Kuhli Loach: The Best Care Guide with Everything You Need To Know

kuhli loach

The Ultimate Kuhli Loach Care Guide: Facts, Features, Tank Mates, Breeding and More…

The Kuhli Loach fish is a good clean fish with a peaceful temperament making it the perfect tank companion.

Because it is a bottom dweller, it will constantly look for food at the bottom of the tank making it ideal for cleaning the bottom of the tank

This article will give you everything you need to know about the Kuhli Loach fish.

Kuhli Loach: Quick Facts

DetailScientific classification
Species:P. kuhlii
Binomial name:Pangio kuhlii
Synonyms:Acanthophthalmus kuhlii, Cobitis kuhlii Valenciennes
Kuhli Loach
Kuhli Loach (Pangio kuhlii)

Kuhli Loach: Feature Facts

DetailFeature Fact
Scientific Name:Pangio kuhlii
Common Name:Kuhli Loach 
Natural habitat:Southeast Asia. Plant-rich streams in Malaysia, Thailand and Singapore.
Characteristics:length 10-12 cm, females somewhat paler and fuller.
Keeping:Group of at least 6 animals in pools with hiding places and dense planting. No sharp-edged floor.
Food: Smaller live and frozen food, food tablets. Especially like Tubifex and red mosquito larvae.
How long do they live?: up to 16 years
Temperature:24-29 ° C
pH value:5.5-7.0
Carbonate hardness:3 to 8 ° dH
Total hardness:5-15 ° dGH
Nitrate:20 mg / l
Aquarium size:60 liters
Lighting: Shady
Facility:Plants, shelter, many hiding places (roots / caves)
Reproduction: Free spawning 
Water region:below
Propagation:Egg layers
Can they share the tank with prawns?:with dwarf shrimp, offspring might be eaten
Can they shae the tank with snails / mussels?:Yes
Can they share the tank with dwarf crabs?:No
What are the ideal aquarium mates?Neon tetra, Cardinal tetra, Blackskirt tetra, Harlequin rasboras, Chili rasboras, Cherry barb, Celestial pearl danio, Zebra danio, Fancy guppy, Platy fish, Hatchetfish Otocinclus catfish, Cory catfish (but they’ll compete for food), Bristlenose pleco, Clown pleco, Nerite snail, Mystery snail

Kuhli Loach: Interesting Physiological Facts


Kuhli loaches can reach a length of 12 cm, but remains mostly only about 8-10 cm tall.


The body is yellowish with broad, brown-red to almost black transverse bands. The first three are on the head, the others up to 17 are distributed relatively evenly over the body and lead to the high-contrast drawing.

Gender differences

The sex differences are very difficult to recognize in the Kuhli loaches. The females should be a bit paler, but this is hardly noticeable. Adult females are significantly fuller in the abdominal region (just behind the head) than the males, but this should be compared before feeding.


Targeted breeding is very difficult. Spawning is likely to occur more frequently in the aquarium. The eggs are greenish and sink to the bottom, where they are quickly eaten by other aquarium inhabitants and their own parents. Since spawning usually takes place in the early morning or late evening, it is hardly noticed.

Life expectancy

Kuhli loaches can probably reach a maximum age of almost 20 years in the aquarium.

Kuhli Loach: What people also ask

How many Kuhli loaches should be kept together?

Kulhi loaches only grow to about 3 or 4 inches and do not produce a lot of waste in the tank. You can therefore keep a group of at least 3 to 6 in a 20 gallon or larger aquarium.

How big do Kuhli loaches get?

Kuhli loahes mature at about 3 inches and have a maximum length of about 4 inches.

Are Kuhli loaches aggressive?

Kuhli loaches are a peaceful species. Even though they are not a schooling fish, they thrive in small groups.

Kuhli Loach: Quick Beginner Introduction (Video)

Kuhli loach beginner video overview

Kuhli Loach: Interesting Aquarium Facts


Kuhli loaches are greedy eaters and accept all types of food. In addition to dry food and granules, they should be given live or frozen food twice a week. Mosquito larvae and Tubifex are particularly popular.

Group size

Kuhli loaches only show their normal behavior in a group of at least six specimens. They are then also happy to swim and seem to be playing around with each other.

