10 Compatible Clown Loach Tank Mates

Clown Loaches are vibrant, commonly available, and easy to keep so long as you have enough space for them as adults! They not only grow large but are schooling as well! However when smaller they do well in a wide variety of tank sizes and with most community fish!

It’s important to note that I’m specifically covering the best tank mates for full grown Clown Loaches! They get along with most smaller fish very well when young but once they start growing 8 to 12 inches long you’ll need to make some adjustments!


Best Clown Loach Tank Mates

Here are 10 of our favorite Clown Loach tank mates:

Arowanas

Arowanas and Clown Loaches are excellent companions for one another because they inhabit completely different areas of the aquarium. Arowanas are surface dwelling predators while Clown Loaches spend all of their time along the bottom.

While Arowanas can be semi-aggressive and predatory, adult Clown Loaches are too large to be easily bullied or eaten. Keep in mind that Arowanas do grow very quickly and might grow large enough to be a threat if you buy both as young fish.

Like most large carnivores Arowanas create a lot of nitrogen-rich waste, making ample filtration essential to keep ammonia and nitrite from building up. Beyond that and requiring a spacious aquarium (200+ gallons) they are undemanding and easy to keep.

  • Scientific Name: Osteoglossidae family
  • Origin: Africa, Australia & South America
  • Size: Up to 3 feet
  • Temperament: Semi-Aggressive; Predatory

Green Terror

Green Terrors are a South American cichlid closely related to the Blue Acara and other mild-mannered species. When first discovered Green Terrors were some of the most aggressive cichlids in the hobby. Now, many of their Central American cousins hold the title of Meanest Fish on the Block.

Still, it’s best to give their tank mates plenty of space to avoid the occasional chase. Since both Green Terrors and Clown Loaches can exceed 8 inches and prefer soft, acidic water chemistires they are ideal tank mates.

Both species are fond of chopped clams, worms, shrimp, and other fresh invertebrate offerings. Green Terrors typically ignore their tank mates so long as they have space to dig and form a territory. However when breeding they truly live up to their name!

As adults males are often very bold and will even snap at the glass or at fingers while you’re cleaning the interior!

  • Scientific Name: Andinoacara rivulatus
  • Origin: South America
  • Size: 8-12 inches
  • Temperament: Semi-Aggressive

Stingray

Freshwater Stingrays are a diverse group of bottom-dwelling cartilaginous fish, which makes them close cousins to sharks. Like Clown Loaches they are specialist invertebrate hunters that typically seek out buried worms, shrimp, insect larvae, and clams to eat in nature.

Stingrays have some unique challenges that make them not very beginner-friendly. Like most cartilaginous fish they release loads of ammonia that can quickly build to toxic levels in aquariums. Stingrays are also highly sensitive to any ammonia or ammonia byproducts; frequent heavy water changes and ample filtration is essential.

They also have fast metabolisms and need to eat a lot, several times per day. Aquarists that can meet their demands might be rewarded by breeding behavior, however. And captive-bred Stingrays can sell for hundreds of dollars apiece for rare species.

  • Scientific Name: family Potamotrygonidae
  • Origin: South America, Asia
  • Size: Up to 3 feet across
  • Temperament: Peaceful to Semi-Aggressive

Plecostomus

It’s a little strange that the unassuming, rather ugly Common Pleco has become one of the most popular fish in the hobby. However they were one of the first fish popularized as algae eaters for aquariums! There are quite a few species available now but few grow as large, making them ideal tank mates for Clown Loaches.

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Since they grow so large they can easily eliminate algae in most aquariums so you’ll need to provide sinking wafers, blanched vegetables, and other supplements. Be careful when keeping them with slow moving fish. Clown Loaches are too active but Angelfish, Discus, and Goldfish may be attacked for their tasty slime coats.

Common Plecos can grow slightly territorial when fully grown but are otherwise great bottom dwellers for large community tanks. Many of the smaller plecos, including Bristlenose Plecos, are also fine tank mates for Clown Loaches!

  • Scientific Name: Hypostomus plecostomus
  • Origin: South America
  • Size: 12-24 inches
  • Temperament: Peaceful; Territorial

Eartheater Cichlids

As a whole Eartheater Cichlids are some of the most mild mannered cichlids in the hobby. A few can be semi-aggressive and most become territorial when breeding. However they are a great alternative to meaner cichlid species.

Eartheaters are medium sized however they aren’t predatory. They prefer spending their time sifting through sand for small invertebrates. Providing both them and Clown Loaches a fine substrate provides a fine show of natural behavior – and ensures you’ll never be able to keep rooting plants.

Both species prefer soft, alkaline water and elevated tropical temperatures (78-84F). Some are even considered blackwater species, requiring temperatures up to 86F and a pH below 6.0.

