Make Clown Loaches Happy

Loetje

HI all,

About 6 weeks ago, I've been trying to be a better fish keeper and make my fishies happy. I've recently also joined the forum to get some more info (thanks by the way!) because I was worried about my pleco, which I didn't need to be apparently.

My current biggest worry:
I've bought 3 clown loaches 1 year ago to help eradicate snails. One died almost immediately. The others are alive and kicking, but seem permanently stressed.
The snails are all dead, so that went well.

Symptoms:
Greyish stripes as opposed to black
ALWAYS hiding in daytime
Not really growing (I'd guess 4"?)

I've done some research into the clowns and here are some possible solutions:
Buy some more so they can school (not preferred, my 60 gallon would mean I would need to get rid of them soon enough, but will do if I must)
Floating plants for shade (won't this affect my other plants?)
Get a powerhead (will do asap, if you think it would help)
Slowly lower pH with CO2 injection (already ordered, also for plants)
Replace gravel with sand (seems like a big job, would it really help?)

They are fed well (couple times a week frozen food (i.e. brine shrimp, blood worms etc etc))
My water quality is stable and settled for years now at pH 7.5, nitrite & ammonia 0, nitrate around 10.

What can I do to make sure they are as happy as possible? What do you think about the solutions I found?

Thanks for your input. Any insight is greatly appreciated!

Edit-- adding more driftwoord perhaps?
 

Ksway

How’s it going ! Clown loaches are extremely slow growers so don’t worry about them not getting big quick. Where I work we have a clown loach in our display tank he is about 10 inches and is around 15 years old. They love a circular cave or a pvc tube something with that sort of shape. They would probably feel more comfortable in a larger group. That is probably why they are hiding. They love protein so keep feeding the the brine shrimp and blood worms. I believe as the get older there Middle stripe starts to go away. So that maybe what you are starting to see. Hope this helps ! If you are able Upload a picture of them if you can so we can take a look at the colour.
 

Coptapia

The bottom line is they need to be in groups of about a dozen or so. You can try everything else but this is the one single thing that will work. And yes they'll need a much bigger tank.

They don’t lose the middle stripe. They just ‘grey out’ through stress or their own internal politics...
 

Loetje

The bottom line is they need to be in groups of about a dozen or so. You can try everything else but this is the one single thing that will work. And yes they'll need a much bigger tank.

They don’t lose the middle stripe. They just ‘grey out’ through stress or their own internal politics...
Thanks for your reply coptapia.
So the biggest issue is school size. I can get 3 or 4 more, but a dozen would be overstocking. If I buy 3 more, how long would you guess they can live in my 60 gallon before I have to find a new home for them? If it'll make my current loaches happy for the
time being, I'll get new ones and donate them to somebody with a bigger tank when they've grown.

How’s it going ! Clown loaches are extremely slow growers so don’t worry about them not getting big quick. Where I work we have a clown loach in our display tank he is about 10 inches and is around 15 years old. They love a circular cave or a pvc tube something with that sort of shape. They would probably feel more comfortable in a larger group. That is probably why they are hiding. They love protein so keep feeding the the brine shrimp and blood worms. I believe as the get older there Middle stripe starts to go away. So that maybe what you are starting to see. Hope this helps ! If you are able Upload a picture of them if you can so we can take a look at the colour.
HI Ksway,

I've got a picture of them in a piece of driftwood (this is where they are the ENTIRE day!)
I just feel bad, I know they can be a shy species but these look like unhappy fish.
 

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Coptapia

A dozen or more is their natural group size, but 6 will also make a huge difference. You could get more 4”ers, or smaller. Groups tend to contain individuals of all sizes and they’ll all snuggle up together.
4”ers in a 60g... I’d say they’ll be ok till the biggest are maybe 6-7”, which could take a year or two.
Give them one big cave that they can all squeeze in together (or preferably more than one such cave).
If you have bright lighting that won’t be doing them any favours. In dI'm lighting they’ll be out more... once they’re ‘happy’ in a group.
 

Loetje

A dozen or more is their natural group size, but 6 will also make a huge difference. You could get more 4”ers, or smaller. Groups tend to contain individuals of all sizes and they’ll all snuggle up together.
4”ers in a 60g... I’d say they’ll be ok till the biggest are maybe 6-7”, which could take a year or two.
Give them one big cave that they can all squeeze in together (or preferably more than one such cave).
If you have bright lighting that won’t be doing them any favours. In dI'm lighting they’ll be out more... once they’re ‘happy’ in a group.
I'll buy a powerhead, floating plants and some caves tomorrow.
I'll wait for the CO2 gear to get the pH down a bit, then get some new loaches.
Hopefully this will help them be as clowny as possible

Thanks for your information.
 