Aquarium size

An aquarium of 54 l (60 cm) is enough for a group of six specimens.

Aquarium equipment

Since the substrate / soil region in particular is inhabited, it should be designed to be varied. 

Small caves and hiding places made of stones and roots should be supplemented with small piles of leaves (sea almond, beech). 

Here the Kuhli loaches submerge again and again and also look for food. In this way, the actually crepuscular fish can also be seen well during the day. It is very important, however, to cover the aquarium tightly; the Kuhli loaches will find even the smallest cracks. 

The fish need a soft substrate for their wellbeing, fine sand, for example, would be ideal. Under no circumstances should it be sharp-edged!

Kuhli loaches can socialize

In the company of other larger fish, the Kuhli loaches are shy, even if they are peaceful. But small barbels and danios as well as labyrinth fish are excellent company. You should avoid other fish that live close to the ground, such as catfish and dwarf cichlids.

Required water values

The water values ​​are not critical, almost everything is tolerated. The temperature should be between 23 and 27 ° C, the pH value between 5.5 and 7.5.

Kuhli loach
Kuhli loach on substrate

Kuhli Loach: Ideal Aquarium Conditions

Caring for Kuhli Loaches is not difficult; the fish is quite hard and good to go itself. The owner needs to consider that they, like catfish, lead a near-bottom lifestyle. For Kuhli Loach to live comfortably, their conditions of aquariums should be as natural as possible:

  • For a Kuhli Loach of Size: 5-7 cm, the recommended aquarium volume is 100 liters or more.
  • The optimal soil is coarse sand or small pebbles. Gravel is strongly discouraged; Loaches can be injured and die.
  • Decor: The internal space of the aquarium and fill it with decorative grottoes, driftwood, plants, leaving enough space for the normal life of the fish.
  • Aeration and filtration: The filter is selected with a sampling hole, always covered with a mesh so that the fish is not pulled inward. It is better to use a special bottom filter or an internal aqua filter.
  • The lighting is dim, diffused, as close as possible to the natural conditions of the fish.

Kuhli Loach prefers to live in water with the following parameters:

  • temperature conditions from 22(71F) to 28 (82F) degrees above zero
  • pH 5-5.7
  • rigidity from 5 to 9


If acanthus often began to rise to the surface of the water, then there is a problem in the aquarium. You urgently need to siphon the soil and replace the water.

Kuhli Loach: 16 Cool Facts

They are very secretive

Kuhli loaches are very “secretive” in nature. They are nocturnal. So that means you won’t see them all that often

They are benthic

The Kuhli loach is a bottom-dweller and hides among the leaves and aquatic vegetation on or near the bottom of the tank.

They are scavengers

In the wild, Kuhli loaches are scavengers and will eat just about any food that falls on the substrate.

They have a hobby

The Kuhli loach will spend most of its time probing the substrate for food.

They are very taste-Sensitive

The Kuhli loaches have 6 taste-sensitive receptors that help them find food

They have an acute sense of smell

The Kuhli loaches have two pairs of nostrils which help them find food. They can sense and locate food that has been placed in the aquarium very quickly.

They have no teeth in the mouth

Like all loaches, Kuhli loaches do not have any teeth in their mouth or jaw. Instead, they have a single row of pharyngeal teeth in their throat just behind the gill plate (operculum). That is why they prefer soft food.

They have a chewing pad

The Kuhli loaches have a chewing pad that helps with their eating. The pharyngeal teeth process food by grinding it against the chewing pad
located at the base of the skull.

They are loud eaters

Some Kuhli loaches can emit very loud sounds when eating because
of the pharyngeal teeth grinding food against the chewing pad. It almost sounds as if the glass of the aquarium is cracking.

They are comfortable in groups

While they are not a schooling species, they tend to be social. They will be more confident and visible if they are kept in groups of six or more.

They are more visible with more hiding places

The more hiding places you have for the Kuhli loaches to hide, the
more you will see them in the tank!

They react to threats

When they feel threatened (for example with the introduction of threatening species in the tank) or are stressed, Kuhli loaches have a suborbital (below the eye) spine which they turn outwards for protection. The spine is hidden away beneath a fold of skin.

