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FAQs About Clown Loaches

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


Clown Loach Choked To Death     10/31/19
Hi, I have a, hopefully, simple question. Unfortunately, I lost one of my 15 clown loach school this evening. This clown loach was just over a year old and apparently choked to death on one of the ghost shrimp added to the tank several hours before. I know this to be true because by penlight, magnifying glass and tweezers I pulled a deceased ghost shrimp from the deceased clown loach's mouth. I've been stocking ghost shrimp (30 to 50 at a time) into my tank for the past year or so to keep the South American Puffers happy and entertained so they don't nip the Cory's fins or attempt to pick on one of the clown loach (a dangerous undertaking because if you pick on one, you pick on them all apparently.) This has been working quite well and my tank has been completely harmonious until the poor clown died
choked to death on a shrimp. So my question is: am I ok to continue with adding ghost shrimp to the tank? Is this a freak 'just one of those things' accidents or are clown loach choking on shrimp a more common occurrence?
Thanks so much for any knowledge you can pass my way. Carolyn
<Hi Carolyn. This does sound like a freak misadventure, though I would keep an open mind about the cause of death -- fish don't really 'choke' because the place where food gets processed is in the throat (what we call the pharyngeal jaws) which lie behind the gill openings. So the gill cavity is really more of a big open space with the opercula on either side, and while food may get stuck in the pharynx for a while, it shouldn't interfere with the flow of water in through the mouth or out through the opercula. This
isn't to say something like choking is impossible, but rather that it is very rare, and requires the fish to do something very stupid, such as consume dangerous prey (a spiny fish for example) or a solid lump too big for its pharyngeal teeth to grind up. Now, there is a risk here with perhaps adding too many shrimps, or shrimps that are too large to safely process, as a way of getting your South American Puffers to behave. I'd perhaps handle this a different way. SAPs are mostly surface explorers, so floating plants are really good for this, and they appreciate ample swimming space. In a sufficiently large tank for adult Clown Loaches, by which I mean something like 100 gallons or so for a small group, and two or three times that for 15 Clowns, I'd rely on depth and benthic hiding places (such as hollow logs) to keep them safe. Clowns can easily swim fast enough to avoid trouble, and in sufficient numbers, a small group of SAPs shouldn't be persecuting any single specimen. I have kept SAPs with Cherry Fin Loaches, without major problems, but hungry or bored SAPs can be nippy, even if they lack the aggression of some pufferfish species. Floating plant roots give the SAPs something to explore where the Clowns don't go, so could help, especially alongside a floating bloodworm dispenser or similar to occupy the SAPs throughout the day. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Clown Loach Choked To Death     11/1/19

Hi, again and thanks, Neale, for the quick response.
I had wondered about the fish's gill/throat/respiration anatomy and the ability to literally choke to death. I did notice one of the deceased clown's eye looked odd in death but didn't place any real importance on it.
It is possible that it may have taken a spine to the eye if the group was scrumming for that particular shrimp. I would assume an accidental spine to the eye would usually result in rapid death?
<I would imagine so!>
The clowns and the SAP's are all young, just over a year old or so and purchased at barely an inch. I ended up with so many clowns because they were all together at the LFS and the way they shoaled was just amazing. I had never seen shoaling clown loach before the way LFSs stock small numbers of them. I figured I would have to deal with white spot (which, luckily, I did not) and have some natural attrition (which I also did not.) I'm quite fond of my clown school and a bit proud of the fact I've had no fish loss
so the clown's death is distressing me. (Full disclosure, I lost one of the SAP trio from banging into the tank lid chasing a Cory cat to the surface.
That SAP was so mean and so predatory that I and the tank felt relieved at the mishap and don't really count him in the numbers.)
<SAPs will nip at Corydoras, though genuinely aggressive SAPs are rare.
Will direct you to some reading, here:
Arguably, the species is best kept in groups but away from other species. I kept mine with Carinotetraodon irrubesco, a similar-sized pufferfish that stays close to the substrate. But the general advice, and certainly the safest, is keep a group on their own.>
They are currently in a 55 gallon tank while I've been saving and planning for a custom 150 gallon corner tank (due to room space limitations) which I should have the beginning of the new year. Assuming successful fish keeping over the next 10 years, I know I will need to double that tank size.
The tank is set up with plenty of driftwood, hollows, and hides, as well as, live plants on the sand bottom and a large artificial floating plant at the surface where the majority of the shrimp like to stay. Twice weekly water changes keeps the nitrates in check for my currently overstocked tank with 0 ammonia and 0 nitrites and I test at least twice weekly. I will be relieved to move everyone into a larger, more appropriate tank size.
<As will they!>
Anyway, the puffers definitely prefer to search for the shrimp at the surface as you described.
<Yep. This can be useful for feeding them, e.g., with prawn or white fish fillet smeared into pumice stones. The stones may even help to wear their teeth down a bit.>
The puffers are certainly not predatory to the clowns or Cory cats in the tank but will certainly attempt to fin nip any unsuspecting tank mate when bored or move obsessively along the glass of the tank. I've found that adding in only 10 shrimp creates a shrimp 'massacre.' I've noticed that the large quantity of shrimp seems a little overwhelming and distracting for the puffers (they scare me when they glut on so many shrimp they are bloated and can only move listlessly along the bottom.) The shrimp seem to
be helping to keep their teeth down as well as I've yet to do dentistry and they're over a year old. I'm wondering why would adding too many shrimp at one time not be ok? Is it a bio load issue?
<Yes; and in any case, shrimp (and mussels) should collectively make up no more than one-third their diet. Shrimp, mussels, and a few other commonly used foods contain a chemical called thiaminase that breaks down vitamin B1. Over recent years, aquarists and reptile keepers have become aware that
many mysterious failures with carnivorous fish and reptiles may be due to thiaminase deficiency. So thiaminase-free foods should make up the majority of the diet to avoid this; such foods as cockles, earthworms, and most types of white fish fillet including Pollack and tilapia. Squid may or may not be good depending on the species.
So while frozen shrimp are popular, they should be used sparingly. Live shrimp are 'safe' if gut-loaded beforehand, but should otherwise be treated like frozen shrimp and used as treats rather than staples.>
Thanks again, Neale! And sorry for the book! Carolyn
<Not a problem. Cheers, Neale.>

