Introduction to Kuhli Loach

The kuhli loach is one of the most interesting freshwater aquarium fish which is also known as coolie loach, giant coolie loach, slimy loach, leopard loach, leopard eel, prickly eye, cinnamon loach etc. It is found in Southeast Asia; Sumatra, Singapore, western Malaysia, Java, Borneo, and Thailand. It occurs in shallow, slow-moving sections of forest streams or other calm habitats such as swamps, oxbows and backwaters with soft muddy bottom and lot of fallen leaves in the water. It prefers to live in small groups.

Kuhli Loach’s Overview

Kuhli loach is very favorite aquarium fish due to their gorgeous colors and personality. It has an eel-shaped body with very small fins. Four pairs of barbells are present around the mouth. Body is pinkish yellow in color and it is crossed by 12 to 17 vertical dark bars that circle the upper half of their body. The gaps between vertical bars are salmon pink to yellow in color with a light underside. The dorsal fin starts behind the middle of the body and the anal fin is set at the end of the base of the dorsal fin. The head is naked and the rest of the body is covered with very small scales. The eyes are covered by a transparent skin with two short needle shaped spines that are located under their eyes. They prefer soft, slightly acidic water with a pH of 5.5 – 6.8, a water hardness of 0 – 5.0 dGH and a temperature range of 75 – 86 °F.  Kuhli loach reaches maturity at 7 cm in length. It is omnivorous and in wild it generally eats both plant and animal based foods. It can grow up to 10 cm in length and can live for up to about 10 years.

Scientific Name: Pangio kuhlii

Common Name: Kuhli Loach, Coolie Loach, Leapard Eel, Prickly Eye, Cinnamon Loach

Origin: Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, Java, Sumatra, Borneo, Sarawak

Adult Size: 11 cm

Behavior: Peaceful

Tank Level: Bottom

Minimum Tank Size:  20 gallons

Diet: Omnivore

Breeding: Egg layer

Care level: Easy- medium

Water pH: 5.5-6.8

Water Hardness: 0 – 5.0 dGH

Water Temperature: 75 – 860F

Water Movement: Moderate

Lighting:  Low – subdued lighting

Lifespan:  10 years

Background of Kuhli Loach

The kuhli loach (Pangio kuhlii) was originally described as Cobitis kuhlii by Achille Valenciennes in 1846. It was named after German naturalist Heinrich Kuhl. It belongs to the family Cobitidae under order Cypriniformes of class Actinopterygii. Synonyms of this species are Ancanthophthalmus fasciatus, Ancanthophthalmus kuhlii, Cobitus kuhlii.  It is not listed in IUCN Red Data Book as threatened species.

Feeding Kuhli Loach

Kuhli loach is omnivorous and in wild it generally eats both plant and animal based foods. In captive condition it accepts all kinds of small live and frozen foods and meat based foods such as Tubifex worms, brine shrimp, mosquito larvae, Artemia, bloodworm, micro worm, grindal worm and Daphnia. They also like sinking pelleted and tablet foods, flakes and a bit of vegetable foods such as algae wafers. To keep a good balance give them a high quality prepared food every day. Feed should be offered 2-3 times a day.

Housing Kuhli Loach

Kuhli loach is peaceful fish and it requires at least 20 gallons densely planted tank with a sandy substrate, smooth river rocks and some driftwood roots for hiding places. It is bottom dwelling fish that spends most of their time on the bottom layers of the aquarium. The tank should have fairly dim light with aquatic plants like such as Java fern, Java moss and water trumpet etc. They do well in a tank with soft, slightly acidic water with pH of 5.5-6.8, hardness of 0 – 5 dGH and temperatures between 75 – 860F. Frequent water changes of about 30% should be done a week for the Kuhli Loach. The tank should also have tied cover as this fish is a great jumper. It is a great community fish and it should be kept in groups of 3 or more.  It can be kept with most other community fish but should not be kept with Cichlids. Suitable tank mate include small, peaceful species from similar environments such as Mosquito or Chilli rasbora, Danios, smaller Rasbora, Gouramies, Mini Royal Loach etc.

Breeding Kuhli Loach

The kuhli loach is egg layer and it is difficult to breed in the home aquarium. In the wild, the fish spawns communally in very shallow water. The breeding tank should be 10-20 gallons in size with floating plants which provide dim light and spawning surface. Breeding in captivity requires plenty of hiding spaces and consistent water quality. The tank should have water temperature of 75 – 860F, pH of 6.7 and hardness of 0 – 5 dGH. The mature female lays about 500-700 green colored eggs among the roots of floating plants such as water lettuce or other plants near the surface.  Parents should be removed from the tank right after spawning. The eggs hatch after a couple of days and the fry start feeding a few days later. The fry can be fed with infusorians, rotifers, brine shrimp nauplii or Tubifex.  In a month fry become about 1 cm long and become striped. It becomes mature at the age of 8-12 month.

Sexing Kuhli Loach

Adult females are typically heavier-bodied and a little larger than males. In male the pectoral fins are noticeably bigger and more paddle-shaped with branched and thickened first pectoral-fin ray. During the spawning season in the mature female greenish elongated spot is seen on her abdomen.

Kuhli Loach for sale and where to buy

The kuhli loach is an interesting addition to any community tank. It is readily available at pet stores and online and is moderately priced. It is commonly sold when it is usually 5-7 cm in length. To buy your gorgeous loach, see below online vendor and ask them details about fish that I would recommend from.