10 Clown Loach Tank Mates

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The Clown Loach is among the most peaceful and fun fish out there. Its sociable nature makes it a good match for any friendly fish species.

It’s not too difficult to find suitable tank mates from this point of view. All you need is a non-aggressive fish.

However, keep in mind that Clown Loaches grow quite large, up to 12 inches. You shouldn’t pick tank mates that are too small in comparison. You should also choose fish with similar water parameter requirements. Clown Loaches need warm water, at least 75-85°F.

They also don’t do well in alkaline conditions. Their ideal pH range is 6.0-7.2, which is slightly acidic to neutral. However, they’re more forgiving about water hardness. They can tolerate both soft and hard water, anywhere around 5-15 dGH.

Their ideal tank mates should be equally hardy. I also recommend choosing non-shy fish. Fish that get easily stressed will suffer in a Clown Loach tank.

That’s because Clown Loaches are very energetic and active during the day.

The constant playfulness of loaches will fluster the poor fish. Taking all of these factors into account, I’ve put together a list of the best tank mates for your CLs.

These fish are equally sociable and adaptable to different water parameters.

1. Angelfish

There are multiple species of freshwater Angelfish. Most of them are mellow and peaceful with members of other species.

You might see them listed as “semi-aggressive” fish. That’s because they can display aggressive behavior with members of the same species.

This usually happens during mating, when there’s a lot of competition between male fish. Otherwise, most Angelfish are pretty laid-back.

They’re slow swimmers and not easily agitated. They won’t get in the way of your CLs. While your loaches are bouncing off the walls, the Angelfish just minds its business chilling.

Angelfish and CLs also enjoy similar diets based on meaty foods. Most Angelfish species are large enough not to get accidentally eaten. Silver, Zebra, Koi, and Marble Angelfish are all at least 6 inches long.

Altum Angelfish are 7-10 inches long. Most species thrive in warm water, roughly 76–84°F. The ideal pH should be 6.5–8.0. Angelfish also need soft water, around 4-8 dGH. Luckily, Clown Loaches can handle both soft and hard water.

2. Tetras

Tetras make great potential tank mates for Clown Loaches. They’re peaceful and sociable fish. They like living in schools of 6 or more fish.

They’re also quick swimmers and they occupy the middle and top levels of the aquarium. They won’t interact much with bottom-dwelling Clown Loaches. They’re similar to loaches in a few ways.

Besides their friendly personalities, they also like dim-lit environments, just like CLs. They do best in a planted tank with plenty of hiding spaces.

Like loaches, they aren’t picky about food. They will eat whatever you feed your other fish. But there are so many species of tetras out there. Which one should you choose?

Well, I recommend staying away from tiny species like Neon, Diamond, or Rainbow Tetras. Instead, I suggest species such as the Buenos Aires or the Congo Tetra.

These fish grow up to 3.5 inches in length. Still small, but not small enough to get gulped down by peckish Clown Loach tank mates.

These fish are quite hardy and can easily adapt to the conditions in a CL tank. The ideal water temperature for tetras is 75°F–80°F.

The water should be slightly acidic to neutral (6.0-7.0 pH). Tetras also thrive in moderately hard or hard water (12-15 dGH).

3. Barbs

Just like Clown Loaches, Barbs are active, fast swimmers. They’re sociable and like living in schools of 6 or more fish. However, they’re considered semi-aggressive due to their domineering personalities.

This won’t be a problem for Clown Loaches. Barbs only push around smaller fish, especially the ones in their own group.

All Barbs are omnivorous and eat a variety of foods. They don’t need a special diet compared to CLs. With regards to water parameters, they have very similar needs to loaches. Warm water (75-80°F) is a must. The ideal pH is 6.8-7.8, while the water hardness should be 4-8 dGH.

If you’re looking for a more specific recommendation, I suggest Rosy and Tinfoil Barbs. These fish are the most peaceful and they grow quite large. Rosy Barbs reach 6 inches, while Tinfoil Barbs grow up to 12 inches. Rosy Barbs are best if you don’t have a lot of aquarium space. You’ll need a huge tank to keep two schools of Clown Loaches and Tinfoil Barbs.

