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FAQs About Clown Loach Foods/Feeding/Nutrition

Related Articles: Loaches, Dojos/WeatherfishA New Look At Loaches By Neale Monks,

Related FAQs:  Clown Loaches, Loach Feeding, Clown Loach Identification, Clown Loach Behavior, Clown Loach Compatibility, Clown Loach Selection, Clown Loach Systems, Clown Loach Disease, Clown Loach Reproduction, Loaches 1, Loaches 2, Loach Identification, Loach Behavior, Loach Compatibility, Loach Selection, Loach Systems, Loach Disease, Loach Reproduction,


Skirt tetra aren't schooling; clown loach look malnourished  4/10/11
So I have a 50gal tank with a group of 5 skirts.
<Well, here's one problem: most fish won't school until there's at least 6 specimens, and often 8-10 is the best number to start with, especially in a medium-sized aquarium like yours.>
The aquarium is planted and has cave and has gravel/ aquarium sand combination. The skirts seem to be hanging out on there own not schooling.
<To be fair, this species is fairly bold and if just a few are kept, they often do their own thing most of the time, ignoring one another. The flip side though is that if there aren't enough of them, Black Skirt Tetras (Gymnocorymbus ternetzi) are confirmed fin-nippers. They aren't nearly as bad as Serpae Tetras or even Tiger Barbs, but they do sometimes nip the fins of slow-moving tankmates like Angels and Gouramis.>
The other fish in my aquarium are fine like my tiger barbs are schooling and rainbow fish are too. And my cats are doing there own thing. So why do u think the skirts are not schooling? The own big change recently in my aquarium is taking out all my plastic plants and swapping them out with real ones, and adding a co2 filter. This change happened 3 weeks ago. They stopped schooling 5 days ago.
My second question is that my two clown loaches are malnourished and not eating.
<Unfortunately very common.>
Last week my clown loaches were schooling with my tiger barbs. This week they stopped and started to hide. They have always been small so I never suspected anything. Today I noticed one died and the other 2 were almost skin and bone. When I caught them they were real slow. So I moved them in my 20gal tank that is used for my babies and it is planted. I did this so they didn't have to compete for food and I could watch them eat. I threw in a couple bottom feeder tablets and more flakes than usual in that tank.
They are usually outgoing when feeding time hits and get all the flakes. So why are acting this way?
<Clown Loaches are prone to both intestinal worms and various microbial parasites, and the use of both the antimicrobial Metronidazole (Flagyl) and a dewormer such as Levamisole or Praziquantel is highly recommended. These are safe with Clown Loaches. In the US, you may be able to obtain these from your pet store; elsewhere you'll need to get them from a vet. Cheers, Neale.>

Shrimp pellets. Same sorts of random questions re clown loach feeding, new alias  12/10/07 Hi, I recently bought shrimp pellets for my clown loaches and they are not eating it. I'm really worried and I don't want it to starve. Should I put them in a separate tank and introduce them to the pellets or will they soon learn that it is food? Thanks for all your help crew. ~McMan <Greetings. Do remember Clown loaches are primarily nocturnal, and won't eat during the day. At least initially, put food items in when the lights are out and leave the room so it is nice and quiet. The loaches will fed then. Newly-introduced Clowns are very shy, and if you don't have at least 5-6 specimens in your tank, they will always be extremely nervous and shy. They're schooling fish, and when in a too-small group are terrified of every noise and shadow. If you want to see them feed (and who doesn't) give the food in the early morning and late in the evening, when their body clocks say "feed me!". Do also use a variety of foods. If your fish don't like shrimp pellets, try something else, such as Hikari algae wafers, tinned peas, wet frozen bloodworms, or carnivorous catfish pellets. A varied diet is the key to good health. Some fish simply don't like food item X, and if that's the case here, forget about them and use something else. Cheers, Neale.>

