The Clown Loach – Quick Guide

This large-bodied clown loach has a colorful personality but needs ample living space for long-term health.

clown loach

The Clown Loach is a large species in the genus botia found in rivers on the Malay peninsula, Borneo, and Sumatra.

These loaches do best in groups of at least 5, as they are social in nature. They will establish a pecking order, and eventually, an alpha will lead the shoal.

Clown Loaches are most active at dawn and dusk, and a blue ‘moon’ light can be set to turn on just before or after the daytime light to allow for observation.

This may also help to avoid startling the fish when the regular light turns on.

Clown Loaches are sold at small sizes, usually no more than 1.5”, and marketed as a remedy for ridding an aquarium of snails.

While they love to eat snails, most of these young loaches will rapidly outgrow most home aquariums.

Clowns are capable of growing to a foot or more in length and can live up to 20 years if well cared for.

The truth is that these boisterous fish require a lot of space and excellent filtration if they are to remain healthy.

Housing For Clown Loach

clown loach tank size

If you are keeping at least 5 Clown Loaches then I recommend a minimum of 75-gallons, however, larger is always better. The filtration needs to be strong enough to give a large turnover rate to maintain water quality.

A current can be provided with the use of extra powerheads. 

Frequent water changes also need to be maintained weekly.

A soft sand substrate should be used for these fish, along with multiple hides.

Large PVC pipes, driftwood, or rocks can be used to create hides.

Clowns seem to have a love of tube-type hides, so give them a try. Any live plants must be robust enough to stand up to the activity of large-bodied fish, and low-light aquariums.

Subdued lighting is preferred over bright lights. In their native habitat, the dead leaves and wood turn the water brown with tannins.

You can replicate this in your aquarium with certain liquid extract products or driftwood.

Water Parameters For Clown Loach

PH: 6.5-7.0

Hardness: Prefers softer water, maximum DH: 12

Temperature: 78F-87F


breeding clown loach

The Clown Loach is a fairly peaceful fish and is often found in community tanks.

They do very well with the Barb, Danio, Rasbora, and Tetra families of fish. You could house them with nearly anything, but make sure the water parameters match up.

Also, be vigilant about Ick, as Clown Loaches are highly susceptible to it and also very sensitive to the medication used to treat it.

Clown Loach Diet

Clowns relish snails, and ramshorn snails are a favorite. You can also offer frozen foods such as bloodworms, brine shrimp, etc.

Good quality fish flakes, and sinking carnivore or herbivore pellets are also appreciated.

Blanched veggies such as zucchini, cucumber, and peas will round out a varied diet.


With fish like the Clown Loach, it’s best to be prepared for the long term.

There is some work involved in keeping them healthy, but the rewards will outweigh the chores.

These are silly, colorful, and socially sophisticated fish that can bring joy for years.

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