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FAQs About Clown Loach Systems

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


Setting up a new aquarium, Clown Loaches -- 12/29/11
Dear WWM,   
<Mark, oh, and Sandra!>
I'm presently setting up a new aquarium, (Christmas present) for my small group of clown loaches.  I have 3, one is 6yrs old (was given to me without permission, i.e. a friend tossed him in my tank when I was away, 1 1/2 yrs ago) the other 2 I've had for a year (I bought them when I read they need friends).
<Tis so>
 They have done well in their tiny 20gal tank with a lot of upkeep.  There new home is a 4ft tank, which I know they will eventually outgrow.  I added "Stress Coat" chlorine and chloramines remover (I have well water, so it's not treated, but added it to be safe) and some water from their present tank. Today,  I've also added "Stress Zyme+" biological filtration booster and aquarium salt.  My question is, how long should I wait to move the fish?
<A good week or two at least... best to move a good deal more of their resident water, even "mulm" from gravel vacuuming... to the new system... and a bit of dried food to feed beneficial bacteria>
Thanks for your input,
P.S.  Filtration, heat, and water current are all established as well.
<Ah, good. Bob Fenner>

Re: Saltwater to Freshwater, clown loach sys., mal-affected plants    4/6/10
Hi. I wanted to update where this tank is at and see what advice you may have as I move forward. The tank has been running for 3.5 weeks. I planted it reasonably heavily day 1, added 4 guppies and 2 Platies and about 5 pounds of inactive liverock. I also added some cycle helper from the LFS and it seemed to help.
Nitrite peaked in 8 days and fully broke to zero in about 12 days. After a 50% water change, I then added four Mollies and four 2" Clown Loaches.
<Clown Loaches prefer/need soft, acidic water and will not do well in the hard, basic conditions livebearers require. Mollies also require much warmer water than Platies, so I don't really rate the idea of combining them. Fancy Guppies and Mollies need 28-30 degrees C to stay healthy, while Platies and Swordtails should be kept at 22-24 degrees C.>
Water quality has been very consistent - ph: 7.6, total hardness 300ppm, alkalinity 180ppm, nitrate under 20ppm and no ammonia or nitrite since the cycle completed.
<Much too hard for Clown Loaches.>
I have also been adding SeaChem Flourish Excel every other day. The plants have been doing mostly well. Hornwort, Anubias and Java Ferns are doing great, Val's ok, but 2 different tries at Anacharis have failed. They just slowly die over 5 days. I would like a lush green look, but the Hornwort is more brownish and the Anubias and Val's are short and thin respectively.
<Check the lighting and the quality of the substrate. Anubias does well attached to limestone rock, but if you stick the rhizome in the ground the plant will die. Vallisneria needs a fairly deep substrate, at least 8 cm, and while not fussy about substrate quality, it's a "greedy" plant that needs regular fertilisation with pellets pushed into the gravel as per the manufacturer's instructions.>
Any suggestions to get some lush green in there? I have added salt over the past 6 days or so and salinity is currently at 1.001 - I may just leave it here if the Mollies are doing well.
<But the Clown Loaches won't be happy.>
The addition of the salt hasn't affected the ph and hardness readings thus far. I think the liverock must be doing a good job keeping those parameters stable. This past weekend, I put in five Boesemani rainbow fish and a few more mollies. The rainbows are beautiful, but more aggressive than I expected.
<Keep a bigger group.>
They immediately ate a guppy baby and are chasing the guppies around a bit.
<As is their wont. Fancy Guppies are a target for hungry fish because they can't swim properly.>
The tank is 65 gallons with a 20 gallon sump filled about 75%.
<Much too small for Clown Loaches. Take a look at a tank of adult Clown Loaches: they're massive things around 30 cm long and very deep bodied.
While they grow fairly slowly, and may take 5 or more years to reach full size, their mortality rate in captivity is high because they aren't fish suited to small aquaria.>
The tank is very large and I am noticing that aside from the Rainbows, the rest of the fish are sort of getting lost in the tank - you simply don't see them.
<Rather than Clown Loaches, why not keep big groups of the smaller fish? A dozen Rainbows would look stunning, for example. Similar numbers of Mollies would work well, too. Three or four Horseface Loaches would be infinitely better than Clown Loaches in terms of size, and they're salt-tolerant to boot, although a sandy substrate would be obligatory. Another good choice would be Hoplosternum littorale, a big, boisterous salt-tolerant catfish related to Corydoras. A male/female duo would be rather jolly and lots of fun.>
I think I will need about 50 of them between Mollies, Guppies and the one school of rainbows to make it look nice. I am committed to regular water changes and want to do it right, but would like to push the stocking limits.
<Why push anything? Keep a sensible number of appropriately sized fish in this aquarium and it'll be lovely. Why trap yourself with an overstocked tank that crashes every time you're away on vacation? Slightly under-stocking gives you some leeway.>
As always, all advice is appreciated. Thanks again, Mitch
<Cheers, Neale.>

