How to Care for Kuhli Loaches
How to care for the popular Acanthophthalmus

 
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Kuhli Loach Factoids

Origin

Indonesia, Borneo, Sumatra

Maximum Size

About three inches

Longevity

Not sure.  Most loaches live for years.

Housing

10+ gallons

Security

Likes caves, crevices, crannies.  Likes to burrow.

Temperature

Normal community tank temp (75 to 80)

Attitude

Easy-going, schooling fishes

Foods

Loves live foods.  Eats flakes.

Water

Needs clean water

Biggest Threat

Ich cures with malachite green

LA
One of the types of kuhli loaches you'll see on the market.

Origins:  Kuhli loaches come from the warm waters of Indonesia.  They evidently breed them there, because they are nearly always available.  By the way, there are several types of kuhlis that hit the market.

Nocturnal (sort of):  Kuhli loaches prefer non-brightly lit tanks.  Add a few floating watersprite plants.  Watersprite plants reduce the light, add egg-laying sites, and help keep your water cleaner.

Water Conditions:  Although they come from soft acid water originally, kuhli loaches adapt to most water conditions.  Just keep their water clean. 

LA
Bigger, heftier, darker kuhli loach species.

Appeal:  If you like psychedelic worms, you’ll love kuhli loaches – especially when you see them interact with each other.

Clean up Crew:  Kuhli loaches with their tiny barbels can snoop into the teeniest crevices in search of edible morsels.

LA
Kuhli loaches usually retail at the 1.5 to 2-inch size.

Size:   You’ll find various kuhli loach species on the market from time to time.  Most grow to about three inches.

LA
Ten kuhli loaches cavorting atop a gold Chinese (from Thailand) algae eater.

LA Pic
Kuhli loaches like each other.

 

Schoolers:  Unless you keep several kuhli loaches, you may not see yours for a week or two.  They burrow into small gravel or sand.  They burrow under ornaments, wood, and rocks. 

Filter Investigators:  Kuhlis love to swim against the current.  As a result, they tend to swim into your under gravel filter tubes and explore under your filter plate.  Kuhli loaches may disappear under there for months.  They must come out at night to root for food.

Tank Mates:  If you drop these worm-resembling loaches into a cichlid tank, your larger cichlids will eat them.  Ditto large goldfish.  However, kuhli loaches work great in regular community tanks.

Breeding:  You can tell when you have likely breeders.  Ripe (ready to spawn) female kuhlis plump up with eggs.  The males and females cavort amongst the floating watersprite.  She lays some 1,000+ green eggs, so you know the fry need tiny food (infusoria) to keep their motors running.

Foods:   Kuhli loaches eat flake foods from the day you buy them.  Feed them carefully.  It’s easy to over feed them.  On the other hand, don’t just expect them to eat your other fishes’ leftovers.

LA Pic
Roundish rocks like these go easier on their snoots.

Gravel Choice:  Don’t use sharp-edged gravels (like chicken grit).  The smaller your substrate, the more burrowing you’ll see, and the fewer kuhli loaches you’ll see.   Just pick a nice medium-sized gravel.

Plants:  Kuhlis won’t root up your live plants like large weather loaches do.  They burrow but burrow less robustly.

LA
Here's part of a pile (300 in a 55) of kuhli loaches. 

Hiding Places:  Kuhli loaches will find their own hiding places.  If none are available, they pile up on each other.  They enjoy playing “king of the basement.”

Disease:  Kuhlis don’t seem especially susceptible to diseases.  If you treat other fishes in your tank for ich, use any malachite formula with caution.  Use it at half or one-third strength.

 

Filtration:  You cannot over filter their water.  Kuhli loaches love fast-flowing water. 

LA Pic
Are these skinny little guys kuhli loaches?

LA Pic
Is this one-incher a black kuhli loach or some kind of kuhli?

LA Pic
This guy is.  You see albino kuhli loaches very seldom.

LA Pic
Incredibly skinny gold kuhli loaches have appeared again this year (2004).

LA Pic
This one stayed still long enough to photograph (barely).

Last Word:  Long a standard in the hobby, the cute kuhli loaches belong in every tank.  Put in several to enjoy their full potential.  LA. 

  © 2003, © 2004, © 2006  LA Productions

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