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Why Your Clown Loach Is Playing Dead In Your Aquarium!

The clown loach is an extremely popular species of fish within the fish keeping hobby and a large number of people who keep clown loaches in their tanks often reach out to ask various questions about the different behaviors that their clown loach shows throughout the day.

Although the clown loach definitely has a number of quirks with it, one of the main things that we have seen people asking about is their clown loach playing dead in their tank.

Due to the number of people reaching out and asking “If it is normal for Clown loaches to lay on their side?“, we decided that we wanted to publish our own article going over the topic as many of the fish keepers that we see reaching out about this are often worried about their fish.

Our hope is that we will be able to help our readers better understand the reasons why their clown loach may be playing dead to prevent you from worrying.

Is It Normal For A Clown Loach To Play Dead?

In most cases, it is totally normal for a clown loach to play dead in their tank as it is how the species sleeps.

We know that it may look strange and it causes many people within the fish keeping hobby who are new to keeping clown loaches to worry about the health of their fish but, for the most part, it is natural and nothing to worry about.

We have seen some people claim that they have been able to train their clown loach to play dead on command and although there are some highly intelligent interactive fish that you can sometimes teach things too, this is very rare in a clown loach.

In our opinion, the vast majority of the clown loaches that “play dead” are just sleeping or relaxing in their tank.

Why Do Clown Loaches Play Dead?

The main reason that clown loaches play dead in their tanks is because it is how they sleep.

Clown loaches will often lie on their side at the bottom of the tank and remain completely still until they are awoken by a noise or movement in their tank which startles them.

This sleeping position allows them to rest their body and minds as they would be if they were asleep in the wild and it also provides them with a form of camouflage.

If you have ever seen a clown loach “playing dead” in your aquarium, you will notice that their coloration may start changing slightly to match the substrate or décor in their tank which is another way that they provide themselves with some protection while sleeping.

In less common situations, your clown loach may have lost the ability to control is swimming due to having problems with swim bladder disease but this is rare.

If your clown loach does have swim bladder disease then the other symptoms of the disease will be obvious in the fish helping you work out exactly what’s wrong.

Here are some of the other symptoms of swim bladder disease to watch out for:-

  • The fish is unable to swim properly and may be swimming at an angle or upside down.
  • The fish may be floating at the surface of the tank.
  • You may see the fish gasping for air at the surface of the tank.
  • The fish’s body will be curved downwards.
  • The fish may be constipated.

As you can see, if your clown loach is displaying any of these symptoms then it is likely that they have swim bladder disease and you should take them to a vet for treatment.

In the vast majority of cases though, your clown loach that seems to be playing dead on the substrate of its tank will just be sleeping and there won’t be anything to worry about.

Should I Try To Stop My Clown Loach From Playing Dead?

In most situations, there is no need to try and stop your clown loach from playing dead as it is a natural behavior for the species.

However, if you are worried about your fish or think that it may be sick then the best thing to do would always be to take them to a vet for a check-up.

We would highly recommend that you wait at least 24 hours before you book an appointment with your local veterinarian though as it is highly likely that your clown loach will wake up and go about its business without issue within that time frame.

We have seen some people on social media recommend that you intentionally wake your clown loach up from its sleep to see if it is just sleeping but we wouldn’t recommend this.

There is always a small risk if you intentionally wake a fish from sleeping and it can spike the stress and anxiety levels in the fish so we always recommend against it.

In most cases, your clown loach will just wake up naturally after a few hours anyway so there’s no need to take the risk.