Common Name: Clown Loach
Scientific Name: Chromobotia macracanthus
Other Names: Tiger Loach
Clown Loaches are one of the most popular and rewarding freshwater fish in the aquarium hobby due to their striking appearance and playful behavior. They have a long, streamlined body and are distinctively marked with bold black stripes against a bright orange background with bright red fins. They have a tendency of quickly becoming the favorite inhabitants of any aquarium they’re added to thanks to their high activity levels and amusing personalities.
Habitat and Distribution:
Clown Loaches hail from the tropical rivers and streams of Borneo, Sumatra, and Indonesia. Their natural habitat consists of murky waters with a soft, sandy substrate, dense vegetation, and plenty of hiding spots provided by rocks and driftwood.
Size and Lifespan:
Though often purchased as small, young fish, Clown Loaches can grow up to 12 inches in captivity, though sizes of 8-10 inches are more commonly seen in captive raised individuals. That being said, they have the potential of reaching sizes of over 18 inches in the wild, so by no means are these a small fish. When given the proper care, they have a lifespan of over 10 years, with many reports of much longer lifespans from aquarists.
Diet and Behavior:
Omnivorous in nature, Clown Loaches enjoy a varied diet of worms, small crustaceans, snails, and plant matter in the wild. In an aquarium, they can be fed high-quality sinking pellets, supplemented with live or frozen foods like bloodworms and brine shrimp. They are also known to eat snails and are renowned for their ability to decimate infestations of pest snails. Behaviorally, they are social, active during the day, and can often be seen “playing dead” – a quirky trait where they lie on their side.
Breeding and Reproduction:
Breeding Clown Loaches in captivity is rare and challenging, typically requiring hormone injections to induce spawning. In the wild, they migrate to specific breeding sites during the rainy season.
Aquarium Care and Tank Requirements:
A minimum of a 40 gallon tank is recommended for young clown loaches, but as they grow, an even larger tank is going to be necessary. Plan on a 125 gallon, preferably larger, for mature sized adults. They thrive in tanks with soft substrates, ample hiding spots, and moderate water flow. They are sensitive to water quality, so regular water changes and good filtration are essential.
Ideal Tank Mates:
Being peaceful fish, Clown Loaches do best with non-aggressive tank mates of similar size. They are highly social creatures and are happiest when kept in groups of at least 5 or more of their own kind. The more, the merrier! They should not be kept solo.
Intermediate. They are sensitive to water parameters and prone to ich, so they require regular care and attention.
• Temperature: 78-86°F (25-30°C)
• pH: 6.0 - 7.5
• General Hardness (GH): 5-12 dGH
• Carbonate Hardness (KH): 3-10 dKH
• Ammonia: 0 ppm
• Nitrite: 0 ppm
• Nitrate: <20 ppm
• They possess a very sharp pair of retractable spines which remain hidden on their face underneath their eyes that they can deploy as a defensive mechanism. Be mindful that you can be stabbed by these barbs if handling them, and they can get caught up in fine mesh fish nets when transferring.
• Clown Loaches are known to produce audible clicking sounds, especially during feeding or when displaying dominance.
• They can be extra susceptible to ich and other diseases, so it’s crucial to monitor their health and maintain clean water with stable conditions.
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