Clown Loach Care Guide: Size, Tank Size Tank Mates, Lifespan & More

The Clown Loach is a playful fish that will add personality to any aquarium. Learn about the size, tank mates, lifespan & more.

Clown Loach – Quick Facts

In a rush? Check out the quick facts about Clown Loach below.

Fish Info

Scientific NameChromobotia macracanthus
Common NamesTiger Loach, Tiger Botia
AppearanceArched body, long and lean, bright orange to yellow body, bright red fins and tail, two wide black V-shaped stripes along sides of the body, third black stripe running vertically through the eye.
DifficultyCaring for the Clown Loach is simple, as they adapt to a large range of conditions.
DistributionClown Loaches are found in the islands of Sumatra and Borneo in Indonesia.
LifespanThe Clown Loach has an average lifespan of 10 years.
ShoalingThe Clown Loach is a shoaling fish.
TemperamentThe Clown Loach is a peaceful and easy-going fish that usually sticks to the middle and lower parts of the aquarium.
Keep in Groups ofAt least 6
Tank MatesTiger Barb, Bosemani Rainbow, Cherry Barb, Dwarf Neon Rainbow, Penguin Tetra, Red Tailed Shark, Three Spotted Gourami, Zebra Danio, Ropefish
DietClown Loach should have a diet that includes a good staple fish food, small worms, and a fair amount of plant matter.
Length12 inches.
Sexual DimorphismFemales are slightly plumper. Males have a slightly curvier tail towards the tip.
Breeding DifficultyBreeding clown loaches is difficult because they are not known to breed in freshwater aquariums or homes.

Water/Tank Recommendations

Water TypeClown loach is a freshwater fish.
Water TemperatureThe ideal water temperature for clown loach is 24-29°C (75-85°F).
Water pHThe ideal water pH for clown loach is 6.5-7.0.
Water HardnessThe ideal water hardness for clown loach is 5 to 12 dGH.
Tank sizeThe minimum tank size for clown loach is 55-gallon (200 liters). The recommended tank size is 100 gallons.


The Clown Loach is a fascinating freshwater fish that can add a unique type of excitement to your tank. These fish tend to be on many people’s wish lists!

But with their popularity comes some confusion about how to best care for them. We think this species could use a little extra guidance, so here it is!

This post will supply you with all the details you need about caring for the Clown Loach. You’ll learn ideal water conditions, tank size requirements, diet recommendations, and more!

About Clown Loach

Clown loaches are freshwater fish that originate from the island of Borneo and Sumatra in Indonesia. The scientific name for this species is Chromobotia macracanthus, with the genus referring to their striking colors.

These beautiful fish have a long history of being used as pets throughout Asia (especially in China).

Due to their hardy nature and peaceful temperament, Clown Loach fish are still quite common among freshwater aquarium owners. These fish also sometimes swim in funny ways – including upside-down!


Clown Loaches are usually bright orange or yellow, with wide-spaced black stripes along their bodies. The third stripe runs vertically through the eye, creating an interesting design that stands out!

If you look closely, you’ll see a thin white vertical outline on those two V-shaped stripes.

Another interesting physical feature about Clown Loach is that they have barbels underneath their mouth that extend outward while searching for food in low light conditions.

Their Length

The average Clown Loach length is around 12 inches. However, some specimens can become larger when fully grown!


The average Clown Loach lifespan is 10 years. This means that if everything goes perfectly, this fish can live a fair bit longer than many other freshwater species on the market.

However, you must take care of them and provide them with a happy environment to truly reach their full potential.

Clown Loaches are quite sensitive to higher levels of ammonia and nitrates, so you must maintain the tank and monitor conditions regularly.

If you neglect their needs, your fish could have a shorter lifespan.

Sexual Dimorphism

You can identify male and female Clown Loaches by examining their shape.

Females are typically more plump than makes, who usually have a tail fin that is more rounded at the tip.


Clown Loaches are mainly found in rivers and streams throughout Sumatra and Borneo. They have a relatively limited area of distribution, but once you find those areas, they’re often quite prevalent.