Loaches and worms... Logan by any other name... fdg. again     12/5/07 Hi, how do you feed clown loaches worms without other fishes eating it? Thanks for all your help and advice. <Christopher, don't bother with the worms. Waste of time. Just go with good-quality catfish pellets and algae wafers, in equal amounts, at night. Clowns feed at night, your other fish likely don't. Repeat as required, adding suitable veggies like tinned peas and Sushi Nori and cucumber to the mix periodically. Clowns will thrive on this sort of diet. Cheers, Neale.>

... Hi, which worms are nutritious and cheap? FW fdg....    12/5/07 <Contradiction in terms. Nutritious, safe food by definition is more expensive than useless, disease-risky food. If you're talking about all-round value for money, it's hard to argue with (wet) frozen bloodworms. Most fish love them. All live foods come with some degree of risk, with the possible exception of brine shrimp, but essentially they're a gimmick for 95% of the freshwater fish sold. We use them because it's fun, not because the fish need them. So if money is an issue, skip live food and concentrate on nutritious frozen and prepared foods.> About how much are they? <Over here in England, around £2-3 per package.> Also, how many and how often should I feed my fishes? <I use one block (about a tablespoon of worms, I guess, when thawed out) for a busy 180 litre community tank PLUS two lightly stocked 30 litre tanks. Per day. In other words, not much food is required. Far less than inexperienced aquarists often suppose.> I have 5 danios, 2 swordtails, 1 platy, 2 balloon platy, 3 loaches, and 1 Bristlenose Pleco that live in a 50 gallon tank. <None of these fish *need* bloodworms. Flake plus pellets will do for all of them, and the Platies, Plec, and Loaches will further appreciate (REQUIRE!) algae-based foods for good health, such as Algae wafers.> Last, how do I take care of the worms and is it easy to breed them without having to buy another 50 gallon or so tank? <Don't bother.> Thanks for your advice and tips. <Cheers, Neale.>

Clown loaches and mealworms, fdg.   11/28/2007 Hi again, I was wondering, how do I feed clown loaches since they are bottom dwellers? I put some cucumbers in and I do not know how to feed it mealworms. Since mealworms do sink, will they be able to find it? However, I have like glass, rock substrates and not sand so will they still be able to find it? Also, is cucumber and other veggies along with mealworms and perhaps maybe some crickets a good enough diet for them? And I have snails too, how many snails do they eat and will they eat big snails or just small ones? Last, can clown loaches even eat mealworms? Thanks for all your help. Great site.... <Greetings. Don't bother with the mealworms. Clowns do just fine on a mix of vegetable foods plus good quality pellets. Yesterday I happened to visit the home of Marge, a rather famous Clown Loach who lives with 50 of her kind in a gigantic aquarium. Her diet is almost entirely pelleted foods of various types, and she's doing great! So just get a nice mix of algae, catfish and carnivore pellets and use these alongside the vegetables. Cheers, Neale.>

Loaches, clowns, fdg.  11/29/07 Hey guys, I was wondering, can clown loaches eat mealworms and koi pellets? Also, will they eat at night or day? And will they go to the surface to eat or will they eat at the bottom when their food drops? Thanks for all your help. Logan <Hello Logan. Clown Loaches will eat just about anything. But your question should really be "are mealworms and koi pellets a proper diet for my fish" and the answer here is definitely a "maybe". Neither of these foods is a good idea as anything other than an occasional treat. The healthiest diet for Clown Loaches is a mix of green foods (like tinned peas and Sushi Nori, neither of which cost much at all) and good quality catfish pellets. Clowns adore shelled invertebrates of all types, including small shrimps and snails. So a bag of mixed frozen seafood can be picked up on your next grocery trip and chopped up as required to provide tasty treats once or twice a week. A mixed diet like this will be healthful, inexpensive, and convenient. As for your other questions. Clowns are somewhat nocturnal, but in aquaria seem happy to feed early in the morning and also in the evening. They tend to be dozy during the daytime and are best left to snooze then. They feed almost entirely from the substrate. Ideally, the tank will have sand not gravel, and they will happily plough through the sand finding particles of food with their little whiskers. Because they are bottom feeders, it's easiest to keep them only with midwater fish, so that anything that falls to the bottom is left to the Clowns; hence the usual recommendation to mix them with things like Barbs, Silver Dollars and Australian Rainbowfish rather than cichlids or catfish that might compete with them. Cheers, Neale.>