They can get stuck in aquarium nets

These suborbital spines can sometimes become snagged in aquarium
fish nets when a Kuhli loach is being caught. If this happens, do not attempt
to free the loach from the net by hand. Just set the net down in the water and the loach will free itself.

They have no scales on the head

The Kuhli loach head does not have any scales. It is more like armor-plating suitable for pushing into the substrate looking for food

They do have scales!!

Kuhli loaches have small cycloid scales. These tiny scales increase the permeability of their skin. That is why they can be very sensitive to medication in the aquarium.

They can get into the filters

If you use power heads or HOB filters, make sure that the intakes are covered so that the Kuhli loaches do not get inside.

Kuhli Loach: Breeding

Kuhli loach spawning and breeding

Breeding kuhli loach is a complex process that requires not only theoretical knowledge but also extensive experience:

  1. Manufacturers select up to 5 sexually mature individuals, from the age of 1 year.
  2. The spawning area should be at least 1 square meter. Water should be slightly acidic, temperature + 26-28 degrees. A separate mesh is placed at the bottom.
  3. To provoke spawning, Kuhli is given a hormonal injection of chorionic gonadotropin. To do this, they are transplanted into a three-liter jar, a little novocaine is dripped. After a while, the Kuhli will freeze and the drug is administered to them.
  4. After the injection, the fish are transplanted into spawning. In a few hours, courtship games will begin. The existing pairs intertwine with each other and rise to the top of the aquarium, where the female will begin to spawn eggs, which will fall to the bottom, under the net, thanks to her parents will not be able to get to it and eat it.
  5. The spawning process can be repeated several times. For one spawning, the female lays up to 700 eggs.
  6. After 24 hours, small tails appear in the eggs, and after 4 days, the finally formed larvae begin to actively eat live dust. An aquarium with fry should be protected from bright light.
  7. After two weeks, fry begins to appear in the fry, and after a month they are transferred to live food.

If you decide and settle a small flock of loaches in a home aquarium, they definitely will not be bored with them.

Kuhli Loach: Videos

Kuhli Loach: Common Diseases & Ailments

Cloudy skin bacterial infection

Symptoms of cloudy skin

External symptoms
  • The skin looks cloudy.
  • The eyes become cloudy.
  • A gray or white layer covers the skin.
  • A gray or white layer covers the eyes.
  • Red spots on the sides of the fish.
  • The gills are swollen.
  • Fish shoot around.
  • Fish become listless.
  • Fish lie on the bottom.

Causes of cloudy skin

Cloudy skin is caused by the increased formation of mucus on the (mucous) skins of the fish.

Cloudiness of the skin is best recognized by dark colored areas and on the eyes. Clouds of the skin are usually triggered by various parasites such as:

  • Ichtyobodo
  • Trichodina
  • Skin worms
  • Gill worms

Single-cell parasites that live on the skin of fish are also known as cloudy skin. A few skin clouds are found on many fish. These are typical parasites of weakness. They only reproduce strongly when the living conditions for the infested fish are unfavorable. To control it, it is often sufficient if the keeping conditions for the fish are improved quickly.

Result from the parasitic infection is bacterial disease (The bacteria targets the damaged skin caused by parasites)

At times the bacterial infection leads to an infestation with skin worms which can be recognized by their typical appearance and their winding movements.

NOTE: Make sure you do not confuse the bacterial infection with Columnaris which also causes skin cloudiness.

Treatment suggestions for cloudy skin

1. Use malachite green

Malachite green has been shown to be effective against many skin flagellates caused by unicellular parasites.

  • Alpha-Biocare Ciliol (brilliant green)
  • Amtra medic 1
  • Aquarium Münster faunamor (malachite green)
  • Aquarium Münster faunamor p (malachite green)
  • Hobby Rabomed (malachite green)
  • HS Ichtocell
  • JBL Punktol (malachite green, brilliant green)
  • Sera Costapur (malachite green)
  • Tetra ContraIck (malachite green)

2. Use salt or malachite green from the pharmacy

Pure malachite green should only be used in severe cases. Malachite green is very toxic and can irritate the skin.

During a treatment with remedies that contain malachite green, the light should be turned off, since malachite green is at least not lightfast.

