What Do Clown Loaches Eat

Like all fish, Clown Loaches (Chromobotia macracanthus), or tiger botia, enjoy quite a varied diet that will keep them healthy and happy, so what do Clown Loach fish eat in the wild, and what should you be feeding them?

Clown Loaches are omnivores that eat a variety of fruit and vegetables like banana, melon, cucumber, or lettuce. They also eat meat such as brine shrimp, tubifex worms, and frozen or freeze-dried worms but prefer live food if they can get it and will happily eat small snails and worms.

Many beginner aquarists or people who own aquariums for aesthetic purposes, such as businesses, will only feed their fish the basic commercial foods like fish flakes and pellets.

What Do Clown Loaches Eat

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Clown Loaches love foraging for food so they can survive on the basics and whatever else they find in the tank, but considering their potential for growth and a long lifespan, it would be wise to feed them a healthy, balanced diet which they would eat in the wild.

Vegetables and plant matter (fresh and decomposing) should make up approximately 30-40% of a Clown Loaches diet, and proteins can be found in insects, crustaceans, slugs, snails, and small fish.

This article will list the main foods you can expect to find in or add to a Clown Loaches diet. The list will be quite comprehensive, but I am sure there will be other foods I have not included that Clown Loaches can be tempted with.

If you are new to Clown Loaches, I have written a complete guide covering everything you need to know about this adorable species. You can read it here: Clown Loach (Natural Habitat, Tank Setup, Care, Feeding, Size).

Will Clown Loaches Eat Other Fish

Usually, Clown Loaches will not eat their smaller tank mates as they are very peaceful fish, but they will eat small fish fry (babies) given the opportunity and small shrimps.

Community tanks are usually ok, but it would be wise to choose Clown Loach tank mates that are non-aggressive fish with similar placid temperaments. Although they may compete for food, a community tank with other bottom-dwelling fish will be fine.

I have put many Clowns in large community tanks and I have always found them to be good community fish. I have often mixed them with other fish species such as Plecos, Gourami’s, Angelfish, Red Tail Black Sharks, and smaller fish such as Neon Tetras, Harlequins, and Tiger Barbs, which all seem to be suitable tank mates.

There are many other community fish that will make good tank mates and I find that adding some floating plants and submerged plants will give all fish the opportunity to get their own space when needed. Adding at least one cave will be beneficial to a Clown Loach that needs its space.

If you are unsure how big your Clown Loaches are likely to grow, I have written an article titled Clown Loaches Size Chart – How Big Do Clown Loach Grow,” which should answer many of your questions and will also give you an idea of the best Clown Loach tank size and minimum tank size.

What To Feed Clown Loach

Because Clown loaches are not too fussy in what they eat, there is quite a variety to choose from when deciding on what to feed Clown loaches.

Many of the fresh fruits or meats that you will find around your own home will be desirable to a Clown loach and experimenting with these different food types is fun to do.

Below is a list that I have drawn up based on my own experience at keeping Clown loaches, what they would eat in their natural habitat, and also what other experienced owners feed their Clown loaches.

What Vegetables Do Clown Loach Eat

Clown Loaches are mainly bottom feeders, so any food you give them will need to sink to the lower part of the aquarium.

Clown Loaches do like vegetables which can make up a large portion of their diet in the wild. The Clown Loach will happily eat fresh vegetables but won’t mind if they are starting to go off.

Although not something they would eat in their natural habitat, cooked vegetables will not go to waste if given to your Clown Loach.

Some of the vegetables that your Clown Loach will enjoy are:

  • Zucchini – (Courgette or Summer Squash)
  • Carrot
  • Spinach
  • Cabbage
  • Sweetcorn
  • Broccoli
  • Peas
  • Cauliflower
  • Green beans

Many vegetables are leafy and will float in the tank, so you need to help them sink as much as possible.

Salads For Clown Loach

As well as vegetables, Clown Loaches enjoy eating green and leafy salads. Some of their favorites are:

  • Romaine lettuce – (or other lettuce varieties)
  • Cucumber
  • Watercress
  • Garlic clove
  • Peppers

And although not classified as a salad:

  • Live plants – (Clown Loach will often nibble on live aquarium plants so make sure yours are hardy and can survive the odd nibble)
  • Algae
  • Decomposing plant matter
Clown Loaches enjoy a wide variety of fruits and vegetables.

What Fruit Does A Clown Loach Eat

Fruit is another staple in a Clown Loaches Diet. The natural habitat of Clown Loaches is rivers, streams, and lakes. Fruits will often find their way into them when they fall from trees and vines that overhang these watercourses.

Although not all fruits they like are part of their natural diet, Clown Loaches will often take a liking to them and will certainly not be harmed by them.

