11-01-2010, 02:44 PM
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I believe the first issue is the tank size; a 55g is not suitable for clown loach. If you have a look at the profile of this fish (click on the shaded name to see the profile) it mentions they must be in a group (5-6 or more), and as they attain 8 inches minimum but may reach 12 inches, a tank of 5-6 feet is required. If such a large tank is possible, then they could manage temporarily in a 4-foot, but loaches like all fish grow constantly, developing internally as they do, and they need that space early on or they can be "stunted" or deformed internally. The group is mandatory because of their high social interaction.
If you really want loaches, there are several species suitable for a 4-foot (55g) tank, they are in the profiles (general profile link is the second tab from the left in the blue bar at the top of the screen).
The profiles also mention natural habitats of the particular fish species, and in many cases aquascape suggestions in the general discussion are also included especially where these are significant to the fish's well being. Sand can work, I would use (as I do for my loaches) small-grain gravel, it is excellent medium for plants and substrate fish do fine with it.
A last comment on light; loaches may be "shy" in brightly lit tanks; dim light (sufficient for the plants but no more) plus a canopy of floating plants achieves an ideal light level for almost all forest fish.
Last edited by Byron; 11-01-2010 at 02:49 PM..