The Clown Loach (Botia macracantha) is a peaceful schooling fish native to the inland waters in Indonesia on the islands of Sumatra and Borneo.
In their native habitat, the Clown Loach is found in fast moving streams with water temperature ranges between 77 and 86 °F, a pH between 5.0 and 8.0, and water hardness between 5 and 12 dH. For a good portion of the year, monsoons force the Clown Loach into blackwater river areas and murky water conditions encountered when the plains become flooded.
Clown Loaches get their name from their bright colors. The main body is light to bright orange with three wide black, triangular, vertical bands that gives it it’s unmistakeable appearance. The front band runs from the top of the head through the eye, the middle band runs between the head and the dorsal fin and wraps around the body, and the rear band wraps around the caudal and anal fins around the body. Clown Loaches are wide bodied fish that have a large moveable spine set in a groove below each of the fish’s eyes that is used for defense and holding onto rocks in swift currents.
Clown Loaches are shy fish and benefit from having live plants and river rocks in the aquarium to hide amongst. They appreciate having caves, holes, driftwood and other hiding places strategically positioned around heavy aquarium plantings.
The Clown Loach is one of the “must have” fish for tropical fish keeping enthusiasts. They get along well with most other members of a community tank and have some interesting habits like swimming upside down or on their sides, and laying on their sides and “playhing dead” on the botttom of the tank. This is normal behavior for these fish.
Unlike most nocturnal loaches, Clown Loaches are active during the day but need cover, and shy away from bright light. Because they are schooling fish, they do best in groups of 6 or more individuals and need a large tank with good water movement. When kept in groups smaller than five, they will spend a lot of time hiding. Since they grow up to a foot long in their natural environment, a 100 gallon tank or larger is not inappropriate to keep these fish happy. Clown Loaches are susceptible to Ichthyophthirius (ich) or white spot disease when stressed or subjeted to rapid water temperature changes.
Clown Loaches should be fed several small meals throughout the day instead of only once a day. They are omnivorous and will eat a variety of foods like vegetable flakes, “Pleco tablets”, live, frozen, or freeze-dried worms, brine shrimp, tubifex worms, and banana or other plant matter. Botia macracantha are voracious eaters of those nuisance snails that sometimes sneak into your aquarium on live plants.
Minimum Tank Size: 100 gallons
Care Level: Moderate
Aquarium Hardiness: Very Hardy
Water Conditions: 72-86° F, KH 8-12, pH 6.0-7.5
Max. Size: 1′
Color Form: Black, Orange, Red, Tan
Compatibility: Good community tank fish
Lifespan: 15 years +
Aquarist Experience Level: Beginner
Size : 1" - 1.2"
Minimum Tank Size: 15 gallons
Care Level: Moderate
Aquarium Hardiness: Less hardy than Neon Tetras
Water Conditions: 73-81° F, KH 2-6, pH 5.5-7.5
Max. Size: 3″
Color Form: Iridescent Blue, Red
Compatibility: Peaceful, keep with other small tetras
Origin: Farm Raised in Europe, Indigenous to South America
Lifespan: Up to 8 years
Aquarist Experience Level: Moderate Experience
Chinese High Fin Banded Shark (Myxocyprinus asiaticus) are one of only two known suckers that are found in Asia, the other being the Siberian Cotostomus rotratus. They originate from the highly aerated mountain streams in the Yangtze River of China and despite their size (up to 4’6″ in length) are popular community tank fish. Because of pollution and over collection for the aquarium trade, the Chinese High Fin Banded Shark has been placed on the endangered species list and is a state protected species in China.
Juvenile Myxocyprinus asiaticus have light to white bodies with three dark brown to black slanting bands that veer towards the rear of the fish and a high triangular dorsal fin that extends to the rear of the anal fin. Their colors change with their moods and as they grow into adulthood, usually around 12 to 14″ in length, they lose their white stripes and their bodies become more elongated, losing their distinctive high dorsal fin.
During the breeding season, adult males can be distinguished from the females by their more reddish coloration. Adult females become almost a dark purple in color and develop a broad vertical reddish area along their bodies.
Chinese High Fin Banded Sharks have thick fleshy lips with small papillae and a single row of pharyngeal teeth. They are docile, slow moving bottom dwellers that make perfect community tank residents and although they can be kept as individuals, they are frequently kept in small shoals in an aquarium environment. Because they are slow growing and long lived (up to 25 years) they will eventually require a large aquarium to keep them healthy.
Chinese High Fin Banded Shark are best kept in at least a 55 gallon aquarium with a sandy or fine gravel substrate that is densely planted and aquascaped with some driftwood or bogwood, and some rocks if desired. They can tolerate a wide range of temperature variations but because they are subject to abrupt changes in water quality and highly susceptible to nitrates; good aeration, regular partial water changes, and a good filtration system is necessary to keep these fish healthy and happy.
In nature, Chinese High Fin Banded Sharks migrate into the relatively fast flowing, shallow headwaters of the Yangtze River to spawn but as of this date, almost nothing is known about the breeding of the Myxocyprinus asiaticus other than it is believed that their breeding habits are similar to that of Cotostomus cotostomus.
