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clown loach

Chromobotia (Botia) macracantha


Quick stats:
    Listed tank sizes are the minimum
    Size: Up to 18" (50cm)
    Tank: 48 inches
    Strata: Bottom, middle
    PH: 5.0 to 7.5
    Hardness: Soft to medium. dH range: 5.0 - 15.0
    Temperature: 75°F to 86°F (24-30°C)


    Order: Cypriniformes
    Suborder: Cyprinoidei
    Family: Cobitidae
    Genera: Chromobotia
clown loaches

Common name

    Clown loach, Tiger Botia

Image gallery:
    Additional species photographs


    Badmans' Forum


    Borneo, Sumatra, Found in standing and running waters.

General Body Form
    This fish is somewhat long and compressed laterally. The underside is nearly straight and the back is convex. It has a large head and the mouth is facing downward with four pairs of barbels and thick fleshy lips. The barbels on the lower jaw are small and hard to see. The Caudal Peduncle is short and deep. The Clown Loach can reach a length of 12 inches ( 30 cm ), but is usually smaller in the home aquarium.

    The fins are bright Red and three black vertical bands from from the back to the belly over Orange-Red sides. The first band runs from the top of the head and through the eye, the second from the front of the Dorsal fin to the belly and the third covers the start of the Caudal peduncle and spreads on to the Anal fin. In healthy and happy specimens the colors can easily equal that of the marine reef fish.

    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 (120 cm ) 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 - caves - or even a clay flowerpot. The lighting in the tank should not be overly bright. Clown loaches are happiest living in small groups and will live peacefully with all other fish. Sometimes they will form small troops with members of the Corydoras family. Feeding is not difficult as they will accept all prepared foods and like all fish relish the addition of live foods especially small worms. The addition of a plant supplement is also beneficial. Clown loaches once established can live a very long time.

    Rivers and lakes in Sumatra and Borneo, especially the flood-plains in the hill country. Please see the Asian Black-water biotope to get an idea how to set up a home for these great fish.

    Unknown. Have read some reports of sporadic breeding in the home aquarium but have seen no details on it. In the wild this fish probably migrates up river to special breeding grounds.

Your comments:


Please remember that the following comments are personal experiences and may or may not apply to your setup. Use them as guide to help better understand your fish, like us all individuals will behave differently under different circumstances.


