The Clown Loach is common within the aquarium trade, as it is available from most all local fish stores and online retailers. However, the Clown Loach is also a commonly misunderstood species as many hobbyists do not realize the size it attains or the natural environment that it comes from. Clown Loaches get big, easily exceeding 12 inches in length and commonly reaching upwards of 16 inches. They also prefer to live in groups both in the wild and in the aquarium, thus an aquarium with a group of 12 to 16 inch fish needs to be quite large. Secondly, Clown Loaches come from fast flowing streams and rivers that have abundant current and pristine water conditions. Many aquarium hobbyists add Clown Loaches to aquariums that do not contain much water current and with water conditions that are good, but not great. It is because of this lack of understanding of the needs of the Clown Loach that many do not do well in aquarium environments that are not well suited for their needs. However, if you have a very large aquarium with strong water flow and an efficient filtration system capable of keeping the aquarium water in a pristine state, Clown Loaches do make an excellent aquarium species that can be kept with a wide variety of community, semi-aggressive and even most of the aggressive fish species.
Clown Loaches require larger aquariums that can accommodate their large size and provide them ample swimming room. Strong filtration is needed to process the large bio-loads produced by a large fish species and to keep the water quality as pristine as possible. The substrate should ideally consist of softer material like sand or small pebbles in order not to scratch or irritate the Clown Loaches stomach as it moves about the bottom of the tank. Ideally the lighting should be somewhat subdued or at least not extremely bright as Clown Loaches are typically more active at night in the wild and often inhabit dimly lit underwater caves. Aquariums housing Clown Loaches should contain some ideally contain driftwood, rocky caves or low light plants to provide a natural setting and provide a sense of security for the fish if they feel threatened. Clown Loaches are sensitive to poor water conditions, very bright lighting, cooler water temperatures and fluctuations in water temperature, all of which can cause them to become stressed and more prone to diseases like ich or other parasites.
Clown Loaches will eat a wide variety of foods including scavenged meals from the aquarium substrate. It is best to feed younger specimens multiple smaller meals throughout the day consisting of quality freeze-dried, flake and pellet foods made from meaty foods or plant matter, bloodworms, mosquito larvae, brine shrimp, etc; manufactured sinking wafers (algae, carnivore wafers…), fresh or blanched vegetables such as cucumber, zucchini or lightly boiled peas. Larger Clown Loaches can be slightly more picky in their eating habits and will appreciate chopped prawns or similar large meaty items fed 2 times per day.