How to Take Care of Kuhli Loaches

Kuhli loach

Also known as Coolie loach, leopard loach or cinnamon loach

Scientific Name:  Pangio kuhlii
Family: Cobitidae
Care level: Easy
Temperament: Peaceful
Diet: Omnivore – live food, frozen food, and quality flakes
Breeding: lays eggs
Water Temperature: 73 to 86 F/22.7 to 30C
Water pH: 5.5-6.5

Kuhli Loach

About the Kuhli Loach

The loach is a really unique and interesting oddball fish, making it a highly sought after fish that looks like a miniature eel.

There are many varieties, some with alternating black patches running across its back with a leopard pattern. This is why another common name for this fish is a leopard loach.

The Kuhli loach comes from Southeast Asia and was once used as a food source in Indonesia.

Kuhli Loaches in a Fish Tank

Kuhli loaches are awesome community fish that don’t bother anyone. They are great for cleaning up the bottom of the tank since they like to pick through the gravel to find food. These attributed make them very good candidates for a community aquarium. This quality also makes it a fish that is in high demand.

How to care for a kuhli loach

The average lifespan of the Kuhli Loach is about 10 years so if taken well care of then you can enjoy them for a very long time.

Size: in the wild 5 inches, in captivity around 3-4 inches so they don’t need a lot of room in the aquarium

They are very susceptable to water quality and temperature fluctations so it’s important to keep a stable environment.

Since they are pretty much smooth skinned they are more sensitive to medications and other chemicals than other fish with scales.

One common issue is they are suseptable to ick since they don’t have scales to protect them. When Ick hits, they are usually the first ones to come down with the disease and can be fatal.

The Key to keeping this fish healthy is stable water quality, a good varied diet and a good environment.

Food: They are omnivores so they will eat pretty much anything as they scavenge the bottom of the tank.
These loaches require to be fed food that will reach the bottom of the tank since they don’t normally move up the water column.

They really enjoy foods that are rich in protein, and of course love live foods as well as freeze dried foods and standard pellets.

Every few days or so, I feed them some frozen blood worms, brine shrimp and tubifex worms.
You can feed these guys several times a day since they have hearty appetites. But I usually just feed once a day since i don’t want my other fish to gorge themselves. Balance is a necessity.

Water: In nature they live in slow flowing rivese and they like warmer temperatures around 75-85 degrees.
Kuhli loaches like more acidic water with a ph around 5.5-7 but the key is not to chase the water parameters but keep it stable.

Tank size:

They are social fish and like to be in groups. They are not big so they don’t need a big tank.
At least a 10 gallon should do for a few but the more you have the bigger tank they will require.

They like to squeeze thru small cracks and crevices so it’s important the intake valves be covered with a foam filter or some mess so they don’t get sucked up into the filter.

Although they are almost exclusively bottom dwellers, they do sometime have a tendency to jump out of the tank so a lid should be on the fish tank.

For the bottom of the tank, they prefer sand or smooth small gravel so they don’t injure their barbels on sharp pieces of rock.

They need a lot of hiding places so rock piles, wood, caves, plants like java fern.
Live plants is a plus and can make a big difference.


The eel like Kuhli Loache likes to hide so you may not see them a lot when it’s not feeding time. They like to hide during the day, but you may see them burrow thru the gravel or sand looking for food.

Leopard loaches are a really calm and peaceful fish and get along with most other community fish. Guppies, mollies, platys, most tetras, small gouramis as well as other peaceful fish that swim in the middle or top of the water are great options for tank mates.

They can coexist with other bottom dwellers such as Cory Cats, and Cherry shrimp. They will be happy as long as they don’t get harrased by other fish.Some fish to avoid are predators like cichlids, Tiger Barbs, Arowanas, Bettas and other aggressive fish.