Clown Loaches Behaviour

Jamieb284

HI there, I have a 125G fish tank with clown loaches in there. But I never see them.. I understand that they're nocturnal but apparently they're active during the day also but I have never once seen them out in the day. There are 4 of them in there and they just hide behind the plants.

I will attach a pic of the tank, they hide behind the plants on the left.

As I said, I know they can be nocturnal but I'd love to at least see them once in a while... Such a shame to not see such a lovely fish with such amazing personalities (my dad used to own some that I loved)


ImageUploadedByFish Lore Aquarium Fish Forum1444757590.889633.jpg


 

freak78

I have ten in my 125 and there always out.
 

Akili

I have them ( 6 in each tank ) in a 90 gal and 125 gal and I see them all the time, often at feed times and after a water change,very playful I might add. Going to move some of them as they get bigger.
 

Jamieb284

Sooooo... What should I do?


 

Redshark1

Yes! Hardly helpful those two replies were they?!! But they do show that Clown Loaches do take centre stage at least some of the time.

Mine generally retire into cover but do venture out between meals occasionally. Often when watching the aquarium at these times one or two will be out looking for food or interacting.

At feeding time they go ballistic and are all moving all over the tank. Some mating behaviour usually follows though I have never had a spawning.

You may just need to be patient.

How long have you have this tank set up, you did not fill much of the info in your profile and on the photo the tank looks new (though that could be due to your amazing exemplary maintenance!).

How long have they simply been hiding behind plants. It seems very unlikely to me that they will just sit there for ever. Clown Loaches have lots of interactions with each other and explore their surroundings for food.

You will just have to use your intelligence and gradually find lots of ways to make it easier for them to venture out e.g. place a favourite food such as bloodworm at the front of the tank regularly at the same time of day.

Keep finding ways to improve the water quality as Clown Loaches seem more active the better this is.
 

Akili

Sooooo... What should I do?
Clowns are often very lively in the early morning and after dusk an addition of a blue moon light tube, or some other form of blue lighting will help and shade your tank with floating plants.
 

freak78

Try and add to your shoal.
 

slayer5590

Jamieb284

I could get a couple more.

They've been in the tank about... 6-8 weeks and have always hid behind the plants. Water quality is good and I like to keep the team as clean as reasonably practicable haha. I just let algae grow on my wood and plants but not on my glass or anything.

I can also buy a blue moonlight, I have 1 bulb but that has to be put in alongside a white light as I don't have a second blue one. Could I put it in on its own and have no other light in the other slot? I'll attached a photo, the right side of the left unit is blue as it's hard to see that but the left side of the left unit is white.
ImageUploadedByFish Lore Aquarium Fish Forum1444840237.051337.jpg


 

Akili

Do not go spending any money yet, give your one blue bulb a try and see if it works for you.
 

Jamieb284

Would it be okay to take out the white one? I didn't think it'd be a good idea to have empty sockets.


 

Akili

Leave the white one in
 

Jamieb284

Then nothing changes


 

BlackwaterRat

I guess I don't really have any advice for you, but I thought I would commiserate. I also have very inactive clown loaches, and it makes me sad

I adopted my 55 gallon tank "as is", as it were, from another couple, and unfortunately it is fully stocked (probably overstocked). I have two clowns in there along with 3 zebra loaches (and 2 plecos and 3 cories). The zebras are crazy--so active and playful, they look like dolphins twisting and spinning around each other through the tank, mostly in the evenings. Sometimes one or both of the clowns will join in, but I would say more often than not they don't. They also seem scared of me, unlike the zebras who will come out and beg for food at dinnertime. I had hoped that loaches are loaches and it wouldn't matter that they are zebras vs clowns, but I suspect that's not the case, since they usually sleep in two separate groups. And I certainly don't think I've got room to add any more clowns. sigh

Amy
 

aliray

Why don't you start by adding 2 or 3 more and see if the increased numbers give them a little more confidence .That might be the cheapest way to start and then give them time to get used to the new numbers. Do you have real or artificial plants in your tank? If you have artificial ones you can buy or make some into floating plants to add some shaded areas in the tank. Just a suggestion. Alison
 

BlackwaterRat

lol, I've tried floating plants, but my plecos destroy them What can you do, lol?
I just added a new cave about a week ago, and they do love that. They are funny the way they sleep up against each other, sometimes one with his fins in the other one's face
 

aliray

Are you talking about your plecos or your loaches in the cave? As far as floating plants if they are the silk or plastic type they will usually float if you cut the weight off the bottom and/or don't anchor them in the gravel and the plecos will not be able to destory them Alison
 

Akili

I have couple 2 inch PVC pipe in the tanks where they sleep in.
 

