Selecting Clown Loach Tank Mates - "Clown Loach and Neon Tetras" by brcake is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.
Selecting Clown Loach Tank Mates - "Clown Loach and Neon Tetras" by brcake is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.


In the enchanting world of aquarium keeping, creating a harmonious aquatic ecosystem is a captivating endeavor. The careful selection of compatible tank mates is a crucial aspect of ensuring the well-being of your aquatic companions. Among the diverse array of freshwater species, clown loaches stand out for their vivid colors and engaging behaviors. These captivating fish, known for their striking appearance and active nature, offer aquarists an opportunity to craft a vibrant and dynamic underwater community. In this exploration, we delve into the world of clown loaches and their ideal clown loach tank mates, discovering the art of building an aquarium that not only thrives but also offers a visual spectacle.

Appearance and Behavior


Clown loaches are known for their striking and colorful appearance. Here are the key characteristics of their appearance:

  • Size: The clown loach can grow relatively large, with adult specimens reaching up to 12 inches (30 cm) in length. In a suitable environment, they can live for many years, and their size can make them a significant presence in your aquarium.
  • Body Shape: Their body is elongated and laterally compressed, making them well-suited for swimming in the mid to lower levels of the tank. Their body tapers towards the caudal fin.
  • Coloration: Clown loaches are famous for their distinctive color pattern. They have bright orange-red or orange-yellow bodies adorned with thick, black, vertical bands. These bands extend from their head to their tail, creating a clown-like appearance, hence their name.
  • Eye Size: Their eyes are relatively large and have a striking orange to red hue.
  • Barbels: Clown loaches have four pairs of sensitive barbels around their mouth. These are used to detect food and navigate their environment.


Clown loaches are known for their active and engaging behavior, which can make them captivating additions to a freshwater aquarium. Here are some characteristics of their behavior:

  • Social Nature: Clown loaches are highly social and thrive when kept in groups of at least five or more individuals. They are known to form tight-knit schools and will often swim, feed, and explore together.
  • Active Swimmers: These fish are active swimmers, often darting around the tank, playing, and investigating their surroundings. They are known for their playful behavior, which can be entertaining to observe.
  • Burrowing and Hiding: Clown loaches have a natural tendency to dig and burrow in the substrate. They may create small pits or excavate areas, especially when they feel threatened or stressed. Providing suitable hiding spots and caves in the tank can help them feel secure.
  • Sensitivity to Water Quality: They are relatively sensitive to changes in water quality and can be stressed by poor conditions. Regular water changes and monitoring water parameters are crucial to their well-being.

Overall, clown loaches are active, social, and intriguing fish to keep in a well-maintained aquarium. Their vivid colors and engaging behaviors make them a popular choice among hobbyists, and their playful antics can be a source of joy for those who observe them in their tank.

Good Clown Loach Tank Mates

Clown loaches are popular freshwater aquarium fish known for their vibrant colors and playful behavior. When selecting tank mates for clown loaches, it’s important to consider their specific requirements, temperament, and size. Here are some suitable clown loach tank mates:

  • Other Clown Loaches: Clown loaches are social fish that thrive in groups of at least five individuals. Keeping them with their own kind helps reduce stress and promote natural behaviors.
  • Rainbowfish: Many species of rainbowfish are peaceful and share similar water parameter requirements with clown loaches. They add color and activity to the tank.
  • Tetras: Small and peaceful tetras like neon tetras, cardinal tetras, and ember tetras can coexist with clown loaches. Ensure that the tetras are not too nippy.
  • Corydoras Catfish: Corydoras catfish are bottom-dwellers that are compatible with clown loaches. They help keep the substrate clean and are generally peaceful.
  • Gouramis: Some gourami species, such as pearl gouramis and dwarf gouramis, can coexist with clown loaches, as long as the tank size is sufficient to provide enough space for all the fish.
  • Bristlenose Plecos: These small, peaceful, and algae-eating catfish can help keep your tank clean and are compatible with clown loaches.
  • Rasboras: Peaceful rasboras like harlequin rasboras or chili rasboras can be good tank mates for clown loaches, provided the tank is large enough.
  • Yoyo Loaches (Botia almorhae): Yoyo loaches are closely related to clown loaches and can coexist in the same tank. Both species enjoy similar water parameters and are active bottom-dwellers.

