The fascinating Clown Loach
The Clown Loach... If there was a favourite bottom feeding fish in the hobby of fish keeping, this would be the outright winner.
The Clown Loach (Chromobotia Macracanthus) is a fresh water fish found in the inland waters in Indonesia on the islands of Sumatra and Borneo.
This is probably the best looking loach available, but also one of the best looking fish you can get for a tropical aquarium. They usually have a light orange body with black bars across it. When the fish matures the body colour deepens to a sandy orange and the fins and tail become an orange / red colour.
These fish are often sold relatively small, usually 2", but given a big enough tank can reach lengths of almost 12" with reports of bigger in many places.
One of the most important things when keeping Clown Loaches is that they like their own company and should be kept in as large a group as you can. We tend to recommend at least three but you really should add to the group over time and in our opinion you should try and keep at least six. As we said, they can become a big fish but it does take time. We have a couple in a tank that have reached the ripe old ages of 12 and 14 years old!
They prefer a smoother substrate with sand being ideal. Provide plenty of hiding places - rocks and caves or piles of bogwood are great retreats for groups of Clown Loach. You can often see orange heads or tails sticking out of ornaments when people show us pictures of their home aquarium.
Plenty of robust plants to provide shade or subdued lighting would also suit these fish as they are somewhat nocturnal but often acclimatise well to normal aquarium lighting provided you give them places to hide.
Clown Loach love a varied diet consisting of frozen food (especially blood worm) and vegetable matter like algae wafers, cucumber and blanched peas. A fat Clown Loach is a happy Clown Loach but be careful not to over feed as they will eat as much as you can throw at them!
They require good quality water, well-filtered with a decent water flow so regular water changes are important.