Re:... LOACHES!!!... more eating... the very accommodating Neale   11/30/07 Hiya, I just wanted to make sure that clown loaches could eat mealworms, crickets, carrots, and cucumber. Also, do you have a really good care sheet for clown loaches that is really informative? Thanks for all your help. Logan <Greetings. Clowns will eat the things mentioned, but none of them should be anything other than a treat, and definitely not a staple diet. Clown Loaches feed primarily on worms, crustaceans and soft plant material in the wild. Things like bloodworms, earthworms, shrimps, prawns, tinned peas, Sushi Nori, and cooked spinach all make better food items than any of the things you have listed. In addition, Clowns will do extremely well on a mix of good-quality catfish pellets plus algae wafers of the sort fed to Plecs. We have a whole section on Clown Loaches which I hope you've read. Start here -- http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/cobitids.htm -- and follow the various links. But, in brief, Clown Loaches are easy to keep provided you [a] have a tank measured in the hundreds of gallons and [b] are keeping them in groups of at least 3 and ideally 6+. If you can't answer YES to both of those statements, then you probably (almost certainly) shouldn't be keeping Clown Loaches. Adult Clown Loaches easily get to 20-30 cm in captivity. They are also intensely social, and for that reason you need a massive amount of space as well as filtration if you want to keep them properly. Probably 95% of the Clown Loaches sold in aquarium stores are taken home by people who really have no business keeping them. Being hardy, these loaches often survive for quite a few years, but they are never happy and mostly skulk about never reaching their full potential in terms of size or colouration. I hope this helps, Neale.>

Clown loaches... fdg./nutr.   11/26/07 Hi, I was wondering, can clown loaches feed on snails and turtle pellets and koi pellets for their lives or not? Also, I have many snails, will he eat them all in one day or will there be a cycle where there are uneaten snails that reproduce and have a "life time" supply of food for the clown loach. Thanks for all your help. <No, you can't feed Clown Loaches on just that diet. While they are opportunists, and snails do indeed form part of their diet, they are somewhat herbivorous in the wild. So on top of the foods listed, you'd need to add a significant amount of algae- and plant-based foods. Plec foods (algae wafers and pellets) are a good start, but also use things like tinned peas, Sushi Nori, etc. Please see our article on Clown Loach feeding, here http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/clnlchfdg.htm . As for the snails in the tank, Clown Loaches using eat them all. Burrowing snails like Malayan Livebearing Snails might survive, but otherwise they'll all be gone. Please also remember Clowns are *schooling* fish and it is very cruel to keep them singly as you seem to be doing. Three is the minimum number any responsible aquarists will keep them in. If you don't have space for three Clown Loaches, you don't have space for Clown Loaches at all. Cheers, Neale.>

