Maximum size : 15 cm

Clown Loach - Chromobotia macracanthus : Complete Fish Profile & Care Guide

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The Clown Loach (Chromobotia macracanthus) is a fascinating and captivating addition to any aquarium. Their unique markings and playful personality make them a popular choice among fish enthusiasts. Overall, the Clown Loach is an entertaining and exciting addition to any aquarium. With their unique markings, playful nature, and hardiness, they are an ideal choice for both novice and experienced fish keepers alike. 

The Clown Loach is not just a beautiful fish; they are also very active and playful. They have plenty of character and are known to be quite mischievous, often playing games with their tank mates. They are relatively hardy and can live alongside medium-sized robust community fish. However, it is important to note that they do grow quite large and will require a spacious aquarium to thrive.

Prudent attention to water quality stands as a paramount consideration, with regular and methodical water changes serving as a pivotal measure to ensure optimal conditions. Additionally, emulating their natural habitat, the provision of a robust water current is advisable to promote their well-being.

These fish have a long, symmetrical body with an arched dorsal surface and a flat ventral surface, while their large head and downward-facing mouth are accentuated by their distinctive whitish-orange to reddish-orange barbels. Overall, the Clown Loach is an entertaining and exciting addition to any aquarium. 

Clown Loach Photos

Sexual Dimorphism

Determining the sex of Clown Loaches can be a difficult task. Typically, males are larger and have a more robust body than females. Additionally, males tend to have a slightly concave ventral profile, and their caudal fins are hooked inward. In contrast, females are smaller and more slender, with straight caudal fins that extend out from their bodies. Despite these physical differences, determining the sex of a Clown loach can still be challenging, especially in younger specimens.

Quick Facts

Scientific NameChromobotia macracanthus
Year Described1852
Other NamesTiger botia
Max Size15 cm
Aquarium LevelBottom
DifficultyBeginner - Intermediate
Best kept asGroups 5+
Diet & FeedingOmnivore
ReproductionEgg Depositor
LifespanUp to 20 Years

Water Parameters

Water TypeFreshwater
pH 6 - 7.5
GH 4 - 12
KH 1 - 10
TDS 50 - 175
Ideal Temperature
77 - 86
25 - 30

Natural Habitat

Clown Loaches originate from the islands of Sumatra and Borneo, located in Indonesia. Clown Loaches typically occupy soft, acidic waters with thick vegetation that provides plenty of shade and leaf litter. They prefer clear streams, but due to flooding, these fish often have to move into flooded flood plains, murky and blackwater lakes, and rivers for several months of the year. Clown Loaches can be found in plains of hilly areas, adding a unique and captivating element to their environment. Adding Clown Loaches to your aquarium is an excellent way to showcase their unique beauty and contribute to their conservation efforts. 


Breeding Clown Loaches can be challenging even for experienced fish keepers, but not impossible. For successful breeding, it is essential to have sexually mature pairs, suitable water conditions and sufficient plant coverage. Once fertilized, it is crucial to remove the adults, as they have a tendency to consume their own eggs.

Diet & feeding

Clown Loaches are omnivorous and have an unfastidious appetite. Nevertheless, to maintain their health and well-being, it is essential to provide them with a varied diet consisting of high-quality dried food, live and frozen foods, and vegetable matter, such as cucumber, melon, spinach, or courgette. Clown loaches are known for their love of snails, so it is not recommended to keep them with specialised snails in the aquarium. Otherwise, you may find yourself without any snails.

Frequently asked questions

Clown Loaches can grow quite large, up to 12 inches in length, so they require a large tank. A minimum tank size of 75 gallons is recommended, but larger is always better.

Clown Loaches are omnivorous and require a balanced diet of high-quality sinking pellets, vegetable matter, and occasional treats of protein such as brine shrimp, bloodworms, and tubifex worms.

Clown Loaches prefer water with a pH of 6.0-7.5, a hardness of 5-12 dGH, and a temperature range of 77-86°F (25-30°C).

It's challenging to distinguish male from female Clown Loaches, but generally, females are larger and have a fuller body than males, especially when viewed from above.

Yes, Clown Loaches are highly social fish that thrive in groups of five or more. They establish hierarchies within their group and can become stressed or aggressive if kept alone or in too small a group.

Clown Loaches can cohabitate with many types of peaceful, community fish. Good tank mates include larger tetras, gouramis, rasboras, and other non-aggressive species.

With proper care and the right environment, Clown Loaches can live for 10-15 years, and some have been known to live up to 20 years.

A healthy Clown Loach will be active with bright coloration, clear eyes, and a body free of visible damage or signs of disease. Decreased activity, changes in color, or visible symptoms of illness may indicate a health issue.

Breeding Clown Loaches in captivity is very challenging and rarely achieved due to their specific environmental and maturity needs. They require specific water parameters, a highly varied diet, and they don't usually mature until they reach a large size, which can take several years.

Yes, Clown Loaches are known to eat snails and can help control snail populations in an aquarium. However, remember they have specific tank requirements and should not be introduced solely for snail control.

Other Loaches of interest