The size of the clown fish tank is all-important for the clown loach fish. They are fast swimmers and if they don't have the space to exercise their growth may be stunted, they may be more susceptible to clown diseases, and their life spans shortened. Also, consider that clown loaches need others of their kind to thrive, so make sure your tank is large enough for at least 5 adult clowns.
For immature clown loaches, an aquarium of 4ft in length would be suitable and adults will need at least a 6ft long aquarium. It is difficult to pin down a minimum tank size; however, due to their potential size a 100 gallons is the recommended minimum size of for a clown fish tank. If you have a smaller clown fish tank and plan to upgrade as they grow you will know when it's time to upgrade because the clown fish will begin running into the walls of the aquarium as they swim.
I'm a firm believer of "biotyping". Basically, it means that you try to mimic the natural environment of the fish. For example, clown loaches are naturally found in somewhat fast flowing jungle rivers and streams South East Asia. So you would try to replicate that environment in your clown fish tank. Include lots of shade (especially from tank lighting) and don't place the tank by a window. Try to populate the aquarium with plants and other fish found in SE Asian rivers and streams. That's my take; obviously, you don't have construct your clown fish tank in that way.
There are some things that are recommended for any tank with clowns (biotyped or not). Clown loaches live mostly in the bottom strata of the aquarium, so a large bottom is best (depth is not really important in a clown fish tank). Use aquarium gravel with some small and large stones, but make sure that there are no sharp edges in the bottom substrate. Clown loaches like to dig themselves into the ground and anything sharp could damage them. Also, to make them feel more at home, have real plants in the aquarium. When the clown loaches are young the plants in your clown fish tank will be relatively safe, but when they get a little older the clowns will ravage the plant population (even when you feed the clown loaches properly). Some of their favourites seem to be Hygrophila species and swordplants, whereas java fern, Anubias and vallisneria are not as much their taste (although they may still be nimbled).
Clown fish need a current to swim against. To create one use a powerhead. Try to make it so that the current goes under some sort of shade producing plant or other type of cover, so that the clowns can swim undercover. Also, make sure that the water is well-filtered.
Most importantly, create some hiding places for the clowns. Clown loaches are big fans of hiding places, so holes and caves are a required addition to an aquarium if you're adding clowns. There are many ways to create hiding places and the clown fish themselves are not very picky how a hiding place is made as long as it's there. So it's best to create hiding places in a way that you find pleasing to the eye. Make the hiding place big enough for multiple clown fish because they like to lie together and observe the outside world. An important consideration when building hiding places is make sure that there are no sharp edges. Clown loaches like to squeeze themselves into very small spaces and sharp edges may injure them. You may somtimes find that the clowns squeeze themselves between the aquarium equipment and appear to be stuck, but don't worry, they're not stuck. They like to be in tight places.
I didn't give exact steps to build the clown fish tank because then everyone who followed the rules would have the same tank and that wouldn't be much fun. If you follow the guidelines above your clown fish tank set up should be an optimal place for clown fish to live. However, do make sure that you provide proper clown loach care as far as water quality and temperature go. When you have happy clown loaches watch their behaviour, they might just start to dance for you.
Go to clown loach natural environment (next page).