3. Use baths or with remedies that contain acriflavine in case there are worms

Slight skin worm infestations can be treated with salt baths or with remedies that contain acriflavine. The following remedies for treating skin worms are commercially available. The main active ingredient contained is named in brackets.

  • Alpha-Biocare Moneol (Praziquantel)
  • Amtra medic 4 (acriflavine)
  • JBL Gyrodactol ( hydrogen peroxide )
  • Sera mycopur (acriflavin, copper sulfate)
  • Sera omnipur
  • Zoomedica Frickinger Gyrotox (hydrogen peroxide)

4. Use tinidazole

Amoebiasis is the causative agent of parasitic amoeba. Sick fish begin to breathe faster. During treatment, the pet is placed in a bath with tinidazole and kept there for no more than 4 hours. In parallel, disinfect the aquarium with a formalin solution (3%).

Kuhli Loach: Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Which water do I need for Kuhli loaches?

Since Kuhli loaches come from areas with rather soft and slightly acidic water, you should try to imitate these water conditions accordingly.
Of course, Kuhli loaches can be kept in “normal” tap water, but this is not an ideal and it is not desirable either.
The following water values ​​are ideal but can be adjusted accordingly. Slight deviations are quite acceptable, as there are no precise values ​​in their natural biotope:
·       Carbonate hardness: 4 °
·       Total hearing: 6 °
·       Temperature: 27 C °
·       pH: 6.85
·       Nitrate: below 25 mg / liter
These water values ​​represent general ideal experience. You can always attempt to deviate from these conditions..
Hygiene and other stress-reducing factors are more important than the values ​​of the water.

What do Kuhli loaches eat?

Kuhli loaches eat pretty much everything. In addition to the common feed flakes, granulates and tablets, snails such as tower snails are also popular.
Live food such as red mosquito larvae or Tubifex is ideal (which should, however, be fed more sparingly). Frozen food is also ingested in many ways. It is important to have a varied diet!

Do Kuhli loaches jump out of the water?

Yes. Kuhli loaches are known to spring from the aquarium. This was caused by fright and stress.
However, that phenomenon is rather rare. If you are concerned, simply construct basic escape protection for all aquarium inhabitants.

How many Kuhli loaches should I at least have in the aquarium?

Kuhli loaches belong to the loach family and are therefore group animals. Only in a larger group of at least 6 animals – better more – can they show natural behavior.

A group hierarchy or ranking such as in the case of clown loaches (Chromobotia macracanthus) has not yet been observed and is also not to be expected. Kuhli loaches are peaceful with one another and form common groups.

Can I socialize Kuhli loaches?

Yes.  It is of course important that Kuhli loaches are not viewed as live food. So you should avoid socializing Kuhlia with large omnivores such as peacock cichlids. This can of course go well due to the differentiated way of life, but always poses a risk for the animals.
If there is enough space, Kuhli loaches can be socialized with animals living on the ground such as Corydoras.
If you choose to socialize them with fish such as tetra or danios, you have to remember that they are a food competition. In that case it would be advisable to feed the Kuhli loaches at dusk.
Additionally, you should add in plenty of hiding places for the Kuhlis where there are other inhabitants in the aquarium.

How big does an aquarium for Kuhli loaches have to be?

An aquarium of 112 liters or 80 cm in length should be the minimum. Such an aquarium offers enough floor space to set up and design the floor appropriately.
It is advisable to pay more attention to the depth than the length or height when buying. An aquarium with a depth of 50 cm creates a lot of possibilities for structuring.
Since not only the space is important but also the quality of the water, it is recommend that 100 liters for species tanks or 150-200 liters for community with other fish is a minimum. The larger the body of water, the less serious errors can be.

Why did a relatively thick Kuhli loach die?

Female Kuhli loaches are known to suddenly die. The main reason for that is what is referred to as spawn hardening. This happens when the animals have no way of shedding. The egg-laying time is exceeded and an agonizing death occurs.
The females are usually a bit fuller depending on their conditioning. In most cases, females get rid of their eggs by squeezing through narrow crevices, stripping the eggs in the process.
Of course, this is only one method of laying eggs, and spawning in the open is not uncommon.
This can be prevented by adding piles of pebbles or slates of slate close to the aquarium pane to at least create the possibility of wiping off. You should definitely consider this when purchasing and keeping it!

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