These fish prefer calm waters with plenty of structure to hide in during the day. This often means that their habitat is also inhabited by other tropical fish species, which makes them feel more comfortable.

The substrate where these fish live can be sandy or rocky, depending on the particular riverbed it resides in.

Caring for Clown Loach

Caring for Clown Loaches is a lot easier than some other freshwater fish. They’re hardy, easy-going, and peaceful, making them low-maintenance (as long as you have enough space).

But that doesn’t mean you can take their health for granted. As with any species of aquarium fish, maintaining good conditions will ensure that they live long and happy lives!


It’s important to provide your Clown Loach with a varied diet that includes some of their natural foods. Their natural foods include worms, insects, and some plant food.

Since you can’t always rely on finding enough live food for them, it is recommended that you supplement those ingredients with quality dried or frozen fish food as well. Some of the best options are:

• Bloodworms

• Brine shrimp

• pellets

• Flakes

• Cichlid sticks

How Often & How Much to Feed Them

Clown Loaches love to eat! In their natural habitats, these fish will spend most of the day looking for food.

Sinking pellets are usually the easiest choice because these fish prefer staying in the middle and lower parts of the tank.

Possible Diseases

Clown Loaches are not immune to disease and will suffer from all of the common ailments that freshwater fish face. These include Ich, bacterial infections, fungal infections, etc.

The most common issues you’ll have to deal with when it comes to Clown Loach health are Swim Bladder Disease and Dropsy. Both conditions are directly linked to poor water quality or diet. If you want your Clown Loach(s) to stay healthy for as long as possible, these two issues must be addressed.

Make sure to take extra care with your Clown Loaches; they are more susceptible to Ich due to the fact that they have no scales.

Tank Setup

You can keep the tank setup very simple for Clown Loaches. They don’t need a ton of fancy decorations or equipment to stay healthy and happy!

The basic foundation is some plants and rocks. Most of the fish spend their time at the bottom half of your aquarium, so you want to make sure that area has plenty of places for these fish to hide in (rocks, plants). Consider adding Java Moss as well if you want to take things up a notch.

Your filtration should be able to remove ammonia and nitrates effectively. Some aquarists recommend that the filtration system should be able to cycle through the entire volume of water every 20 minutes.

Aquarium Size

The minimum tank size for Clown Loaches is 55-gallon (200 liters). The recommended tank size is 100 gallons.

While keeping these fish in smaller tanks is possible, they will need room to swim and explore the environment. A gigantic aquarium with lots of places to hide helps reduce stress on this species.

Water Conditions

The Clown Loach, which is a tropical fish, likes warm waters. Therefore, it does well in waters with pH levels ranging from 6.5 to 7, as well as temperatures between 75 and 85 degrees Fahrenheit.

The water should be moderately moving, with its flow rate within moderate to strong range (roughly 2-4 times per hour). The aquarium should also have an oxygenation system..

Author Note: Though they’re not known for being particularly picky about their habitat conditions , you will want to monitor the tank closely just in case.


The ideal water pH for Clown Loach is 6.5-7.0. This range will allow them to thrive and feel comfortable in your tank.

Author Note: The best way to monitor the water pH level is by using a reliable test kit (and following its instructions).


The ideal water temperature for Clown Loach is 75-85°F (24-29°C). This will help keep their colors bright and prevent any health problems.

In general, Clown Loaches are very hardy fish that can withstand a range of temperatures. However, we recommend sticking to the recommended range in order to maximize their lifespan.

To ensure that the water temperature is stable and consistent, it’s a good idea to invest in a reliable thermometer.


The hardness of the water is one of the most important factors to consider in Clown Loach care. While these fish can tolerate a range of about 5-12 dGH, we recommend sticking with somewhere close to 8 for optimal health.

If you go lower than 8 dGH, your fish may have difficulty maintaining their slime layer and skin integrity. This is because they would not be able to process calcium properly, which could lead to serious infection and disease.