Loach tank   12/2/07 I was originally going to get 6 Clown Loaches for my Oscar's big tank but couldn't find any big enough that he wouldn't try to eat so I decided to put the six 1-2 inch Clown Loaches I bought into a 125 gal tank with my Severum and 13 Cory Cats. <Sounds a good plan. Clowns are fairly slow-growing though, so it may be a few years before you're reading to trust them with your Oscar.> I quarantine for a full month so I still have these 6 in quarantine. Well then I found four 2" Clown Loaches all alone in a tank a few wks ago and bought them and have THEM quarantined. I also looked online and in fish stores for Blue Loaches (Botia modesta) awhile back and couldn't find any, so when I saw 4 3" Blue Loaches 2 days ago I snatched them up, too. All these quarantine tanks but they're all doing wonderful and eating great! <Very good!> That makes 14 small (for now) Loaches total. I unexpectedly found another 6 foot long 125 gal tank for dirt cheap, I couldn't resist the price-do you see where this is leading....? I don't feel I can put this many Loaches in a 125 gal with a Severum & 13 Cory Cats (can I?) even though they grow slowly. <At least while they're young, they'll be fine. It'll be cozy! At the end of the day what matters is water quality: if the nitrite and nitrate levels are fine, then a tank is 'working'. That said, the more space, the better.> I think a "Loach Tank" is in order and am going to use the 125 gal for just the Loaches. I'm worried about already being overstocked though because I keep seeing "dire warnings" on online Loach sites about Loaches getting to 16". Neale previously told me that after about 10 yrs 6-7" would be considered good growth for Loaches in home aquaria. <Indeed. Clowns do tend to be slow growing. I have seen very few captive specimens over 8" in length, and specimens approaching 12" are extremely uncommon. In my opinion, what matters rather more with Clowns is their sociability. I'd sooner people concentrated on their need for being kept in groups than the fact the odd specimens reach enormous sizes. If people worked around the idea of keeping 6+ Clown loaches around 6-7" in length, it'd be a better world.> In your opinion, how many Loaches could I put in a 125 gal tank? <Well, all the Clowns for a start. At least for the next 5 or 10 years! The really big specimens are fish that are well into double-figures in terms of age. As and when that happens, you can adjust things accordingly.> If it makes a difference my ammonia, nitrites & nitrates always stay at zero and I change anywhere from 5-10% every 1-2 days just to give them all fresh water. It's probably unnecessary but it makes ME feel better (my Oscar is messy and likes to eat). <Sounds good. I often recommend 50% per week, but like you, I often find myself doing small, daily water changes simply because my Panaque catfish produces so much solid waste (wood chippings!). So long as the water quality parameters are good, that's what matters.> I hope I haven't already over-stocked my soon-to-be Loach tank. There's so many places to ask questions at but I don't get answers I trust anywhere but here. Thank you for that and thank you for your time. If not for this WWM I don't think this re-newed fish craze of mine would've happened! Mitzi <Sounds like you're having a lot of fun with your hobby. Clowns are amazing fish, and real puppy-dogs once settled down. I visited 'Marge' the 12" Clown loach this last week (she's featured on the Loaches Online site) and very impressive she is too. If I recall correctly, she's something like about 20 years old. She lives with 50 of her closest friends in a nice big tank. Definitely one of the most impressive aquaria I've ever seen. So you've made a good choice with your new livestock. Enjoy! Neale.>