Question, Clown Loach... gen. care  4/29/08 Of late I been hook on Clown loach spending a lot of my time searching the web trying to find as much about them as I can. <As luck would have it, the current (May 2008) issue of Practical Fishkeeping has a superb article by Emma Turner about these fish. Apart from running a big aquarium store in England, she has this wonderful aquarium at home with around 30 of the biggest and happiest clown loaches you have ever seen. She knows her stuff, and this article is essential reading. Among other topics, she stresses the facts these fish need to be kept in reasonable numbers and must have a diet with plenty of fruit and vegetables, not just meaty foods.> I refuse to buy one clown loach let alone 6 until I have a tank worthy of them. My problem is every one seem to have a different idea as to what the minimum tank size one needed to house 6 clown loach, and nobody seem willing to say anything about the tanks footprint measurements. <To some extent this is because not everyone experiences these fish in the same way. Many specimens never get very large, perhaps because of a stunting effect. Aquarists who never see Clown Loaches more than 15 cm in length may well feel that a tank around 250-300 litres is more than adequate. But once you've seen really big specimens in the 20-30 cm bracket, you'll understand why tanks between 500-1000 litres are much more sensible.> Real-estate is priceless for big river fish that love the bottom, but how much real-estate do they need to live long haply lives? A minimum tank size to keep 6 clown loach happy would be my hart's desire. <If you can, and the budget is there, aim for something 500-1000 litres. If you have to have a tank at the smaller end of that size spectrum, then quite possibly fitting a sump would allow you to up the water volume, improving water quality. Big canister filters and quite possibly additional aeration or powerheads will also help by adding the flow of water. Unquestionably these fish need filters offering turnover at least 6x the volume of the tank, and frankly the more the better.> With it I can see if I have room for the minimum sizes tank, and with luck a tank far bigger then that. <Sounds like a good plan. Do also review some of the other Loaches; there are some superb smaller species on the market at the moment, especially among the subtropicals. Relatively small tanks kitted out with high performance filters and maintained at subtropical temperatures can make great homes for Schistura loaches for example, such as Schistura sp. "Crimson", alongside which you might keep some Danios or fast-water barbs. In the UK at least loaches are the "big thing" at the moment, with dozens of new species appearing in stores every years. Not all make great aquarium fish, but some do.> Bigger is better unless it no longer fit in your house. <Indeed! Good luck, 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 Loaches   8/24/06 Hi, <Hello>         I have a clown loach that keeps rubbing across a terracotta pot piece in the aquarium. <What they do... are "clowns"> I gave it a water change and changed the filter and also turned the temp. from 80 to 84 degrees. <Good> Can you tell me why he is doing this and what I can do about it. He looks perfectly fine. <Is likely. Unless you see definite signs of disease, I would not be concerned... Do know that this is a social animal... Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/clownloachfaqs.htm Bob Fenner>                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Sherri Clown loaches hiding for too long?   8/14/06 Hello there crew, My question is concerning my 55 gallon freshwater tank- more specifically- a pair of clown loaches. I've had them for almost a year and they are growing quickly, and keeping my snail population in check. <Neat!> Recently I put in a hollow piece of artificial drift wood and the opening is on top, so now both of them have taken to living full time inside. <Very common> The problem is they never come back out, or at least not that I have noticed, and after a few weeks I get nervous and pour them out. <Mmm, no need... will come out "eventually"...> When they come out they are really pale, the orange is totally white and the black stripes are just light grey. Their color returns quickly but they act very nervous if they cant get back in. They have other places to hide in the tank, but they don't seclude themselves the same way in those. Are they going to just sit in there until they die? <Nope> or are they breeding? <Not likely... really have to be quite large (several inches long)...> I  would appreciate your help on this one, Thanks -Julian <I'd try offering some favored food during the lights on hours... bloodworms, black worms, sinking tablets... and being patient. Possibly adding a third, smaller individual may cause these two to be more outgoing. Bob Fenner>

Re: clown loach, sys., beh.  8/25/06 Hi again,              This loach had a partner clown loach when he was bought a couple years ago but they fought a lot and the other didn't make it. I don't believe it was due to the fighting. His other tank mate died so there is only a little 2 inch Pleco of some sort in with him. It is a 20 gal tank. Is this unhealthy for him( stunt his growth or pine in loneliness) He seems aggressive but not a killer. He is 5 inches now. <Not enough room for other Botia here... but are social animals, best kept in small odd numbers where the environment allows. BobF>                                                                                                                    Sherri

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 :)>>

Aggressive Loaches Not Clowning Around - The Most Respectfully Submitted Email EVER! 10/28/05 Hi, Kindly accept my sincere regards for such a excellent site. I set up my first 15g tank in July this year, did some stupid things, some wise things (reading your site) and have finally stopped killing my fishes. In fact I now have now a second 55g tank with 3 goldfishes and a freshwater minnow called tiger shark My question is regards with my 15g tank, it has a filter, heater, and is a established tank for three months, original occupants were goldfishes now shifted to 55g. 15g tank has two silver dollars 1.5', 2 platy, 2 sword tails, I wanted to add some loaches. I read extensively and come to conclusion that clown loaches were schooling fishes and decided on a minimum of 4 fishes 1.5'. The fishes sold to me do not seem to be clown loaches although they look like clown, this fellow said that they are called 'Rani loaches' and are same. However my problem is that these loaches have started picking on dollars, striking at their eyes or base of tail. This problem is now so acute that dollars are now showing signs of stress. Kindly guide me why is this happening. If I separate the fishes which can I put with goldfish or should I return them. Thanks Sandeep R < I went to loaches.com and could not find any fish listed there when I searched for rani. All loaches are not alike. Some are small and very peaceful while others can be very aggressive and get large. Please go to loaches.com to research the right loach for your particular tank situation.-Chuck> 

Freshwater Clowns?  Uhh, Clown Loaches? - 11/25/2005 I do hope you can give me some insight as to what may be going on with my clowns.... <Clowns....  Freshwater....  I'm going to have to assume you mean clown *loaches* here, yes?> I have a 35gal tank and I have 4 clowns aging from 6 yrs to 12 yrs old <These are slow growing animals, but by 12 years of age, under proper care, they should be nearing a foot in length.  These animals should be in a much, much larger system, if this is the case.> and I have never had any problems with them. Last night at feeding no one came out they all are staying in there hiding spot inside an urn. Now tonight I have lost one of my guys and I notice on him that the tips of his tail are white and a few spots. <Not quite enough description, here....  If these are white spots like grains of salt, please read here:   http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwich.htm and the files linked at the top of that page.> I still have 3 that don't seem to have the spots but once again no one came out to eat. <A bad sign.> Also in the tank is an angel that does not seem to have any problems, so it is confined to my clowns. <Mm, if it is ich, it is the entire tank that is infected.  But again, there's just not enough information to go off, here.> Where do I start and what can I do??? <Start by testing your water for ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate.  Ammonia and nitrite must be maintained at ZERO, nitrate less than 20ppm.  If these are not so, fix them with water changes.  Beyond that, please read about health and disease here:   http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwmaintindex.htm .> Any help in this will be great.  Thank you,  -Dawn Tweedy <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 definitely 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

