Fish, Tanks and Ponds

Fish, Tanks and Ponds
A comprehensive guide to fish

Chromobotia macracanthus

Clown loach

Clown loach, Chromobotia macracanthusClown loach, Chromobotia macracanthus
Photos by Andy Rapson



General Notes:

Clown loach have two tricks which never ceases to give their owners great concern. They are able to squeeze in to the tightest space and remain wedged in causing their owner to think they have been lost and secondly they have a habit of laying on their side even when fully healthy (see photo above). They should be kept in groups in a large aquarium due to their size. All clown loach of any size have a large spine below each eye, this is used for defence but be aware that it is very easy to get tangled in a net when the fish has to be caught for any reason, the fish also requires very careful handling because of this. Clown loach are generally very good community fish and are generally very peaceful but the odd rogue will learn how to extract and eat the eyes of other fish occasionally so if you suddenly find a fish missing an eye and you have clown loaches or similar fish in the aquarium you may need to intervene or risk more damage being done.


Wild clown loach feed on on worms, crustaceans, molluscs and plant matter. In captivity they are well known for eating problem snails and their eggs but they will also accept pelleted food and live and frozen food.


There are no external differences between the sexes although some say that females are heavier looking but this shouldn't be relied upon.


Clown loach are bred commercially using hormones. There are no reliable reports of clown loach being bred in the home aquarium without the use of the hormones. Large female have been found to be carry eggs occasionally during examination after dying unexpectedly.

Wild status

The wild populations of Clown loach have never been evaluated.

Information at a glance

pH: 6 - 7.5
dGH: 3 - 10
Temperature: 23 - 29°C (74 - 84°F)
Diet: Omnivore
Size: 30cm (12in)
Min tank size: 675 litres
Difficulty level: Easy
Aquarium type: Community
Swimming level: Bottom

Distribution and habitat

distribution map for Clown loach, Chromobotia macracanthus

Origin: Asia: Indonesia (Sumatra and Borneo)

Habitat: Clear stream environments provide the optimal habitat for clown loaches, but biannual monsoon flooding forces the fish to move into flooded flood plains, or murky or black water rivers or lakes, for 7–8 months of the year


Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Actinopterygii
Order: Cypriniformes
Family: Cobitidae
Genus: Chromobotia
Species: C. macracanthus (Bleeker, 1852)

Common name:
Clown loach

Synonyms: Botia macracanthus, Botia macracantha, Cobitis macracanthus