From: Allen S.
I have a group of 9 Clown Loaches, one I've had 15 years and another 12 years and another is 10. They reside in a 60" long 100 US gallon tank. They share it with 2 large Plecos, 2 large Ghost Knifes, a large Leaf fish, 2 medium size Chinese Algae Eaters and 2 medium Gouramis. They enjoy pH of 7.2 and a water temp of 82°F
From: Redshark1
I have a school of six 22 year old Clown Loaches including two large females of 9 and 8 inches and four males of 6 inches. I purchased them on 03/01/95. I keep them in a 90 UK gallon 6 foot by 18 inch by 18 inch aquarium. I have no special equipment but have been able to provide consistent care. They have had no problems since the usual whitespot they developed on their arrival. They live peacefully and are interesting to watch. A few Congo Tetras act as dithers and Bristlenoses graze the algae but the Clown Loaches are the stars of the show.
From: Gord
I have a 23 year old Clown Loach. I've read they live 20 years in a tank and have also read that people have Clowns up to 30 years+. Even though they are for experienced fish keepers, are sensitive to stress, ick and medications they are still a very tough fish.
From: Cassandra M.
I have had 8 Clown Loaches for over 31 years now, and the entire school is 27 Clown Loaches strong. They live in a 200 gallon tank with Silver Dollars, 'Roseline Sharks', a Electric Blue Jack Dempsey, a Geophagus, 3 very large Pink Tale Chalceus and 1 Tire Track Eel. I've been running a 25 watt UV Sterilizer for 5 years now, but before that the Clowns would periodically come down with ICH. The only treatment I have ever used for ICH is 1 teaspoon of non-iodized salt per gallon PLUS elevating the tank temp to 86 degrees, and maintaining this for two weeks. After two weeks slowly lower the temp, and do several water changes to remove the salt. This treatment has always worked, and I have never lost a fish to ICH.
From: K L
Yep I agree, avoid medication for Ich. I found out about 18 months ago when my loaches got Ich for the first time. (I had them for about 7/8 years Ich free) I gave them a half dose of the Ich medicine...only to wake up to find 4 of the five loaches dead or dying. Thankfully I have one surviving clown loach from that original bunch. Now at the first signs of spots, I simply add a half clove of fresh raw garlic (peel but not crushed), I embedded a few catfish pellets and pleco algae discs into the garlic (You need to experiment with your fish food to see what works or is best in sticking into the garlic) The clown loaches will take chunks off the garlic, leave in for 24 hours and replace with a brand new fresh piece of garlic the next day for the next 7 days or so or until the spots have visibly disappeared. So far it has worked twice on my large clown loach and there are no side effects to report on the other tank mates. So in my opinion use fresh garlic, it is safe effective, easily fed and readily accepted by clown loaches (Be sure to embed the garlic with fish food pellets)and readily available at your local supermarket and much cheaper than any garlic medication that might be available at your fish store.
From: Zachary Nickey
This is regarding people with Clown Loaches and other sensitive fish with ich. Loaches are especially likely to get ich and are especially delicate with traditional formalin and malachite green treatments. If you use too much of either, you are going to have a dead fish. Additionally, DO NOT USE ANY COPPER BASED PRODUCTS on any loaches, skin or scaleless fish. Also, do not salt your tank. Ich no longer cures itself with salt and elevated temperatures as the parasite has adapted. There are even malachite green resistant strands of ich. For these type of fish, and in my opinion for all cases of ich on any fish, use QUININE SULFATE. Not only is it safer for these fish but acts much quicker than other medication, contains no dyes like malachite green, is not a super-toxin like formalin. Quinine sulfate will not only kill the ich parasite in the free swimming stage but it will also kill eggs. If you are NOT treating delicate fish, use Dy-Lox 80 as you can watch the parasites fall off of the fish upon the first dose.
From: Michelle Dawson
I've also had clown loach develop Ich shortly after being introduced to my community tank. Not quite sure where the Ich came from. Almost all the fish got Ich (neons, barbs, hatchets, mollies, corydoras) but the Clowns got it worst. To treat I them I simply raised the water temperature to >80 degrees and waited. All the other fish got over the Ich in 1-2 weeks. The Clowns were much slower to clear the infection but even when they were very spotty they seemed active and well. Eventually (3-4 weeks) the Clowns too got rid of the Ich and it has not returned.
From: James
For treatment of ich, the best way is not to use medication because their skin is very soft and they may end up death for being sensitive to “over the counter drugs”. What I do is to raise the temperature to at least 85 and put salt into the aquarium (at least 1 tablespoon /5 gallon) and doing large water change (at least 75%) (taking out old water will remove lots of the swimming ich ) every other day and wait……….. Ich paradises do not like salt and high temperature and they drop off from the fish skin a lot faster than if the water is cold. You do have to star the treatment as early as you can and do not stop even you initially feel ich is done for good!

From: Christy
I Have kept these little guys for a few years now, and they are by far my favorite fish. Currently I have a "herd" of 7 with my largest being about 6 inches. For food, they do really well on O.S.I. shrimp pellets. They've grown really quick eating those, along with frozen blood worms and click away when they get fed. As far as ich goes, raise the temp!! Raise it to around 85-86 degrees, for at least a week, and they WILL get better. Raising the temp a little is far better than over medicating. Ich meds, the ONLY one I'll use on my loaches is Kordon's "rid ich" because it is safe for loaches. Using this combined with raising temp, ich doesn't stand a chance! It doesn't hurt to add a little aquarium salt to help their slime coat during recovery also. I also keep my tank at 81 degrees. All my fish thrive well at this temp and it keeps ich from returning as well.
From: Dave
I have four clown loaches which love to swim around together all day. They are not shy at all. Three of them are only a couple of inches long but one is over TWELVE INCHES long and very chunky. Its the biggest one I have ever seen. Be aware that when these fish reach a descent size they will definitely require a large tank. Mine are in 125 gallon tank and seem happy.
From: William
I too have found that clowns are susceptible to ick, as they get it much sooner than their tankmates. I have found that the best way to get rid of it is to simply raise the water temperature above 86 F for 10 days. This works by keeping the "ick" microorganisms from reproducing. Don't worry about the temperature hurting them (raise slowly of course). I can't afford a cooler and they have been at higher temperatures than 86 most of the summer. They even survived 100 F for a day or so during the last big heatwave here in CA. They are one of my favorite fish and you will see that they are not called clown loaches because of their stripes but because they are truly entertaining.
From: John M.
I have had 5 Clown Loaches for 5+ yrs now,all in the 5 inch range,I thought I should pass on some important info on ph preference. Keep the fish in a neutral to slight alkaline range they seem to do poorly in acid conditions (This is from first hand experience) it is harmful to their soft skin which would form a slimish coat & leave them lethargic,I gave them a dose of Coppersafe which cured them within 24 hrs,slowly raised ph,and I have never had the problem again they instantly flourished in their new water conditions. I recommend this fish highly with its beautiful colors & personality it is my all time favorite! Also I've never had a problem with Ick as some previous comments have mentioned, so don't let this scare you from purchasing these Beauties.







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