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>

Clown Loaches sick or need therapy?   2/9/06 Hi- <Hello there> I bought six clown loaches this past fall (lost one right away but still have 5).  For the first few months they were very visible in the tank and quite active; even clicking excitedly over their algae chips. <Ah, yes> But for the past few months, they spend almost all of their time hiding behind a few pieces of slate that I have in the tank.  Nothing has changed in the tank  - not inhabitants or decor or plants (or outside the tank for that matter). Except that I did have 4 Rosy Barbs when I brought them home.  I'm down to one now so I'm wondering if a lack of dither fish could be the problem? <Yes, could be... or perhaps whatever led to their loss> The one Rosy doesn't seem to be as active as he was either.  The Corys and Gouramis behave the same and in fact the Gouramis may be more active than they were.  The loaches don't have visible signs of Ich but could a behavior change be a symptom? <Yes, but you would see the spots... and quickly> I'm especially wondering about the dither fish because I don't really want any more fish in the tank but I would get small active fish if you think that could be the problem. Thanks for all your help solving puzzling fish problems! Holli <I would be changing more water, more frequently, checking your temperature, water quality... to suit these fishes. Bob Fenner> Re: Clown Loaches sick or need therapy?   2/10/06 Thanks for the speedy reply.  Actually after I lost the Rosies, I increased my water changes to at least 90% once a week.   <This is too much at one time...> Sometimes twice.  My water is too hard but it was hard for the first few months too. I'll try the dither fish and see how they like that. Holli <Real good. Bob Fenner> Clown loach no info.   2/10/06 I have a community tank consisting of tetras, a Pleco, and recently the addition of 4 clown loaches in an attempt to look after a snail problem....three of the loaches are doing well, good colour, active, etc. However the third has lost colour, is very faded, and spends much of it's time away from his peers, often at the top of the tank swimming erratically. I'd read that the ammonia could be the issue however have tested and they are 0%, like wise the ph is good. what now? help Rebekah <... water quality? Temperature? See WWM re requirements, ranges. Bob Fenner>

Sick Fish????? Robert (Bob), I have two fish now that seem to have the same problem... From what I can figure out, it seems to be swim bladder disease. <Mmm, but what is the cause/s of the swim bladder anomalies?> Here are the symptoms.... The first fish, (Red Platy) I noticed about two weeks ago. He would seem to rest on the bottom of the tank and occasionally make a swim to the surface of the tank. After closer observation I noticed that he wasn't just resting on the bottom, but seem to be having trouble swimming. By which I mean, that it seem to take great effort to move from any given spot. Seem to move in place. After keeping close eye on the little guy for about a week I decided he wasn't getting any better. If anything it was worse. So at this time I place him in a 5 gal. quarantine tank. I added 1 tsp. of Aquarium salt and 1 tsp. of Fungus Eliminator by Jungle Labs. He's been in the quarantine for approx. 4 days now with no visible improvement, (doesn't seem to be getting worse either). Now I've noticed my second victim to this.... Prob. my favorite little guy in the whole tank. It's a beautifully colored clown loach. I've been watching him for the past two days in which he seem to rest on the bottom with very little movement and what seem to be heavy breathing with his mouth acting like it was gasping for air. He then decided to hide in one of the caves I have setup. He finally came out this evening and just sat there showing the same signs as when I saw him a couple of days earlier. I continued to watch him through the evening and he finally came to a resting point on the bottom against the front of the tank, ( kinda leaning toward one side... almost laying on one side.) At this point I placed him in the quarantine tank as well. Now for my question.... Am I correct in the diagnosis??  <Mmm, you are to be commended for your keen interest, careful observations...> Is there anything I'm doing wrong?? ( by the way, the tank does have a few live plants, and PH and Nitrate/Nitrite levels are all right on target) What can I do to correct this problem?? and get my little buddies feeling well again. <I do believe the Platy is suffering more from "genetic" causes than anything else (not infectious, parasitic disease, nutritional deficiencies... and that it will get better or not... of its own accord (nothing more you can really do for it)... This livebearer does just "have problems" of this sort nowadays... sometimes, large numbers of imported livebearers show this symptomology. And the Clown Loach is really just doing "what Clown Loaches do"... in resting at odd angles, breathing hard at times, hiding in castles... Not to worry here. If you want to see it out more often, do consider adding one or two more. I would place it/him back in his main tank.  Sincerely, John R. Aulgur <I am sending your note to a friend, Jeff, who is also a Clown Loach keeper. For his comments, input. Bob Fenner>

Re: Sick Fish????? Clown Loach Just wanted to update you on the Clown Loach situation. Unfortunately he passed away sometime last night. I found him on his side, not breathing, and the color in his stripes slowly fading. Checked the chemistry of the tank and all seems fine...,(within required levels). Not sure as to what or why he ended up this way, but as soon as I can find some more I will try again.... (of course after doing a little more research/reading). Thank you once again for the help. <Ahh, sorry to hear of your loss... this does happen with Clown Loaches at times... unfortunately. Less when they're in a group... and ones kept for months tend to live for years... sometimes many. My thoughts are with you. Bob Fenner> Sincerely, John R. Aulgur

Re: Sick Fish????? Clown Loach Jeff I concur. The Clown loaches do rest at odd angles, sometimes on their backs or upside down! This is perfectly normal. So is the appearance of heavy breathing. I've had three loaches for quite some time and they have always exhibited this behavior. Bob's right about getting more, the loaches love to school and chase each other around all day long. We started with one and he was pretty sedentary until we added another. Our single loach would hide in a small flower pot almost constantly until we got another. He's now grown from 1.5 inches to over six inches, so its impossible for him/her to fit through the opening now. <Ah, as good a response as I had hoped for> As far as the platys, we have platys with our loaches as well and they seem to fall ill after 6 months to a year and gradually darken, start breathing hard and then die. No other fish in this tank seem affected. Various attempts at treatments including salt and antibiotics in quarantine tanks have failed to help. I have noticed that the pH can hasten this. A pH drop to below 6.8 for more than a couple of weeks will generally result in a fatality or two. Since you are keeping plants, your pH is probably near neutral or slightly acidic. This might be something to look into. <Thank you Jeff. See you soon. Bob Fenner/Dogfish>