Rail-thin clown loaches   8/24/07 Hi Guys, Tried to post my question on your forums but got a 'servlet error' I think was what it said. I think you have a very informative website which I enjoy and I'm hoping you can shed some light on this problem with my loaches. I can't believe I've found almost nothing written about this problem. On another website, I found one other person who had posted the same question and no one had an answer for her. Here's what I'm experiencing: I'm losing about 1 clown loach every 2 months. They get VERY skinny and bony. I'll probably lose my 3rd one tomorrow and he is paper thin all the way up to the back of his head! Until today, he's acted perfectly normal except for the skinniness, now he is laying on his side moving infrequently just as the other two I lost had done. I've always had 3 loaches at a time and whenever I've lost one, the other two had looked perfectly healthy. There doesn't seem to be any pattern with length of time in my tank before they get paper thin and die. It seems to strike randomly. One thing I've noticed is that within a couple weeks introduction into my tank, my loaches seem to darken and maybe lose just a little fullness in their body. They seem to go from the typical dark gray stripes you see in pet stores to jet black stripes. 55 gallon tank 20 community fish Temp: 77 ph usually about 7.2 I do 15% water changes every two weeks and my water has been perfect (0 ammonia, 0 nitrites and nitrates) every time I test it. I have a variety of 15 live plants and I feed once/day - usually a combination of flake food and frozen blood worms. I'd appreciate any ideas you may have! Unless I can correct this, I don't think I'll buy anymore loaches and will just wait for the 2 remaining healthy ones to die. Paul <Hello Paul. Clown loaches aren't hardy fish and don't prosper many retailers' tank, and my guess is that they have what hobbyists call "wasting disease". This is caused either by an internal bacterial infection or else gut parasites of some sort, such as worms or flukes. Either way, it won't get better by itself. The problem for you is that Clown loaches respond rather badly to medications, so you need to approach treatment somewhat gingerly, keeping an eye out for unusual behaviours such as gasping at the surface and if required acting accordingly. Ideally, confirm with the manufacturer that whatever drug you are using is Clown loach safe. Antibiotics should be fine, but things with copper and formalin tend to be tricky. Anyway, in this instance I'd treat first for internal bacteria, and once that's done, treat for worms (on the rationale that bacterial infections tend to be more immediately life threatening than parasites). Make sure you remove carbon from the filter while treating the fish. Also, step up your water changes (once the courses of medications are done). 50% weekly is about right for Clown loaches. More broadly, keep in mind all the basic things about Clowns: they're schooling fish, they like water a bit on the warm side (25-30C). They're substantially herbivorous, and so you need to provide things like tinned peas, spinach, algae wafers, Sushi Nori and so on rather than just meaty foods. Like all loaches, lots of oxygen is essential. One last thing: if you find the Clown loaches from one retailer keep dying on you, it might be a "bad batch". Buy them from another retailer next time. Not all retailers are equal when it comes to caring for their livestock. Cheers, Neale.>

Clown loaches won't eat 8/9/05 Help! <Hey Jeff! I did see you called...> I have a 30 gal tank with three large clown loaches, about 6 yrs old. The tank also had a Kissing Gourami but this fish died a couple of weeks ago. It died slowly, it stopped eating and grew thin. Tried treating in in another tank with Maracyn II but this did not help. Now the loaches have stopped eating and they hide most of the day. What can I do? Regards, Jeff Hulett <Start a series (daily) of a few gallon water changes... and try not to worry... these fish can go a very long time w/o eating... I recall your message said your Corydoras had spawned again (a good sign that your overall water quality is not off)... Likely the loaches are "going through some changes" with the warmer weather... will be fine in a week or two. Bob Fenner>