86 ssinit

I’ve had 2 clown loaches for around 6 years. They started in a 30gal and are now in a 90. They are fine. Very social. Allways out and about at feeding time. Yes a cave or a hiding spot is great for them. Mine share there cave with a feather fin and a bn pleco. One of mine is about 6” long the other an inch shorter. Yes they are slow growers. Usually get to about 4 inches in a year than an inch a year after. Also they are more nocturnal. They are great fish that get along with everything. But if you get 6 or god forbid 12 for your 60gal tank you will soon be having other problems. So my advise is stay with 2 till you upgrade to a 150+ g tank. Yes they SHOULD be in bigger groups. But in bigger tanks. You have them already and they sound fine. They also love shrimp pellets.
 

Loetje

I’ve had 2 clown loaches for around 6 years. They started in a 30gal and are now in a 90. They are fine. Very social. Allways out and about at feeding time. Yes a cave or a hiding spot is great for them. Mine share there cave with a feather fin and a bn pleco. One of mine is about 6” long the other an inch shorter. Yes they are slow growers. Usually get to about 4 inches in a year than an inch a year after. Also they are more nocturnal. They are great fish that get along with everything. But if you get 6 or god forbid 12 for your 60gal tank you will soon be having other problems. So my advise is stay with 2 till you upgrade to a 150+ g tank. Yes they SHOULD be in bigger groups. But in bigger tanks. You have them already and they sound fine. They also love shrimp pellets.
Thanks ssinit.
Okay, so they should be in groups, but you would advise against it in the current tank. You also mention they are out and about, which mine never are. Could it be 'personality' only? I'll stock up on shrimp pellets also. at what time do you feed them?
Maybe if I set my lights at night really dim, I could see them feeding and swimming..
 

Coptapia

I’m guessing 86 ssinit’s are out more because they have to share a cave with a feather fin and a plec, both of which would rather be in their own cave, and are great ‘jostlers’ to get other fish to leave. In most cases kept like that the clowns would be covered in scratches.
 

86 ssinit


209E496D-EC5A-4CCC-867A-18637484256F.jpeg
082CF928-B523-4BC2-9597-E2744ABE6FBE.jpeg Yeah there pretty scratched up . Good guess . Sometimes I just don’t get this place. I'm letting people know what works for me. That’s it. Kind of what this place is for. Personal experience.
 

Coptapia

Yeah there pretty scratched up . Good guess . Sometimes I just don’t get this place. I'm letting people know what works for me. That’s it. Kind of what this place is for. Personal experience.

Personal experience that 9 times out of 10 won’t work, at least not when the cats are mature. I stand by my guess, and didn’t think yours would be scratched at all, otherwise they wouldn’t be going into the cave.
 

Loetje

I'm sure everybody on this forum is on this forum because of a common love for (keeping) fish. So I would assume every comment is written with the wellbeing of fish in mind.

On topic;
It seems that school size is the most important problem. 2 clowns can be enough, but probably not in my case. 6 clowns is too much if they mature. So, if the bioload gets too high, I'll sell/donate them.
Is it easy to sell/donate 6 semi-large fishes? I don't personally know anyone with a larger tank. Does a lfs accept such big fish?
 

86 ssinit

It’s hit or miss. Best to find someone on here who is a keeper and give them away. Pet store isn’t going to give you much and may sell to the first buyer. What else is in your tank?
 

Loetje

It’s hit or miss. Best to find someone on here who is a keeper and give them away. Pet store isn’t going to give you much and may sell to the first buyer. What else is in your tank?
Its a 66 gallon tank with 9 cardinal tetras, 6 pygmy puffers, 10 amano shrimp (constantly breeding), 1 bn pleco or clown pleco (dont know) and 2 clown loaches
 

86 ssinit

Well you don’t have many fish in there so you could add 1 or 2 more loaches. If your thinking of getting a bigger tank down the line. They are slow growers. I would say add a cave or two in other areas in the tank. Give them someplace to swim to.
I Understand The Whole 6-12 thing. But you already have the fish in a tank big enough for 2. Yes if you can get a bigger tank than get more. But if you can’t those two will do fine in your tank. Their a year old already. Your doing a great job!! Why give them away? Unless you don’t like them. They are a great fish that live long lives. Are they happy? They’re alive!
Now puffers I don’t know much about. But I thought they were species only fish. How do they do with the other fish?
 