You’ll need plant additives to add tannin to the water, including driftwood and Indian Almond leaves. Fortunately, Clown Loaches also thrive in blackwater conditions!

  • Scientific Name: genus Geophagus
  • Origin: South America
  • Size: 8-12 inches
  • Temperament: Peaceful

Angelfish

Few fish are as instantly recognizable as freshwater Angelfish. Believe it or not these gentle, graceful animals are cichlids and closely related to the chunky Oscar and vicious Jaguar Cichlid.

Angelfish can be predatory and will gladly snap up a lost Neon Tetra or Guppy. However their small mouths ensure they aren’t a threat to Clown Loaches or other large species.

Angelfish prefer gliding in the midwater zone through heavy plants and under floating lily or duckweed leaves. They also prefer acidic, even blackwater conditions. However tank bred Angelfish are incredibly hardy and will even thrive in alkaline water.

Unlike most cichlids Angelfish are almost impossible for even experts to properly sex. Males and females look identical until they are ready to breed. Males may have a slight nuchal hump and the sexual organs descend, which are shaped slightly differently. It’s best to keep them in shoals of around 6 fish if you want to breed them.

  • Scientific Name: Pterophyllum scalare
  • Origin: South America
  • Size: 6 inches
  • Temperament: Peaceful to Semi-Aggressive

Pufferfish

Freshwater Pufferfish are a diverse group of specialized fish mostly found in marine environments. However a few have naturalized in brackish and freshwater conditions and are intriguing Clown Loach tank mates – so long as you keep them well fed!

Pufferfish are also invertebrate eaters and use their very well developed teeth to crunch through shrimp, crayfish, and even clam shells! However those same teeth are very capable of leaving a nasty bite on their tank mates. And unfortunately, Pufferfish are both insatiable and constantly curious about anything moving in their vicinity.

Stay away from aggressive predators like the Hairy Puffer (Pao baileyi) – these ambush predators will gladly snap at scaleless Clown Loaches. Instead keep them alongside medium to large species like the Figure 8 (Dichotomyctere ocellatus) or Giant Mbu Puffer (Tetraodon mbu).

  • Scientific Name: family Tetraodontidae
  • Origin: Worldwide
  • Size: Up to 2 feet
  • Temperament: Aggressive

Rainbowfish

Rainbowfish are some of my favorite underappreciated aquarium fish. They are like scaled up Tetras in habit; schooling and peaceful towards their tank mates.

Rainbowfish males put on spectacular displays competing with each other for mates. Females are almost always drab in color but you’ll want a few to get the best color from the males.

They also vary tremendously in size – some are nano fish less than an inch long while others like the Red Irian Rainbowfish (Glossolepis incisis) grow up to 8 inches long. Any of the 2+ inch species are excellent Clown Loach tank mates that offer striking colors to contrast with the banded earth toned loaches.

Most Rainbowfish prefer their water close to neutral in chemistry (pH 7.0) with only mild acidity or alkalinity.

  • Scientific Name: family Melanotaeniidae
  • Origin: Madagascar, Indonesia, Australia
  • Size: Up to 8 inches
  • Temperament: Peaceful; Schooling

Clown Knifefish

If you keep your adult Clown Loaches in especially large aquariums (250+ gallons) the Clown Knifefish is another Southeast Asian species that makes a great tank mate.

These fish are typically sold when very young (6-8 inches) however they are absolute tank busters and predators that will eat the majority of aquarium fish. Clown Knifefish aren’t aggressive but they are always hungry.

They are also invasive in South Florida and other subtropical to tropical regions around the world. So check your local laws before purchasing one. Assuming you have the space they are excellent additions to a Southeast Asian biotope tank or pond alongside Clown Loaches and Asian Arowanas!

  • Scientific Name: Chitala ornata
  • Origin: Southeast Asia
  • Size: 3-4 feet
  • Temperament: Peaceful; Predatory

Other Loaches

If you happen to love the busy-ness of Clown Loaches you should consider adding other Loach species to your aquarium!

Many of the medium sized species, including the Blue Botia (Yasuhikotakia modesta) and Zebra Loach (Botia striata) are attractively colored and will happily live alongside their larger cousins. These species typically grow up to 6 inches long.

Smaller loaches such as the Kuhli Loach aren’t recommended as they will be easily bullied and outcompeted for food. Most loaches prefer being active at dawn and dusk however they are easily trained to eat at the same time as other fish.

All loaches love fresh and frozen invertebrates: blood worms, brine shrimp, and tubifex will be eagerly eaten alongside prepared flakes and pellets!

  • Scientific Name: superfamily Cobitoidea
  • Origin: Asia
  • Size: Up to 12 inches
  • Temperament: Peaceful to Semi-Aggressive

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