Famed for its supposed appetite for aquarium annoyances such as snails, the clown loach (Chromobotia macracanthus) is often the first ‘solution’ that hobbyists will try to cure their snail issue. However, these fish deserve to be prized for things other than just as cleaning labourers, and they are unlikely to help much with a rampant snail problem anyway! Found in Sumatra and Borneo, these fish can grow to a whopping 40cm (15.5 inches) in the wild and have been known to reach 30cm (12 inches) in captivity. However, specimens do not usually reach these grand sizes as they’re particularly picky about water quality, but will still need to be housed in a large aquarium. Despite their natural habitats showing a range of acidity/alkalinity levels throughout the year, their health degenerates quickly when water quality declines (particularly with respect to ammonia and nitrite). These largely scale-less, omnivorous fish can also become stressed easily, leaving them prone to suffering from white spot and internal parasites, so definitely shouldn’t be the first fish to add to a new aquarium. However, when kept in impeccable water conditions, these sociable fish will thrive. When kept in groups, as they should be, clown loaches will have an alpha, usually a female, which will dictate the characteristics of the group, so make sure you choose your group wisely! If kept with other similar-looking fish, you may even see these different species shoaling together, such as Tiger Barbs (coincidentally one of our earlier Fish of the Weeks). For their friendly attitude and freshwater fame, the clown loach earns itself Fish of the Week this week. Keep them in the right conditions, and you may even see one grow to its wild size!
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