The Clown Loach Care Guide: A Playful Bottom Dweller For Community Tanks

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Clown Loach Care Guide

The Clown Loach (or Tiger Botia) is one of the most popular aquarium fish because of its distinctive colours and playful behaviour. Lets learn about Clown Loach Care Guide

This fish will certainly enliven any aquarium and will put a smile on the face of beginners and experienced fish keepers alike.
In this article we provide you with the most detailed and complete guide to the care of Clown Loach.

We cover everything from setting up your aquarium to feeding, tank mates and more.

CategoryRating
Care Level:Intermediate
Temperament:Peaceful
Color Form:Orange with black bars
Lifespan:10+ Years
Size:12 Inches
Diet:Omnivorous
Family:Botiidae
Minimum Tank Size:75+ Gallon
Tank Set-Up:Tropical Freshwater
Compatibility:Community Tanks

Overview of Clown Loaches

This species was first described in 1852 by Dr. Pieter Bleeker when it was given the name Cobitis macracanthus. Since its discovery clown loaches have been renamed twice.

In 1989 it was changed to Botia macracanthus and in 2004 the work of Dr. Maurice Kottelat resulted in this fish being given its own genus (Chromobotia) and renamed to Chromobotia macracanthus.

The Clown Loach is a tropical freshwater fish species from the Botiidae family. They are native to the Indonesian islands of Borneo and Sumatra.

They live in the flowing rivers for most of the year, retreating further upstream at the beginning of the monsoon season and inhabiting smaller streams that are full of plants to spawn and produce the next generation of these fascinating fish.

This species has been extensively harvested from its natural environment for the aquarium industry for at least the last few decades.

Although they are still relatively common in their native area.

These fish usually live up to ten years.

They can be bought in most local pet shops for about $9 each, but most places offer a slight discount when purchased in shallows.

Typical behaviour


Clown loach is an extremely social and peaceful fish, often foraging in the substrate.

They are best kept in large community tanks in a shoal of at least 5 individuals. If you keep less than 5, you will find that they are very shy and shy and spend most of their time hiding.

These fish are playful by nature and like to hunt each other in the tank.

They have strange behaviour and often lie dead on the bottom of the tank – don’t worry, this is completely normal for them.

These fish have a complex hierarchy and usually a female alpha. The younger fish tend to shade the alpha and copy their behaviour and movements.

Appearance

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Their bodies are laterally compressed and have a deeply forked caudal fin, which propels them through the water.

Clown loaches do not have scales, but form a layer of mucus for protection.

This species is orange with three black bars. One over the head and eyes like a mask, one over the dorsal fin towards the caudal fin and the other between these two.

While possession of black dorsoventral bars is usually an indicator of aggression, this is certainly not the case with this playful and friendly species.

Clown loaches have two pairs of barbs on their snout so they can search the substrate for food. They also have a side-line system (like most fish) that detects changes in water pressure and alerts the fish to possible predators.

In the wild, there are two genetically separate populations of Sumatra and Borneo.

The Sumatran populations have red-orange pectoral fins, while fish from Borneo have fins with black pigmentation.

An albino / platinum form is also present in this species, although it is rare. This colour morph still has the orange background colour, but the black bars are replaced by white.

Clown Loach Size


Clown Loach can grow up to 12 inches tall, but as teenagers they are about 2-3 inches long.

Habitat and tank conditions for loach fish
In the wild, these fish live in clear, slow-flowing rivers and streams of the islands. During the monsoon season they migrate upstream and into flood plains full of floating and submerged plants.

At the peak of the monsoon season, these fish spawn in small streams and floodplains.

The water they occupy has a temperature of 77 to 86 ° F and a pH of 6 to 8. These fish prefer subdued lighting and live in areas where there are many floating and overhanging plants, or in areas where river banks overhang.

These areas also provide the fish with protection from predators and can reduce the stress level of the fish. These types of areas will be essential in the tank.

Rivers consist of a rocky pebble substrate and floodplains contain muddy substrate with many growing plants.

Tank superstructure

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In the aquarium you may want to provide a mixture of substrates such as pebbles and sand to give the tank a more natural feel.

Subdued lighting is key as these fish become more active in darker conditions. This can be achieved by adding floating plants such as Riccia Fluitans, Java Moss, Hornwort or Water Spangles.

Submerged plants are also essential and robust species such as Amazon sword plants are perfect for clown loaches.

These plants not only provide shade in the aquarium, but also support the aeration of your tank by generating oxygen. They also provide a form of filtration as well as areas for playing and hiding.

The water temperature of the tank should be as close as possible to the upper tolerance limits (86° F), as they survive longer at higher temperatures and are less susceptible to diseases like ego.

The water pH should always be kept in an optimal range of 7.4 to 7.8, although slight fluctuations between 7 and 8 are okay.

