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Clown Loach

Posted By: James
Date: Tuesday, 17 March 1998, at 12:33 p.m.

hello everyone,

i would like to share my experiences and opinions on clown loaches.


- it is best to see them eat in the dealer's tank. more likely they are too scared to do anything but swim franticly when someone is close to the tank. usually the dealer's tank is brightly lit and offers no cover, which is a very stressful environment for clown loaches. if they do eat, there's a very good chance they will do well in your tank.

- pick the fattest and biggest ones. usually these are the leaders of the school. the school will follow their leaders most of the time.

- buy as many as your tank or pocket will allow.

- never pick the loaches that are disoriented. you may feel sorry for them, but still do not take them home. some disoriented behaviors are sluggishness, not swimming in the school, not hiding...


- extreme temp: over 85 F or under 75 F.

- extreme pH: over 7.5 or under 6.5

- bright lighting and long periods of lighting.

- large tankmates

- crowded tank. they can not tolerate high level of dissolved organic compounds (DOC). DOC is what makes your water soupy. your other parameters such as ammonia, nitrate, and nitrite, may be fine, but that

does not neccessary means low DOC levels. Clowns need extremely low DOC

to maintain their appetite.

- they do not like changes. such as changes in tankmates, changes in tank

decors, water chemistry, diet... keep in mind that they are shy and are easily frightened.


- they like their own company. more specifically, they like their own peers,

meaning they will school with other clowns of the same size.

- they absolutely require large comfortable hiding places. otherwise, they

will hurt themselves trying to squeeze in smaller caves. make sure you

provide them with at least one hiding cave on each side of the tank.

- they like small and peaceful tank mates. if you provide them with active

tankmates, then you will see more of your loaches. also active fish

will provide the "dither" effect. dither effect is by seeing others, you

know that predetors are not around. a school of fish is hence a dither

effect. schooling fish such as clowns do enjoy the companies of other

schooling fish.

- because clowns are from streams of Indonesia, they enjoy and require

currents in your tank. simply supply a power head to recirculate your tank. make sure for small clowns, that you do not over power them with

circulating water.

- water changes are very, very important to loaches, because where they

come from, their streams are purified by the indonesian jungle. sort of

like for discus keepers that a peat pad will absorb the heavy metals and soften the water. you can see why high levels of DOC will stress them.

- tank size is an important factor in the clowns' success. of course,

the larger the better. don't think of clowns' as bottom feeders or side

kicks. they can be the center piece of your tank!

- they like to eat all the time in small amounts. it would be best if you

could feed them 4 to 5 times a day, but at the very least you can feed

in the morning, return from work and before bed. smaller clowns if

healthy will eat almost any prepared foods. larger ones (over 2 inches)are a bit more picky. feed a variety of high quality prepared foods with weekly supplements of worms (frozen, live, or freeze dried).


- ick, at the first sign of ick, medicate the tank with any product at half dose. keep the medicine concentration at a steady level until the ick are

all gone. almost any medicine that treats ick will work. personally i

have always been successful with coppersafe.

- velvet, this is a white film that develops on the skin. treat as above for

ick. velvet is a disease.

- because their scales are so very small, their skin will easily absorb any

chemicals. therefore, precaution is advised when adding medicine. this

goes for changing water as city water contains chlorine compounds. when

clowns are "burned" by chemicals, their skin will turn whitish as if burnt.


- clowns are best kept by delicated hobbyists. please don't be offended.

- many clowns even small ones will not eat when you first acquired them. first make sure you have a very clean tank and have a lot of patience.

try feeding them with a dim lighting or no lighting, a small amount of

live or frozen worms, such as blood, black, or earth worms. for the

stubborn ones who resist eating, provide a small live earth worm. the

wiggling of the earth worm will invite a nip or a bite from the clown,

although the clown may not eat him at first, but it is a good start.

continue providing small live worms until the loach eats it up greedily.

you will want to feed what the loach want to eat until it is very robust

and healthy. at that point, you will want to starve them for 1 or 2 days

and introduce what you will feed as you staple prepared food. it may

take some time for clowns to change their diets from worms to prepare

food (up to 2 months or more). as always, make changes slowly.


- i do 50% water change weekly.

- i keep my tank bare bottom for cleanliness.

- 8 clowns are the center attraction of my tank. they sometimes will hide

for up to hours and at other times will stay out in the open for hours.

but always together in a school. the largest one is 8 inches and the

smallest is 3 inches. the group will always follow the largest one. if

the largest one is resting, the smaller ones will formed their own group.

- i also keep a group of 10 danios with them.

- i feed them sinking shirmp pellets from Warley and flake foods. no worms

in the winter, because it is too cold to find any.


- thank you for your time in reading this. i know i wrote a lot, but i want

everyone to enjoy the potentials of healthy clown loaches.

- good luck.

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