Clown Loach: Care, Size, Lifespan, Diet & More

Clown loach (Chromobotia macracantha) is a colorful freshwater species of ray-finned fish that are native to Southeast Asia. They get their name from their unique coloration, which is orange with black stripes running vertically down their body. Clown loaches are a popular choice for aquariums because they are relatively peaceful and easy to care for.

However, there are a few key points you should know before deciding to purchase this fish. In this article, we will provide you with the proper care guidelines for Clown Loaches and much other relevant information to help you properly care for this species.

Species Profile & Overview

Clown loaches are found in the moderate-moving, clear waters of Southeast Asia. More specifically, it originates in Indonesia on the islands of Borneo and Sumatra.

This fish was first scientifically described in 1852, but they recently reclassified into its own genus. In 2004 as the clown loach (Chromobotia macracantha) was reclassified as the sole member of the Chromobotia genus and named macracantha.

Clown loaches belong to the Cypriniformes order of fish. Carps and minnows also belong to this order. This is why they look somewhat similar to koi fish and goldfish.

They usually inhabit streams where water is clear and are often found near submerged logs or other hiding places. However, they also explore murky rivers and lakes during the flood season.

Clown loaches prefer to school with other fish, and they will sometimes form large groups of 100 or more individuals. Their schooling behavior and unique colorations are the only defense mechanisms they have to protect themselves.

Clown Loach fish are a great addition to any aquarium. They are very active and playful, and their bright colors add a splash of excitement to any tank. They are also relatively easy to care for, making them a great option for many fishkeepers.


School of Clown Loaches
School of Clown Loaches

Clown loaches are medium-sized, brightly colored freshwater fish that are popular in home aquariums. Clown loaches have torpedo-shaped bodies and are orange or yellow in color with three black vertical stripes running down their sides. 

They have a flattened head with a downward mouth under the head. They also have a few pairs of barbels around their mouth. They use these barbels to sift through the soft substrate to catch insect larvae or snails.

Their fins are semi-transparent and have a rounded triangular shape. The dorsal fin is located near the midline in between the second and third black bands on their body. 

The pectoral, pelvic, and anal fins are aligned horizontally near the belly of the fish. This allows them to sit on the substrate without their belly touching the floor. The tail fin is large and angles which helps them swim fast in the water.

Depending on the region in which this fish is found, they can have some regional color variation. 

For example, clown loaches that come from Borneo have a reddish-orange pelvic fin that has some black coloration on it. But the clown loaches caught from Sumatra have a full reddish-orange pelvic fin. 

Adult Size

In captivity, Clown loaches typically grow to be about 6 – 8 inches in length. However, they can easily reach up to 12 inches in the wild or when kept in large tanks with enough food. The genetics of the fish also plays a big role in how big this species can grow.

These fish are usually sold when they are young and when they are too small. Many people buy this fish not knowing they have the potential to grow large so quickly. You should only buy this fish if you have a large aquarium.


Clown loaches can live up to 30 years. These fish are closely related to carp like koi and goldfish and similarly can live a long life. However, poor diet and water quality can easily lower their lifespan.

In captivity, these fish seem to only live around 10 years. This is because of the poor water conditions in the aquariums. If you have a large pond with pristine water conditions you should expect this fish to live a lot more than just 10 years. 

Behavior & Temperament

Clown Loaches are typically very active and playful, and they enjoy being in the company of other fish. They are not aggressive towards other fish, and will often swim close to them or even play with them.

These fish are schooling species and should live in larger groups. However, because they can grow large, you should have a group of 6 to 10 of them. Your tank should also be able to handle this number of large fish. So a large tank is a must-have.

When kept alone, they will become very shy and hide away at all times. They also tend to lose their coloration because of being under the constant stress of living alone. So you must never keep them alone or in low numbers.

These fish are very active and playful when kept in larger schools. They will constantly swim together around the middle and bottom of the tank. They also tend to keep their vibrancy much better when living in larger groups.

Clown Loach Care

Clown loaches are good beginner fish because they are relatively easy to care for. But they should live in large aquariums. They require a sandy substrate with plenty of hiding places to thrive. 

Clown loach fish are very adaptable and can live in a wide range of water conditions. They are also hardy fish and can tolerate changes in water parameters much better than other fish. But fluctuations should be avoided in order to keep them healthy in the long run. 

Tank Size

Clown loach needs a minimum tank size of at least 100 gallons or more. These fish are schooling fish and should live in groups of 6 or more. If you have a 100 gallon tank you can keep 6 of these fish.

If you want to keep more fish, a good rule of thumb is to provide at least 20 gallons of water for each extra fish you want to add. In addition, it is important to create a well-oxygenated and clean environment for these fish. This can be achieved by using a large filter, and air bubbler, and performing regular water changes.

What To Put In A Clown Loach Tank

To decorate the aquarium for Clown Loach, it is best to use an aquascape that suits their natural habitat. They come from freshwater rivers in Southeast Asia, so an aquascape with a soft substrate, plants, and plenty of hiding places would be ideal. 

You can also use rocks and driftwood to make a beautiful design in your tank. There are also many benefits to using natural decorations like rocks and driftwood. You can make hiding spots using these decorations so your fish can take refuge when they are under stress. 

Just make sure not to overcrowd the bottom of your tank. These species are bottom feeders and need plenty of bottom surfaces to explore and look for food. The substrate should be sand as clown loaches prefer to sift through the substrate to find food. 