4. Plecos

This humble, funny-shaped fish is as cool as a cucumber. Plecos are so calm and unbothered that most fish in the tank don’t even acknowledge their presence. Their chill disposition makes them a perfect tank mate for Clown Loaches.

Plecos are also large. What they lack in stamina, they make up for in size. Even more aggressive fish know better than to bother this burly guy. Plecos are bottom dwellers and scavengers.

Some are herbivorous, but most species eat anything from algae to leftover food pellets. They get along with CLs, and they keep the tank clean! Win-win!

I recommend species like the Bristlenose and the Rubber-Lipped Pleco. These fish grow large enough, without taking up too much space. Most reach up to 7 inches.

Both species prefer warm water, roughly 73–81°F. They can tolerate a wider pH range, going from 5.7-7.8. These Plecos also prefer moderately hard water (8-12 dGH).

5. Livebearers

Livebearers are almost universally peaceful, sociable fish. They prefer hanging out in groups of their own and don’t disturb other fish in the aquarium.

Playful and active, these fish fit right in with the super energetic Clown Loach. Just don’t pick the super small species like Guppies, Mosquitofish, or Platies.

These fish rarely exceed 2 inches. Lovable as they are, it’s almost guaranteed they won’t last long in the tank. Instead, opt for larger livebearers like Mollies, Swordtails, and Pike Killifish. These species grow at least 4 inches long.

Like most livebearers, these species also prefer swimming in the middle to top layers of the aquarium.

They won’t cross paths with the CLs too often. Diet-wise, Mollies and Swordtails aren’t picky. They prefer a more balanced omnivorous diet though, compared to loaches.

Algae and veggies should make up a large portion of their food intake. They also eat freeze-dried bloodworms, shrimp, and other meaty foods.

Luckily, because they occupy the upper levels, it’s easy to feed them in a CL tank. Pike Killifish have special dietary needs because they’re piscivorous. You’ll need to give them small feeder fish, either live or freeze-dried. By the way, Pike Killifish also love eating Mosquitofish and Mollies. If you were planning to keep them together in the tank, don’t.

As for water parameters, Mollies, Swordtails, and Pike Killifish have very similar requirements to loaches. Livebearers prefer warm water (75°-80°F) that’s neutral to alkaline (7.0-8.4 pH). These species are also very hardy, requiring a general hardness around 12-20 dGH (210-350 ppm).

6. Rainbowfish

If Clown Loaches aren’t colorful enough, why not add some Rainbowfish to the tank? They come in a variety of bright colors and have beautiful, shimmering scales. I’d say this is the perfect combo for a vibrant aquarium.

I recommend species like the Boesemani, Red Irian, Desert, and the Banded Rainbowfish.

These Rainbowfish grow large enough to be safe in a CL tank. They reach 4.5-6 inches on average. They also eat similar diets to loaches. These fish are all omnivores and not picky when it comes to food. Rainbowfish are peaceful top dwellers.

They’re active and like swimming around, but don’t go out of their way to interact with other fish species.

They prefer similar water parameters to Clown Loaches. Most of these Rainbowfish species thrive in temperatures ranging from 70-82°F. They prefer slightly acidic to slightly alkaline water with a pH around 6.5-8.0. The water should be hard to moderately hard (10-18 dGH).

7. Discus

Here we have another docile species. There’s competition between members of the in-group. If you keep more Discuses together, expect a pecking order to form. But when it comes to other fish, they’re tame and peaceful.

When faced with bullies or aggressive tank mates, Discuses flee or hide between aquarium decorations.

They can get along well with friendly fish like CLs. They grow up to 6-10 inches long and have very tall bodies.

Given their body shape and size, Discus fish are in no danger of getting eaten. They also occupy the middle tank level, away from bottom-dwelling CLs.

However, Discus might occasionally venture to the bottom of the tank to forage for food. These fish are omnivorous and not picky. They scarf down anything from algae to insects and small crustaceans. Basically, they’ll eat whatever you feed your CLs, so no need for anything special.

Like CLs, Discus fish require slightly acidic warm water. The ideal temperature falls between 82-86°F, while the pH should be around 6.0-7.0.

