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Breeding Clown Loaches - Granville Hammond

by Martin Thoene last modified Dec 08, 2006 01:49 AM

Originally in Practical Fishkeeping (PFK), Feb. 96

Summarized by Martin Thoene

Comments by Ken Childs 

Having recently discovered this most excellent site, and having spent TOO long at work reading many interesting messages and info, I thought I'd contribute something myself. Someone here in the UK actually bred Clown Loaches!!!!!!! This actually happened back in 95/96, not sure exactly when, but the info comes from an article in the British Magazine "Practical Fishkeeping", Feb.'96. The Author is Granville Hammond of Devon Discus (Discus Breeder). He kept clowns with his Discus, but found the Clowns were stealing all the food and making the Discus nervous by "whiskering" them at night. He decided to get rid of most of the clowns to friends, keeping just 4 at 11-13" length (nice clowns!). One hot Summer day one friend returned home from work to find that the clowns in his charge had eaten all of his prized 4" Giant Danios!!!!!!!! They were behaving very strangely, prowling up and down as if distressed (probably ate too much!). He checked all water parameters, but found nothing odd, apart from a couple of degrees higher than normal temperature. After a "cool" water change all returned to normal. Two weeks later, Granvilles 4 fish suddenly refused food. The next day they started prowling around as his friend described. The water was OK, but he changed some anyway as the only common factor with his friends tank was that both were overdue for a water change. The fish calmed down. He decided to try and duplicate the situation to see if the behavior would change again. Initially, Temp. was 84F, PH 6.8, Ammonia & Nitrite nil,Nitrate 25 ppm or lower. After a week of heavy feeding the Temp was 82F, pH 6.5, and other stuff the same. On day 12 they refused food and the weird behavior returned. Temp was 86F,pH 6.3, others the same, except nitrate up to 50ppm. Remembering the out of character murder of the Giant Danios, he decided to see if the fish might be interested in some White-bait he had in the Freezer. What happened next was incredible. The fish went crazy. He says "Frenzied Feeding" would be an understatement! They refused all food except the fish, which they ate until bloated, resuming their "hunting" a few hours later. 4 weeks later after this intensive feeding, the female loaches were over 2" taller than the males. All fish had doubled in girth (hardly surprising really), and had intensified coloring. Nitrates had gone of the scale, so he added a canister filter with nitrate removing resin. pH was now 6.1. Due to evaporation the water level had dropped 3". At this point he reconnected the tank back into his centralized filtration system, feeding the tank via a "shower head" return. Within 48 hours the fish behavior was back to normal. After feeding, two fish would rise to the surface,entwined together, and " clicking" to one another (I'm sure most clown owners will have heard these noises). They were a male & female but no eggs were produced. BUT THE NEXT MORNING!!!!!! Small, slightly golden eggs were on the tank sides and base and on some plastic pipe hidey-holes for the fish. Temp was 82F, pH 6.7, nil Ammonia & Nitrite, Nitrate less than 25ppm in the tank where he placed the pipework with eggs. The fish, which appeared exhausted (obviously, a busy night!) suddenly perked up and Breakfasted on the remaining eggs! Upwards of 450 fry hatched and were fed on a proprietary liquid food for 2 weeks, with a supplement of crushed flake after 10 days. Crushed flake was then fed alone and the fish grew rapidly till they could take whole flake. At 6 weeks, they were 1" long total length, then growth slowed. An interesting aside is that when they were distributed around the country it was reported that they were resistant to Whitespot and survived in tanks where other fish succumbed . If we speculate that conditions change in the wild seasonally, maybe the effects of drought, temp. rise, less than perfect water conditions, reduced level, followed by rains were duplicated as near as is possible and this stimulated the fish into their normal cycle for breeding. Obviously, these were older, big fish. Clowns are long-lived and no doubt may not reach sexual maturity until they are several years old. Their tastes may change as they mature (lots of fish change diet as they grow). It's only through information exchange that this knowledge will spread around the globe. Only recently I've read on this very forum that some really big clowns were fed feeder goldfish, so maybe we had all better look at our cute little stripey friends again in a different light. Maybe their tank mates should worry about becoming a meal in the future as the clowns grow up! I guess the potential for murder is there. Only last week I was in a local dealers who had a tank of 50 plus 1 1/2" baby clowns. One of the assistants was feeding them by hand with frozen fish meat. I guess we've all seen stupid movies with Pirahna attacks. You know , the water foams and boils. Well I've seen it in a tank of clowns. Now I feed mine some fish-meat as I figure if they like it that much, it might just stop them from looking in a suspicious way at my Tetras!

Martin Thoene

I just read the article on the breeding Clown loaches. That's interesting stuff! The writer mentions that the fish will probably have to be several years old to be sexually mature. I know of clowns that were definitely over 40 years old that were in a 1000 gallon display tank in a retail store. The fish were about 5 inches when first purchased in 1948 (I saw them in 1988). They were about 12" in 1988. Some people I know that are trying to injection spawn them have never found mature fish that were under 7". Also the maximum size for these is often quoted at about 12". I personally measured a fish that was 15" so odds are there are bigger ones in the wild. The reason big ones aren't often seen outside of Indonesia is the air freight expense to get them from Asia. In the same space you can pack 300 of a 1.5" fish, you can pack only 1 of these big guys.

Ken Childs


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