Re: Loach tank   12/2/07 I LOVE the pictures of Marge I've seen! <She *is* darling. About the closest thing to a Fish Celebrity I've seen! Everyone seems to know about her.> But they also had me pretty scared when I found myself with 14 of these gorgeous Loaches. <My assumption is that they won't all grow to full size. A combination of social interactions and dissolved metabolites will keep the majority (the subdominant individuals) at a smaller size than the biggest specimens (the dominant individuals).> I had nightmares of them all getting as big as Marge by next Christmas and having to move all those chunky butts into a bigger tank. <I can't remember how old they said she was. But Clowns are said to live anything up to 50 years. They are big, but very slow growing. They get to the 5" size quite quickly, around 8" after about 10 years, and then very slightly bigger each year subsequently.> I know they grow slowly. But a general rule of using 8" for maximum sizes gives me a number I can wrap my brain around to avoid overstocking, the 125 gal should be fine for them for plenty of years yet. <Exactly so.> I'm used to Cichlids and have to keep reminding myself that Loaches *want company. And yes.... you're the one that got me interested in Royal Plecs and I've since found out what Poop Machines they are-mercy! I love him though. I thought and researched long and hard and have ordered an Eartheater to go into a 55 gal with the Royal Plec. With that amount of "wood chippings" I need something to keep the sand stirred up so the powerhead can push it into the filter. <Should work. But honestly, it's easiest to keep one corner of the sand lower than the rest of the tank, and then siphon out the chippings as-and-when. The good news is the wood chippings contain virtually nothing except lignin, and have zero effect on water quality.> I may just keep those 2 in there together. Such is the dilemma I seem to have with fish-I wanted the Plec to go in with my Oscar but couldn't find one big enough. The Royal is so messy that I ended up having to give him his own tank and an Eartheater lol! I ended up falling so in love with Loaches that I've now got too many to go in with my Severum & Corys so the Loaches also end up getting their own 125 g tank. It's to the point I'm scared to venture to the LFS. The fish themselves are cheap compared to the big tanks they need. <Yes indeed! That's why we recommend against Goldfish and Guppies as "cheap" pets for children; fish really aren't cheap in any meaningful way. Sure, maintenance costs are low, but setting up a proper tank for whichever fish you buy will always be tens of times more expensive than the fish itself.> I'm excited about my Loach tank though. I'm using sand and huge gnarly pieces of driftwood with hidey holes, powerheads and big filters. They'll love the water movement. <Loaches are almost all mountain stream fish. The more water movements, the better. There are some very neat powerheads with magnetic clips on sale these days. Designed mostly for marine tanks. The magnets (like algae scraper magnets) fix the pump onto the glass wherever you want. They're cheap and incredibly effective.> Thanks, Neale. Here's hoping I'm done getting 6 foot tanks as I've run myself completely out of room now. <Quite so! There was a story in a fish magazine here recently about a guy that basically flooded his basement to make a gigantic aquarium. Very cool though! He had to go swimming to clean algae off the glass!> I trust your opinion to the point that I *always read what you have to say on WWM about something before I take it as fact. "If Neale didn't say it, it ain't so." You may not feel like a Fish Hero but to so many of us scattered across cyberspace, you are. <Very kind.> Mitzi <Take care, Neale.>

Re: Loach tank   12/2/07 You're the best, Neale, thank you. I'm going to find some of those magnetic powerheads, what a perfect solution. I've noticed the 4 Blue Loaches are considerable pushier (with each other anyway) so maybe I'll put them in with the Royal Plec & Eartheater. <Sounds a good idea. Loaches are not exactly peaceful fish, but rather hierarchical, meaning that all fish will struggle to be the "alpha" within the group, and only once the group is settled will peace reign. This is certainly the case with the Blue Loach (currently saddled with the unpronounceable name of Yasuhikotakia modesta). In small groups, none of the fish is prepared to give up on its ambitions. So you get a lot of chasing and snapping as each fish tries to assert its right to lead the group. A bit like a Presidential Primary really.> Just center the tank around bottom dwellers. I don't want the Clowns to get pushed around by the bigger Blue Loaches. <Good idea. Clowns actually handle themselves pretty well in boisterous tanks, but erring on the side of caution is no bad thing.> How dare you tempt me with filling a basement with water? That would be the coolest thing. Like the underwater viewing tanks at the in Oklahoma City Zoo. I kept thinking how much my fish would love having something like that. <We all have dreams like this!> Thank you for everything. Mitzi <You're welcome, Neale.>