This species also needs soft to very soft water. It can tolerate a water hardness level around 1-5dGH (18-87 ppm).

8. Gouramis

Gouramis are mostly peaceful fish. Males get aggressive towards other males in their species. They sometimes mistake other similar-sized colorful fish for competition, so bullying might ensure in these situations.

But this won’t be a problem with Clown Loaches. First, CLs are a lot larger and they’re rapid swimmers.

They can get away from a pissed-off Gourami with no issue. Secondly, Gouramis and CLs swim in different parts of the tank. While Loaches are mostly bottom dwellers, Gouramis like swimming close to the top level.

I recommend species like the Pearl, Moonlight, and Blue Gourami. These fish grow up to 4-6 inches in length.

That’s enough to steer Clown Loaches away from snacking on them. They’re also omnivorous. They accept a variety of foods and anything that CLs eat.

The ideal water parameters fall right in line with those of CL’s. Gouramis prefer temperatures between 75°-80°F and a pH around 6.8-7.8. The water hardness should be around 4-8 dGH.

9. Hillstream Loach

The Hillstream Loach is lovable thanks to its peaceful and calm personality. It gets along with virtually all peaceful fish species. This fish is tinier than the others I’ve listed so far. It only grows up to 2.5 inches in length. However, its wide, streamlined body makes it difficult to eat.

This unique body shape also gives the Hillstream Loach an advantage against other fish. It might not seem like it, but these guys are very fast swimmers.

Unlike other fish on the list, this species can do well when kept alone. It doesn’t need to live in a school, and can actually get quite territorial against members of the same species.

Like CLs, the Hillstream Loach is a bottom dweller. However, these fish won’t have to compete for food. While CLs eat a meaty diet, Hillstream Loaches prefer snacking on growing algae, algae wafers, biofilm, phytoplankton, blanched lettuce, kale, spinach, and other green veggies.

Since they’re part of the same natural order (Cypriniformes), the Hillstream and the Clown Loach have similar water parameters.

Hillstream Loaches require temperatures around 68–74°F. Anything higher can be very stressful and even fatal. The ideal pH is 6.5–7.5. The water hardness should fall between 10-12 dGH.

10. Emerald Cory Catfish

This is a decent-sized species to keep in a CL tank. These fish grow up to 3.5 inches and have sweet and peaceful personalities. They’re not territorial and they get along very well with other peaceful fish in the aquarium.

They’re not easily scared, but prefer hiding rather than fighting against aggressive bullies.

Emerald Corys are bottom-dwellers, just like loaches. They spend most of their time scavenging for food and exploring their surroundings. Don’t worry, they aren’t competitive around food.

You can easily feed both loaches and catfish because Corys don’t mind sharing food. Speaking of eating, this species is omnivorous.

It enjoys all types of foods, including bloodworms, larvae, daphnia, small shrimp, flakes, pellets, algae, and veggies. They’ll eat whatever makes it to the bottom of the tank, keeping the substrate and water clean.

Their water parameters are close to those of loaches. The temperature should be 70-80°F, and the pH around 6.0-8.0.

Corys can live in soft to hard water with a general hardness between 5-18 dGH (88-315). As a bonus, Corys can also live alone.

They love the company of other Cory Catfish but don’t mind being alone or in small groups of 3. You don’t need to buy an entire school and overcrowd your aquarium.


Clown Loaches are friendly, active fish. They get along with all peaceful species. However, when choosing the ideal tank mates, you’ll have to consider things like size, diet, and water parameters. The fish I’ve listed in this article fit all these requirements nicely. Keep in mind that these aren’t the only good matches though.

Many other fish species can make decent tank mates for your loaches. However, I’ve tried to include only the most common species you can find in stores.

I’ve also chosen some of the smaller fish. Most peaceful species like living in large schools.

The smaller the fish, the less extra space you’ll need to accommodate them. You’ll need all the space you can save because Clown Loaches are already quite large.

But if you have any other tank mate suggestions, feel free to list them down in the comments!

Author Image Fabian
I’m Fabian, aquarium fish breeder and founder of this website. I’ve been keeping fish, since I was a kid. On this blog, I share a lot of information about the aquarium hobby and various fish species that I like. Please leave a comment if you have any question.
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