Clown Loach Lifespan – How Long Do Clown Loaches Live?
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Clown loaches are an outstanding addition to any aquatic setup, provided you ensure optimal living conditions and a personalized layout.
These are beautiful and fairly large fish that require plenty of space and the company of each other to thrive.
If you’re familiar with clown loaches, you may be aware of the confusion surrounding their lifespan. Some people claim that clown loaches live up to 10 years, others claim to double that, while a few credit the clown loach with a lifespan of up to 30 years.
So, what’s the actual truth? Let’s find out!
Average Lifespan of Captive Clown Loach
Captive clown loaches have an average lifespan of 8-10 years in captivity. The fish’s lifespan depends on various factors, which we will discuss shortly.
The whole confusion about the clown loach’s lifespan comes from the fact that this species can reach 25 years in the wild. Some claim even longer lifespans than that.
But what exactly influences the loach’s lifespan, and can you do something about it?
How to Improve the Lifespan of Clown Loaches
If you’ve never had any clown loaches, brace yourself for quite the challenge. While clown loaches aren’t particularly sensitive to fluctuations in water parameters, they are sensitive to poor water conditions.
This makes the fish more difficult to keep, given that they require more thorough tank cleaning and long-term maintenance.
And that’s not the only aspect to work on. Other factors influence the loach’s lifespan considerably, so let’s dissect those next.
Keep a Group of Clown Loach
Clown loaches are sociable creatures that feel safer and more comfortable in groups. This alone can be a challenge that you’ll struggle with, given that one loach requires approximately 30 gallons of water.
But, since you’ll be keeping them in a group of at least 5, you most likely require more than 150 gallons of water for all of them.
The situation is even spicier when creating a community tank with other species aside from your loaches. In that case, you may need closer to 300 gallons, depending on the species and number of fish.
Even so, I say it’s worth the investment. Clown loaches can live solo in theory, but that’s not optimal for their mental health. These fish need to interact with other members of their species and form bonds over time.
The simple act of keeping them in a group will improve their temperament and prolong their lifespan considerably.
Feed Clown Loaches Quality Food
Clown loaches are generally considered omnivorous fish, which means that everybody feeds them an omnivorous diet. The problem is that these loaches demand a more protein-heavy diet than other omnivorous fish.
Bloodworms, earthworms, brine shrimp, small crustaceans, and snails make great additions to their diet.
While food diversity is clearly a must, you should provide your loaches with more animal protein than you would feed your typical omnivorous fish.
Such a diet will boost the fish’s growth rate and keep it healthy and happy over the years.
Here are some markers to write down in this sense:
- Feeding frequency – Clown loaches eat more as juveniles than adults and some clown loaches eat more than others, depending on the fish itself. So, the feeding frequency varies but, overall, your adult loach should eat once or twice per day. This is enough to keep the fish satiated and its immune system strong. Juvenile loaches need 3 meals per day, given that they have higher metabolic rates.
- Source the live food carefully – You will feed your clown loaches a lot of live food, so you need to make sure it’s safe. Avoid wild-sourced live food because it’s generally unsafe for consumption. Wild earthworms, for instance, can be filled with chemicals accumulated from the environment around them, which can harm the fish. Others are packed with various bacteria and viruses that create similar problems. I recommend either buying your live food or having a live culture in place for a constant supply of fresh sustenance.
- Snails – Clown loaches are notorious snail enjoyers. Many aquarists use them as snail eradication agents in snail-infested aquariums. A handful of loaches will clean your tank of snails pretty fast. This can lead to interesting feeding opportunities, as you can intentionally create a snail outbreak in your aquarium. This way, your loaches will have a constant supply of live food around them to enjoy.
- Scavenging behavior – Clown loaches also qualify as opportunistic scavengers, a behavior that’s mostly observed in community tanks. They will eat food leftovers that other fish miss, which keeps the tank cleaner for longer. This means that clown loaches housed in community setups may not need as much food as you might expect.
- Meal size – Clown loaches can be quite voracious when it comes to eating. Make sure you don’t cave into the fish’s appetite to avoid overfeeding them. As a general rule, only provide your clown loaches with sufficient food for them to consume in 3 minutes tops. It’s better to feed them 2 or 3 smaller meals per day than a single oversized meal.
Provide the Right Water Parameters
Clown loaches aren’t exactly pretentious about their water parameters. Your clown loaches demand water temperatures of 75-85 F with a water hardness of up to 15 dGH and a pH level of 6.0-7.5.
These are standard requirements for tropical fish, so they should be easy to set in place.