Clown Loach and Bristlenose Troubles... Actually iatrogenic problems, ignorance, lack of self-reliance... in killing freshwater fishes  9/25/06 Hello WWM helping elves, <Where's Santa?> I am having some troubles with my fish.  I seem to have a slow but steady mortality rate.  I have a 28L tank (sorry, not sure what that is in gallons). <... dismal. Look it up...> It has been up an running with fish for 5 months now, <... in six-seven or so gallons...> but there seems to be a consistent pattern that has evolved in regards to my fish and their lifespans.    We started with 2 goldfish, to get the tank cycled and happy. <A poor idea>   When our LFS man gave us the all clear (he is strict with us) he allowed us to get some tropical fish.   <With pathogens already installed by way of your goldfish adventure...> We have been gradually adding to the tank till now to get a nice community tank.  The 2 goldfish have been given away as there was not so much room as before.  We have 1blue and 1 golden gourami, a smallish angel fish, a bristle nose catfish and 2 clown loaches. <These are too much, way too much for this small volume>    The trouble with the fish is that we are now onto our 3rd catfish, and as of this morning I only have 1 clown loach.  For all 3 fish that have died, there has been a similar pattern.  All have stopped eating, then after 3 days of their hunger strike their tummies bloat, then this goes away the next day, then they die the day after.  Both the catfish only lived for 3 weeks, and the clown loach died 3 weeks after my last catfish. <Ultra dismal... I'm changing my mind, opinion> For the catfish, they just stopped licking the glass, and the clown loach took to swimming upside down near the spray bar pipe - constantly. <Environmental...> I have had my LFS man check my water for everything (I think he dreads every time I walk through the door), <I would as well...> and he says that my water is perfect for the fish that I have and commented that if my latest catfish died it was a factor he cannot test for.  To make me feel better, he has given me a slightly bigger catfish this time in the hopes that it is more hardy. <... the opposite here...> I feed them a combination of dried food, blood worms (once a week), algae wafers and a little piece of zucchini every now and then.  I do monthly water changes of 10% with good water, and keep check on the basic water condition weekly.    I am aware that a 28L tank is not very big, <Bingo> and am wondering if clown loaches are the best choice with the other fish. <Nope... poor choices...> I purchased 2 as they are social fish, but have read that odd numbers are better.  At this time the remaining one I have is small. Should I get 2 friends for it, or should I change the type of fish, or will one more be enough.  I will eventually get a bigger tank, so the fact that they grow has been accounted for, however I would like to know what is best for now and would first very much like them to stop dying. I don't know where I am going wrong, and would like some help before I replace my little one. Ta, from Cian <... Let's see... your real problem is rooted in the too-small world for the species you list. It cannot support this type of life, density... The Bristlenose Loricariids need volumes of three, four plus size to survive... Tiny volumes of water are too inherently unstable to provide proper environments... You might look into much smaller (ultimately) species... Next, your system is very likely infested with some sort/s of disease organisms from the goldfish period... Next, your reliance on others for the care you can only provide is short-sighted to use a kind term... Lastly, the answers to the "present situation" you find yourself the maker/keeper of are of your own ignorance and lack of research... Consider what you want to do, educate yourself, then act... BobF>

