What Makes The Clown Loach Unique

Published: 16th February 2011
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The clown loach has many unique characteristics starting with their morphology. They have a spine underneath each eye that becomes erect when they are stressed in some way. They can use it to defend themselves or attack other fish, which only happens in one instance as far as I know because the clown loaches are very peaceful normally. When you have multiple clown loaches that are added to an aquarium they may squabble in order to figure out who is going to be the Alpha, the top dog as it were. In these fights the sub ocular spines are erect and some fish may sustain permanent scars or other minor damage. When a clown loach is caught for transport they will generally erect their sub ocular spine. At this point you have to be careful that you're not stabbed with the spine when handling the fish. Also, if you're using a net the spine can easily get caught and possibly cause major injury to the clown loach. Another consideration of the spine is that if you put the clown in a bag for transport they may rupture the bag with their spine. So you're better off double or triple bagging them, or even better still would be to transport them in a solid container. You may also see the spine erect when the clown is sharing a tank with more aggressive species of fish.



The docile clown loaches scare easily so it's recommended that you have other peaceful species for them to share an aquarium with. Sometimes the spine can remain erect for more than 12 hours after an encounter, eventually it will go back to resting position. Something you may notice when taking a careful look at a clown loach is that they don't appear to have any scales. Don't believe everything you see though. They do have very small and faint scales on their body, but none on their heads. They also don't have any skin covering their eyes.



Another curious thing that you will notice is the clicking sound clown loaches make when they're eating or squabbling. It can get quite loud, so loud in fact that you might be fooled into thinking that the aquarium has cracked. They make the clicking sound by grinding their pharyngeal teeth. Imagine if you were sitting beside a river bed in Borneo (where clown loaches live) and you begin to hear them clicking; thousands of them clicking. I think it must get just as loud as many frogs on a pond, but I digress.



During the late spring you may notice some strange behaviour from your loaches at dinner time. Well, you can always expect strange behaviour from them, but this behaviour only happens once a year for a short period of time or it may not happen at all. Some aquarists find that their clown loaches have 'feeding frenzies' in the late spring. They all attack the food as though they haven't been feed in weeks. I speculate that they do this because of something in their natural habitat. It could be a time when food is scarce for them in nature or maybe they need to get as much food as they can for the breeding season.



For the sake of keeping this article short I have limited the unique attributes to only a few, but if you have a clown loach you know there are many more.





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Go to my website to learn more about the clown loach including hot topics such as clown loach feeding. Are you feeding your fish the wrong foods? Find out! While you are there make sure you sign up for my aquarium tips newsletter.

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