Care Guide for Clown Loaches-The Pack of Underwater Puppies
You might be interested in purchasing a bunch of clown loaches. You’re in for a surprise. These playful giants are an absolute joy to keep and we have had the pleasure of having them for over 10 years. However, there are some things you need to know if your goal is to raise them to their full potential. Based on our experiences, here are some of the delights and pitfalls of caring for clown loaches that you should know before making the leap.
What is a Clown Loach and how do they work?
Chromobotia Macracanthus, a beautiful and large loach that is native to the western islands in Indonesia, is Chromobotia macracanthus. Its colorful appearance is what gives it its name: bright red-orange fins and a yellow-tan body with three prominent black bars. The clown loach also has silly antics, including lying on its backs to rest, clicking sounds to communicate with each other, and piled on top of one another in tight corners. We’ve even seen a clown loach pick up a little stone with its mouth while the other clown loaches chase it around, like a pack of playful puppies.
How big are clown loaches? Clown loaches can grow slowly and are often sold in small sizes. In our care, they have reached lengths of 12-13 inches (30-33 cm) long with a beefy body of 5-6 inches (13-15 cm) tall, almost the size of an American football.
The colors of adult clown loaches usually fade over time as they get older.
Are clown loaches aggressive? Not in our experience. We will go over appropriate tank mates later in this article, but we have kept them in African cichlid tanks, community aquariums, and oddball fish setups. Although they may sometimes fight with one another, this is normal behavior and helps establish their pecking orders. (As a side note, be aware that they have a retractable spike under each eye that can accidentally get caught in your fish net or hand if you need to move them.)
How to Set Up an Aquarium for Clown Loaches
Our number one piece of advice is to keep your water warmer than normal, at 82-86degF (28-30degC). Clown loaches can be prone to ich (or white spot disease), especially since they are often transported in cooler temperatures, so when you take them home, make sure to isolate them in a quarantine tank first so that they won’t accidentally spread disease to your other fish. You can treat them with IchX medication or salt if necessary. After that, wait until they’re healthy and well-fed before transferring them to the main display tank. Clown loach owners often invest in backup heaters and a generator to ensure that the water is always hot.
In general, clown loaches tend to be more active at dawn and dusk when the sun isn’t as bright. If you find them disappearing all the time, consider dimming the lights or using Indian almond leaves to naturally stain the water with tannins. You can also add lots of hides to allow them to dart in and feel safe.
What size tank do clown loaches need? For juveniles, the minimum size we recommend is a 55-gallon aquarium. Because clown loaches are slow growers, this fish tank may last you until they are about 3 years old or 6 inches (15 cm) long. Afterwards, you will need to upgrade their aquarium to a larger size. Make sure you have enough room for a monster tank because it can be very difficult to rehome large fish.
Try to keep as many clown loaches as possible, with the expectation that they will become 1-foot giants in the future.
How many clown loaches should be kept together? As a schooling fish, they can be a bit shy if you do not get enough friends (of the same species) to hang out with. If you have three, they may hide a lot. They may be more cautious if they have six. They will always be out if you have 30. Also, the more clown loaches that you can keep together, the more often you will see them.
Are clown loaches good community fish? Yes, as long as you do not put them with fish or invertebrates that are small enough to fit in their mouths. In fact, if you cannot keep a giant group of clown loaches, try adding a bunch of schooling fish to act as dither fish. Dither fish are outgoing species that swim out in the open, signaling to timid fish that it is safe to come out. Rainbowfish, Congo tetras, and tiger barbs are all suitable tank mates that can encourage your clown loaches to stop hiding.
What do Clown Loaches Eat
Their metabolism is also boosted by the hot climate clown loaches like, so be sure to give them plenty of food. They are not picky eaters and use their whisker-like barbels to scavenge the floor of the aquarium for any remaining crumbs. Feed them a protein-heavy diet of mollusks, bloodworms, tubifex worms, and sinking pellets. They love Repashy gel food and blanched zucchini slices.
Do clown loaches eat snails? Yes, they are more than happy to help with your snail infestation problem. Unless you are looking for a quick snack, don’t add costly pet snails to the clown loach tank.
Provide a wide variety of fish foods for your clown loaches to ensure that they get a well-balanced diet.
How to Breed Clown Loaches
Clown loaches can be difficult to sex, but males have bright red dorsal and body fins. They also have golden-yellow bodies and slim frames. Females, on the other hand, have darker fins, broader bodies, and duller colors. Clown loaches can breed earlier than other species, but adults over three years old and larger than 4 in (10 cm) tends to produce more large eggs. Traditionally, fish farms used hormones to induce artificial breeding. Some farms are now able to breed clown loaches naturally by mimicking the wild conditions.
Adult clown loaches in Indonesia swim upriver to spawn. Some farmers have learned that adults should be raised in higher temperatures, such as 82F (28degC), and with a higher pH (to imitate rivers). Cooler temperatures are better for breeding, with a lower pH of 6.2 and softer water (to imitate floodplains during rainy seasons).
Soon, the females will spawn when they are fat and swollen. The eggs are loosely scattered throughout the aquarium and will swell up in size after being laid. The eggs should be removed from the aquarium if they are not being fed. Newly hatched clown loaches are large enough to eat live baby brine shrimp, but some breeders prefer live micro worms that sink to the ground for the fry to easily eat.
Female clown loaches can produce thousands upon thousands of eggs each spawn. However, not all of these eggs will be fertilized.
Clown loaches are very popular fish because of their striking looks and fun-loving nature, but most people do not buy enough to make a healthy-sized school or they are not prepared to house them in the long run. If you have fallen in love with this fish, then be ready to build the right environment for them that will showcase their unique behavior. You don’t need to have clown loaches if you don’t have the space, these are our favorites that share the same playful personality and come in a smaller package.