Gorgeous and delightful, a clown loach can be an excellent addition to your aquarium. PetPonder tells you all you need to know about its diet, distribution, habitat, lifespan, and growth rate.
What the fish!?!
Clown loaches are known to be quite the clowns―their antics include swimming upside down and sleeping horizontally, seemingly feigning death!
Clown loaches are tropical freshwater fish, belonging to the botiid loach family. Originally found in Indonesia, their unique appearance is what drew the attention to them. In fact, they’re even named so―”clown loach”―as an ode to the bright colors and stripes that adorn their bodies, along with their comical antics mentioned above.
Native to the Indonesian islands of Borneo and Sumatra, clown loaches are commonly found in the flood plains of hilly areas. They are rarely known to breed in captivity, but are known to migrate to smaller waterways to spawn annually, when in their natural habitat.
Know Your Clown Loach Better
● The clown loach has been known to reach a maximum size of 16-20 inches, and averaging about 6-8 inches for a regular-sized adult.
● The body is longish and laterally compressed. The dorsal surface is arched, while the ventral surface is flat.
● The head is quite large in comparison with the rest of the body, with the mouth lined with thick lips.
● It has four pairs of barbels, with the ones on the lower jaw being small and difficult to spot.
● There is a movable spine that lies in a groove below the eye, close to the mouth, which may be used as a defense mechanism or as a predatory tactic. It may even cause a painful wound to the individual handling the fish, but it is not venomous.
● The color is the most interesting and arresting feature of the fish. The body is pale orange to a reddish hue, with three thick bands that run vertical. The anterior band runs from the top of the head and through the eye, the medial band lies between the head and the dorsal fin, wrapping the ventral surface, and the posterior band covers the caudal peduncle almost entirely, extending to the anal fin.
● Certain color variations may be observed within the species; the pelvic fins on fish from Borneo are reddish orange and black, while the pelvic fins on fish from Sumatra are entirely reddish orange.
► Amusing and friendly are two words that best describe the clown loach. These creatures will surprise you with their shyness―which will certainly come as unexpected, as they were just described to be friendly. Yes, the clown loach is a bit this and that.
► You may often find them settled happily at the bottom of the tank, trying to escape your gaze. On other days, you’ll find them whizzing all over the tank, trying to spread the happiness around. The key lies in the behavior of the other fish in the tank (if any). Clown loaches are known to mimic the overall mood in the tank, which is why they cannot be kept together with aggressive species.
► These fish love escaping to their corners and crevices to take some time off. They’re happiest in dark corners, which is why it is necessary to line the tank with live plants and other ornaments. These fish like lots of hiding spots and dim lighting.
► Their sleeping position can be downright hilarious, once you get over the initial shock of seeing them lying immobile and horizontal, thinking them to have passed. This is nothing to worry about; just tap the tank lightly to see them scurry off to find a cozy spot behind a plant.
► You can, at times, hear them make a rather loud, clicking noise when they come to the surface to eat their food. They are known to do so when they are excited, hungry, or happy.
Caring for Your Clown Loach
► Clown loaches need soft water, so ensure that you have an aquarium water conditioner to treat the water before you transfer it into the tank.
► These fish are scaleless, so refrain from using any tank ornaments that have abrasive surfaces.
► The water in the tank should be changed 25% once or twice a week, depending on how stable the tank is. Even a 10% water change weekly is encouraged, particularly for clown loaches.
Clown Loach Diet
Clown loaches are omnivores. They love to feast on small snails or other small animals like brine shrimp and vegetation like algae. Their regular diet comprises tropical fish food or sinking pellet food, along with algae wafers. Feed them twice a day, and follow the instructions given by the breeder. Occasional treats should include bloodworms (frozen, live, or freeze-dried) and brine shrimp, about four times a week.