Chromobotia macracanthus – Clown Botia

Chromobotia macracanthus or Clown Botia is a schooling fish and a territory former, they each need their own hiding place.

Chromobotia macracanthus – Clown Botia

The Clownbotia can reach a length of about 20 to 30 centimetres. These funny looking creatures are orange coloured with black bands all around, large round eyes and 3 to 6 pairs of barbels with which they search the bottom for food. They have an elongated body and a pointed, long snout.

Synonyms: Cobitis macracanthus, Botia macracantha, Botia macracanthus, Botia macrocanthus.

Under the eyes they have a thorn that they erect in case of danger. Attention, these can get stuck in the net when catching, then remove them very carefully. The thorn is sharp and can cause minor cuts, especially if the fish is floundering.

The Aquarium

Usually, Clown Botias are sold when they are still small cute brightly coloured fish of about five centimetres. However, it is a schooling fish that feels much better in a group than alone. They can reach a length of about 20 to 30 centimetres… this is provided that they are kept in the right way. You need an aquarium with a minimum length of 200 centimetres.

Set up the aquarium with plants, a sandy bottom and sufficient hiding places. You can use driftwood, stones, flower pots or half coconuts for this. Chromobotia macracanthus likes to hide from time to time. They also like a lot of current, extra powerheads to get the water moving are certainly appreciated.

Chromobotia macracanthus - Clown Botia
Chromobotia macracanthus – Clown Botia


Sumatra, Borneo, South East Asia. The Clownbotia inhabits the rivers here in very large groups of up to several thousand Botias together.


Cobitis macracanthus; Botia macracanthus, Clown Botia, Botia macracantha

Water parameters

Temperature: 23-27 Celsius.
pH: 6 – 7,5.
GH: 5-13


Clownbotias are real omnivores, they like to scrape off algae, eat mosquito larvae, daphnia, tubifex, flakes or food tablets. Provide enough variety to keep them healthy.


The Clownbotia is a schooling fish and a territory former, they each need their own hiding place. We recommend keeping them in the aquarium with at least 8 of them, otherwise, they will fight among themselves. Sometimes there is a chance that you won’t see them for days and then suddenly reappear.

Clownbotias need a lot of space, so don’t keep them in aquariums that are too small. You can keep them together with fish from the middle and upper water layers, as the Clown Loach is a bottom dweller. Kept in a group of at least 8 animals, they generally leave even the smaller fish alone. If the aquarium is large enough, other species can even breed without being bothered by the Clown Botia.

A school of Clownbotias has a ranking, usually headed by a female. From time to time there will be some skirmishes to confirm the ranking. The fish may incur some scratches, but in healthy fish these will disappear fairly quickly. During these skirmishes, the colour of the Chromobotia macracanthus can change quite a bit but don’t worry, as soon as the peace has returned, its old colour will soon return.

The Clown Botia also occasionally does the Botia dance. The Botia”s swim from top to bottom and back over and through each other. This behaviour can continue for a long time. Especially in groups that have just been placed in a new environment, you often see this behaviour during the first few days.

Sometimes you will find a Clownbotia in a rather strange position motionless in the aquarium, upside down, on its side or something similar. No reason to panic, the Clown Botia sometimes sleep this way, usually under a piece of decor or in a cave, actually anywhere it is slightly darker. They are mainly nocturnal/twilight animals. If you want to see them active more often, you can consider, for example, turning off the lighting a little earlier and letting a strip of blue LEDs burn for an hour. Usually, the whole group is in motion.

Breeding Clownbotia

Nothing is known about breeding Chromobotia macracanthus – Clown Botia. They are imported in large numbers from South East Asia and would therefore always be wild-caught.


Pay attention when catching and transporting Chromobotia macracanthus – Clown Botia. Just below their eye is a thorn that they raise in case of danger. This spine can easily get entangled in the net. Loosening this spine can damage the fish. When transporting the Clownbotia, also use double plastic bags. The spine easily pierces a plastic bag, causing you to lose water.

Also read: An introduction into keeping Botia.



John de Lange

Copyright images

Mark Duffill
Hristo Hristov

Bijgewerkt op 5 June 2023 door John

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