Re: Sick Fish????? Clown Loach Jeff Thank you for you quick response. Really helped to have someone who is more knowledgeable put my mind at easy quickly. Once again, thank you for your help and quick response. Sincerely, John R. Aulgur <A pleasure. And you did receive the response from Jeff? I cut/pasted it below. Bob Fenner>

Sick clown loach Hi I have two clown loaches in my aquarium for the last 2 weeks. Today I found him lying on the bottom of the tank and the colour in his stripes are slowly fading. I know clown loaches are prone to lying on the bottom of the tank looking dead but it is the fading colour that is worrying me. Do you have any idea what may be wrong with my loach?? <Very very likely nothing is wrong at all... Clown Loaches are notorious/well-known for both their brilliant, delightful coloring, markings AND clown-like behavior... Do check your water quality, perhaps offer some favorite food (like blood worms, Tubificids...) and don't worry. If the other loach looks fine, and neither have symptoms of outright disease, they're likely fine. Am sending your note to our resident loach-man, Jeff, for his input. Bob Fenner> Thanks Lisa

Re: sick clown loach Hi Robert My clown loach died today however the other one is still healthy and swimming around normally so hopefully it will stay healthy. The one that died seemed to be smaller and had lost weight since we bought it. Lisa <Sorry to read of your loss. Have witnessed these mortalities in newly acquired Clown Loaches... consider that "something", likely parasitic or infectious, is wrong internally... not catching in most all cases. Bob Fenner>

Clown Loach Question About two months ago I purchased a large (4-5") Clown Loach to add to my 72 gal bowfront aquarium. About 2-3 weeks ago he developed black spots over his body?  <Don't know, does it?> None of the other fish (5 Gouramis/5 Corys/1 pictus cat/2 Balas) developed black spots. All the fish, including the loach continue to eat fine (dry flakes/fresh worms).  <I see> The water is clear, the ammonia and nitrate are basically nil. The water is 6.7ph. I do about 15% water changes every two weeks and vacuum the bottom. The live plants are not only doing well, I have a great crop of baby plants coming up.  <Sounds good> But I have a black spotted clown loach? The spots do not look like any type of parasite. Once in a while the loach will rub against some sandstone rocks, but its very infrequent (almost only for a couple of days after I change the water)?  <Nothing to worry about in my estimation. This fish species does "scratch" quite a bit... and I've seen these "melanin" markings in them as well> So are the black spots dangerous to the other fish? Is there anything I should do?  <Enjoy your fish/es... Perhaps get it a pal... they are social animals... maybe a nice "castle" or other dark hiding, fun place for it to hang... Bob Fenner> I appreciate any information you can provide me. Thanks - Mark Corrinet.

Re: Clown Loach Question Thanks for the assistance. Your prior advise on the lighting for the tank worked very well also. My 5 year old son loves the tank.  <Ah, good> I am relieved that the clown is ok. I want to purchase him some friends, but large clown loaches are rare on the coast were I live and I have had a standing order for two more. So hopefully he will have more friends soon. There are lots of hiding places for him so that's not a problem.  <Small companions would be fine here as well... and do grow quite quickly> One other question. I want to add more fish to the tank, but anything small dies a rather sad death due to the pictus cat (4-5") (as I found out to late with ten neon tetras) and anything gentle like mollies or similar get stomped on by the Gouramis. They beat my beta almost to death before I saved him and moved him to another tank (bad reason, but I did get another aquarium out of it).  I don't particularly like cichlids. Is there anything else I could add that you might suggest? <Many things. Please consider the many Barbs, larger Danios... maybe even a freshwater "Shark". Please read here re: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwsubwebindex.htm> Also could I add one of those green puffer fish? Can they live in non-brackish water?  I know the puffers can nip fins (probably serve the Gouramis right), I would say it would be even money if the puffer can hold his own. (the Gouramis are one of the big blues, a white/gold color and three small grey blues.  <I don't recommend a freshwater or more brackish water Puffer for your system... too much trouble, possible aggression. Stick with more easygoing, hardier species here> Thanks for your continued kindness and information. Take care - Mark. <You're welcome my friend. Bob Fenner>

Clown loaches for snail control <Ananda here tonight, answering the freshwater fish questions...> hi guys need your help again if you do not mind . <Not at all -- that's what we're here for.> 100,s of stinking snails. these are the cone shaped type not sure of scientific name. <Probably the ones commonly called "Malaysian trumpet snails".> guy at local fish store said clown loaches will not eat them shells too hard <Baloney. My clown loaches eat these all the time. They don't need to crush the shells; loaches suck the snail out of the shell.> want to refrain from chem.s-  he suggested a product called had-a-snail. <I'm surprised he's trying to sell you chemicals rather than more fish.> at my wits end  heeeeeeelp meeeee rocky <Check out our loaches page and its associated FAQs: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/cobitids.htm ...also http://www.loaches.com has much info from loach fans. --Ananda>

Clown loach playing with black gravel -- pics? (03/02/03) This may be a rather bizarre question, but I'm sure I saw a series of photos of Clown Loaches that were moving black pebbles to the floor of their cave. Most of the gravel in the tank was a different color and they seemingly wanted the black gravel in their cave. I thought there was a link from this site to the series of photos, but I have searched every way I know how and I can't find it anywhere on the web. Have you seen these photos? <Nope, and I didn't have any luck in my searches, either. I'd check at www.loaches.com and post on their boards -- someone there might have seen or heard of these photos. --Ananda>

