As a fish owner, I keep both guppies and clown loaches in my tank. For the most part, the two species do not show any aggression towards one another. However, once in a while, I noticed signs of hostility, especially from the loaches side. That got me researching whether guppies and clown loaches can at all live in the same tank peacefully.
Guppies and clown loaches can live together in the same tank, since both species require similar water requirements, including pH and temperature. However, due to significant size differences, loaches might eat guppies under stressful conditions, such as elevated toxins and stuffed tanks.
As we move forward, I will share with you a few tricks that will make the coexistence of loaches and guppies more likely. That includes a good Youtube video that illustrates how to build your DIY aquarium divider from cheap materials.
Guppies and Clown Loaches: Can They Live Together?
Yes, guppies can live with clown loaches. It would be best if you kept certain complications in mind that could prevent the two species from coexisting. But for the most part, a guppy and a clown loach can live together. If you take their various attributes into account, you will come to the same conclusions:
1. Both Fish Are Docile
Guppies and clown loaches’ temperaments and attitudes are the primary reason they can coexist despite their sizes. Guppies are peaceful creatures. Even though they can live alone, they prefer to stay in groups. They have been known to attack fellow guppies, although, in ideal conditions, they are pleasant.
Guppies are a decent choice even when the relationships with other species are concerned. They typically present no aggression towards their tankmates if the water conditions are ideal. Clown loaches are even more attractive in this area. Some aquarists have categorized them as ‘extremely social’.
Not only are loaches peaceful, but they prefer to be kept in groups. They become more shy and timid whenever they are forced to live in a community of fewer than five fish. In other words, they have no qualms about sharing their tank with other peaceful species, including guppies.
Also, the areas where both species prefer swimming works in your favor. The fact that clown loaches are bottom dwellers means that they will probably steer clear of your guppies, which typically swim in the middle-top section.
2. Similar Water Requirements
Guppies live in waters with a temperature of 75 degrees F to 80 degrees F and a pH ranging from 7.0 to 7.2; though, they can tolerate a wide range of pH levels (5.5 to 8.5). They need tanks of at least 5 gallons to avoid overcrowding and competition for resources.
Clown loaches, on the other hand, require a temperature of 72 degrees F to 86 degrees F and a pH ranging from 6.0 to 7.5. As you have probably noted, guppies and clown loaches can thrive within the same waters where these vital parameters are concerned.
However, clown loaches are more challenging to keep than guppies because they are quite large. They need tanks of at least 75 gallons. Many aquarists will encourage you to buy tanks of 150 gallons to be on the safe side. But if your tank is large enough to accommodate all your clown loaches, it can most likely accommodate your guppies.
Also, both species prefer planted tanks that provide them with hiding places. Bear in mind that clown loaches require subdued lighting that mimics the conditions in their wild habitats. But subdued lighting is unlikely to affect your guppies adversely.
3. Share the Same Food
Both guppies and loaches are omnivores. They eat the same animal and plant matter, including flakes and pellets, blood worms, and shrimp, to mention but a few. You don’t have to worry about crafting a special diet to satisfy either species.
However, you do have to feed them the right amounts of food. To make sure they show no aggression due to starvation, feed them the amount of food they consume within two to three minutes. If they have finished their meal before that period, pour them a little more.
How to Make Guppies and Clown Loaches Coexist?
Most questions that people have regarding a guppy’s ability to live with a clown loach emanate from the size difference. Guppies grow to an average size of 2.4 inches. Clown loaches, on the other hand, grow up to 12 inches.
That is a significant difference, and it matters because most fish have predatory instincts that compel them to eat any aquatic creature that can fit in their mouths. And unfortunately, a guppy will fit quite easily in a clown loach’s mouth.
If you were to base your decision on the size alone, you would probably conclude that these two species cannot coexist. Also, even though both species are peaceful, their temperaments do not guarantee that they will coexist peacefully.
Any potential conflicts between clown loaches and guppies should concern you. That is because clown loaches have dangerous barbs that can do serious harm to their tankmates. Some effective means of diffusing the violence between these two species include:
1. Avoid Overcrowding
Most species will turn to violence if you force them to inhabit tanks that are either too small or overstocked. Clown loaches are no different. If you want them to behave, you need to keep them in a tank of at least 75 gallons. However, they also need to live in groups of at least 6 to feel comfortable.
Therefore, you cannot afford to reduce their numbers simply because their tank is overstocked. The better option would be getting a bigger tank. You should also avoid stuffing your aquarium with too much vegetation.
Even though both species like planted tanks for hiding spots, aquariums with too many plants would escalate stress and territorial hassles; both species should be able to swim freely in your tank.
2. Keep the Right Number of Fish
As was noted above, clown loaches should be kept in groups of at least six. Loaches that are living alone or in groups of five fish or less might become shy and timid. That is the best-case scenario.