Jamieb284

Went to the fish shop today, couldn't buy any clowns as they didn't have any for sale (only got some in today so they weren't for sale).
I bought a new bulb, a yellowy one instead of a bright white one so I currently have a blue light & a yellow light turned on in the tank, I r seen them come out a little today during feeding time to positive signs!

Hopefully they'll come out more but I'll still buy another 2.


 

Redshark1

Are you doing the bloodworm thing I mentioned?
 

Jamieb284

Live bloodworm? I'll have to buy some and try that too! I'll try anything to get these beautiful fish out.


 

Redshark1

Live bloodworm are excellent. However, Frozen bloodworm is what I use and is very convenient when in cubes rather than in a large block.

I thaw and rinse the cube in a small net. I think the "juice" from a thawed cube would be useless as food and might well pollute the water.

I would place the thawed worms on the gravel at the front in the hope that when they smell them they may one day search them out.

They find it irresistible but to effect a radical change in behaviour you will need to be persistent.

Bloodworms are not worms but are the larvae of Chironomid Midges, a non-biting group.

The larvae of some species are red because they have the iron-rich protein haemoglobin in their blood as do humans. The haemoglobin is effective at obtaining oxygen from the low levels available in the mud in which they live.

On the subject of numbers of Clown Loaches, this is reputedly a shoaling fish in the wild. We could surmise how many fish would constitute a shoal in the wild but it is probably far more than we would expect to be able to keep in an aquarium. I have six and wouldn't have less, but I'd want a much bigger aquarium if I was to do it all again and have more.
 

Jamieb284

I have freeze dried bloodworm and have been using that for a while but it just floats so they don't even get a sniff


 

Akili

I have freeze dried bloodworm and have been using that for a while but it just floats so they don't even get a sniff
If the freeze dried bloodworms are in a cube form then take the cube and press it against the glass it will stick

 

Jamieb284

They're just free, singularly worms if you know what I mean.

Those discus are adorable!


 

Aquarist

Redshark1...maybe he will chime in here too. His Clown Loaches and tanks are amazing!

Ken
 

Jamieb284

He has already replied & a 20
Year old fish is impressive! Wow


 

Jamieb284

Just got back from my dads house (mother has been feeding the fish and caring for them) & the clowns are all still hiding so the lighting suggestion doesn't seem to have worked




I have purchased another 2 loaches so I'll wait a few days and see what the results are....


 

Akili

Just got back from my dads house (mother has been feeding the fish and caring for them) & the clowns are all still hiding so the lighting suggestion doesn't seem to have worked
Give them some time as you know for the most part they are a shy.
 

Jamieb284

Still just the new two that seem to be coming out, a couple come out when food is out but they shoot back behind the plants when they see me. One of the new ones is fine and doesn't care, even let me take a pic of him! I hope they settle down


ImageUploadedByFish Lore Aquarium Fish Forum1445372474.032972.jpg


ImageUploadedByFish Lore Aquarium Fish Forum1445372490.617781.jpg


 

Redshark1

Good result. Hopefully the others will follow suit in time. But they are fickle!
 

Jamieb284

Still just the new ones that Coke & and just 1 of the old ones does.
About 4 of them come out at feeding time but as soon as they see me, they retreat back behind the plants. I'll put it down to a waiting game now! I'm trying to put the food slightly in front of the plants and move it further away each time I feed them.


 

Redshark1

Another idea I have is to black out the side of the tank e.g. with a piece of black paper or card. This made my fish less skittish as they don't perceive danger from all sides.

Keep trying, you're doing good.

Things may change whatever you do. They are not machines and have their own free will. It's strange sometimes what the fish decide!
 

Jamieb284

They've started coming out a lot more (3-4 of them) but there's still 2-3 that stay hiding but they've started coming out and right to the front of the tank at feeding time I'm glad I'm starting to see them more anyway! Hopefully they'll just come with time but thank you for all your help!


 

Redshark1

That's great! Consistency is key.

Feed them when you have time to watch them and they will associate you with food.

They are good time keepers so feeding at the same time each day is a good idea.

Mine demand the food if I am just slightly late.