We always recommend getting a filter with good efficiency. Stick with something that will be able to cycle through the entire volume of water in 20 minutes without being too noisy or prone to clogging up.

Aquarium Plants

An excellent way to enrich a Clown Loach’s life is by including plants in its tank. Not only do they offer some nice aesthetics, but they provide shelter and comfort for your fish as well.

We recommend that you use floating aquarium plants with this species since they mostly stay at the bottom (and middle) of their habitat. They also require full light exposure, so it’s important not to block out too much light with tall or broad plants.

When deciding, you have a lot of choices for an ideal plant for them:

  • Wendtii Cane Plants – These are fast-growing plants that can provide plenty of coverage if allowed to grow freely. They will limit visibility pretty significantly though, so keep this in mind before purchasing them!
  • Java Moss – A great low-maintenance choice that provides a soft texture while still allowing adequate water flow.
  • Anubias Barteri – The Anubias Barteri goes very well with Clown Loaches thanks to its broad leaves and natural inclination toward residing on rocks/surfaces below.

Behavior and Compatibility

Clown Loaches are active fish that will spend a lot of time in the middle and lower parts of the aquarium.

They like hiding places and crevices where they can relax during the day when activity dies down. This might include caves or plants such as Hornwort. However, when night comes around, there will be more action as they scavenge for food at different levels before returning to their hiding place.

How Many to Keep Together

The minimum amount of Clown Loaches you should keep is 6. If you want to create a more natural display, try getting as close to 20 as possible!

There are many advantages to keeping these fish in groups. For one, they’re much less likely to be targeted by other species who might view them as food (this will happen if there aren’t enough of them). Another reason is the shoaling behavior that we mentioned earlier, which makes them happier and healthier overall.


Clown Loaches are easy-going and peaceful fish that will do their best to avoid trouble. They don’t like any kind of aggressive behavior, so you can expect them to stay in the middle or bottom regions of your tank where there isn’t much activity going on.

For this reason, it’s important for these fish to be kept in large groups. If they are alone, they may become too shy and frightened to even venture into open water!

In general, Clown Loaches prefer peace over anything else. This makes them an outstanding option if you have other similarly non-aggressive species.

Tank Mates

When choosing tank mates for your Clown Loach, you need to be careful about what other fish it will get along with. Make sure that their temperament is peaceful and non-aggressive; otherwise they might pick on the Clown Loach or even kill them!

Some good examples of tank mates are:


Breeding Clown Loaches is incredibly difficult in an aquarium setting. Because of this, it’s not recommended that you attempt to breed them at home.

Are Clown Loach Fish a Good Choice For Your Tank?

The Clown Loach is a beautiful and interesting freshwater fish. They are also easy to care for due to their low-maintenance nature and hardiness when it comes to environmental conditions.

We don’t recommend them as a good beginner fish due to their susceptibility to diseases such as Ich (although many beginners still go ahead and purchase one).

If you want something that’s less hassle but can still be considered difficult, check out the Cherry Barb or Bosemani Rainbow instead!


Clown Loaches are beautiful and colorful fish that can add a splash of life and excitement to any freshwater aquarium. Their bright orange and red colors stand out against most backgrounds, making them an effective focal point for your tank.

Clown Loaches are also extremely hardy. This species will thrive even when other tropical fish in the same environment struggle to stay healthy. When kept with other fish, they play the role of scavenger and pest control! As such, they’ll spend their days eating leftover food or anything else that decays in your tank (we call this being “cleanup crew”).


The biggest downside of owning a Clown Loach is its breeding difficulty. Meaning fish breeding enthusiasts may not be able to get the most out of this fish.


Clown Loach care is a rewarding and fun experience. These fish are great, and we highly recommend them to any aquarist looking for something different!

We sincerely wish that this guide was helpful to you in comprehending what it takes to keep these incredible freshwater fish happy and healthy. If there’s anything else you believe we should add, feel free to let us know.

We aim to have our site be the best resource possible!

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