When choosing tank mates for clown loaches, ensure that the fish you select are peaceful and not prone to fin-nipping. Clown loaches can be sensitive to aggressive or territorial tank mates. Additionally, keep in mind that clown loaches can grow quite large (up to 12 inches (around 30 centimeters) or more), so it’s essential to provide a spacious tank to accommodate their size and their potential tank mates. A tank of at least 75 gallons (300 liters) or larger is recommended for a group of clown loaches and their companions. Always monitor the behavior of your fish and be prepared to separate any individuals that display aggression or stress.

Selecting Clown Loach Tank Mates - "Clown Loach and Neon Tetras" by brcake is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.
Selecting Clown Loach Tank Mates – “Clown Loach and Neon Tetras” by brcake is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.

Aquarium Setup

Setting up an aquarium for clown loaches and their clown loach tank mates involves creating an environment that meets the needs of all the fish in terms of water parameters, tank size, decor, and filtration. Here are the steps to set up an ideal aquarium:

  • Tank Size: Clown loaches can grow quite large, so it’s essential to have a spacious tank. A 75-gallon (300 liters) tank or larger is recommended for a group of clown loaches and their companions. More significant tanks will allow the fish to swim, explore, and establish territories without crowding.
  • Water Parameters: Clown loaches and their compatible tank mates typically prefer the following water parameters:
  • Temperature: 75-86°F (24-30°C)
  • pH: 6.0-7.5
  • Filtration: Clown loaches are sensitive to poor water quality, so it’s crucial to have efficient filtration to maintain good water conditions.
  • Substrate: Use a soft substrate like sand or fine gravel for the bottom of the tank. Clown loaches like to dig and root around, so avoid sharp or abrasive substrates that could harm their barbels.
  • Decor: Create hiding places and provide suitable decor for your fish. Clown loaches enjoy caves, driftwood, and PVC pipes. Ensure that the decor is sturdy and won’t collapse on the fish. Live plants, such as Java fern, Anubias, or Amazon swords, can be used to provide both aesthetics and hiding spots.
  • Lighting: Provide moderate to subdued lighting to mimic their natural habitat. Use floating plants or provide shade to give the fish places to retreat from bright light.
  • Water Quality: Maintain excellent water quality by performing regular water changes. Clown loaches are sensitive to water quality fluctuations, so consistency is key.
  • Feeding: Clown loaches are omnivores, and their diet should include a variety of high-quality foods. Offer them a mix of pellets, flakes, live or frozen foods like bloodworms, brine shrimp, and vegetable matter. Feeding them a diverse diet will keep them healthy and vibrant.
  • Compatibility: Choose tank mates that are peaceful, non-aggressive, and share similar water parameters with clown loaches. Avoid fin-nipping or territorial fish that may stress or harm your clown loaches. See more earlier in this article.
  • Group Size: Clown loaches are social fish and should be kept in groups of at least five individuals. A larger group helps reduce stress and encourages natural behaviors.
  • Water Movement: Clown loaches come from rivers in Southeast Asia, so consider adding a gentle water current to the aquarium. This can be achieved with a circulation pump or appropriately positioned filter outlets.

By following these steps and maintaining a well-maintained and appropriately designed aquarium, you can create a suitable environment for clown loaches and their tank mates, promoting the health and well-being of all the fish in the tank.


In the realm of aquarium enthusiasts, finding the perfect balance between inhabitants is an art, and the selection of clown loach tank mates is a key stroke on the canvas of aquatic harmony. These lively and colorful fish, with their distinctive bands and playful antics, bring character to any freshwater community. By understanding the needs and compatibility of clown loaches and their companions, aquarists can create a dynamic and visually appealing underwater world where both beauty and serenity reign. In the symphony of aquatic life, the presence of clown loaches and ther clown loach tank mates adds a colorful note that resonates with both novice and seasoned aquarists, making the pursuit of perfect companions a rewarding journey in itself.