I've been fairly lucky with mine so far. Not much uprooting. But they do like to punch the occasional holes in leaves (leaves a slight V shape hole). My biggest is about 5" currently but I'll be putting them soon in an 8' planted tank so they can grow to there full potential I hope. Substrate is sand, which I fear might be easier for them to dig up plants, time will tell. I am trying to stick to heavy duty & well rooted plants for the most part, mosses, ferns, crypts. Should be planted soon and I'll give the plants a chance to establish before introducing the clowns.
I have three of them in my planted tank. Two of them are around 3.5-4" and the other is probably closer to 3". They've been in there just about since the beginning of this tank (~8-9 months). I have some nice driftwood that they hide under, but many times I see them out and about. Interestingly enough, (despite the concerns people expressed) I have a group of cherry shrimp in there that had grown from 10-15 to up over 100. I've never seen the loaches touch them, but I feed everyone well and there are plenty of hiding places (although the shrimp are out and about many times as well).
It's something to ponder. Maybe fish have different personalities and temperments (within species), like people do. If that's that case, perhaps I just lucked out.
Added the clown loach's after gaining ramshorn snails with new plants. The snails were starting to over run the tanks. The clowns seem well suited to snail control They maintain a good reduction in the numbers so far. They haven't bothered or uprooted any of my plants as yet (5 months).
In the tank where I had clowns they never once bothered the other fish at all (rasboras, neons, cats, dwarf turquoise rainbows, SAEs, ottos) Just played around. I primarily kept them because I like their personalities and antics but I did have a snail infestation that was erradicated.
I had crypts, java, anubias, lobelia, ludwigia repens, green rotala and hygro. Occaisionally, like maybe once every couple months I'd noticed several bites in the hygros as they have soft leaves. But that's it...and hygros grew so fast it didn't matter. Another thing is that I occaisionally threw in some algae wafers for the algae crew, and then the clowns might of filled up on them a bit--maybe the clowns weren't getting the veggies they needed in their diet??
I'm growing HC and glosso emersed right now and I'm not planning on putting in clowns because I suspect they do too much rooting around and might nibble at some of HC. Though I'm not sure as now the HC is firmly rooted into the substrate....
However I love clowns so much I think I'm going to setup a low light tank with java and anubia varieties and throw in JUST clowns. They grow quickly and get huge if treated right and they are fun to watch. Also always get them in groups of at least 3 or 4, they hide out and get reclusive and skittish with just a couple or one.
I can't say much about clown loaches but I thought I'd take a quick second to warn anyone not already aware of the effects of a weather loach on the planted tank.
I have a beautiful weather loach that is now a full adult (maybe 7 inches or so), absolutely love this guy has a very interesting personality but have found out weather loaches love to dig into the substrate. And not just a little bit... this guy will burrow down 2 inches and have it's entire body underneath the substrate.
Try planting new plants with that guy around, he can even dig underneath the rocks I place around my new plants to prevent him from uprooting them.
Maybe for a while, some years, but eventually full grown mature specimens are probably not going to let you have a lovely planted tank. People who have kept these guys and I mean for years and they are above 8-10" more often than not appear to have real problems keeping plants even the likes of Java fern for long. Emma Turner is pretty well known in the Loach keeping world and having spoken with her partner(they have 35+ loaches in one big system), some plants survive (not thrive) for a little while until the occupants decide to re decorate. I love these loaches, but i think that eventually it is a question of planted tank or clown loach tank and very unlikely both.http://www.loaches.com/species-index/clown-loach-chromobotia-macracanthus
I have four and I have these ceramic tubes for them to lay in. I bought them on Amazon (3 tubes in a triangle format). I ended up with three sets to create a giant pyramid structure. They spend their days with their tails hanging off the ends of the tubes which is funny as all hell - they always manage to face in the exact same direction - weird. My plants are decently safe - except for the occasional Carolina Cabomba that gets knocked out of the gravel which I replant. As long as the plants have decent roots they seem to leave them alone. The only plant they seem to adore eating is Wisteria. They have destroyed that one. I've run into a few others that usually last five minutes. Bacopa seems to do well with them. They don't really eat it. I've found a few others that they don't seem to eat so you can find plants that work with them. They are so much fun. It's worth replanting everything they dig up only because they bring a lot of character to my tanks. I do feed them really well which may help. I do algae tablets and also a Hikari Carnivore Pellet mix which they devour like it's the end of the world. Fair warning - you don't want to put them with docile non-aggressive eaters as they will run over EVERYTHING to get to the pellet food.