How do they know the time? I blacked out that side of the tank near the clock!.
 

emmykenzie

Noticing some behavioral changes I find concerning in my loaches. Here's some info:
Tank
What is the water volume of the tank? 65 gallons
How long has the tank been running? 4 years
Does it have a filter? yes, carbon filtered
Does it have a heater? yes
What is the water temperature? 69.1
What is the entire stocking of this tank? (Please list all fish and inverts.)
1 Raphael Catfish, 5 y/o
4 clown loaches approx 3-4 in ( 1 is 3 y/o one is 2 y/o and 2 are approx 1 y/o. )
3 Golden barbs (4 y/o)
Java Fern 3 y/o (I have a small Java Fern Farm in my Shark Tank)

Maintenance
How often do you change the water? approx every week
How much of the water do you change? 20%
What do you use to treat your water? Smart Start
Do you vacuum the substrate or just the water? I vacuum the gravel substrate

*Parameters - Very Important
Did you cycle your tank before adding fish? yes
What do you use to test the water? API TEST KIT
What are your parameters? We need to know the exact numbers, not just “fine” or “safe”.
Ammonia: 0
Nitrite: 0
Nitrate: >1 ppm
pH: 7.4
Tap Water pH: 7.0

Feeding
How often do you feed your fish? Daily
How much do you feed your fish? Approx a quarter size puck of blood worms & every other day 1 small pinch of bug bits & a dime size puck of brine shrimp
What brand of food do you feed your fish? Hikari, Bug Bits
Do you feed frozen or freeze-dried foods? Yes, Hikari Bloodworms & Brine Shrimp

Illness & Symptoms
How long have you had this fish? 1 fish I've had about 3 years the other I've had about a year.
How long ago did you first notice these symptoms? about a week ago
In a few words, can you explain the symptoms? Sudden aggressive behavior between the two males. They are scarring each other up bad and nipping fins.
Have you started any treatment for the illness? I have administered 4 days worth of daily water changes because at first the nitrates in the tank were very high. Changing the water eliminated all nitrates entirely
Was your fish physically ill or injured upon purchase? no
How has its behavior and appearance changed, if at all? Yes, Refer above to symptoms.

Other useful information; Sometimes they barbs are nipped as well, and I feel as though they may be part of the problem in reference to overcrowding. I have several solutions in mind but I'd like some outside advice. The two loaches who are sparring one is slightly larger & I believe older than the other. I had 5 loaches in the tank but recently lost one due to what I believe is the same thing happening right now, aggression between loaches.

I've done some research on my own and I believe my tank may be too small for what I have in it but I need to figure out the best plan of attack and keep budget in mind. I have read much about keeping loaches in an 120 gallon tank and the benefits and I am considering making the switch but it is a huge investment and I need to rule out other options first.
It is very possible they are reaching sexual maturity and are sparring for the alpha. To my untrained eye (as loaches seem extremely difficult to sex) It seems I have 2 m & 2 f. I'm not sure if that is significant to the fact or if the tank is just over crowded. I find it possible the tank may be over crowded, because the barbs are about as large as the loaches, and sometimes have nip marks on them.
Additionally, I have an algae problem. Red Algae is growing in my tank and I believe that could be the source of the high pH. The Red algae more than likely is introduced through the frozen food as I have not introduced anything to this tank for about 6 months. (tried to add anarcharis back about 6 months ago but the loaches just ate all of it lol) Could this be creating behavioral problems?

As you can see I've got a lot of theories and I've done a significant amt of research but I need help solidifying them and making a plan of attack

Thanks for reading and for your input!
Best,
Emmykenzie
 

Madeline Peterson

First question: what kind of loaches? Dojo? Clown? Something else?

I doubt it's the algae that's causing the behavior problems, but I need to know what kind of loaches before I can give further advice.
 

Kribensis27

If the loaches have grown large yet, they could be fighting due to overcrowding and reaching sexual maturity. The males could be trying to mate as well.
 

emmykenzie

First question: what kind of loaches? Dojo? Clown? Something else?

I doubt it's the algae that's causing the behavior problems, but I need to know what kind of loaches before I can give further advice.
They are clown loaches.
 

Madeline Peterson

Ah. Yes. Just noticed what forum this was in. As most of my experience is dojo loaches, I doubt I can help.
 

Redshark1

emmykenzie I’ve kept Clown Loaches for 50 years and my current batch are 27 years of age so I have spent some time keeping these fish within my own limitations.