Clown loaches as brackish?   9/2/06 Hello Bob, <Neale> I was just reading some of your brackish water stuff, and was struck by a reference to clown loaches swimming "in and out of seawater".   <Can, do in the wild. Tolerate some salt content in captivity> Oddly, I have heard this somewhere else, but even so, I cannot believe it is true. Where does this come from? Is it possible some other clown xxxx fish has been mistake for the clown loach? <Mmm, unlikely. Botia macracantha is distinctive, hails from an area where it is the only cobitid collected. Mmm, I have been to Indonesia a bunch of times, but no first-hand experience with this species there> By the way, enjoyed reading your FAMA magazine episode. Well, maybe enjoyed isn't the word. Sympathized. Been through this myself with another publication. <Oh, yes> Doesn't seem that uncommon; freelancers are at the bottom of the food chain (from the publisher's perspective, anyway) and treated accordingly. We need a fish-writers union! <Perhaps some day... or maybe we won't need one with the further development of the Net.> Sincerely, Neale <Do please consider (re)issuing some of your writing to our and others on-line 'zines. We pay about the same ($200 per) as the print mag.s. Cheers, Bob Fenner> Re: clown loaches as brackish?   9/2/06 Hello Bob, <Neale> Seriously? I have to read up on this. There's no evidence of this on Fishbase. <Agreed... did take a look/see... and just two days back split up the FAQs on WWM re this species... do notice the stated range for pH (up to 8.0) and hardness...> But then, I've been finding out that several Bagrid catfish inhabit/prefer brackish water, so there you go. <Yes... and a few years back, when it was much more facile to do so, I added many "comments", suggested changes to fishbase (am a collaborator... pix). Realize that this database is an ongoing (super) effort> As for releasing articles to WWM, I'm more than happy to do that.   Please let me have some details on what you're after. I'd particularly enjoy going through the glassfish and halfbeak sections,   <Really need this/these... and many more areas that I recall you are expert in> which seem either brief or empty (there are lots more species of both on the market since, I suspect, you updated those pages). But perhaps   also the brackish sections more generally, though I do know that Jeni Tyrell has been doing sterling work taking care of them. <Yes... and your involvement would likely spur her on to even greater effort...> Sincerely, Neale <Am cc'ing Adam Cesnales and Scott Fellman (our co-editors) and asking that they communicate with you. Cheers, Bob Fenner>

Re: clown loaches as brackish?, CA work   9/2/06 Cool. Will take a look at the glassies and halfbeaks and see what I can run up for you. Have a nice weekend/holiday. Cheers, Neale <Thank you my friend. You as well. BobF> Chuck Clowns Around with the loaches I have a 90 gallon show tank with discus, clown loaches and Bushynosed Plecos. It is decorated with wood and single piece of holey stone which gives the loaches many hiding places. The substrate is typical natural colored aquarium gravel. I was considering removing the gravel and leaving the tank bare bottomed so I could keep it very clean. Is that going to be a problem for the clown loaches?  < I would not remove all the gravel. I would leave about 1/2 inch to 3/4 of an inch of gravel or fine sand. There are bacteria living on the gravel that help break down the fishes waste. If you removed all the gravel you would probably encounter big ammonia spikes every time you changed your filter and that would affect the entire tank. I would service the filter once every two weeks and then gravel vac the substrate on alternate weeks.-Chuck>  James Nyman