Loach party? (06/10/03) Hiya campers! <Hi! Ananda camping out in front of the computer tonight...> I purchased some plants about a month ago, and while the peeps in the store SWORE there were no snails in that tank, obviously there were as I have apparently become a snail breeder (ick). <Unless, of course, you have puffers or loaches! Since I have both, I actually have a snail farm tank.> Someone recommended loaches, and I went to the good LFS (which is 40 min.s away) to pick up some yo-yos. Of course, they had none so I purchased 3 clowns instead (like em just as well, but was hoping NOT to need a new tank in the near future LOL). <They don't grow super-fast, but they do grow. Kudos for getting a trio!> One of the clown didn't make it (no surprise; I understand they are all wild caught and they can be tetchy). <Yup! Be very, very careful to match the water temperatures with all water changes!> The other 2 are happy, hale n hearty, and will be out of QT next week and into the main tank. <HOT DANG SHE QUARANTINED HER NEW FISH!!  [insert applause here] My loach-fanatic friend says you should try to get clown loaches that are at least a couple of inches long (excluding tail length). And look for the ones that are the most robust.> I went to the icky LFS today to get some bloodworms (its closer), and noticed THEY have yo-yos. So my question is, if I purchase a yo-yo to replace the clown I lost, will he be just as happy hanging with clowns as he would with other yo-yos? <I haven't had yo-yos, but I'm not certain that they would.> (This is assuming I can get the lil guy to survive; the icky pet store is a fish morgue.) <Oooh.. then don't get them there!> I understand loaches are not happy alone (hence my original purchase of 3) but can't seem to find if they will be happy with other types of loaches. I checked your faq and loaches.com, but there were no clear answers. <You might want to post on both the WetWeb boards at http://wetwebfotos.com/talk and the boards at loaches.com. We do have a yo-yo loach fan on the WetWeb boards.> I'd prefer to understock the tank as its a 25 gallon, and I've already got 2 angels and a Liposarcus in there (and yeah, there will be a larger tank in the future LOL just hopefully not till next year); hence my thinking of only getting the single yo-yo. Any suggestions? <Shop around for another clown loach. I usually like to get my fish from independently-owned stores. But not with the loaches. I admit to getting mine from a chain store, because they *consistently* had the healthiest clown loaches. Something else to keep the loaches happy: give them some caves they can hide and sleep in. My loaches absolutely love playing "loach pile" in the carved strawberry rock pieces that came with my 55g tank. When they cruise from one end of the tank to the other, I swear they go out of their way to swim through the holes in the rocks!> Thanx! Allison <You're welcome! And please join us on the WetWebMedia discussion boards and give us a progress report.  --Ananda>

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>

Clown loaches and snails Hi gang, <Greetings!> I have a planted tank with several medium (3") clown loaches...initially stocked to control snail stowaways on plants, which they do well.  In fact, not only have the loaches become one of my favorite fishes in all my tanks, I actually breed and raise Ramshorn snails just so I can give them a treat a few times a month!  =) <I'm sure they love this, I do it myself with my clowns.> My question:  I have a couple LARGE (2" or so) Gold Inca (not exactly sure of the species) snails in need of a home.  They've been housed in my quarantine tank for nearly a year, so I doubt introducing pathogens would pose a risk to the tank, however, would the clown loaches pose a risk to these big guys? <Very possibly. I know I've seen clowns eat snails that were over an inch in size so I'd be afraid to try it even with snails as large as yours.> Also... now that I have your attention, hehe.  What are some species of plants (if any) that would do OK in a moderately aerated tank?   I'm not looking to win any awards in these tanks, just to add some "live" decorations. <A lot would depend on your lighting. Some of my favorites for moderately lit, moderately aerated tanks are Anacharis (this one is rumored to be touchy but I've always had good luck with it), Elodea, and Anubias.> Thanks a bunch, and keep up the good work on WWM! Cheers, Michael <Thank you and you're welcome! Ronni>

Snails and clown loaches Hi guys/gals, hope you are all well! <Yes, thank you> I am having trouble with an outbreak of snails and want advise about clown loaches that are NOT eating them!! <Unusual... it may well be that they are just not "familiar" with them as a food source. Do try "squishing" a few smaller (softer shelled) specimens and leaving them in with the loaches without their usual meaty food items for a couple of days... this will usually "do the trick"> I went to LFS last Tuesday and bout 3 clown loaches since I've read they do well in groups of 3. They are rather attractive but I was a little concerned about over stocking my tank- it's a 15 gallon planted tank- was doing extremely well, with 2 rasboras, 2 white clouds, 3 Otos, 2 cherry barbs. But I have a piece of driftwood that has never caused me trouble- but I added 2 ml of Zoe, vitamin supplement for fish, and it turns out that upon close reading of label, Zoe also helps invertebrates grow- so I think that is where all the snails (look like Ramshorns) came from- a ton of them. They've eaten holes in a lot of my plants and that's why I wanted to get the loaches. <Mmm, well, your loaches will eventually "out-grow" this size system> I wanted to get a dwarf loach, Botia Sidthimunki , but the guy told me they are sometimes aggressive and my fish are rather timid lot! So I decided to go for 3 loaches and risk overstocking tank. I do weekly changes, about 2-3 gallons, and it's always pristine. I've had these fish for 6 days, and THEY ARE NOT eating snails! in fact, when I feed flake food to my other fish, the 3 rush to top and push others around and eat flakes!! Is this normal? Perhaps the LFS fed them flakes?? <Maybe, and not unusual... they are called "clowns" for more than their colorful markings> What do I do know, since I still have snails-- took out 12 small ones this evening?? Is dwarf loach aggressive? thanks in advance... Rosa <Try the "squished" possibility. Bob Fenner> Re: Snails and clown loaches Dear Bob, thanks for response. I was on loaches.com and someone there gave me same advice- so will try that.  Meanwhile, I've read the zebra loach is a more snail aggressive loach and they don't get quite as large as clowns, or at least that what LFS told me. <This is so> Any suggestions re substituting the clowns for the zebras? <I would stick with the Clowns for now, maybe swap them out for Botia sidthmunki later if the Clowns don't work out. Bob Fenner> thank you again, Rosa

Black Spots <Hello! Ryan here> I was researching your site but I couldn't find much on Black Spot on clown loaches. I had just transfer my clown loaches to a new 55 gallon, that was set up for 8 months. Few days later so far what I can see 2 of them developed black spots on their bodies and fins. Please help, I heard that loaches are very sensitive to medications because they don't have scales. Any recommendations? This is already 3 days later, hope I don't loose them. Thank you, hope to hear from you soon. Iveta . <1 drop per 2 gallons of Maracide should be fine.  This can be increased to 1 drop per gallon if needed.  Please do this in a quarantine to be safe.  Clown loaches can be on the sensitive side- so add the Maracide gradually.  It's the sudden change in aquarium conditions that are deadly.  Best of luck! Ryan>