I’ve read your opening post and the first thing I noticed is the temperature you are keeping your aquarium at which at 69.1 (I had to read that twice!) is far too low for Clown Loaches and your other fish. Clown Loaches should be kept in the range 75F to 86F and I keep mine at 80F.

The second thing that stood out is the size of the aquarium which at 65 gallons is far too small. Adult Clown Loaches reach a maximum size of 12” and the recommended minimum size aquarium for a group of six or seven is 6’ x 2’ x 2’ which is 180 gallons. Keeping them long-term in a small tank will lead to stunting.

Clown Loaches should be kept in groups. Six is a generally agreed minimum but more would be better. This is because Clown Loaches are social fish and their biology revolves around interacting with others of their own species.

Dither fish are the only tank mates that are beneficial as they are said to be used by the Clown Loaches to gauge when it is safe to come out of their hiding spots. I would say keeping them with Catfish is unnecessary and unlikely to benefit either party.

Changing only 20% of the water weekly seems too low to me. I cannot achieve 1ppm Nitrate with that amount. I change 20% of my water daily. My aquarium water has 20ppm Nitrate. Changing water does not eliminate nitrates entirely because there will still be nitrates in your aquarium and in the tap water but it will dilute them and lower them.

You do not need to add carbon to the filter for normal maintenance. Carbon is used for removing certain chemicals. What is it you are trying to remove?

I don’t know if I have experienced the red algae you mention. Have you any pictures of it? Algae usually thrives on excess nutrients and light. It needn’t be a problem unless you find it unsightly in which case you could clean it off.

Clown Loaches become sexually mature at 4 inches and they establish a pecking order. This is quite normal. Whether the cramped conditions, small group size or incorrect temperature are exacerbating the problem is for you to decide and it is clear what you would need to do to address this.
 

emmykenzie

emmykenzie I’ve kept Clown Loaches for 50 years and my current batch are 27 years of age so I have spent some time keeping these fish within my own limitations.

I’ve read your opening post and the first thing I noticed is the temperature you are keeping your aquarium at which at 69.1 (I had to read that twice!) is far too low for Clown Loaches and your other fish. Clown Loaches should be kept in the range 75F to 86F and I keep mine at 80F.

The second thing that stood out is the size of the aquarium which at 65 gallons is far too small. Adult Clown Loaches reach a maximum size of 12” and the recommended minimum size aquarium for a group of six or seven is 6’ x 2’ x 2’ which is 180 gallons. Keeping them long-term in a small tank will lead to stunting.

Clown Loaches should be kept in groups. Six is a generally agreed minimum but more would be better. This is because Clown Loaches are social fish and their biology revolves around interacting with others of their own species.

Dither fish are the only tank mates that are beneficial as they are said to be used by the Clown Loaches to gauge when it is safe to come out of their hiding spots. I would say keeping them with Catfish is unnecessary and unlikely to benefit either party.

Changing only 20% of the water weekly seems too low to me. I cannot achieve 1ppm Nitrate with that amount. I change 20% of my water daily. My aquarium water has 20ppm Nitrate. Changing water does not eliminate nitrates entirely because there will still be nitrates in your aquarium and in the tap water but it will dilute them and lower them.

You do not need to add carbon to the filter for normal maintenance. Carbon is used for removing certain chemicals. What is it you are trying to remove?

I don’t know if I have experienced the red algae you mention. Have you any pictures of it? Algae usually thrives on excess nutrients and light. It needn’t be a problem unless you find it unsightly in which case you could clean it off.

Clown Loaches become sexually mature at 4 inches and they establish a pecking order. This is quite normal. Whether the cramped conditions, small group size or incorrect temperature are exacerbating the problem is for you to decide and it is clear what you would need to do to address this.

Hi Redshark1 !
Thank you very much for your response. Excuse my loaded response below I just have a strong desire to learn more and you seem to have an abundance of experience & knowledge.
To start and temporarily, I will boost the temperature in my tank! I did not realize this was too low and I will correct that immediately. Do you have any literature you would suggest for me as a loach lover?

Do you feel like a 120 gal would still be too small? I have multiple concerns with purchasing a tank any larger than 120, including space and budget.

I have never noticed any negative reactions between my catfish and clown loaches. They seem to coexist pretty peacefully as there is a lot of space to hide but I can see where this would be a conflict of interest as they are both rather timid in nature. I am quite attached to my catfish as he's my longest living baby and the only fish I've named so this is a predicament for me.

