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Clown Loach

By | Last Updated : 27th November 2018

The Clown Loach (Scientific Name: Chromobotia macracanthus) is a common and popular freshwater aquarium fish. This member of the ‘loach’ family is adored by fish keepers and is one of the most brightly-patterned species. Originally from Indonesia, clown loach is easily available worldwide from breeders and freshwater aquarium traders.

Clown Loach

Clown Loach Basic Profile

Other Names Tiger Botia, Tiger Loach
Type Tropical fish
Origin Natural inhabitants of the inland freshwaters of the forest streams and rivers in the Indonesian islands of Sumatra and Borneo
Behavioral Characteristics Territorial; peaceful to semi-aggressive, but usually do not engage in fighting unless provoked
Physical Traits The body has a combination of rusty orange and black/blue; their shape is elongated and laterally compressed, with the dorsal surface being arched, while the ventral, flat
Length/Size (how big do they get) Full-grown adults can range between 15 and 20 cm (5.9–7.9 in); So, even if you buy a tiny fry, house it in an adequate tank, keeping in mind how large they get
Weight Max recorded is 469 g
Sexual Dimorphism
  1. Females are somewhat stockier than the males
  2. Tail-tip of a male is curved inwards, unlike the straight-tailed female
Lifespan More than 20 years
Approximate Price One fish costs around 10$

Clown Loach Fish

Setup & Care Sheet: How to Look After Clown Loaches

Care Level Moderate, not ideal for beginners
Minimum Tank Size/Water Amount 75-100 gallon (since they are quite social, and also get pretty big, the tank has to be large as well)
How Many Clown Loaches Needs to be Kept in a Single Tank Should be housed in small groups of 3-4 individuals, preferably along with small schools of other compatible species
pH 6.0 – 7.5
Carbonate Hardness (KH) 8 – 12
Water Temperature 75 – 81 °F (24 – 27 °C)
Water Movement Moderate
Lighting Low and subdued
Food Types Live food (fishes, shrimps, and worms), flakes, and pellets;
Would occasionally look out for leafy vegetables/vegetable matter like small chunks of cucumber, banana, etc. to complement their diet
Compatibility/Ideal Tank Mates Compatible with angelfish, barbs (like tiger barb), cory cats, danios/minnows, discus, gouramis, hatchets, and other species of loaches
Tank Bed Sand/gravel mix
Growth Rate Relatively slow in tank setup (compared to wild specimens)
Environment & Substrate Type
  • Lots of live green plants
  • Places to hide, like boulders and rocks
How Hardy are they Though not quite scaleless, clown loaches have small scales partially covering their body, making them prone to parasitic  skin diseases (e.g. ich)
Feeding Frequency 2-3 servings per day

Clown Loach Images


Q. Can clown loaches be handled frequently?

The clown loach has a movable spine present below the eyes that can be extended to inflict a painful sting (though non-venomous). Hence, you might want to be careful while handling it every now and then.

Q. Are there any signs to look for to know if your clown loach is sick?

If your clown loach is infected by ich, it might show up certain symptoms like white spots on the body. In case of another parasitic condition, commonly referred to as ‘skinny disease’, your fish will begin losing weight (leaving them ‘skinny’), no matter how much they eat.

Clown Loach Pictures

Q. Is it normal for a clown loach in the aquarium to lay on its side, or swimming up and down the glass?

Playing dead is normal in clown loaches. Though many fish owners wonder if this is a sick behavior, it is perfectly fine for clown loaches to sleep or rest, laying on their side motionless. Also, swimming up and down the tank is the way they play, which is also quite normal.

Q. Can clown loaches get too aggressive, or eat other fishes in the tank?

As mentioned, clown loaches are extremely well-behaved, peace-loving community members, and would not usually disturb or eat up other species. Though groups of clown loaches have been noticed pricking on the fins of other beautiful species including fancy goldfish, African cichlids, killifish, and guppies, it is very rare.

Clown Loach Size

Q. Do any other fish eat/kill clown loaches in a tank?

Larger varieties of catfish, mbuna, sharks, etc. might be aggressive in certain situations, and hence, are not compatible with the clown loach.

Full Grown Clown Loach

Did You Know

  • Clown loaches express certain emotions/instincts like happiness, territoriality, or mating time by emitting clicking sounds that they produce by grinding their pharyngeal teeth.
  • Unlike many other nocturnal loach species, the best time to watch the activities of the clown loach is during the day hours.
  • Clown loaches dance when they are hungry, or searching for food.
  • The albino specimens, equally popular like their regular counterparts, have their black bars replaced by white ones.

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