Clown Loach

Updated July 20, 2019
Author: Mike - FishLore Admin
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The Clown Loach is another favorite in the tropical fish world. This loach can live for a very long time, often 10 years or more if given good water conditions. They can be comical at times, like when they perform the strange behavior of laying on their side. Provide plenty of hiding spaces for them because they can also become quite shy at times.

Chromobotia macracanthu Chromobotia macracanthu

This is one of those fish that are more susceptible to ich than others. In fact, they are usually the first fish to die when water quality declines. For that reason, they are not recommended for the freshwater fish beginner. If you are planning on keeping them in your tank it may be a good idea to set up a quarantine tank for any fish you plan on adding to your tank. A quarantine tank will help prevent the spread of ich to your clowns.

For fish food, they will go after vitamin enriched flakes and wafers but they seem to especially enjoy shrimp pellets.

Chromobotia macracanthu Chromobotia macracanthu on gravel

Clown Loach Care

Scientific Name : Chromobotia macracanthu, Bleeker 1852

Common Names : Clown Loach

Care Level : Medium, very prone to ich infestation and is not recommended for the freshwater aquarium fish beginner.

Size : 12 inches (30 cm)

pH : 6 - 7.5

Temperature : 75°F - 85°F (24°C - 29°C)

Water Hardness : 5° to 15° dH

Origin / Habitat : Borneo, Sumatra

Lifespan : 10 years and longer

Temperament / Behavior : They are generally peaceful and can usually be kept in a community aquarium.

Breeding : Breeding them can be difficult in the home aquarium. Read the following article for more information: Breeding Clown Loaches

Aquarium Size : 75 gallon or larger.

Tank Mates : Many given their peaceful nature. They do best when kept in a small school of 4 or more.

Fish Disease : Freshwater Fish Disease - Diagnose, Symptoms and Treatment

Diet / Foods : Will accept many types including flakes, freeze dried and live foods. Known to feed on snails.

Tank Region : Mostly the bottom

Gender : Difficult to determine the gender.

Fish Lore Forum : Clown Loach Forum

Photo Credit : Photos copyright

References :

Chromobotia macracanthu Chromobotia macracanthu

Clown Loach Comments

From: Manish
I would like to know what size would make the safest buy and what kind of substrate would be best for the them?
I've read reports that state that you should only get one that is 4 inches or larger because loaches smaller than that seem to be more sensitive. For substrate it is recommended that you use sand or a very fine aquarium gravel because they like to dig.

From: Dennis
Very awesome fish although had a heart attack the first time they played dead. All three on their sides and rolling upside down! They are like a pack of dogs in the aquarium and I love to watch them interact with each other! Tons of fun!

From: Nicola
I love them, they are beautiful calm fish, which definately prefer to be in pairs or more. I've never had any problems with them getting ill, although they do play dead sometimes, which is very worrying, but comical once you know it is just part of their behaviour. I've had mine for a long time now, I had two to begin with but the second one went missing. For the life of us, me and my partner don't know where it went. (He was too big to be eaten by another fish in our tank and we don't have any fish that aren't communal, and we checked the filter and floor to check he hadn't jumped out or something). The remaining loach became very slow and obviously lonely when the other disappeared, you can certainly tell when these fish aren't happy, they're very expressive. We recently bought a little baby one, and he/she's happy again! I highly recommend these wonderful fish.

From: Stevie
I had 1 Loach and he/she was very slow moving and didn't react too much. This past weekend I got a second one and they play and dive together! It is like they are inseparable. What a joy to watch.

From: Loach Lover
I just came on this site because I was concerned about my pairs 'playing dead' behaviour. They are now diving up and down the tank together in tandem! What a lovely fish!

From: Marc
I recently bought a pair of Loaches. The first day the one I now call "crazy" spent the entire day chasing bubbles from the aerator. It was hilarious. They are both a bit more chilled out but still love a good dive every now and then. I've only just noticed them rolling on their sides. Great fish.

From: Marc
I have tried them twice from two different stores (mainly for the purpose of a natural snail remover) and despite any precautions I take and medications I eventually have to administer, I can not get them to survive more than a week or two before dying of Ich. Any suggestions?
Sorry to hear about the problems with your loaches. First, get and use a aquarium test kit for pH, ammonia, nitrite and nitrates (at minimum) and see how far out of whack your water parameters are from their recommended parameters listed above. Do frequent partial water changes to keep your tank water healthy. Get and use a quarantine tank where you can monitor them for several weeks before introducing them to your display aquarium. Slowly acclimate them to your tank water, preferably using the drip method of acclimation. Also give them the best foods you can. Vary their diets with frozen cubes and high quality flake foods and algae wafers.

From: Withheld
My loach is probably the coolest fish among all my others. He is very peaceful and just likes to dig his head into the gravel for loose food. He also seems to love to swim up and down the sides of the tank. I am definitely going to add another so he can have a buddy, even though he seems to be buddy buddy with my red tail shark.

From: Chris
I'd go along with the above recommendation to always buy biggish clowns, no smaller than 3", even though they can be harder to find, as they seem hardier. Small ones that you see in shops are a lot more sensitive and harder to keep I've found. I bought my present two at 3" and they're 6" now.

From: Mark
Very fun fish to watch. I do find it funny them schooling with tiger barbs, it's like there confused or something. Don't be surprised if you wake up one morning and there floating at the top... there just playing. I have 3 in my community tank and have had no problems with these great fish.