Lookin' for Loaches Hey guys, first thanks for all the great info on this site. It has saved a lot of headaches so far. I have a 25 gallon tank that just finished cycling. I have 3 Serpae Tetras and 2 Zebra Danios. I have a fine sand substrate and I am looking for a fish to add that would help stir up the bottom of the tank a little. The LFS recommended a Clown Loach but that advice I'm not sold on since I've heard they can grow to 12 inches.  Thanks for any ideas. <And indeed they can!  There are so, so many options available for you.  Any of the smaller loaches, Botia striata, Botia dario, Botia lohachata....  Kuhli loaches.... soooo many loaches out there!  Also Corydoras cats.  http://www.loaches.com  is a nice place to start looking at loach options, and you can find loads of info on cats of the genus Corydoras at http://www.planetcatfish.com - as well as on the wetweb site and FAQs.  I would like to mention that loaches and Corys are scaleless, and that you might want to keep an eye on them to see if they react poorly to the sand if it is at all sharp.  Also, please be sure to keep loaches or Corys in groups of three or more, as they are schooling fish.  -Sabrina>

Clown Loaches Eating Tetras? Hello, I have a 54 gal. community tank stocked with various tetra's, Angels, YoYo Loaches, 3 Clown loaches, and some Neon's.  I recently bought 6 more neons to add to the tank and have seen my Clown Loaches eating them.  Is this normal behavior? <Nope> The Clowns are about 4" long and have been living peacefully with the other fish including about 6 neon's.  It was only after adding the new Neon's that the problem started.  Any advise? <Did you actually witness your Clown Loach striking the neon in a Jaws like fashion?  Is it possible that the new fish died due to maybe stress from the move, and the Clown Loach was just cleaning up the remains?  Most likely the Loach was just scavenging the left overs.  Sorry about your Tetra.  Loaches mouths are not really designed for killing, but they can be a little aggressive and are capable of harassing other fish, if the loaches are killing your Tetras you should look into separating them, or getting larger Tetras.  Best Regards, Gage> Thank you, Kurt

- Skinny Disease? - I just lost one of my clown loaches... had 2, he got real skinny within 2-3 days... he just stayed on the bottom... would come up and try to eat but looked like he did not get much. Someone said it might be "skinny disease" what is this... <Caused by bacteria.> how do you treat it... <Antibiotics - erythromycin in the food.> And how do you prevent it. <Keep on top of water quality issues - most often, disease susceptibility is directly related to water quality.> Had added a dwarf gourami recently but had been QT'ed for 3 weeks... and looked fine. Please help... don't want to loose anymore clowns. <Please tell more about your husbandry - water change regimen, what you feed, water parameters, etc.> Thanks in advance, Monica <Cheers, J -- >

Clown Loaches Hi, It's been a while since I spoke to you all. <Welcome back> Unfortunately I seem to have a new problem. I have 2 clown loaches, when I got them they were both the same size. As they got older one had become larger than the other. I had been told by my LFS that they were schooling fish and I should at least get 2. So I did. I was also told that they would get along as they grew. But as it turned out the larger one is picking on the smaller one. Are they naturally aggressive toward one another, or would a larger amount (1 or 2 more) ease the problem between the 2.  Any advice would be much appreciated.  THANK YOU DS <Clown Loaches are somewhat aggressive, and also playful with one another, I would add between 1-3 more, depending on the size of your tank.  They will be happier with the increased number of fish, and the aggressive one can spread the beatings around so no one fish is picked on too much.  Best Regards, Gage>

Buffering Fresh, 2.1 >Marina, Thanks for the advice. >>Quite welcome. >!ST bubbles from the bubble stones, not the powerhead. >>Gotcha, so you've got excellent oxygen/carbon dioxide (O2/CO2) exchange. >I did check KH and GH.... both WAY TOO LOW...... so I guess the best thing to do is to find some of the Seachem products. I do like Seachem best, as I said.  The products were quite easy to find online, and relatively inexpensive. >I have read that clown loaches do much better as a pair or more? Is that not so? >>They may be a bit happier, but honestly I've never known them to do poorly if kept singly, either.  They can grow quite large, though, something to consider. >Thanks for all the help. Monica >>Again, very welcome, I'm glad I was able to answer your questions.  Marina

Clown loaches 'n' Columnaris Hi - I purchased 3 clown loaches about 3 or 4 weeks ago. They've seemed fine until about 3 days ago.  1 of them has white around his mouth. Could it be cotton mouth?  How would I treat this?   <This sounds like Columnaris (mouth fungus, mouth rot, other names).  I would treat with a broad spectrum antibiotic like Oxytetracycline, preferably in a medicated food, if possible.> I had something similar about a year ago that started with a Dojo and 14 of my 19 fish perished.  I treated it with Penicillin upon advice from a local fish store.  I have a 29 gal tank. Testing yesterday showed everything was fine. <What were your test results?  Usually this bacterial illness is brought on by high nitrates, perhaps a pH other than what the fish prefer, low oxygen concentrations, etc.> Thanks SG <Wishing your fish a swift recovery,  -Sabrina>

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>

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

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> Clown loach with nibbled fins Hi there -- been a long time since I've written.  I have a 180 gal tank with 4 clown loaches (2 are 8 inches long and 13 years old; 2 are 3 inches long and about 3 years old) 10 small glass catfish, 2 Plecos and one black skirt tetra.  One of the smaller loaches looks like his fins have been nibbled off.  He looks good otherwise and eats well.  I haven't seen anyone nipping at him, although one of the larger loaches gets impatient with him (haven't seen actual contact, though).  They had been co-existing peacefully for 2 years without incident.  There have been no new additions to the tank.  There are lots of hiding places, and the tank is very clean with bio-ball filtration and weekly 40 gallon water changes.  The temp is at 80F. Any ideas on who the culprit(s) might be? < Sure sounds like one of the other larger loaches is the culprit. They are getting old enough and large enough to where they might be thinking about breeding and might be picking on the smaller loaches as part of territorial disputes.-Chuck> thanks Tom

