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Clown Loach Guide: How Many Can You Have In A 55 Gallon Tank?

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By Lindsey Stanton

clown loach

Clown loaches are beautiful fish. Their black and yellow stripes definitely make an impact. For those of you who don’t know, these fish do get quite large, and this means that they need a good deal of tank space to be happy.

You might be wondering how many clown loaches in a 55-gallon tank can fit comfortably. Each adult clown loach requires 30 gallons of space so you could house one in a 55-gallon tank, but this is not recommended, as they are a schooling fish who should be kept in a group of at least five, which would mean a tank size of 150 gallons.

You could, however, house up to four juvenile clown loaches in a 55-gallon tank, but this would only be for the short term. Once they grow to the adult size you would need to move them to a bigger tank based on the guideline of 30 gallons per fish.

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How Many Clown Loaches Should I Get?

Clown loaches are considered to be schooling fish. This means that they do not like to be alone and should be kept in groups. At the very least, you should consider keeping about  five of them together (which would mean a tank size of 150+ gallons), and the more the merrier.

Do not keep clown loaches alone, as they do not like this. They find safety in numbers.

How Big Will A Clown Loach Get?

Clown loaches can get quite large and they like having lots of space too. Your average clown loach is going to grow to about 8 inches in length, with the largest specimens maxing out at a full foot (12 inches) in length. As you can see, they do get quite large.

Minimum Tank Size for Clown Loaches

Seeing as these fish get quite large, they need lots of space. Generally speaking, each clown loach should have no less than 30 gallons of tank space. Moreover, seeing as you should keep at least five clown loaches together, this means that for even a small school of five, you will need a tank that is at least 150 gallons in size. Yes, you need to provide these fish with a whole lot of space.

Clown Loach Housing Requirements

The clown loach from Sumatra and Borneo
Image Credit: Andrej Jakubik, Shutterstock

Tank size is not the only important thing to consider when it comes to clown loaches. There are a few different housing requirements that you need to meet for them so they will be happy and healthy.

Water Temperature

Clown loaches are tropical fish that prefer their water to be very warm. They require the water temperature to be between 78 and 87 degrees Fahrenheit or about 25 to 30 degrees Celsius. You probably recognize that this is quite warm.

Chances are almost 100% that you will need an aquarium heater for these fish because, unless you live in a very warm part of the world, you will never be able to maintain this water temperature. Get yourself an aquarium thermometer so you can keep the temperature within the acceptable range (with the warmer part of the range being the ideal).

Water Hardness

Clown loaches require their water to be on the softer side of things, as they do not do well in waters that have lots of dissolved minerals present.

Get yourself a water testing kit and some water conditioner, and aim to keep the water at a dGH level no higher than 12. Hard water does not treat these fish well.

Water pH

Clown loaches are quite susceptible to pH levels that are not in the ideal range. They will get sick if the pH is not kept right, and the range is quite narrow.

The acceptable pH level for clown loaches is between 6.5 and 7.0, which you might recognize as being ever so slightly acidic. A perfectly neutral pH of 7.0 is acceptable, although slightly acidic is best, somewhere around 6.7. Therefore, you will want a pH testing kit for your aquarium.

Filtration & Aeration

under water bubbles
Image Credit: Tracey Jones Photography, Shutterstock

One thing to keep in mind here is that clown loaches are big, they eat a lot, and they produce a good amount of waste, too, yet they do not like dirty water. Moreover, these fish are used to having strong currents in their waters. Therefore, you will want to get a large hang on a back filter or a canister filter—something that efficiently engages in all three major forms of filtration, including mechanical, biological, and chemical filtration.

Seeing as these fish like clean and fast-moving water, you want a filter that can handle at least three to five times the water volume in the tank per hour. So, for a 150-gallon tank, you want the filter to be able to handle between 450 and 750 gallons of water per hour, and having adjustable outtake nozzles to create a strong current in a certain direction is recommended.

With a strong filter like this, you should have no problems when it comes to keeping the tank aerated and oxygenated.


Clown loaches are not big fans of bright waters. In the wild, they usually live in low light conditions. Remember that these are bottom feeders, and the bottom of the water is often fairly dark.

Combine this with the fact that in the wild, clown loaches live in fairly heavily vegetated environments which produce a lot of shade from the sun above. Therefore, a dim or moderately bright aquarium light will do just fine here.


Clown loaches are bottom feeders and they like to forage for food in soft substrate. Therefore, the best substrate for clown loaches is sand. About 2 to 3 inches of sand should be fine.

However, if for whatever reason you don’t want to use sand, some fine and smooth gravel will also do. Just make sure that the gravel is not rough, as clown loaches may injure themselves on pointy gravel.


corporate aquarium with live plants
Image Credit: dushkovladimir, Shutterstock

When it comes to plants for your tank, you do need to get hardy and strong plants with good root systems.

Clown loaches can be quite hard on plants, they may try to eat them, and they may uproot them too. Therefore, large and fast-growing background plants are recommended. You may also choose to get some floating plants to help provide your loaches with some cover from above.

Rocks & Deco

You want to add a few good hiding spaces for your clown loaches. They like squeezing themselves into fairly tight spots to hide and get some privacy. Therefore, having a few pieces of driftwood and rock caves is recommended.

Tank Mates

Clown loaches are very peaceful fish, but they are scavengers and bottom feeders. They will usually never try to eat live fish. Therefore, they make for great community tank fish.

Good examples of tank mates include neon tetras and other tetras, tiger barbs and cherry barbs, yo-yo loaches, discus fish, angelfish, and anything else that is smaller or more peaceful than the clown loach.

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Commonly Asked Questions

Are Clown Loaches Hard to Keep?

Generally speaking, clown loaches are quite easy to care for. Sure, they need a large tank, quite a specific pH level, and a high water temperature, but other than that, there is not too much to worry about.

Will a Clown Loach Eat Other Fish?

No, these are scavengers and bottom feeders which rarely if ever try to attack or eat other fish.

Can I Keep One Clown Loach?

No, clown loaches, although they may be large, are schooling fish. They do not like to be kept alone and should be kept in schools of five or six.

clown loach
Image Credit: Joan Carles Juarez, Shutterstock

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There you have it folks, everything you need to know about clown loaches, their size, the ideal tank size, and housing requirements.

These fish do take a bit of experience and patience to keep, but nothing too extreme. Just remember that you do need a really big tank for them.

Featured Image Credit: Joan Carles Juarez, Shutterstock

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