Loetje

Well you don’t have many fish in there so you could add 1 or 2 more loaches. If your thinking of getting a bigger tank down the line. They are slow growers. I would say add a cave or two in other areas in the tank. Give them someplace to swim to.
I Understand The Whole 6-12 thing. But you already have the fish in a tank big enough for 2. Yes if you can get a bigger tank than get more. But if you can’t those two will do fine in your tank. Their a year old already. Your doing a great job!! Why give them away? Unless you don’t like them. They are a great fish that live long lives. Are they happy? They’re alive!
Now puffers I don’t know much about. But I thought they were species only fish. How do they do with the other fish?
Well I keep the tank low on stock so they have a lot of room and happy fish equals happy fishkeeper.
I love the fish, but never see them. Because they never come out of hiding, I assume they're stressed and unhappy. I wouldnt want to give them away -they're beautiful- but would like to give them the best life possible. If they're not able to be happy in my tank because of a group-size problem, I need to give them away for their wellbeing.

About the puffers:
I walked in a new LFS, which felt great immediately. They said puffers are ok for a community tank, and I trusted them. So I bought 6 and after releasing the little buggers I read online about them being aggressive. Havent noticed anything aggressive myself, they are well-behaved in my community tank and are by far the most curious and inquisitive fish I have. Hopefully it will stay that way! Knock on wood..

FYI I bought 2 caves and installed them in the tank. Changed the layout a bit also. If tonight my loaches go out to explore, I hope they will prefer the new cave instead of the piece of driftwood where they are now. Also bought shrimp pellets to motivate them a bit. Hopefully, photos of them in their new home will follow (shortly)!
 

86 ssinit

Remove the driftwood and they will have to move. Leave it out for a week and they should become acclimated to the caves. Than if you want but it back. Good luck
 

Loetje

Remove the driftwood and they will have to move. Leave it out for a week and they should become acclimated to the caves. Than if you want but it back. Good luck
HI ssinit,

I tried to remove the driftwood. But they were both in there, and I didnt want to disturb them so I let them be.
Just now: nothing in the driftwood..
Grabbed a chair and sat and waited in front of the tank. I was overjoyed when I saw a beautiful colored, semi-curious clown swim by. Have seen them free-swimming only twice past 2 months. I waited for the other one but haven't located him yet and now the lights are off.

I do really hope that the upgrade in hiding places will do them some good; and feel stupid that I didn't think of it earlier. I have a lot of hiding spots, but had only 1 real cave-like snuggleroom.

If they decide to make a grand appearance coming weeks, I'll be sure to post a picture.

Thanks to all for helping me!
 

jake37

I have 4 clowns and 5 zebra (stratia); the clowns and zebra are skittish when I walk across the room - but if I feed them bloodworms they forget to be skittish and come a running. My kuhlI are a whole lot less skittish then these loaches. 3 of the clowns hang together most of the time but the 4th tends to hang out on the other side of the tank behind the sponge filter. They were very skinny when I got them (spines were sticking through their skin) but after 4 weeks they have fatten up - guess they weren't sick just underfed.
-
Anyway I was hopeful they would hang out with the zebra and the 9 of them would solve my schooling problem but hasn't really worked out that way - all of them are pretty skittish. I don't really have any caves but I have lots of plants and a couple of pieces of driftwood - while the kuhlI and bn pleco tend to hang out together under the driftwood (just one of the kuhlI - the pangio myersI - the kuhlI pangio never bother to hide per sey they just mingle in the java ferns.
-
Anyway not sure how to make the clowns less skittish - a long time ago I had a pair that was around 3 inches and they were never skittish - maybe I just need to give these 4 more time. I've had the zebra around 6 weeks (one of the 5 hangs out in the jungle val - he sort of build a nest near the top). About the only thing that makes them anti-skittish is when I feed them bloodworms (once a week before a water change). So basically the feeding is - walk to tank - see loaches run away and angels run towards me - drop in some pellets and walk to the other side of the tank - angles follow - and feed them flake while the loaches come back out and nibble on the pellets - feed angles for a minute or two until I get tired of pooring flakes in - make sure at least a couple of flakes get past the angles so cardinals and snatch them up - then stop feeding the angles and watch them go after the pellets. I shouldn't worry about the cardinals - they will nibble on the pellets if they don't get enough flakes - in fact if I feed the loaches shrimp pellets the cardinals will snatch them away from the loaches (I feed hik. loach pellets and warden shrimp pellets). Anyway the light doesn't seem to stop the loaches but they sure are skittish.
-
of course right now since the kuhlI went crazy after my water chnage this morning (for the past 7 hours they have been swimming up and down); the loaches are confused and swimming up and down with the kuhlI - cept when I walk by then they scatter (the clowns) but the kuhlI keep going up and down.
 

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