A clown loach is a popular tropical aquarium fish. Bottom-dwelling and bottom-feeding fish, clown loaches needs plenty of open space to swim, because they are energetic and participate in all kinds of bizarre and entertaining group "dances." This is a shoaling species and needs to be kept in a group of five or more to remain happy and healthy. A large tank is required to keep these fish, because they can reach up to 16 inches (40 cm) in length.
The base of the tank should be covered with a fine, smooth medium, such as soft sand or fine, smooth gravel. The clown loach uses its snout and delicate barbels to sift through the ground cover in search of food and, if the tank medium is not smooth, it can cause significant damage to the fish. This orange and black striped fish should only be added to a mature, well-established and well-maintained aquarium, because it is highly sensitive to unstable or changing water conditions. It also requires a strong, rapid filtration system.
Prone to white spot and other bacterial and fungal diseases, as well as stress, the clown loach requires an exceedingly clean tank with optimal living conditions. It needs lots of places to hide, such as bogwood, driftwood or rock formations, to reduce stress. The clown loach quickly becomes stressed if not kept in a small shoal with others of its species, with few pH changes or other tank variations.
The clown loach is a scaleless species. This means it is susceptible to chemical poisoning. Even medications added to the tank can be dangerous to this fish. No chemical should be added to the tank unless absolutely necessary, unless it is designed specifically to be safe for scaleless fish. Copper-based substances should never be added to a tank containing clown loaches, because it will likely kill them quickly.
If medication must be added, small water changes should be done daily to remove the chemical from the tank as quickly as possible; a carbon filter also can be added to the filtration system to draw out the harmful elements. Clown loaches are susceptible to diseases such as white spot, or ich, and require immediate treatment, because this type of disease can spread rapidly and kill loaches particularly quickly. There are some natural remedies available, and these should be considered in the early stages of infection.
Notorious for devouring even well-established plants, clown loaches are boisterous and energetic, knocking over plants and ornaments as they flit about the tank. Although not very aggressive, the clown loach will sometimes bite at the fins of species with "fancy" or long tails, such as the Japanese fighting fish or angel fish. Caution should be taken when choosing tank mates for clown loaches, because they can cause extensive damage to the tails and fins of other species, creating open wounds that leave the victims open to infection and even death if they continue to be harassed by clown loaches.