Clown loaches (Botia macracantha) are from Borneo, Sumatra, and Indonesia. They are attractive fish that are orange with three black vertical bands, which is why they are sometimes referred to as tiger loaches. Their mouth faces downward and has four pairs of barbels.
Most clown loaches sold in pet stores are relatively small, however, before you purchase one keep in mind that clown loaches will grow to up to 12 inches or 30 cm in length.
Clown loaches also have a tendency to spend a lot of time laying on their side. Don't be alarmed if you see this. This is normal behavior for them.
Clown loaches are peaceful fish and can be kept in a community tank. They usually swim along the bottom of the aquarium, similar to corydoras catfishes.
They prefer neutral water (pH of 7.0) and the water temperature should be between 75-86 degrees Fahrenheit or 24-30 degrees Celsius.
Their diet consists of dried food, plant matter, crustaceans, and worms. Feeding them live or frozen meaty foods is a good idea. Also, because they are bottom dwellers and have a mouth that faces downward, sinking wafers are good foods for them.
They are egglaying fish, but so far breeding them in captivity has been mostly unsuccessful. There are rare reports of clown loaches breeding in captivity, but in general this doesn't happen often. The clown loaches you see in pet stores have most likely been taken from their natural habitat. As a result, they may be somewhat stressed. It is known that they are not very tolerant of poor water conditions and they become ill with ich easily.
One way to keep them from feeling as stressed in the aquarium is to provide plenty of hiding spaces on the bottom of the tank. Having rocks and plants on the bottom of the tank should accomplish this.
They will live for years in an aquarium, given the proper conditions, and enough space. One theory as to why they generally don't breed in captivity is because they aren't fully grown until they are about 12 inches (30 cm) long. Clown loaches have been known to live for as long as 40-50 years. Most people buy young, smaller fish that may not be sexually mature for several years. You rarely see 12 inch clown loaches for sale in the pet store or even in most people's aquariums, and so the small specimens you see are young fish that are incapable of breeding.
For more information on clown loaches please visit Loaches Online.