The difference here is that clown loaches demand pristine water quality to thrive. These fish are rather sensitive to water parameters that can impact their wellbeing. Ammonia and nitrites will produce visible stress, immediately causing the fish to fall sick.
The same goes for excessive levels of nitrates or when housing the fish in a poorly oxygenated environment.
So, when preparing your clown loaches’ future home, consider the following strategies:
- Invest in a good filtration system – The filtration system is a must, providing loaches with a clean, stable, and well-oxygenated environment. The filter will ensure healthy water movement, boost oxygen levels in the water, and remove dead organic matter and chemicals that could poison the environment. Tweak the filter’s power to cater to the fish’s preferences and make sure there’s enough filtration volume, depending on the tank’s size. You may need 2 filters for very large aquatic setups to ensure optimal filtration with moderate water movement.
- Perform regular aquarium maintenance – You should never skip the cleaning day, no matter how proficient the filtration system is. Community setups are especially demanding, with many fish species producing waste and fouling the system. You should remove fish waste, unconsumed food residues, and dead plant matter before they can decay and alter the water chemistry. You should also remove algae deposits if you have no reliable algae-eaters. Plus, weekly water changes are necessary to keep the system well-oxygenated and clean. You need to perform 25-30% weekly water changes for the best results.
- Monitor water parameters regularly – You should always monitor your loaches’ water parameters even if you’re thorough about the cleaning process. Sometimes, things can simply not go the way you envisioned. Have a water tester kit available to scan the water for dangerous chemicals and heavy metals and monitor oxygen levels in the ecosystem. This is a good prevention system, allowing you more control over your fish’s habitat.
Reduce Stress in Fish Tank
Clown loaches aren’t particularly sensitive, but they, too, can experience stress occasionally.
Your job is to minimize the number and impact of those episodes. The only way you can do that is by first identifying the causes of stress.
These generally include:
- Overstocking – Clown loaches like to live in groups, but they also like to have sufficient space available. Overstocking your fish comes with severe negative consequences, and stress is the first sign of the troubles to come. Overstocking poses an environmental risk as well, given that you have a lot of fish pooping in a very small setup. It won’t take long for the water quality to degrade, affecting loaches in the process.
- Incompatible tankmates – Clown loaches are peaceful fish and prefer the company of similarly-built tankmates. Pairing them with excessively violent or territorial species will affect their mental health in the long run. It’s not fun to always be on the run and forced into hiding by larger, more aggressive specimens. Good tankmates include tetras, Kuhli loach, plecos, angelfish, and any other non-violent fish species you can find. Avoid aggressive companions like bettas or violent cichlids.
- Improper lighting – Clown loaches don’t appreciate bright lights, so keep them dim to prevent fish stress.
- Improper setup – Clown loaches demand a lush and rich ecosystem with plants, rocks, caves, and any other hiding spot they can use. This keeps their mind at ease, knowing that they can just take cover in case of need. Keeping your clown loaches in a barebone tank will stress them needlessly.
This may sound like a lot to chew on, but they’re actually standard clown loach requirements.
Perform Regular Health Checks
Sometimes, clown loaches get sick despite all your best efforts to prevent it. In this case, early prevention and treatment are ideal for preserving the fish’s health and state of mind.
You should always monitor your fish’s behavior and demeanor daily, if possible, to look for signs of sickness.
- Visible lack of energy and lethargy
- Lack of appetite
- Erratic swimming or laying near the substrate
- Intolerance towards other tankmates
- Visible skin parasites or other physical symptoms indicating potential infections
If your clown loach showcases one or several of these symptoms, consider placing it in quarantine.
You should always have a hospital tank ready just for cases like these where you have to deal with emergency scenarios.
Quarantining the fish will provide you with greater control, allowing you to protect the rest of the population in case the fish’s condition is transmissible.
The type of treatment your clown loach will require depends on the condition itself, but this is a topic for another time.
How Long do Clown Loaches Live in the Wild?
Wild clown loaches are known to reach 25-30 years in the wild which is up to 3 times the fish’s maximum lifespan in captivity.
Unfortunately, you have no way of recreating that. Captive loaches simply won’t reach that lifespan, despite all your best efforts.
That being said, you can provide the fish with the best conditions to keep it healthy and happy for as long as possible.
A well-maintained loach can reach 10 years in ideal conditions or, who knows, maybe even go beyond.
Clown loaches aren’t too demanding in terms of overall water parameters, but they need quality care and a nutritious diet to thrive.
The fish’s long lifespan is what makes it so popular in the aquarium trade.
Provide your clown loach with good care, and it will reward you with its colorful presence for years to come.