Fish Profile: Kuhli Loach

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The Kuhli Loach is a small eel-like freshwater popular aquarium fish which belongs to the family Cobitidae under Order Cypriniformes of Class Actinopterygii.

It is also known as Coolie Loach, Prickly Eye, giant coolie loach, slimy loach and leopard loach.

It originates from Southeast Asia that is indigenous to the streams of Borneo, Java, western Malaysia, Singapore, Sumatra and Thailand. It inhabits in the sandy beds of slow-moving rivers and clean mountain streams.

It is a social fish and is typically found in small clusters and swim near the bottom where they feed around obstacles. In nature, the Kuhli Loach lives in locations with clear slow moving waters having a sandy bottom.

The Kuhli Loach has an eel-shaped body with slightly compressed sides. The mouth of the Kuhli Loach is surrounded by four pairs of barbells.

The fins are small and the dorsal fin is located on the lower third of the body much closer to the tail. 10 to 15 dark brown to black vertical bars are present on the body and the gaps between vertical bars are salmon pink to yellow with a light underside.

The eyes are covered with a transparent skin. It reaches sexual maturity at 7 cm in length. It grows up to 10 cm in length and can live for up to about 10 years.

The Kuhli Loach is a bottom dweller that burrows into soft places. Females are generally larger and heavier-bodied than males. Mature males have a clearly thicker and branched first ray of the pectoral fin. In the wild, the fish spawn communally in very shallow water.

Fact Sheet – Kuhli Loach

  1. Scientific Name: Pangio kuhlii
  2. Family: Cobitidae
  3. Size Range: up to 12 cm in length
  4. Diet: Omnivore
  5. Tank Size: 15+ gallons
  6. Tank Set-up: Well planted
  7. Tank region: Bottom
  8. Temperature: 75-86 ° F
  9. Carbonate Hardness (dGH): up to 10
  10. Water pH: 6.0-6.5
  11. Origin: Southeast Asia
  12. Temperament: Peaceful
  13. Care Level: Moderate
  14. Habitat: Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, Java, Sumatra, Borneo
  15. Lifespan: 10 years
  16. Reproduction: Egg layer

General Care

The Kuhli Loach generally requires minimum 15 gallons aquarium with well-oxygenated water. The Kuhli Loach is a popular aquarium fish that prefers to remain in the bottom levels of the tank where they rummage for morsels of food.

In nature and in the home aquarium, they are most active at evening and at nighttime but during the day they are found in sand cave or other hiding places.

The tank should have a very tightly fitted cover that helps to prevent fish during jumping. Coolie tanks also should have plenty of hiding places, preferably live plants when possible. Rocks, driftwood and caves are all excellent decor for kuhli loach.

Like any other fish, the aquarium should have suitable water parameters. The water temperature and pH should be 75-86 ° F and 6.0-6.5 respectively.


Kuhli loach is peaceful fish and prefers to be kept in schools of 3 or more. They are social and prefer the company of others of their own kind. It can be easily kept with non-aggressive fish.

They are happiest when kept in groups of a half dozen or more similar species. Avoid keeping it with large or territorial fish, such as Cichlids, Corydoras, Danios, Rasboras and Tetras, larger Livebearers, Barbs, Gouramis, Rainbowfish, Loaches, Plecos, and Scavenger Catfish.


It prefers live foods such as bloodworms, glassworms, tubifex and daphnia. It also accepts a variety of foods including frozen, freeze-dried, tablets, wafers, and flake food.

They need smaller foods that will sink and it should be fed at night due to their nocturnal behavior. Live or frozen foods should be supplied couple of times a day.


There are no specific common diseases that can affect the Kuhli Loach. Like other scaleless fish, it is affected by numerous diseases.

To prevent your fish from any abnormalities the tank water should be kept clean at all times. That way it lessens any chance of poor health and enables your fish to stay strong and healthy.

Picture Gallery


Other Helpful Resources

  1. – Kuhli Loach Caresheets
  2. FishLore – Kuhli Loach Fish Profile
  3. Aquarium Advice – Kuhli Loach
  4. Wikipedia – Kuhli Loach

Share Your Thoughts

Have you had any experience in keeping Kuhli loaches in your tank before? Share any tips and insights with us in the comments section below.

About Dennis Hanson

Dennis is an experienced aquarist with many years of knowledge and experience in keeping successful tanks. He also has no relations to the pop group Hanson.

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