From: Peter
I have had 2 clown loaches since we got our 300 litre tank 7 years ago and they were about 1 inch long. They have seen us move house on 2 occasions and have had to be removed when the tank appeared to have a leak. One is about 7 inches long with the other about 3 inches. recently the small one disappeared for 4 days and we could not find it anywhere. It was like losing a family member. It came out 4 days later, I was so relieved. These are a great fish to have, to which you become very attached.

From: Jason
I've had one clown loach in a 100 gallon tank for about 6 months, with 9 silver dollars and a pictus cat. My poor loach would just kind of cruise around like he was lost or something. So today I bought him 3 buddies. They are all 4 to 5 inches long and beautiful. My old loach acts like he was just saved from a desert isle. He is so happy to have friends. Anyone out there who has just one loach (and you know who you are) go get it a pal a.s.a.p. It will love you for it.

From: Faye
I was reading the comments about the loaches and yes they are very amusing. I work in a pet store and we carry them and when customers come to us about a snail problem, we recommend the loach as they are very good snail be goners lol. I really enjoy this website, it has alot of good information on it. Thanks again

From: Rov
I've got two beatiful clownloaches. I feed them flakes, cucumber, surimi, prawns, brocolli and peas. Four important things to consider I believe are:
1. Buy a pair or more (5 is recommended)
2. Have a long tank
3. Apply only half the required ICK dosage treatment if ill
4. Use tiny pebbles or sand as substrate!

From: HallCloset
I'm so glad I've read all your comments. I got roped into a fish tank at work without knowing anything about any of it. They have been fun and with the help of this site I'm really enjoying them. I purchased one of these loaches and have always thought he was a mopey fish. He/she always looked depressed. How sad to think he really is depressed. I'm going to go get him a friend tomorrow. Thanks!

From: Daleep
I have 3 in a 96 jewel tank. Yes I know it's small and I am getting a rio 400. They are great fish especially for snail control. I religiously do a 25 percent water change every week. I've had these clowns for seven months and they have grown an inch!

From: Lisa
These fish are hilarious. I have 4 between 16 to 20cm in a 4 ft tank with 3 small silver sharks, 2 bristlenose plecos, 8 angelfish and 4 tiny golden algae eaters. They are very peaceful fish that love hiding spots and must have a weekly water change of 25 percent. I always add water conditioner and stress zyme and feed them once or twice a day. Preferably at night. They are 6 years old.

From: Foxy
I have had three. I bought 2 and then one died within a week so I bought another one that is a bit bigger. Soon after the first one I bought died but it at first became really skinny, then it played dead for two days before I actually realized it was dead. But while this one was dying I noticed my newest clown got a really round stomach. Does anybody think it could be pregnant? Also I had 7 neon tetras and they have all died in the last few days. Could it have been the clown loach that ate them and this is why it has got 'fat' or do u think it could have just been bad water conditions?
Wow, sounds like you have some serious water quality issues happening in your aquarium. You need to get an aquarium test kit and test your water parameters. Has your tank completed the aquarium nitrogen cycle? If you find out that your parameters are out of whack you'll need to perform partial water changes to get it back in line. Please don't buy any more fish until you get these issues straightened out.

From: TS
These have become our favorite fish. Mine are happiest when kept in schools of 5 or more, and have the best personalities in the tank. I've had no trouble with buying very small juveniles (less than 1 inch) and raising them from there. I have them with Bala Sharks, Yoyo Loaches, Killifish, Gouramis, a Peacock Eel, Pink Rainbow Sharks, Khuli Loaches, Rainbow Botia, and Swordtails, in a 45 gallon. They all get along fine. They spend a lot of time on the gravel, so avoid the really sharp gravel. I use ecocomplete substrate as I have a planted tank. They eat my plants, but that's ok with me as I figure it's just part of their diet.
They are indeed very cool loaches. The number of fish you list will be too many for a 45 gallon tank as they grow larger, especially the loaches and the bala sharks. Time to upgrade to a larger tank - woohoo!

From: Loach Lover
I did have 1 clown in my tank with 5 neons and a guppy but after reading about them I decided to get another 2 loaches and they seem very happy together. I highly recommend these fantastic lively fish. They are such a joy to watch and if anyone has just the 1 clown loach you need to get him a pal.

From: Chris - Ich Problem
I've had a 20 gallon tank running for about a month and a week, filled with mostly gouramis and a rainbow shark. To finish it off I added a pair of clown loaches, (planning to upgrade to 50 gallon in a few months) and the day after I put them in, bam, ich all over the poor loaches. So I immediately went and got sensitive fish ich medicine, even halved that medication just to be safe. It's just now after the second treatment, with one left to go, every three days. The bottle recommends a 50 percent water change after each treatment, my question is, won't that severely screw with my nitrogen cycle? Because after the 10 or so days of treating I'll basically have changed out more than the full tank. Thank god none of my other fish are showing signs of ich, and the loaches are basically clean now, only a few spots left, so that means the ich has now floated to the bottom and will hopefully die. Any tips would be much appreciated, thanks!
Changing the water that often won't harm the cycle. Most of the beneficial bacteria should be in the filter media and in the substrate. When the ich cysts drop to the bottom of the tank, they will reproduce not die. Thats why you need to gravel vacuum with the water changes. This is a very important step. You'll also want to raise the temperature into the low 80's °F and increase the amount of surface agitation to keep dissolved oxygen levels up. Good luck treating this parasite.

Still have questions?
Jump on the forum and ask your question!
Go here: Clown Loach Forum

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