How To Care For Kuhli Loaches


The Kuhli Loach also called Coolie Loaches are quite amazing fish. They are a lot like the Clown loach, just long and eel-like. You can keep these fish in smaller tank sizes. They tend to actually dig into the substrate, which can either be a really cool thing and make you want to buy it even more, or a really bad thing, and ruin your hopes of keeping it in your aquarium!

Kuhli loaches are also known as Coolie loaches and are apart of the Cobitidae family. They are also a species of the kuhli loach called the Black Kuhli Loach (aka Black Coolie Loach) or canthophthalmus javanicus. The black kuhli loach is similar to the regular kuhli loach, just a dark brown.


These fish are an eel-like loach with almost worm like barbs, with yellow and black stripes. They generally get around 2-4 inches long. They have a somewhat small caudal fin. The caudal fin is generally the same color the body is, black tipped with orange. While the other fins are generally clear similar to the Cory catfish. The dorsal fin is generally found slightly nearer to the end of the fish. The black kuhli loach is a dark brown is all of the following, just a dark brown color.

Kuhli Loach
CC BY-SA 3.0,

Usual Behavior

These fish are nocturnal fish, so they generally won’t be very active during daytime. They aren’t considered a schooling fish however, they should still be in a small group.

These fish are a scavenger and will eat off the bottom of the aquarium. They will usually burrow under the substrate and many fishkeepers say that they hardly ever see them! Don’t worry though, they just aren’t a centerpiece fish.


Although it might seem unbelievable, these fish according to a lot of websites can live up to 10 years, and that they reach sexual maturity at 2 years of age. These fish tend to reach maturity later than most fish. As a comparison, Emerald Cory Catfish tend to reach maturity at around 6-12 months!

How to care for Kuhli Loaches

Tank size

The recommended tank size is 10 gallons for these fish. You should always keep these fish in a reasonable tank size and not give these fish too small of a tank. You could also always go larger however, you could also just stick with a 10 gallon,


The Kuhli Loach is a decently mild and calm fish and don’t tend to attack or eat other fish. Kuhli loaches most likely would be the ones eaten. So, make sure you also have non-predatorial fish that are peaceful. Some of the tank mates can be …

  • Tetras
  • Rasboras
  • Danios
  • White Cloud Mountain Minnows

See a trend? Almost all of these are small schooling fish. This is just because most of these fish besides the betta are small and peaceful fish. You can try getting medium peaceful fish too. You should always study the fish you are getting.

Tank Setup

The Kuhli loach are commonly found in South-east Asia in Malaysia. They tend to burrow into the substrate (like a worm), so you should consider getting a deep bed of substrate (some fish keepers recommend sand or a fine gravel, but not any gravel with large pieces ) in your aquarium. They are nocturnal and live in slow-moving rivers in mountains. Saying that they’re a nocturnal fish and bury themselves in substrate, they won’t be visible most of the day. They are interesting when you catch them awake though.

According to my research they will need lots of lush plants all around the tank. It is not mandatory, but if you want the tank to be similar to their environment, you may need to consider getting some.

How many should I get?

Kuhli loaches do school, but they do not need an enormous school. A good shoal/school would probably be 3-7.


A good diet for fish is not mandatory, but you should try to get a healthier diet for your fish. Giving your fish healthy and whole fish food can help them stay healthy and get the enough nutrition they need. All fish usually need their own diet. Some of the foods you can feed your these fish are …

  • Pellet food (recommended with occasional feedings of frozen foods such as frozen bloodworms)
  • Frozen foods such as frozen bloodworns
  • Maybe some veggies as supplements, I recommend that it won’t be done daily

From my research, Kuhli Loaches are scavengers and eat a lot of protein based foods. So trying to find fish food that these fish will eat shouldn’t be a problem. Rarely would you need to worry about if they’ll eat it

Possible Diseases

These fish can get actually many diseases. Many fishkeepers say that the Kuhli loach is actually prone to diseases, which doesn’t make them ideal to most beginner fish keepers. These fish can get a number of diseases like Ich and skinny disease. According to my research, skinny disease is caused by a parasite. If one of your Kuhli Loaches seems to eat like normal, but seem to lose weight, it could have skinny disease. A fish with Ich will have white spots all over the body of the fish (if it has spread). which is why some fish keepers call it White Spot Disease


Kuhli Loaches tend to cost around $2.40 to $3.00. Not all, but some larger stores like PetSmart sells Black Kuhli Loaches for about $3. So for 5 loaches, it will (for my Petsmart) cost around $15 USD.

Kuhli Loach breeding

In order to breed these fish you’re going to need to keep the light very time and make sure to keep the water levels low. Dense plants help promote breeding as well as help in the breeding process. Make sure to add some floating plants as female Kuhli Loaches will use them to lay their eggs.

The pH of the water should be 6.5 and hardness should also be lowered. To help increase the chance of spawning, make sure the Kuhli Loaches are in a group and plenty of food during this period is also appreciated. Make sure to be patient if you just bought your Kuhli Loaches, as for these fish sexual maturity come at about 2 years of age.

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You should keep these fish in water with a temperature of 75-82 Fahrenheit (around 24-27 C). Where I’m at, my local PetSmart generally sells heaters that heat up to 78 Fahrenheit. This should be a good temperature for Kuhli Loaches.


Kuhli loaches should live in a fairly low pH. Many fish keepers recommend that Kuhli loaches should live in water with a pH of 5.5-6.5.

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