General – This fish is also known as the Clown Loach. A lot of people mix them with their african cichlids, this is due to the fact that they are very active fish and can hold their own. They also can grow very big, but this will take years to happen and I will talk more about this below. Lovely colors is what draws people to them, with orange body and black stripes. One other important thing that most people disregard when buying them is that these fish are schooling fish. They like to be in a group of at least 4 plus, so make sure to buy several instead of just one.
Tank Requirement – All though they can get big after many years, but this process will take a very long time. You can start out with a small tank and upgrade once you feel things are starting to get tight. They will also require caves and other hiding spots in the aquarium to rest and feel safe. So make sure to give them plenty of hiding spaces. They also do not like bright lights, I noticed every time i turn on my aquarium light, they will go to their caves instead. So this is something to be aware of.
Compatibility – Peacocks and haps are what most people mix them with, along with other community fish. I don’t know if mbunas or tropheus is a good idea since those are a little more on the aggressive side.
Aggression – They are peaceful and fun fish. They do not show any aggression at all.
Size – In the wild, they can reach over 12 inches. They are an absolute slow grower!
Male vs Female – I don’t have much experience with them to be able to tell the difference, but as far as I know females and males will look the same. Some people identify males from the tail, which is said to be larger and more pointed V-shape.
Breeding – They are spawners, not mouthbrooders like most African cichlids. I also heard it is extremely hard to get them to spawn in an aquarium environment. Several websites has stated that there have never been any cases where these spawned in an aquarium setting.
Diet – Carnivores, feed them a high level of protein food and put in some veggie tablets every now and then. Normally, they eat what my peacocks and haps eat, just make sure it is sinking pellets otherwise your African cichlids will hoard them all on the surface.
Diseases – this is very important since they are scaleless fish, which also means they are more susceptible to diseases/bacteria and certain kind of medication. The most common is ick, they are extremely vulnerable to ick and this will be lethal if not treated at the early stage. Please read your medication carefully and research if they are compatible with loaches or scaleless fish. One of the treatment for ick is using copper, but this is extremely harmful and will kill your loaches and other scaleless fish like catfish and etc. So please be very careful with medication if you have loaches in your tanks.
One other tip is when buying loaches from a fish store since they are so vulnerable to ick, make sure to put them in a quarantine tank for at least a minimum of 2 weeks before introducing them to your main tank. During this 2 weeks, if they have ick it’s going to show. You definitely don’t want it to infect your main display tank!
Characteristics – They often play dead, not moving at all until you come close to the aquarium.