As with most aquariums, you will also need a heater and filter.

Clown Loach Tank Size
A group of these loaches should be kept as juveniles in an aquarium of at least 75 gallons.

5 adults require at least a 150 gallon tank – allow approximately 30 gallons of water per loach.

Clown Loach Tank Mates


In their natural habitat they occur in the same waters as Tiger Barbs, Hard-Lipped Barb, Spotted Eel Loach, Barred Rainbowfish, Comb-Spined Catfish and even Asian Arowana.

In the aquarium these fish are well suited for almost all community fish like Cherry Barbs, Tiger Barbs, Neon Tetra and Black Widow Tetra.

Other good tank mates for this species would be other bottom-dwelling fish like Kuhli Loach, Bristlenose Pleco and the Borneo Sucking Loach.

Cichlid species can also be kept with Clown Loach as long as they are not aggressive and have approximately the same water parameters.

The Bolivian ram and other South American cichlids such as Angelfish and Leopard Pigeon Discus are good examples.

A good invertebrate would be a type of freshwater lobster or crayfish such as the blue lobster, and even freshwater crabs such as the red-clawed crab (provided they are kept in a paludarium, as it is not a completely aquatic species).

You should always avoid keeping Clown Loach with predatory fish.

Keep Clown Loach together
It is strongly recommended to keep these fish in social groups due to their pack mentality. If left alone, they become shy and spend most of their time hiding.

When kept in groups of 5 or more, their behaviour changes dramatically and they become extremely active in the middle and lower levels of the tank.

Clown Loach Care Guide


As with most types of loach, they are extremely susceptible to ego (also known as white spot disease).

This is an ectoparasite that bores into the gills and skin of fish and can also lead to fungal and bacterial infections. Loaches are usually the first fish to get infected because they do not have scales.

It can be extremely difficult to detect in the early stages, but over time you will find that your fish scratch the sediments and ornaments.

After identification, the fish should be removed from the aquarium and kept in a separate quarantine tank for about a month.

During quarantine, fish should be treated with chemicals such as copper sulphate or formalin-based drugs against I.

Alternatively, your local pet and aquarium shops sell Ich remedies over the counter.

Remember that good water quality is essential for Clown Loach. Be sure to keep an eye on all weekly water changes and tests as this fish is sensitive to nitrates.

Three weekly gravel / substrate vacuum cleaners remove parasitic spores from the aquarium. Water temperatures should always be kept at the upper level of the loach tolerance limits (86 ° F).

What Do Clown Loaches Eat?

In the wild, this omnivorous species feeds on invertebrates such as worms, crustaceans and small water-cutting snails. They also feed on rotting plant material and algae.

Their nutritional needs can be easily met in your home aquarium.

You should give them a mixed diet of sinking shrimp pellets and algae wafers. They will also do a great job eating leftover fish flakes that sink to the bottom of the tank.

Frozen foods such as shrimp and blood worms will help the fish grow healthily, but should only be fed a few times a week.

Live foods such as bloodworms, earthworms and small shrimp are considered a delicacy for Clown Loach and should be fed once a week as a reward.

These fish also love snails and we definitely recommend that you feed your loach with snails.

You could set up a separate smaller tank and breed snails as live food for your loach, which we would certainly appreciate. If not, snails are available in local fish shops or can be bought online and delivered to your door.

Feed your fish twice a day with small amounts of food and make sure there is no waste.

Clown Loach Breeding
These fish are not the easiest fish to breed, and even experienced fish keepers may find it difficult.

To have the best chance of breeding success, we recommend that you follow the steps described below.

First you must find a sexually mature pair (about 6 inches long). Keep them in separate tanks for several weeks and feed them with very nutritious food. Females appear to have a greater width during this period, which indicates roe production.

When the female appears larger, the male and female should be placed in an aquarium with many plants and excellent water quality.

A water temperature of 77.9-79.7 ° F is important and a pH of 6.2-6.4 is the optimal range for breeding and hatching.

When the female has released her eggs and the male has fertilized them, the male and female should be removed to prevent them from eating the eggs.

Fertile eggs are pink in colour and move and fidget – infertile eggs turn brown.

If hatching is successful, the small fish can be fed with live cultured infusoria. When they start to grow, they should be put on baby brine shrimp, Tubifex worms and even ground fish flake food.

Are clown loaches suitable for your aquarium? (Summary)
Clown Loach is an extremely social species and would complement any community tank perfectly.

They are best kept by people with experience in keeping fish, as they are more susceptible to disease than other aquarium fish.

You will find that they like to spend most of their time in the lower levels of the aquarium, eating leftover food. They are like a pack of aquarium puppies that hunt and play with each other all day long.

These fish are so much fun and will surely make you jump for joy if you decide that they are the fish for you.

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