The Clown Loach is a must-have fish for many freshwater enthusiasts. It is peaceful and gets along well with almost any tank-mate, has very distinct colors and a playful behavior.
Clown Loach (Botia macracantha) native to the Indonesian islands of Borneo and Sumatra. They live in the flowing rivers for most of the year and at the start of the monsoon season retreat further upstream and inhabit smaller streams that are full of plant life to spawn and give rise to the next generation of these intriguing fish.
Clown Loaches are an extremely social and peaceful fish that are often found closely foraging in the substrate. They are best kept in large community tanks in a shoal containing at least 5 individuals. If you keep less than 5 you will find them to be very timid and shy, spending most of their time hiding. These fish are playful by nature and enjoy chasing each other around the tank.
They have strange behaviors and can often be found lying on their side at the bottom of the tank appearing dead – don’t worry this is completely normal behavior for them.
These fish have a complex hierarchy and usually a female alpha. The younger fish tend to shadow the alpha, copying their behaviors and movements.
Provide a mixture of substrates like pebbles as well as sand to give the tank a more natural feel. Subdued lighting is key as these fish will become more active in darker conditions. This can be achieved through adding floating plants like Riccia Fluitans, Java Moss, Hornwort or Water Spangles. Submerged plants are also essential and hardy species like Amazon Sword plants would be a perfect match for Clown Loaches. These plants not only provide the aquarium with shade but also aid in aerating your tank through producing oxygen. They also provide a form of filtration as well as areas to play and hide.
5 adults will need at least a 600 litre tank – allow roughly 120 litres of water per loach.
These fish will do well with nearly all community fish like Cherry Barbs, Tiger Barbs, Neon Tetra, and Black Widow Tetras. Other good tank mates for this species would be other bottom-dwelling fish such as Kuhli Loach, and the Bristlenose Pleco. Species of Cichlids can also be kept with Clown Loach providing they are non-aggressive and share roughly the same water parameters. The Blue or Yellow Ram and other South American Cichlids like Angelfish and Discus are all great examples.
A good invertebrate tank mate would be species of freshwater lobster or crayfish like the Blue Lobster and even freshwater crabs like the Red-Clawed Crab (providing they are kept in a paludarium as it is not a fully aquatic species).
You should always avoid keeping Clown Loach with any predatory fish.
It is highly recommended that these fish are kept in social groups due to their pack mentality. Being kept on their own will cause them to become shy and they will spend most of their time hiding. Being kept in groups of 5 or more will cause a dramatic shift in their behavior causing them to become extremely active in the mid and lower levels of the tank.
Feed them a mixed diet of sinking shrimp pellets and algae wafers. They will also do a great job of eating any leftover fish flakes which sink to the bottom of the tank. Frozen foods like shrimp and bloodworms will support the healthy growth of the fish but should only be fed a few times a week. Live foods like bloodworms, earthworms and small shrimp are considered a delicacy to Clown Loach and should be fed once a week as a treat.
These fish also love snails and we certainly recommend that you feed snails to your Loaches.
As with most species of Loach, they are extremely susceptible to Ich (also known as White Spot Disease). This is an ectoparasite that burrows into the gills and skin of fish and can also lead to fungal and bacterial infections. Loaches are usually the first fish to become infected due to them not having scales.
See Fish Disease Diagnosis and Treatment at Rebel Pets for help with diagnosing and treating diseases.
|Adult Size:||up to 30 cm|
|Aquarist Experience Level:||Intermediate (due to large size)|
|Minimum Tank Size:||300 litres, +120 litres/add. fish|
|Temperament:||Peaceful, good community fish|
|Tank Level:||Bottom to middle|
|Diet:||Omnivore, eats most foods|
|Water Flow:||Slow to Moderate|
|Temperature:||25 to 30°C|
|pH:||7.4 – 7.8 slight fluctuation between 7 and 8 ok|
|Hardness:||up to 15 dGH (soft)|