If you’ve ever seen those orange and red striped schooling fish at the pet store, you’ve seen a Clown Loach. What you may not know is that all those fish you see are wild caught. The Clown Loach has yet to be bred in captivity, so all the Aquaria specimens sold are from the wild. They come from the islands of Sumatra and Borneo in Indonesia. The Clown Loach is a great addition to most community tanks, given they are large enough.
Scientific Name – Chromobotia macracanthus
Common Name – Clown Loach
Potential Size – 12″ Maximum but very slow growing. Most are bought at 2-3″.
Diet – Omnivorous, will eat both plant matter and a meat based foods. Including snails, brine shrimp, worms and chopped shrimp. In home aquaria a high quality staple pellet such as Hikari or NLS supplemented with some items mentioned above.
Temperament – Fun and peaceful. The shoal will have a pecking order but they are peaceful about it. Also gets along well with most other fish.
Tank Requirements – The Clown Loach is very susceptible to ich, so watch for that and keep the tank clean and well filtered. They can get large and a big group is suggested, so a 125 gallon tank or larger would be great. They do well in 80 degree water with a neutral ph in our experience. Give them some rocks or branches to hide in, it makes them feel more secure.
Tank Terror Notes – Clown Loaches are some of the most fun fish to keep. They swim around in the school circling around like gymnasts. Some say a group of 3 is ok, I say go for as many as possible. The more in the group the more social they are. If you can get 10, go for it, or more. You can see photos below of a shoal that was 30 or so strong, the activity level was constant. It was like a Clown Loach show non stop. They click when eating or excited, it is quite funny for new people to be over and ask what the noise is. Only to tell them it is your fish, just clicking away. They have a movable spine under their eyes, used for defense if needed. So be careful when netting them.
Note the Loaches with broken patterns, those are called Oddballs. Some will appear to have a saddle back because the stripe is broken.
Loach Shoal in action.
There is a saddle back loach at the back of this pic.
They will form a line when moving, it’s like a Clown Loach train.