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So this won't happen to YOUR clown loach

Posted By: Loach Lover Leona <guitarmanr@netzero.com>
Date: Sunday, 29 August 2004, at 12:01 a.m.

Hi. This is my 1st time on this forum.
Clown loaches have been part of my life for about 14 years now. In that time there have been great joys and great sorrows. I'd like to share with you one of the sorrows that could have been prevented had I only known.

After reading information on this web site about clown loaches, I learn that people put schools of fish in with their loaches to tell the loaches there are no predators around, so the loaches will come out from hiding more often.

I must say I had no such intelligent reasoning when I bought a school of zebra danios. I just thought I would enjoy their zipping around, and the twisty turny schooling that they do, giving everyone something to watch while the clowns are in bed for much of the day.

One of my favorite large clowns, "Harrold," who was best friends with "Albert Finney," (another large clown of the same size,) found a dead zebra. His antics were so incredible, I didn't have the heart to take the dead fish away from him. It was like watching a nature show on PBS, only live and in person. For about 45 min. Harrold went through the process of checking to see if the fish was really dead. He was incredibly curious and playful. He would sneak up on the dead fish, give it a quick nudge, and dash away to a safe distance to watch for possible reactions. Very gradually he got increasingly braver, until he was giving the dead zebra some real power hits, sending its stiff body up a couple inches to sink back down.
When Harrold was completely satisfied that it was not going to be offended by anything he did, he GRABBED it with gusto! He seemed delighted with himself, shaking the dead fish back and forth as a dog might shake a rat. It never occured to me that this might be a problem, but that skinny little male zebra fit perfectly in Harrold's tube of a mouth. Harrold seemed to have released it by the time I went to bed.
In the morning Harrold was dead, sucked up against the filter, stiff as a board, no playing dead this time. I can't remember if I took the dead zebra out the night before, or in the morning, but I have been extremely careful to fish the rest out the moment they die, so no other clown loaches will meet the same fate as Harrold. He was in the prime of his life and should have lived to delight all around him for many more years.

Since there didn't appear to be any of the zebra left in his mouth, I wasn't quite sure why he died at first. Then I read something about making sure to give clown loaches worms small enough so they wouldn't choke on them, and I was sure a piece of the zebra had broken off getting stuck in his tube. He was delirisoulsy happy with himself, having the time of his life, and then he died.

Albert Finney, his friend, went into what appeared to be a deep depression without Harrold. He changed from happy swimming circles, to placing himself in solitude and refusing to associate with others for a long time. I swear to God it looked like he was grieving the loss of his closest friend. They had been inseparable. After a few months he has become his old self, and has bonded with "Sweep," another clown loach of about his size.

So I urge you to watch any small schools of fish like neon tetras, or zebras, etc., and get them out of the tank as soon as possible when they die, especially if you have clown loaches that are a fairly good size. The size of what they can fit in that tube of theirs can sneak up on you.

Good Luck to All I hope this is helpful to you.

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