Growing Clown Loaches Hi Bob! <Hello Mohammad> This is Ahmed from Pakistan. I have 3 clown loaches in my 5 feet tank. 7 Bala sharks, 1 rainbow shark, 1 paradise Gourami are the tank mates of my clown loaches. I have 2 questions from u concerned with my loaches. Firstly what food should I offer to my loaches to attain maximum size in the minimum time n how many times in a day should I feed my fish? <Clown loaches will eat most any type of foods that make their way down to the bottom of the tank, but should be offered some high/er protein rations daily... worms of all kinds (even chopped up if large), insect larvae, shrimps... sinking pellets are good if high quality. Best to feed them twice per day... And you likely know these are very long-lived fishes. I know of some in captivity for more than thirty years> I serve floating pellets to my fish. Though I know that they (clown loaches) grow pretty slow. Secondly when I see my loaches from a greater distance they don't hide but when I reach near to aquarium they float just like a bullet n hide in a drift wood like a flash. Are these fishes shy in nature? Thanks Bob. <Do look into and use some sinking foods as well... keep your tank covered (to prevent jumping), keep up regular water changes (weekly) and you'll be surprised how quickly your loaches will grow. Bob Fenner> This Clown's Not Joking Hey Crew, <Hello! Ryan with you> I recently had to shut down my 75gall saltwater tank because it is too big/heavy for my new apartment. <Sorry to hear> To ease the pain of this loss, I purchased a small 5 gallon Hex. Eclipse system for my dresser. Cycled the tank for 3 weeks w a platy. The plan was/is to plant the tank nicely and put a nice Betta in there (of course got a show quality fish from Canada to be shipped next week!).  Also wanted to get one Corydoras cat to keep the bottom clean. Here is the problem/mistake I made ALREADY.  I hadn't dealt with freshwater fish for a long long time and thought I knew "enough" to do this w/out reading. If I had stuck to my 2 fish/plant plan I think I would have been ok. But when I went to get my Corydoras 2 days ago.....I came home w/ a Clown Loach instead. I thought "they're nicer and serve the same purpose." Wrong....<At least you didn't make me tell you!>...I decided to read AFTER the fact and see that it won't fit in my tank for long and needs to be in groups of 3 or more. <I have seen this fish well over 8 inches> And I'm starting to wonder....do they even scavenge??? <Not in the way a true scavenger does> I've fed him 2x and while he gets excited, he doesn't seem to find the food as it sinks to the bottom. Will he find the food at night on the bottom?? <Yes> Secondly, will this guy be ok by himself or does he NEED to be in groups. <he needs to be returned, he will die in your setup within a few months.>  Thirdly...should I just bring him back or give him away??  <Bring him back, stick you your initial plan!  It was a good one.  See ya, Ryan>

Clown Loach with Distended Stomach (05/29/03) <Hi! Ananda here this morning...> One of my clown loaches, "he's" only about 2.5" so still young, suddenly developed a heavily distended belly.  The fish is otherwise healthy and has been, swimming around, eating voraciously.  I did drop a pea in the tank earlier in the day. <One of my clown loaches got rather bloated-looking once. I tried peas, but they weren't interested. I did some reading and found that it might have been their diet of mostly dry (and freeze-dried) foods. I took my bloated clown loach and put him in a hospital tank with one teaspoon of Epsom salts per five gallons of tank water. The next two days, I added another teaspoon each day, so I had a tablespoon of the Epsom salts per five gallons of tank water. I then fed the clown loach treats like frozen/thawed bloodworms, live blackworms, and even a few Mysis shrimp. In about a week, my clown loach looked like his more slender self. I did do a daily 5%-10% water change, adding back enough Epsom salt to keep the level up.> But I also removed another clown loach from the tank that hadn't eaten in at least a week or two, and was "wasting away". <What are you feeding them?> All other parameters in the 30G tank are fine: ammo, nitrite, nitrate all at 0.  UV sterilizer running fine.  Other mates are 3 male rainbows not quite full grown, 6 cardinal tetras, 3 albino pristellas, a Rubbernose pleco and two baby dwarf Bristlenose (both under 2"). <Hmmmm. Depending on what kind of rainbows you have, I think you are either pushing the limits  or passing them on stocking this tank.> Any idea what is with my clown loach's tummy and if I should be worried? <If it isn't just bloat, it may be parasites. If that's the case, I'd suggest Metronidazole, at half dosage for double the duration.> Or did he just swallow half of the pea (it broke in half upon entering the tank) and it is showing (seems unlikely to me)? <If the swelling is visible for more than a few hours, it's not just an undigested pea... --Ananda >

Re: Clown Loach with Distended Stomach (05/30/03) <Ananda here again> Thanks.  I think it was something "he" ate!  Looks fine now (and did yesterday too).  Probably, he can't believe he ate the WHOLE THING! <In other words, "Clown loach go >burp!<" ...  Thanks for following up with the good news... --Ananda>

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