Care Guide for Clown Loaches – The Pack of Underwater Puppies
Are you thinking about buying a group clown loaches? If so, you are in for a treat. These playful giants are an absolute joy to keep and we have had the pleasure of having them for over 10 years. There are some caveats to consider if you wish to help your clown loaches reach 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 macrocanthhus is a beautiful, large loach from the western islands. 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. A clown loach has been known to pick up small stones with its mouth and chase them around like a pack.
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. You may sometimes see them spar with each other, but this is normal behavior to establish their pecking order. (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 #1 tip is to keep the water at 82-86 degrees F (28-30 degC). 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. If necessary, treat them with salt or Ich-X medication. Then wait until they are well fed and healthy before transferring them into your main tank. Some clown loach owners have backup heaters or generators to ensure the water remains hot.
In general, clown loaches tend to be more active at dawn and dusk when the sun isn’t as bright. You can dim the lights to make them more active or use Indian almond leaves to natural stain the water. 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.
Keep as much clown loaches as you can. You have the possibility of them becoming 1-foot giants.
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. They may hide a lot if they have more than three. They may be more cautious if they have six. When you get 30 they will be out every day. In other words, the more clown loaches you can house together, the more 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
The hot temperature that clown loaches prefer also raises their metabolism, so make sure to feed them a lot. They are not picky eaters and use their whisker-like barbels to scavenge the floor of the aquarium for any remaining crumbs. You can feed them mollusks and bloodworms, tubifexworms, sinking pellets, and tubifexworms. They enjoy Repashy gel food, blanched zucchini slices, and Repashy gel food.
Are clown loaches allowed to eat snails? 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
Although clown loaches are difficult to sex, male clown loaches have bright red dorsal fins and golden-yellow bodies. They also have slender frames. The females have darker fins and a wider body, as well as 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. However, some farms have learned how to naturally breed clown loaches by imitating their conditions in the wild.
Adult clown loaches in Indonesia swim upriver to spawn. Farmers have found that they should prepare the adults for breeding at higher temperatures (around 82°F/28°C), higher pH levels (to imitate rivers) and in medium to hard water. Then breeding occurs best at cooler temperatures around 78degF (25degC), lower pH of 6.2, and softer water (to imitate the floodplains during the rainy season).
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. The clown loaches that have just been hatched are large enough for you to eat baby brine shrimps, but some breeders prefer micro worms that can sink to the ground so the fry can eat them.
A 7-inch (18 cm tall) female clown loach may produce thousands of eggs per year, but not all 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.