Synonyms: Cobitis macracanthus
Physical description: Moderately elongated and laterally compressed, the Clown Loach has an arched back. It has a straight body profile, a large head, and a mouth that faces downward. Four pairs of barbels surround its mouth. The Clown Loach has a small spine by its eyes, that often gets entangled in net mesh. The body coloration is orange, but paler at times when weak or frightened. Three broad, transverse black bands. The first, runs through the eye; the second starts in front of the dorsal fin and runs down to the belly; the third begins on the dorsal fin and extends to the anal fin. The caudal, pectoral, and anal fins are all red in color.
Size/Length: To 20" (51 cm) in nature, usually not more than 12" (30 cm) in captivity.
Similar species: None
S: bottom; middle
Habitat: Inhabits both flowing and still parts of rivers and lakes in Southeast Asia; Sumatra, Borneo, and Indonesia.
Aquarium: A 36" (90 cm) or 35-45 gallon (132-170 L) tank is sufficient for small fish. When these fish reach 5" (13 cm), they should be moved to a considerably larger tank measuring at least 48" (122 cm). Provide numerous hiding places with caves, driftwood, and roots. A fine gravel bottom is needed for this fish burrows. The tank should be well-planted and have muted lighting.
Water chemistry: pH 5-7.5 (7.0); 5-15 dH (8); 75-86°F (24-30°C)
Social behavior: A good community fish to combine with medium to large sized species. The Clown Loach should be kept in schools of five or more fish as smaller groups do poorly. Clown Loaches are nocturnal and shy when first introduced, but soon become friendly towards their owner.
Suggested companions: Cichlasomines , Trichogaster, Barbus, Loricarids.
FOOD: Tablets; live; worms, snails, crustaceans, insect larvae; occasionally algae.
SEX: The female is larger and has a thinner tail. Mature males have a more arched back and a wider tail spread.
Breeding techniques: Not bred in captivity; most likely because they have probably never reached sexual maturity in an aquarium. In nature, the Clown Loach spawns during the rainy season in foaming, fast-flowing streams, spring fed creeks, and rivers. The fry move down to slower moving and estuaries of the same rivers, to grow up. Rumors of spawnings in captivity have not been proven. In Southeast Asian fish farms, some have claimed success by using hormone injections.
Breeding potential: 10. No details about successful spawnings in an aquarium have been substantiated.
Remarks: This fish makes clicking noises when frightened or trying to scare off other fish. The Clown Loach is sensitive to chemicals in the water and some medications. The Clown Loach is eaten in the countries where they come from and are said to taste good. This species grows very slowly. The Clown Loach's colors may fade when frightened, acclimating to a new tank, or ill. Its colors naturally fade with age.
Difficulty of care: 5. The Clown Loach requires regular partial water changes to thrive and is susceptible disease. Live foods are required by this Loach. Do not keep the Clown Loach in small tanks.
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