Very small Clown Loaches Hi there, I would like to know what clown loaches look like when only days old - 1 week?  We have just discovered babies in our tank and we only have clown loaches and another type of fish that are multiple.  I know the loaches are not easy to breed but these have a bright yellow sack so do you have any photo's that would help in the identification, can't find anything on the net. Thanks a million < Most baby fish have an egg sac attached to them. As the egg sac is being absorbed the fish should start looking more and more like the adults whatever they may be. Usually clown loaches get to be about a foot long before that are breeding size and then scatter their eggs about. I know that they are bred in the orient using hormone injections but this would indeed be a rare occurrence if it were the clown loaches in fact that bred.-Chuck> Cheers, Michelle Trute

HLLE on Clown Loach Greetings, all. I have a 180 gal FW tank. <!> I keep it at about 80F. I have two 13 year old clown loaches <!!>(8+ inches) and two smaller ones (3-4 inches). I also have 9 ghost catfish, 1 black skirt tetra, three Hatchetfish and two large-ish Plecos. <!!!> I wrote awhile back about one of the smaller loaches having nibbled fins. Now, I notice that one of the larger clowns (the largest, in fact) has three, almost regularly-spaced craters or lesions (bites?) on his dorsum, just behind the "head". They do not look infected, and he still eats voraciously. The tank is very clean, with bio-ball sump-based filtration and a 40W UV light. 40 gallon water changes weekly.  Could this be hole in head? No white/slimy fecal matter and he acts healthy. The marks are in a row, all inside one of his dark stripes. <It does not sound like the few fish I have seen with hole in the head (HLLE) but it sure is possible. The fact that the holes are "clean" and in a row makes me think it is not HLLE. Although not directly fatal, it can lead to secondary infections that are. Watch for redness or a white pus. I found a good link for you to read up on. See:  http://www.masla.com/fish/hlle.html. BTW Great job on keeping your fish! 180 gallons and a rather light bio load! Big fish in there though. Make sure you check the nitrates and try to keep them below 20ppm. Don> Thanks! <No, Thank YOU!> Tom <Don>

Lumpy Loach -- Mycobacterium Infection? -- 01/11/2005 Hi, <Hello!> I have a 75-gallon tank with three 14 year-old clown loaches and two large green kissing fish.   <Must be some pretty large loaches, at that age!  It wouldn't be a terrible idea to try for a larger tank, if possible.> One of the loaches has large lumps all over his body under the skin, appears to be very swollen -- even his eyes appear to be bulging.  He is hiding in the back of the tank and will not come out to eat; he just stays in the same place breathing very rapidly, in an upright position, leaning on tubing.  He has been like this for about a month and I really didn't expect him to be alive this long since I just noticed his illness right before I went out of town.  I assumed that he had an age related problem since a couple of his tank mates have passed on over the past couple of years.  I haven't been able to find out anything about this particular illness.   <To be quite honest, this sounds to me like a very good indication of mycobacteriosis.  The swelling, pop-eye, and lumps/tumors/granulomas are very strong symptoms of this myxosporidian bacterial infection.  It's really quite a good thing that the critter did not die while you were gone -- a dead fish can release literally millions of 'spores' that can infect other fish in the tank!> The nitrates in this tank stay fairly high even with frequent water changes and Poly-filters in the filters.   <Yes....  These are very large fish in a (comparatively) small tank; increased water volume would really be a good idea.> There are no indications (redness, etc) on his outward appearance that would suggest a bacterial or fungal condition.  I would try to treat him in a separate tank if I knew what to try, or at this point would it be better to euthanize him?   <Sadly, mycobacteriosis is essentially incurable.  There is some indication that Kanamycin sulfate may have some effect, but recovery is unlikely, I'm so sorry to say.  Either way, should you choose to medicate or not, definitely remove the fish as soon as possible from the healthy animals -- I can assure you, you do not want this to spread, if that is, in fact, what it is.  Also, PLEASE read the following link, so you can understand what risk this illness might pose to you:  http://reefkeeping.com/issues/2003-07/sp/feature/index.htm .  Do please understand that without seeing the fish for myself, I cannot guarantee that this is an accurate diagnosis -- but based on the symptoms you describe, it is my best guess.  Gah, I hate being the bearer of bad news.> I appreciate your consideration. Thank you, Karen Chaney <Wishing you and your loach the best,  -Sabrina>

Clown loach FAQ, actually petfish hypochondria Hi, I have a 75 gallon tank with 5 clown loaches (approx. 5 inches long), 2 catfishes, and 2 discus.  After cleaning the filter in my Fluval 304, I noticed 1 of my clown loaches developed partial eye cloudiness in one eye and another clown loach developed what started looking like a small 1mm x 5mm whitish bump turned into a round pimple-like bump. <Good observations> They have a great appetite.   What can I use to treat them? <Mmm, I prescribe nothing... just time going by... the markings are/were due to abrupt chemical changes in your system... not a pathogen... and besides, even mild medications will harm your other fishes> Do they need to be separated in a "sick" tank? <No> You have mentioned for other internal bacteria diseases or infections to use Flagyl, but how much ? <None> Let say I have Flagyl 500 mg tablet form.   <... this material, Metronidazole is quite toxic... kills the kidneys of fishes easily... Do NOT use it in this instance> Would I go by the approximate weight of the fish ?  What is the weight of a 6 inch 15 year old clown loach ?  Can I crush up the Flagyl tablet and dilute it with tank water then soak it in Tubifex worms ?  Will it further harm the rest of the healthy fish or will the antibiotic make the other fishes bigger and healthier ?  I've heard of using Methylene blue approximately 6 drops per gallon on the entire tank.  What is your feelings on this and where would I buy Methylene blue ?  15 years ago, when I bought the tiny little babies, one of them would not eat and was wasting away.  At that time I didn't have my heart and soul invested in them because I just bought them.   So I figured I would experiment.  I had left over amoxicillin (from my sick cat).  If memories serves me correctly, I crushed up a tablet, separated it to approximately 1 mg, dilute it with water, soaked it with Tubifex (the worms died instantly), then fed it to the sick fish, which was in a breeder tank inside the 75 gallon tank.  So the sick wasting fish would accidentally have to suck and antibiotic soaked worm.  A week later, he was swimming with the rest of the fishes.  The rest of the other fishes ate whatever antibiotic soaked worms floated out of the breeder tank.  And they all lived !! 15 years later they are XXL and were healthy until now.  But now I don't want to experiment.  Please advise.  Thank you for your time.   Tammy <Tam... don't fall prey to the "pill" mentality... these are not "safe" to just add... and there is no need to generally add any of them to otherwise well-maintained systems. I would add nothing here. Bob Fenner> Clown Loaches with white spots laying on the bottom of the tank I have a new 90L tank (just over a month old). I have slowly introduced 8 Neon Tetras, 1 Siamese Fighting Fish, 2 Plecostomus, 2 Clown Loaches and a growing snail infestation. <Suspect these last two are related> I am a complete beginner here as this is my first ever tank, I have read some books and many web pages but none seem to answer specifically my question. Please let me explain a little first before asking yourselves. After introducing the Clowns they seemed to hide behind plants and rocks for the most part of the day, I hardly ever saw them. <This is normal behavior... they're new.> This did not worry me as they appeared to be doing their job (the snail population dropped dramatically). The Fighting Fish never seemed to display his colours as he did in the shop, this was solved by adding a mirror to the side of the tank. One day after adding the mirror I noticed a little white spot on one of the loaches on the rare occasions I saw them, by the evening it was covered and the other fish started developing it. By the second day I had added Interpret White Spot Plus No6. Over the next few days the spots diminished on all the fish except the loaches, after the second dose the other fish seemed clear and the loaches if not clear at least diminished. The loaches however are no longer hiding in the back of the tank where I can't see them, they are laying one on top of the other huddled up next to they mirror and barely moving. Every now and then they will dart into the middle of the tank for a few minutes then return and lay still for ages. My question is are they still suffering from the White Spot, are they suffering from something else or is this normal behavior? <Likely just the white spot/ich> Please excuse any ignorance here but I really am beginning to worry about them as it says on many pages white spot can be lethal, while on just as many it says it can be easily cured. Tony Robertson <Ignorance is acceptable... we're here to diminish this... Your fish, indeed your tank "has ich"... Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwich.htm  Re: the medication, did you remove all chemical filtration (e.g. carbon) from your filters? This will remove the med. Did you raise the tank temperature? I would... all the livestock you list can easily tolerate the mid 80's F... but not the ich. Know that the loaches are "ich magnets" (i.e. very susceptible to this parasite), AND sensitive to ich medications... you will want to check the label, what you can re the med... and likely use half doses... Don't add any more livestock for a few weeks till after this problem is solved. Bob Fenner> 

