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Jennifer's Hillstream Loach.

I wish that you could provide a scientific name. "Hillstream Loach"
could be assigned to a number of species. You said that the loaches have
"creamy areas" around the gills, edges of fins including the dorsal?

I'm a catfish and loach nut--I've kept a good variety of them over the
years. I am certainly NOT an expert, but I would think (without seeing
the fish ;-) ) that what you are referring to could be natural "flags"
displayed for the "benefit" of others. Some of these little guys can be
surprisingly territorial, especially to their own kind or those that
closely resemble their own kind. MY experience has been that this
territorial behavior seems to increase over time. Because of this, I
find nothing wrong with having a lone "ground loach" be the king or
queen of the bottom area of the tank--no other LIKE species. (MY
personal preference).

You also referred to "bleaching out" and "patches." When loaches spar
with eachother, they may sometimes completely lose their color, turning
ghastly white. The "patches" you describe, are they on EXACTLY the same
places on both fish or are they random? If random, they may be the end
results of fighting with eachother.

Hope this helps! :-)

Walter B. Klockers
Washington State--where ALL of our pets get wet!