Clown Loach – Botia Macracantha

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Quite active at times, even playful. They are known to give new owners a scare by “playing dead”.

Common Names: Clown Loach, Tiger Botia
Category: Cypriniformes
Suborder: Cyprinoidei
Family: Cobitidae
General: Botia
Origin: Indonesia
Main Ecosystem: Slow flowing rivers and shallow lakes.
Salinity: Freshwater

Community fish. Clown loaches tend to be fairly skittish but also provide comic relief to your tank due to their sometimes silly behavior. They like snug caves in which they can hide, and like to dig in fine gravel.

Diet: Omnivorous. Feed bloodworms, brine shrimp, flaked foods, carnivore pellets, shrimp pellets, live worms, insects and brine shrimp.

Care: This fish isn’t picky on food. It will clean up leftover food stuck in the substrate, and it is VERY good at controlling your snail population. It will eat snail eggs and is known to eat small snails once the loach is grown up.

Clown loaches have no special requirements on water conditions; they do, however, prefer a certain aquarium setup to be at their best. A tank size of 48 inches is recommended, with the length being more important than the depth. It is very important to have a soft or fine-textured substrate as they are continually probing the upper layers with their barbels for food. The tank does not need to be heavily planted, but the fish are shy and must have a place to hide. Driftwood DIY caves and even clay flowerpots have been very successful.

PH: 6 – 7.5, prefers around 6.8.

Temperature: 75ºF – 85ºF, thrives around 80ºF.

Hardness: Soft to medium hardness is desired.

Potential size: Known to grow to 12-14 inches when healthy, but usually does not exceed 8-10 inches in captivity.

Water Region: Stays to the bottom half of the tank.

Activity: Quite active at times, even playful. They are known to give new owners a scare by “playing dead”. They have a tendency to sleep on their side, giving them a quite “dead” look to the passerby. They also get themselves lodged in odd places, like between rocks or the heater and your wall. I have never had to help my loach out of one of these situations. It usually wiggles its way out when it wants to.
Lifespan: Typically 10 years, known to live up to 20 when healthy.

Color: Orange base with 3 black triangular stripes.

Mouth: Downward facing, with slight whiskers.

Sexing: No easily identifiable way to tell sex of fish; however, some say males can be identified by a slightly larger tail that hooks inward as opposed to the tail of the female, which points straight out from the body.

Acclimation: This fish does not have any scales, and is rather smooth. It is more prone to ich as a result. Quarantine is recommended when adding a new fish to a established clown loach’s tank. Sharp temperature changes can also be an issue. During a 6 hour power outage, my tank fell to 72ºF, and my loach became very lazy and didn’t like to move, even when touched.

Breeding: Clown loaches very rarely breed in home aquariums. If they do, it is usually “by accident” and unplanned.

Comments: Clown loaches are a social fish, and like being around other clown loaches…thus its better to keep 3-4 clown loaches, rather than a single clown. However, when young, clowns will school with other loaches, such as the yo-yo loach.

My loach is a great addition to my fish tank, and it seems to follow my chinese algae eater around. Definitely a friendly community fish great for the properly informed beginner and above.


Last update: 2006-02-02 15:01
Author: Sudz

Filed under Fish Profiles, Freshwater.