They will also need plenty of live plants to feel safe and at home. Live plants can help to create a more balanced and healthy environment for your fish. Plants can make a tank more aesthetically pleasing to human viewers as well.

Some of the best live plants for Clown Loach are Java FernAnubias, Buceplants, and Hornwort. These plants are all easy to care for and can thrive in a wide range of water conditions. You can also try other types of plants to create beautiful and colorful aquascapes.

School of Clown Loaches
School of Clown Loaches

Light Requirements

Clown Loach prefers to live in shades, so as long as you have some shade in the tank they will live happily. Plants are the ideal method of creating shades for these fish. 

We are always in favor of good light for an aquarium because it makes the fish look more beautiful and vibrant. When the tank setup is done right a strong light will not cause any issues for the fish. It will also help your plants to grow much better. 

Make sure to find the right balance of light and ammonia for your tank. If your tank is imbalanced you can expect to get algae in your tank. Although clown loaches can eat some algae too. 

It is best to buy an LED light that is specifically made for planted aquariums. These lights are designed to provide the right amount of light for the plants and fish in your aquarium. They also come with a timer so that you can control how long the light is on.

Water Conditions

Clown Loach fish are very adaptable and can live in a wide range of water conditions. However, these fish grow large and need to live in a group so they can produce a lot of waste. Therefore it’s important to keep a close eye on the water parameters of your aquarium.

It is also important to match the water parameters of your aquarium to the natural habitat of Clown Loach fish. By doing so, your loach fish will be able to thrive and live a long and healthy life. But more importantly, your tank must have stable water parameters. 

To give your clown loaches the best living environment make sure your tank parameters fall within the following range:

  • Temperature: 75 – 82 Degrees Fahrenheit 
  • pH: 6.5 – 7.5 
  • TDS: 100 – 210 PPM

Filtration System

A filtration system is an important part of keeping a Clown Loach tank clean and the fish healthy. The system removes waste and debris from the water, which can build up and cause problems for the fish.

One of the most important things to consider when picking a filter for an aquarium is its effect on beneficial bacteria in the tank. These bacteria are responsible for breaking down waste and keeping the water clean. 

Another thing to consider is the size of the aquarium and the flow rate of the filter. A filter that is too small or has a low flow rate may not be able to keep up with the waste produced in a larger aquarium.

We recommend one or two strong canister filters to circulate the water properly and keep the water clean at all times. Another option can be a sump filter that has a strong return pump.

Common Diseases and Prevention

Clown loaches are susceptible to a number of diseases, including white spot disease (Ich), Bladder Disorder, and Fin Rot. These diseases can get introduced to your tank by other fish or plants or they were already there waiting for the right time to appear. 

These diseases can be deadly to clown loaches or they can permanently damage the appearance of the fish. So it is important to be aware of the signs and symptoms and to seek treatment from a qualified veterinarian as soon as possible.

Aquarium diseases can be prevented by keeping the aquarium clean and free of debris. Regular water changes and having a good filtration system is the perfect way of preventing diseases.

You should also quarantine any new fish or plants you want to add to your aquarium. Fish bought from stores are one of the main causes of disease outbreaks in an aquarium. If fish do get sick, it is important to identify the disease and treat it accordingly.

Diet and Feeding Requirements

Clown loaches are bottom-dwelling fish that scavenge for food in the wild. They primarily eat small invertebrates, such as worms and insect larvae. They use their sensitive barbels (whisker-like appendages) to help them find food in the substrate.

Clown loaches are omnivorous and will eat a variety of different foods, so they require a diet of plant-based and high in protein foods. Giving them a mix of different types of foods is the best way to ensure their long-term health.

Frozen aquarium fish foods are a great way to add variety to your fish’s diet and keep them healthy. They should be fed frozen foods a few times a week, and you can supplement their diet with other foods as well.

Clown loaches are also great at eating snails. If you have pest snails in your tank then this fish is the answer to your prayers. Clown loaches will actively hunt and eat any small crustaceans and snails. 

It’s important to not overfeed clown loaches, as it can lead to health problems for the fish and dirty water in the aquarium. These fish will grow super large and can become obese, which can lead to many different problems. 

Overfeeding will also cause the fish to produce more waste in the tank. Which means more food for algae to grow. And if your tank can’t keep up with the waste production your tank can experience a cycle crush. This can be fatal to fish and beneficial bacteria living in the tank.

Tank Mates

Clown loach fish are typically peaceful towards other tank mates, but the best tank mates for them are more and more clown loaches! These fish are schooling species and prefer to live in large numbers.

If your tank can handle more bioload then it’s always best to add more clown loaches. However, if you want to have more variants in your tank, then you can pick any similar-sized peaceful fish. 

Clown loaches live mainly in the bottom of the tank so it’s best to add fishes that swim in the middle and upper sections of the tank. This will give all your fish enough space to swim without colliding with each other. 

They are not compatible with fast-swimming fish or nippy fish that might bully them. They also do not do well with large, aggressive fish or fish that are known to eat smaller fish. Especially when clown loaches are at their younger ages.

Considering these points, here are our top picks of tank mates for clown loach:

Never add shrimps or snails to a clown loach tank as they will be an easy snack for this fish. 

School of Clown Loaches
School of Clown Loaches


Clown Loaches are great schooling fish that can create beautiful shows when kept in large groups. These fish are a great addition to any large aquarium that has a snail problem. They are unique in their appearance and their behavior and it will be a lot of fun to watch them swim around.