- Scientific Name: Chromobotia macracanthus, formerly Botia macracanthus
- Family: Cobitidae
- Size: in the wild can reach 17 inches, in the home aquarium it seldom exceeds 7 inches
- Temperature: 75 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit
- Alkalinity: not particular
- Origin: Indonesia, Sumatra, Borneo
The clown loach is an active schooling fish that is best kept in small groups (three to six fish). It will tolerate tankmates of other species, although docile species may become agitated by the constant activity of this fish. The clown loach may alarm its owner by lying on its side or back — while resting — appearing to be dead. This is normal clown loach behavior. It also makes audible clicking sounds in the evening.
The clown loach has switchblade-like eye spines, but because it is not a territorial fish, these pose no threat to its tankmates. However, the clown loach may become entangled in nets, and may also cause injury to the aquarist’s hand if he or she is not careful. This species can live for as long as 20 years in the home aquarium.
The clown loach inhabits flowing streams and their overflow basins in nature. Because it prefers plenty of room to swim, it does best in a large, dimly lit tank that has numerous places to hide and hardy live plants, such as Vallisneria and Cryptocoryne to swim through. Artificial plants are also acceptable.
Provide a soft substrate because the clown loach likes to nose through the substrate to find tidbits of food to munch on. It also likes to perch high up on a piece of driftwood.
The clown loach will accept most commercially prepared flake, freeze-dried and frozen foods. Its diet should be supplemented with small live foods, such as Tubifex worms, bloodworms and brine shrimp.
To date, there have been only rare reports of spawnings in the home aquarium. Details are lacking.
The clown loach is a “naked-skinned” fish. That is, it either lacks or has very tiny scales that are imbedded in the body. This can present a problem because it provides the fish with almost no protection from toxic materials dissolved in the aquarium water. Avoid adding medications to the aquarium unless they are specifically recommended for “scaleless” fishes.