The Chinese High Fin Banded Shark is easy to feed. In their natural habitat and in the aquarium, they are constantly on the move over the bottom searching for food. They can be fed a variety of foods such as brine shrimp (which makes the orange flecks in the fish’s coloration more pink), live, fresh or frozen bloodworms, tubifex, prawn, earthworms, insects, crustaceans, small molluscs, annelids, algae, along with a quality sinking omnivore pellet or flake. If they should stop eating, it is usually due to water quality. Perform a water change and begin feeding them live foods only until they resume eating normally.
Minimum Tank Size: 55 gallon
Care Level: Moderate
Aquarium Hardiness: Moderately Hardy
Water Conditions: 65-82° F, 36 – 357 ppm, pH 6.0-8.0
Max Size: 4′ 6″
Color Form: Brown, White
Compatibility: Large community tanks
Life Span: 25+ years
Aquarist Experience Level: Intermediate
Approx. 2" - 2.5"
Glass Catfish lack body pigment and are transparent. They have a slender body, an anal fin that extends almost from the head to the forked caudal fin, two long barbels, and usually only grow to about 3″ in length. Most of their organs are located towards the head and although they are transparent, they have an iridescent rainbow color when the light strikes them at the right angle.
Glass Catfish are a timid, non-aggressive, mid water swimming species that prefer hiding in the darker areas of the river. They are frequently collected while hiding under logs, elevated rock outcroppings, and in the shadows of overhanging vegetation in areas with a good amount of water movement.
In an aquarium environment, they need a densely planted tank with a lot of swimming area, a gentle amount of current, and some driftwood roots for shelter. A generous growth of aquatic plants is imperative to their well being, and floating plants should also be included in their tank to filter out bright lighting. In their natural habitat they are found in small schools, and should be kept with at least 5 or 6 of their own kind in a community tank setting with other peaceful fish of the same size. They do well with the smaller tetras, Corydoras, etc.
Glass catfish are relatively delicate and are extremely sensitive to changes in water quality and pH. They do best in soft (less than 10 ° dGH), slightly acidic (pH 6.5) water, at a temperature around 77 °F. A good quality filter that provides some water movement is necessary for this species.
Glass Catfish in an aquarium environment are reputedly finicky eaters however, they will accept live, frozen, or freeze dried bloodworms, tubifex, brine shrimp, and mosquito larvae. They can be weaned to accept flake foods.
Minimum Tank Size: 10 gallons
Care Level: Moderate
Water Conditions: 75-80° F, KH 8-12, pH 6.5-7.0
Max. Size: 3″”
Color Form: Clear
Lifespan: 3-6 years
Aquarist Experience Level: Intermediate/Advanced
Approx. 1.5″ – 2″
The Rummynose, also known as “firehead tetras“, are found in the upper and lower Amazon River basins, the Rio Negro and Rio Meta basins, and the Orinoco River.
Rummynose Tetras live in the quiet, tannin stained, slow moving creeks and “blackwater” river areas of Brazil and Columbia. They prefer the soft, acidic water that is the result of decayed vegetation and leaf litter, and frequent areas with an abundance of aquatic plant life and hiding places.
When housed in a heavily planted aquarium environment, Rummynose Tetras are benefited by placing a piece of water logged driftwood into their tanks. When kept in a suitable environment, the ruby red head that is the namesake for these fish becomes more vivid and pronounced.
Rummynose Tetras are a silvery, torpedo shaped fish with two black and white stripes on each caudal fin and horizontal black and white stripes on the tail fin. Its head is a deep iridescent red that continues from the iris of the eye, past the gill plate to mid body. Its name is derived from the word “rummy“, which was the name given to rum addicted alcoholics who often had red (rummy) noses.
Rummynose Tetras are shoaling fish that seldom exceed 2” in length. They are sensitive to water hardness, pH, and water temperature fluctuations and are best kept in schools of 6 or more fish.
Rummynose Tetras are a hardy fish that require only minimal care when housed in a densely planted 20 gallon tank with plenty of gentle water filtration.
Keeping the water warm (between 73 to 80 degrees), the pH between 6.0 to 7.0 and providing weekly 25% water changes will keep your Rummynose Tetras healthy.
When Rummynose Tetras are stressed, the vivid red on their noses will become drab and eventually disappear. This can occur when the fish are first introduced into your aquarium, but after a couple of weeks they will regain their beautiful ruby red “nose” if water conditions are optimal.
Rummynose Tetras will eagerly accept commercial flake foods, live brine shrimp, tubifex worms, mosquito larvae and a variety of freeze dried and frozen foods.
Minimum Tank Size: 15 – 20 gallons
Care Level: Easy
Water Conditions: 72-80° F, KH 2-6, pH 5.5-7.0
Max. Size: 2″
Color Form: Red, White
Compatibility: Ok with large non agressive fish
Origin: South America, Bred in Europe and Southeast Asia
Lifespan: 5 to 6 years
Aquarist Experience Level: Experienced