Can Shrimp and Clown Loaches Live Together?

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You want a diverse aquarium population, I understand that. It’s a normal preference since nobody wants to keep looking at the same fish every day.

Some variation is more than welcomed, especially in a loach-only tank with fish that thrive in hiding for the most part.

So, you naturally begin to look for some compatible tankmates, and God knows why you’ve settled for shrimps. Without further ado, let’s dive straight into it.

Do Clown Loaches Eat Cherry Shrimp?

They do. Have you ever seen clown loaches destroying snails? The same concept applies.

The clown loach will tip the shrimp upside down as if it were a snail and disembowel and eviscerate the poor creature in seconds. The cherry shrimp cannot resist the fish’s powerful suction and killing intentions.

I mean, let’s consider the size difference alone for a clearer picture. Clown loaches can easily get to 6-8 inches, with some specimens even going as large as 12 inches.

Then you have the cherry shrimp at a measly 1.2 inches, 1.5 if they’re really lucky. There’s no contest here.

Then you have the fact that cherry shrimp are on the loaches’ menu to begin with. So, it’s safe to assume that any cherry shrimp that ends up in your loach tank won’t survive too much.

How to Keep Shrimp with Clown Loaches?

This is the interesting part – the one where you couldn’t care less about what I just said and decide to take the jump anyway. So, is there a way to keep loaches and shrimp together? Yes, there is.

There are several ways, but you need some careful planning along the way. And, of course, to always accept the risk of casualties which are bound to occur, despite all your efforts to the contrary.

Here are some useful tips to aid loaches and shrimp cohabitating in peace. And, by peace, I mean a state of perpetual war between a natural predator and its equally natural prey:

Use Lots of Live Plants

Live plants are key for improving your shrimps’ chance of survival. Cherry shrimp live in lush ecosystems that are rich in plants and a variety of hiding areas. These tiny crustaceans use them as hiding spots to avoid larger predators with a sweet tooth for shrimp meat.

Loaches are larger and clumsier, so they won’t bother squeezing their massive bodies through the various stems and floating plants decorating their habitat.

They will avoid these areas, providing the shrimp with some much-needed breeding room.

Live plants are also beneficial for the environment as a whole. They keep the ecosystem cleaner and more well-oxygenated and create a more natural-looking setup for all tank inhabitants to enjoy.

Hiding Spots

Loaches require some occasional hiding spots such as rocky structures, driftwood, and any other aquatic element that can fulfill that purpose. But shrimps need them even more.

Have a good rock system in place to provide your tiny shrimp with a variety of escape areas in case things go south. And things are always south when pairing shrimps with loaches.

Fortunately, the small crustaceans can fit places and crevices where loaches won’t. Combine this welcomed ability with the shrimp’s natural hiding tendencies and the crustacean’s lifespan will improve dramatically.

Feed Loaches Well

It’s pretty difficult to hunt with a full belly. Well-fed loaches are more likely to be lazier and more laid-back compared to their starving counterparts.

Don’t rely on your loaches’ natural scavenging behavior to keep themselves full. Feed them a good and balanced diet and provide them with at least 2 meals per day.

Your clown loaches prefer live foods, but they rank as omnivorous, so they are highly adaptable and versatile in this sense. I recommend feeding them live food primarily.

First, it’s tastier and more nutritious for them than any other food, and second, it caters to the fish’s natural hunting tendencies. Live food will scratch 2 itches in one go.

Hell, you can even feed your loaches some feeder shrimp to cater to their preference for shrimp meat.

Anything goes, so long as it diverts your loaches’ attention from your cherry shrimp population.

Have Many Shrimps

Casualties are bound to happen in a shrimp/loach aquarium; nature demands it. So, you should prepare for it by flooding the tank with shrimp.

This will naturally increase the crustacean’s visibility, making it more likely for the loaches to win the Seek-n-Destroy game.

The trade-off is that the surviving shrimp will breed, producing a lot of replacements for the loaches to keep hunting. I agree this is a more cynical approach, but, hey, if it works, it works.

Have a Large Tank

Clown loaches prefer to live in groups, so you should ideally have at least 4 of them in the tank. This means investing in at least 100 gallons to accommodate your loaches and reduce the likelihood of territorial scuffles or food-related tensions.

Your clown loaches will have a lot of room for exploration and retreat in case violence arises.

The extra space is also critical for improving your shrimps’ chance of survival. They’re already having a hard time staying off of one loach’s radar. With 4 or more, their chances of survival will steer towards zero fast.

The added swimming room provides you with more space for plants and additional decorations for an even more diverse and safe setting for your shrimp.

Monitor Water Parameters

Both loaches and cherry shrimps require clear and fresh waters with stable parameters and healthy chemistry. I recommend investing in a tester kit to monitor water parameters properly and identify any imbalance in time.

Temperature, pH, hardness, and overall cleanliness are key to providing your shrimp with ideal living conditions.

This will incentivize the shrimps to grow faster, breed faster, and multiply at a rate surpassing the loaches’ ability to hunt them down. So, never skip maintenance day.

What Other Fish Can You Keep with Shrimp?

Fortunately, you have a variety of fish species that make up for ideal tankmates for your shrimps.

These include guppies, Corydoras, clown killifish, rasboras, kuhli loaches, etc. In essence, you’re looking for small and peaceful mid-to-top dwellers that show little-to-no interest in shrimps.

Will Clown Loaches Eat Amano Shrimp?

Clown loaches will gladly feed on Amano shrimps if given the opportunity. After all, there isn’t much difference between Amano shrimps and cherry shrimps in terms of size.

Amanos can grow to 2 inches, which is slightly more than the 1.2-inch cherry shrimp. But this makes no difference to an 8-10-inch loach. The 2 species are just different-sized meals for them.

So, whatever applies to the cherry shrimp also applies to the Amano shrimp in terms of safety protocols and approaches.

Conclusion

Shrimps and clown loaches reside on different branches of the food chain. It’s never wise to pair predators with their natural prey, but it can be done; at least in this case.

Follow my guide and remember that it’s in no way failproof. It’s just meant to decrease the chances of your shrimps getting eaten, not remove them completely.

So, don’t blame me if your shrimps start to go missing while your loaches get fatter at the same time. Blame Mother Nature instead.

avatar 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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