Clown Loach (Botia macracantha)
Native Location: Indonesia
Size: 15 – 20 cm (6 – 8 inches)
Diet: Carnivorous. Aquatic molluscs, insects and worms.
Temperature Range: 24 – 30 ℃
Preferred pH Range: 5.0 – 7.0
Minimum Aquarium Size: 284 L (75 gallons)
Potential Tankmates: Kuhli loaches, German Rams, Neon Tetras
Care Level: Intermediate
The Clown Loaches are visually pleasing with orange and black striped bodies and red fins. This is part of what makes them popular fish for aquariums. They are the sole member of the genus Chromobotia. And, as they are prone to ich infections, they are best suited to intermediate level keeping aquarist.
They are primarily carnivorous fish. But, will also eat vegetative matter if available, such as freshly blanched vegetables. Suited to peaceful community tanks and since they are schooling fish, who are very active, they need large enough tanks where they all have enough room to swim around. If kept on their own, they can become withdrawn or aggressive. Within pairs or trios, a hierarchy can form and stress out the other Clown Loaches. These bottom-dwelling fish are non-aggressive and best kept with smaller fish. They are easily intimidated by those larger than them.
Subdued lighting is key for these fish, try adding some floating plants to your tank. As night time dwellers, you may only see them in the early am or later pm. In the wild, they enjoy slow-flowing rivers and streams. Provide a mixture of substrates like pebbles and sand to make the tank feel more natural. Each loach should have enough hiding spots available, in caves and tubes. They can be made of wood or rock and plant sturdy vegetation.
Females will appear plumper, and the tips of the tails on males is curved inwards whereas the females are straight. Even experts can find Clown Loaches tough to breed, so these are not for beginners. But, by keeping a mature pair of a male and female, in a separate tank. The female will lay eggs, and the male will fertilise them. After this part of the process, remove the mature fish from the tank as they may try to eat the eggs.