Escape Artist Clown Loach and Eating Habits - 12/20/2005 Seasons Greetings to the Crew! <And to you, Steve!> I discovered a small problem this evening that may require me to tear up my tank to rectify.  So before I dig in, I thought I'd check to see if anyone has any experience with the problem at hand. <Alrighty, sounds like a plan.> I have two large freshwater aquariums (650 gallons and 200 gallons) plumbed to a common 150 gallon sump filled with bio-balls.   <Wow, can I move in?> The sump feeds a Sequence pond pump that pushes the return through a Hayward pleated pool filter and UV filters before dividing the flow back to the two aquariums.  The large aquarium is home to a number of medium sized gold Severums, rose line barbs, rosy barbs, moonlight Gouramis, Juraparoids, and large Congo tetras.  The smaller aquarium is home to an assortment of small tetras - cardinals, rummy nose, red minors, harlequin, and penguins, as well as three large flower shrimp.   <Sounds excellent.> On Friday I added three large 5 inch clown loaches to the big aquarium.   <You'll get a better effect with a few more - these schoolers put on great antics in groups.  And in your 650 gallon tank, I'd have no qualms recommending a few more!  Do please remember to quarantine, though, as ALL clown loaches are collected wild, and often bring parasites with them.> Today I was shocked to find one of these loaches swimming in the smaller tetra tank.   <Yikes!> After thinking through the possibilities, it became obvious that the clown loach swam upstream through a return in the large aquarium until it found the divide leading to the smaller aquarium and followed the current through the 1.5" plumbing into the smaller aquarium.   <Wow, what a trip....> I understand that clown loaches enjoy eating snails and crustaceans and so am wondering how quickly I can expect them to make a meal of my three 3" flower shrimps.   <Mm, I doubt the loach will harass the shrimp.  As long as they're not bite-sized, they should be okay, I think.> The smaller aquarium is filled with large landscaping rock and numerous plastic plants and would represent a not-so-fun filled evening of tearing everything thing out of the tank to catch the crafty clown loach.  I would be happy to leave the clown loach in the smaller tank if the shrimp had a chance of surviving. <For the loaches' schooling desires, better to get this fellow back into his school, and prevent a reoccurrence of his plumbing escapades.> Who wins - clown loach or flower shrimp? <For now, likely a draw.  I doubt the loach will have any interest at all.> Thanks for your advice and continued contributions to the hobby.  You guys and gals are the best. <And thank you for these kind words!> Sincerely,  Steve in Minneapolis (current temp: 4 below zero) <Yee-IKES!  I thought it was chilly at 40 in the Santa Cruz Mountains!  If you get snow, shovel a little extra for me, okay?  I sure do miss it.  Wishing you well,  -Sabrina>

Another Clown Loach for a 10Gal?  12/16/05 Hi Crew, <Hi, Pufferpunk here> First off I would like to thank you for your time.  I currently have a ten  gallon tank that has been set up for six months now.  The ammonia level is 0,  nitrites are at 0 and nitrates are <20.  I have a five inch tire track eel, a  two inch silver angel, and two one inch clown loaches.  Yes I do know that  all of these fish get rather large and I will be buying a fifty gallon tank in about six months.  The two clown loaches were purchased about a week ago and are doing great.  I read on your site that you should have at least three clown loaches in a tank because they are very social schooling fish.  I was wondering if it would be a good idea for me to purchase one more small clown loach for my tank to have a total of three or if it would be too crowded in my ten gallon.  Any advise would help. <I would definately not buy any more fish for that tank.  Even in a 50g tank, the fish you have now will get quite large.  Clown loaches can reach a size of close to 12".  I have had 2 together for a long time & they seem happy (they are living in my 125g).  It would be nice to have a school of them but even in my tank, that wouldn't be feasible.  Be sure to research the adult sizes of all your fish before you purchase them.  Also, be sure to do lots of water changes, especially while in that small tank.  I do 50% weekly, on all my tanks.  ~PP> Thank you very much, Stuart

Clown Loach sys. - 5/7/2006 Hello everyone, <<Hi Lisa, this is Lisa!>> I recently just cycled a new 55-gallon tank (fishless cycling).  It has been running two weeks since the cycle completed (Ammonia 0, Nitrites 0, Nitrate almost negligible (5-10 PPM), real and artificial plants. <<It is not still cycled unless you are still adding ammonia to feed the bacteria.>> I'd like to have some clown loaches in this tank eventually but am concerned due to their susceptibility to ick. <<They also reach a foot in length and live for more than 2 decades!>> My plan is to introduce them (I'm thinking of three 3" loaches) into a quarantine tank (10-gallon) for the first few weeks. <<They won't stay 3' for long.  I would double that tank size, at least, to house 3 Botia macracanthus for life.>> Even if they get ick there, hopefully, with a raised temperature and if necessary, medication, I can treat it while they're in the quarantine tank. <<Heat alone won't really do it.>> My problem is what happens if they get ick when I move them to the larger 55 gallon community tank which would most likely have a slightly lower temperature (even a couple of degrees) than the quarantine tank?  Wouldn't the move, coupled with the lower temperature change bring about the ick again? <<If you QT properly, and rule out the introduction of the parasite to your water, so shouldn't worry about it being 'brought out'.  QT first, and if the temperature is higher in the QT tank, don't just plop them into colder water (not due to ick, but stress in general).>> Thanks in advance for any help/suggestions you may have.  Lisa <<A much larger tank is in order! Good luck. Lisa :)>>

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