Re: Clown Loaches with white spots laying on the bottom of the tank. Dear Mr. Fenner <Tony> May I say thank you very much for you advice, it has helped to belay my fears quite a bit. <Glad we have helped you> You asked if I had removed the carbon filters, I had as that was an instruction with the white spot medication although I must admit I was unsure as to why I had to do it but my guess matched your reason. You also suggested raising the temperature, this I had not done as the instruction suggested raising it to 26c while I have had my tank at a constant 27c since the second day after installation.  <I might raise it as much as 29C... the rationale: the causative organism (Ichthyophthirius multifilius) cannot tolerate heat as well as its fish hosts> It is now two days since I first wrote and things have improved a great deal with the Clown Loaches. All signs of ich appear to have left all the fish, the loaches (the ones I was worried about the most) seem a tad paler than I recall but they do seem a bit more active. They are not laying on top of one another anymore but rather moving around on the bottom of the tank. I definitely believe they are going to live, which was not my belief a couple of days ago. <Do understand the general life cycle of the protozoan...> I had planned on adding a few more fish later this week but I think now I will wait a week longer. <Yes! At least a few weeks... you may well simply be in "mid cycle"> I'm hoping to add some Angelfish, Red-tailed sharks and some small striped ones I saw in the shop last time I was there but unfortunately don't recall what they were called. I will seek advice from the shop before making any purchases as they did seem very knowledgeable last time. I had been blaming them for the ich in my tank but I now realize and understand that it is extremely common so I'll forgive them, but it won't stop me asking for a discount.  Again let me repeat my thanks as your advice and web pages were deeply appreciated. Tony Robertson <You are welcome. Bob Fenner> 

LOAFING LOACHES Hi Guys, I hope you can shed some light on why my 2 clown loaches have suddenly become very listless with one in particular just lying at the back of the tank. This is a marked change in behaviour as they have been very active for the month since I introduced them to my 200 litre planted tank. Ammonia, nitrites and nitrates are fine and ph is 7. I do seem to have a bit of an algae problem despite doing weekly water changes and was wondering if the level of dissolved organic compounds may be too high and affecting the loaches adversely. I've since cut the lighting back to 9 hours and am going to reduce the amount of food I've been giving them. Any advice would be appreciated. Regards, Jane < It is not uncommon for loaches to be found occasionally lying on their sides. Many new aquarists become freaked out by their loaches strange behavior but it is normal for them. If they really are sick then look closely for ich. These guys can pick this up in a tank when all the other fish seem unaffected.-Chuck> 

Clown Loach I have 2 loaches, 2 black tipped sharks(?), and have just added 2 Oscars. I only mention all of the above because I do not remember seeing this problem before the Oscars were added. One of my loaches is constantly swimming at the surface with his mouth wide open, never closing it. He is seriously faded and seems to have red cheeks (I know that is silly but really what it looks like). The sharks are very worried about him and so am I. Can you help me? Kim <Sounds like this fish is extremely stressed... by? I would check your water quality... for ammonia and nitrite at least... Has this tank been set-up long? Is it big enough for these fishes? How is it filtered? Is it cycled? Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwmaintindex.htm - scroll down to Environmental Disease and read the Related FAQs files. Bob Fenner>

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>

Clown Loaches - Diseased, or Clownin' Around? - 08/12/2005 We have had 2 clown loaches in a 240 litre community tank for 8 months. They are in with two small eels (7inch) two angel two gourami and some Pleco's. <Some....  How many?> Only two small Plecos have been introduced recently.   <Not much space for several territorial bottom-dwellers....> Over the last 24 - 48 hours one clown loach has stayed at the bottom often falling over on his side, <Can be quite normal....  Try a google search with "clown loach playing dead".> and his colouring have gone very dark (like bruising but all over)?   <Possibly a problem....> The other clown loach is desperately trying to help him but I don't what it is or how to treat him? <First, test your water for ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate.  Be certain ammonia and nitrite are always ZERO.  Maintain nitrate at 20ppm or less.  If your water is not within this range, do water changes to correct it.  If all checks out, and you see no other behaviour issues with this fish, all may indeed be quite well.  I would "wait and see" for now, and keep a close eye on the fish.> Please help,  -Karen <Wishing you and your fishes well,  -Sabrina>

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