A Clown Loach will usually eat:

  • Melon – (Watermelon, Honeydew Melon, Canteloup and Galia Melon)
  • Papaya – (Peeled)
  • Banana – (Peeled)
  • Grape – (Cut)
  • Kiwi – (Peeled)
  • Pear – (Peeled)

Don’t be afraid to try some other fruits that you have at home. You may be surprised at what your Loaches enjoy.


All foods listed above must be free from chemicals and pesticides that may harm your Clown Loach or contaminate the fish tank water.

What Live Food Do Clown Loach Eat

Live foods will be a good source of protein for your Clown Loach which will help to provide them with energy and assist in normal growth.

A Clown Loach is also quite the hunter, and you may enjoy watching them stalking their prey.

The best live foods to give a Clown Loach are:

  • Worms – (White worms, Black worms, Grindal worms, Wiggler worms, Blood worms, Common garden worms)
  • Small Shrimp – (Clown Loaches are often fed Baby Brine Shrimp, either live or frozen but as they have a liking for shrimp you will need to be aware that other shrimp such as your favorite Red Cherry Shrimp, or Ghost Shrimp may also be at risk.
  • Gammarus Shrimp – (More commonly known as Scuds, are a type of shrimp. Clown Loaches love them as live food. The Scuds hide in the gravel and Clowns love to forage for them. I have added Scuds separately as they can also become more of a problem in an aquarium if their numbers get too big. I have written a very informative article about Scuds titled “Scuds In Aquarium (What are they and should I remove them?”)
  • Small Snails – (Clown Loaches are great at keeping your tanks snail population under control. They will also eat small garden snails)
  • Small Insects – (Flys, Crickets, Maggots. Try whatever you can find and you will soon know what they like)
  • Seafood – (Mollusks, Crustaceans, and small fish. The Clown loach will eat small fish and fish fry, shellfish which they will suck from the shell. If it’s small enough it isn’t safe.)
  • Other Fish – (Clown Loach tank mates are usually pretty safe unless they are small fish fry which can be just as irresistible to most other fish as well).
Clown Loaches Eat Small Crustaceans
Clown Loaches like shrimp and snails.

I have mentioned above that Clown Loaches will eat snails. They are often sold as a solution to keep snail populations down in aquariums and will often do a great job.

If you are interested, have a read of Clown Loaches Eating Snails – Is This Normal?. It talks a little more about a Clown Loaches diet and will give you more information about aquatic snail pests and how your Clown Loach will help you deal with the problem.

What Dry And Frozen Food To Feed Clown Loaches

The easiest way to give your Clown Loach the variety they need in their diet is to buy dry or frozen food from your local aquarium or even online.

Some of the best and most common foods that aquarists will use are:

  • Algae Wafers
  • Worm Stock
  • Freeze Dried and Frozen Krill
  • Shrimp Tablets or Shrimp Pellets
  • Bloodworm Pellets
  • Various Other Sinking Pellets and Sinking Wafers – (many fish stores sell their own varieties and mixes of pellet and wafer)
  • Tubifex Worms
  • Standard Comercial Foods and Fish Flakes

I have included a short list below of foods that I buy for clown loaches, which are also suitable for other similar fish.

There are many dry and frozen foods that you can try, some containing plant-based foods and some containing meats and seafood.

When shopping online I use Chewy.com and Amazon as they both have a wide variety of quality food and fish supplies, and delivery times are quick. (Links Below)

Shop Tropical Freshwater Fish Food & Supplies at Chewy!

Shop Tropical Freshwater Fish Food & Supplies at Amazon!

It is good to experiment to see what your Clown Loaches prefer to eat.

Other Foods To Feed Clown Loaches

You will find that Clown Loaches will eat many things that you have in your kitchen. For example, seafood meat is a favorite even if it has been tinned.

Try out a few of my suggestions below if you want to give your Clown Loach a real treat.

  • Tuna – (From a tin)
  • Mussels – (Clown Loaches will suck them out of the shell)
  • Crab Meat – (Tinned)
  • Prawns
  • Scallops
  • Clams
  • Beef Heart

Buying specially made foods can become expensive, so many aquarists will make their own mixes of seafood, fruits, and vegetables that can be frozen, dried, stored, or just served fresh.

Hopefully, this article has helped you better understand what Clown Loaches will enjoy eating and has given you the confidence to experiment with similar food types.

Remember, the lists I have provided are not exhaustive, and I am sure you can find many other foods to add.

Clown Loaches provided with a good diet will most certainly be happier, so you will get the best out of them and help them meet their growth potential.

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Jon O'Connell

I have kept both marine and freshwater fish and set up almost 100 aquariums. Although I am no longer doing it professionally, I hope I can help others to enjoy keeping happy, healthy fish by sharing my many years of experience.

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