In the worst-case scenario, they will become violent, sometimes as a means of staving off boredom. You can eliminate this concern by keeping these social fish in decent numbers. I would also suggest keeping the guppies in groups, although the precise number is less significant here.
When it comes to guppies, the essential thing would be keeping a ratio of 2:1 between females and males. In other words, it would be best to keep two female guppies for each male. That will lower the competition over territories and reproduction.
3. Pick the Right Genders
As was mentioned earlier, you shouldn’t keep guppies in predominantly male tanks. They will probably fight one another for territorial reasons or for the privilege to mate with the few females in the tank. The aggression, in this case, will arise pretty quickly.
Guppies will also fight in male-only tanks, and that aggression towards their kind can lead to violent confrontations with other species down the line. If you want your male guppies to control their tempers towards your loaches, keep them in tanks with roughly two to three females for every male fish.
4. Eliminate Territorial Conflicts
Like guppies, clown loaches have been known to manifest territorial behavior when experiencing stress. The easiest way to combat these mannerisms is to re-arrange the contents of the tank. That will destroy all existing territories.
Replacing the decorations and vegetation in different areas once a week will reset the existing territories. Your fish won’t remember which places they have ruled, so they will have to seek new ones each time.
That will eliminate aggression that manifests once a stranger fish approaches the ruling fish territory, either the guppy or the loach. However, keep in mind that too frequent changes may stress your fish even more.
5. Introduce Hiding Spots
I would suggest adding as many hiding spots as the available space allows (without overcrowding the tank). You can introduce new plants, install decorations like rocks, or add shelters like caves.
An abundance of hiding places makes clown loaches feel more secure. It also allows guppies to stay out of the way of violent clown loaches. Also, planted tanks are more inviting when it comes to breeding and spawning.
6. Ensure High Water Quality
Fish can misbehave when you force them to inhabit insufficient quality water. Some tend to withdraw, becoming less active. Others may lash out. Either way, if your clown loaches are attacking your guppies, I recommend performing a water test.
The best way to do this is by using a testing kit. That is where I highly recommend the API Aquarium Test Kit (link to Amazon). That is the bundle I’ve been using for months and is probably the best buying decision I’ve made so far in this area. It will test your water for ammonia, nitrates, and nitrates within minutes and will accurately measure the pH.
If the concentration of toxins like ammonia has spiked, I suggest performing more frequent water changes. As a rule of thumb, replace 20-30% of the water weekly for a month. Then, you can lower it to 10-15% per week. It would help if you also looked for these spikes’ potential causes, such as overfeeding and leftovers.
Install functional heaters, filters, and pumps where necessary. Don’t forget to vacuum the substrate, not to mention dechlorinating the water. If you can maintain a clean tank with the appropriate pH and temperature, your clown loaches and guppies will coexist peacefully.
Keep those parameters in a tank that features both guppies and clown loaches:
- Temperature: 74-83 degrees F.
- pH: 7.0 to 7.2.
- Tank size: at least 75 gallons.
- Ammonia and nitrites: 0 ppm
- Nitrates: maximum of 10 ppm.
7. Consider Separation
As was noted above, clown loaches have barbs that make them very dangerous. If your loaches keep antagonizing your guppies and all other attempts have failed to produce results, move the loaches to a different tank before your guppies suffer irreversible harm.
In the absence of a second tank, you can use a divider. All you have to do is build a meshed wall that will divide your existing tank into two. You could follow the instructions in the Youtube video below. The required materials are incredibly affordable.
Will Clown Loaches Eat Guppies?
Clown loaches will eat anything that fits in their mouths, including guppies. That will happen when the fish are malnourished, and the tank conditions are inadequate, including the water temperature and ammonia levels. However, in ideal environments, loches will probably show no interest in guppies.
If kept in the same tank, it is essential to follow the steps above to ensure both loaches and guppies can coexist. The key here is to avoid stressful conditions that will derive your loaches into eating the relatively smaller guppies.
If you found this content useful, here are a few related articles that may also interest you:
- Guppies and Discus Fish: Can They Live Together?
- Why Do Guppies Lose their Color and Become Pale?
- Guppies Swimming at the Top of the Tank: Reasons & Solutions
- Guppy Losing Tail, Scales and Fins: Reasons & Solutions
In terms of water requirements, clown loaches and guppies can live together in the same tank. That is because both species can thrive within the same temperature and pH range. However, that will not be the case if the tank’s conditions are inappropriate.
If your guppies or loaches present an aggressive behavior, you should first separate the two to avoid further damage. Then, make sure to test the water for ammonia and other toxins, using a testing kit. Ultimately, if nothing had worked, you may build a divider, so the two species can remain in the same tank.