a temperature between 65° and 75°F.

Difficulty: Shipping is very difficult on these animals. Once they make it through acclimation and quarantine they are not hard to keep.

Tank Setup: A resident of hill streams and rapids, this fish needs a very strong current and high oxygen levels. A substrate of coarse gravel and stones of various sizes will make it feel at home, and a large powerhead or canister filter return can provide the curren

Feeding: Primarily an algae eater. It will take all types of sinking foods, but plant-based items should make up the bulk of the diet. This fish will graze algae all day if it is available.

Breeding: There are some reports of captive spawning.

Fish Description

This is one of several species sold as hillstream loaches. The unusual cupped fins of this species account for many of its common names. These fins function as suction cups and hold the fish in place on a rock in the midst of rapids, and they may also provide negative lift, using the water current to hold them even more securely in place. The dots, lines, and reticulations that make up their patterns are another reason for their appeal.


Hillstream loaches of all types are burgeoning in popularity in the aquarium hobby. Current-creating devices created for the reef hobby are equally useful in keeping these fastwater species. The high oxygen demand makes these fish difficult and expensive to ship, so they are higher priced than many other loaches. These animals are clearly part of the reason for the current interest in creating Asian hillstream biotope systems, and they are excellent specimens for such a tank. They are generally peaceful and get along with other peaceful species of similar size. Territorial disputes between conspecifics are typically all bluster with no real aggression.