My loaches are friendly, they will eat out of my hand and always come to see me when I am near the tank. Now that they are a little larger and pressed for space they are not schooling with the barbs the way they use too. I am not as attached to the barbs and I would be willing to part with them. My Raphael Catfish, J'Zargo, is the sweetest fish in the tank. He's gentle and seems to coexist well, probably because he's the largest. He's never mouthy with the loaches and they even eat together with no issues. (He prefers brine shrimp over bloodworms)

Keeping a 120 gallon tank in mind; do you feel if I were to set up a very densely planted aquarium with many places to hide; 6 loaches & 1 catfish could coexist? Would it be reasonable if I preformed daily water changes? Would the addition 3 barbs be too much bio-load?

Finally, I really want to have a blue phantom pleco in my tank. The only issue I could see with this would be my catfish as they inhabit the same territory. I have read that if you feed them both enough they wont have any issues. Obviously aside from butting heads with j'zargo, I don't want to make the same mistakes I made with this tank and over/clumsily stock my tank.

The carbon is in the marine land filters that I currently own and have installed. I thought they may help with the red algae problem but with that knowledge it is possible they are eliminating the bacteria needed to rid the red algae.

I hate the way it looks, there are several blooms so to speak all over the tank that i cannot remove with a sponge & elbow grease. I think it's possible I have my lights on for too long? about 7 hours.

In short, I'm getting from this they are becoming sexually mature and due to space concerns are becoming aggressive in making a pecking order.

I would like to note that as I see the males sparring in the tank they have been scratching each other up but the scratches are gone within the hour.
I also would be honored to pick your brain and consult you as I move forward with my loach keeping. I just want to be a better fish keeper and owner! One of the most valuable lessons I've learned when fish keeping is to ALWAYS support your local hobbyist store, they will take care of you better than a big box store ever could.

Thanks, Emily
PS
Redshark1 As of right now, I have 4 tanks set up. In my emergency tank (45 gallon) is 2 goldfish. They are "seasonal" fish and go outside in our mini pond for the summer months. The gold fish are honestly pretty big, probably 3x-4x the size of the barbs but coexist perfectly well with the ottos in the tank. Do you think as another temporary fix I could move the 3 gold barbs into the gold fish tank to free up space temporarily while I figure out a solution?

My third tank has one beefy rainbow shark in it. I wouldn't think for a second to add anything besides plants into that tank 10G
My fourth tank is a betta plant tank. 2G

I might also add I am temporarily quarantined and that is the reason i have been trying home remedies. It has given me more time to study their behavior and to make a plan to fix this going forward.
 

coralbandit

IMO 69.1 and 20% are your problems ,or cause of them as stated by red shark .
That and only having 4 clowns now .. They really like buddies and it helps with the hierarchy ..
It is good you are increasing the temp but with that I would up your water changes .
I am another clown loach lover ..I think if the 120g is 6 feet it will work for you ,but a 4 foot 120 will not be the same at all..
Welcome !
 

A201

A 120 long tank is 5 ft. long. Petsmart sells them. I have one & it's been up & running eight years.
I keep five Red Tail Loaches & one Tiger Loach in it. All are big Loaches, but won't reach the size of a Clown Loach.
A 120 long would be a very good intermediate tank for your Loaches & would be a suitable long term home for them.
At some distant point you'll likely have to make another decision whether to upgrade from the 120.
I prefer the 120 over the 125 due to its wider, boxy shape.
 

emmykenzie

A201 coralbandit Thank you for your responses, I am currently working with my local hobby store to purchase a full 120 gallon set up. Everything should be good to go set up by Friday. Even if the 120 is a 4 year temporary fix, it will at least put me closer to me being in my own place where I'd feel more comfortable setting up a 180 gallon!
 

Redshark1

emmykenzie When I started with Clown Loaches there was zero correct information.

Everybody considered my 6ft aquarium overkill as the largest tanks were usually 4ft ones.

My aquarium is 6' x 18" x 18" and roughly 400 litres / 90 UK gallons / 110 US gallons.

My six Clown Loaches went in at 1.5 inches and 1 year old. They now range from 6 inches to 11.5 inches and are 27 years old.

I knew of somebody who kept his Clown Loaches in a 3ft tank (because that was recommended at the time) and they appeared very healthy though they only reached 4 inches after 20 years!
 

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