Kuhli Loach Care – Aquarium Requirements, Fish Pairing, Diet, etc.

Kuhli Loach Care – Aquarium Requirements, Fish Pairing, Diet, etc.

Species Summary

The Kuhli Loach is also known as the Coolie Loach. It is one of the most common fish species for aquariums because it maintains the same characteristics in an aquarium as it does in the wild. It is also used widely in shared aquariums. The fish has a long history but it was classified and included in the Cobitidaoe family of fishes in the year 1846. You can say that it is one of the few Old World Fishes. It is a nocturnal creature, meaning it is more active in the night time.


The Kuhli Loach species is commonly found in the freshwater streams of Southeast Asia. It is abundantly found in counties like Borneo, Thailand, Indonesia, and Malaysia. It was one of the most common food sources of the early Indonesians.


Every wild creature’s lifespan is dependent on how it is treated in captivity, whether it is aqueous or land-living. However, the average lifespan of Kuhli Loach is nearly 10 years. And, if it is cared-well then, it can be around for quite a while. The fish’s lifespan is mainly dependent on the water quality, tank mates, and diet.

Kuhli Loach Appearance

kuhli loaches

It is very slender. And, one can easily mistake them as eels. The body of Kuhli loach is thin and, its fins are so small that they cannot be noticed easily. However, it has lateral lines on its body. And, a dorsal fin is located on the back of the body near the tail which is different from the other fishes whose fins are primarily located in the middle of their body. The Kuhli loach fishes are come in different colors from light pink to brassy yellow. There are 10 to 15 dark stripes on the top of the skin, very similar to the stripes of tigers.


An average Kuhli Loach is not very big. It grows to five inches height in its natural habitat. However, it can grow up to 3 inches to 4 inches under captivity. But, it does not require a lot of space in the aquarium.


The Kuhli loach fishes are available in a range of colors. But, the black color variant of the fish is more popular among tank owners. This variant of the fish is usually called as Black Kuhli Loach. This variant is not different from the other color variants of fish. However, it is loved because it is completely black from the head to the tail. There are very few small-sized fishes that are found completely black, so aquarists find black Kuhli loach quite appealing an addition to their tank.

Kuhli Loach Care

kuli loach tank

Kuhli Loach is a very easygoing fish species. They do not require much care and attention and, survive easily in captivity.


The tank itself requires a bit of preparation before it receives a Kuhli loach. The tank should hold at least 5 gallons of water. And, if you add more of this fish species then add 3 to 5 gallons of water for every additional Kuhli loach.


The tank size should be a minimum of 16 inches by 10 inches for holding one Kuhli Loach. The size of the tank doubles as per the additional fishes from the Kuhli loach species.


The ideal PH level of water should be 5.5 to 6.5 for a Kuhli loach. It should be kept with a school of fishes. It is a ground-fish so it mostly roams at the bottom of the tank. So, prepare the tank bottom with small, soft rocks or soft sand.

Plants and Decorations

kuhli loach plants

This shy little fish likes to hide in the daytime. So, adding some dark little spaces like caves, the underside of driftwoods or below plant roots makes it feel as if it is in its natural habitat. You can add plants like Java fern inside the décor. The small caverns with some live aqueous plants would give a distinct look to the tank also.


Since it is mostly caught from the wild and not tank bred, so it is ideal to provide them with some features that mimic their natural habitat. The water temperature should be the same as those of freshwater streams, which is 75° Fahrenheit to 85° Fahrenheit (24°-29° Celsius).


Since Kuhli loaches are nocturnal species of fishes, they require special lighting setup in the tank. The light that is dimmable and mimics sunlight would encourage the fish to forage. You can also add red or blue light in the tank so that you can see them when your main, bright light is off.


The Kuhli loaches prosper in the flowing spring water bodies that are self-cleaning. So, it is important to keep the tank water clean and well-oxygenated. There are several filters and oxygen releasing devices available that can easily complete the task. However, changing the tank water once in a month is a very productive way to keep all the fish species lively and happy in captivity.

Kuhli Loach Care – HD Video

If you enjoy videos more, you’ll love this beautiful footage of the kuhli loach in HD! Also great commentary text to go along with it!

Kuhli Loach Health

Kuhli loaches are often acquired from the wild so it is very resistant to many diseases. However, there are always some biological challenges for every living organism.

Common Health Issues

kuhli loach health

There are two primary health issues of Kuhli loaches.

One is known as Ich or white spot disease. It is one of the most common diseases amongst aqueous creatures but Kuhli loaches are more susceptible to it.

Another health issue common to Kuhli loaches is parasite attack. The parasites cause a problem in Kuhli loaches which is known as the skinny disease. The common symptom of parasitic attack is that the fish eats properly but keeps losing weight.

These diseases can be tackled easily with the help of some medication and, water-temperature management.

Kuhli Loach Healthy Signs

The tiny, little fish weighs only 100 grams. The fish is healthy when it remains hidden or less active during the daytime. Also, look for signs of weight loss or weight gain. A little weight gain is not an issue. However, weight loss without any significant reason is a worrisome sign. Moreover, the shine and color of the skin do not fade as they age, but only when it is attacked by parasites or bacteria.

Kuhli Loach Food & Diet

Kuhli loaches are mostly carnivorous species of fishes. But, it does not attack other fishes in the tank. It usually accepts pellets and flakes. But, you should supplement its diet with frozen as well as live foods. The live foods that are happily accepted by Kuhli loaches are blood worms, mosquito larvae, and brine shrimps. Also, you can feed foods that are designed to sink in the bottom of the tank such as, loach pellets. Besides, it would be fruitful to feed Kuhli loaches after turning off the tank lights.

Behavior & Temperament

It is an easygoing, shy fish that likes to be left alone. Its temperament is peaceful and does not befriend other species of the fishes in the tank. However, it is best to keep them in a school of different species, instead of keeping them alone or with the same species only.

Fish Pairing

kuhli loach tank mates

However, it is shy species but it likes to have a few fishes around it. The ideal tank mates for Kuhli Loaches are fish species of tetra, rasboras, and plecos. Also, adding some snails in the fish tank for Kuhli loaches is an intelligent choice.

Kuhli Loach FAQ

  1. Are Kuhli loaches a lively fish species?

    No, it is a shy species of fishes. But, it likes lively fishes around it.

  2. Do you need to take special care of the fish?

    You would only need some standard procedures to mimic the natural environment. Otherwise, the fish species does not require any special care or treatment.

  3. Is it hard to breed this species?

    No, the Kuhli loaches are timid species of fish. So, they do not appreciate it if you try to attract their attention.

  4. Are Kuhli loaches more susceptible to diseases due to their small size?

    This species is often caught from wild and then sold in the market. So, they are quite resistant to diseases. However, there always some biological challenges that comes with every living organism.

  5. Is it a saltwater species?

    No, it is a freshwater species which is why it easily survives in a water tank or aquarium without any extra care or attention.

  6. Do Kuhli loaches require any special diet?

    No. They usually like to eat shells and other organic materials of other fishes in the school. However, they only prey fallen shells and do not eat live fishes.


Kuhli loaches are a wonderful fish species. You should consider keeping them in your fish tank or aquarium. It is also not very pricey and, does not need any special care. It likes to stay aloof so it can be kept with a school of other fishes without any worries. Also, it is a carnivore species that mostly eat fallen skin shells and other organic materials of other fishes. The most incredible thing about Kuhli loaches is that they are not bred in the artificial environment instead, caught from the wild. However, they adjust pretty well in the water tanks and aquariums.

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