Kuhli Loach (Pangio Kuhlii) Care: How to Keep Them Healthy and Happy

A detailed guide containing the dos and don’ts of keeping a Kuhli Loach healthy and happy.

Kuhli Loach – Quick Facts

In a rush? Check out the quick facts about Kuhli Loach fish below.

Fish Info

Scientific Name Pangio kuhlii
Common Names Kuhli loach, leopard loach, coolie loach
Family Cobitidae
Appearance Gold bellies with eye-catching dark-brown or black stripe pattern across
Difficulty Beginner
Distribution Southeast Asia – Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, Sumatra, Borneo and Java.
Lifespan Up to 10 years
Shoaling No
Temperament Very peaceful
Keep in Groups of 5+ other Kuhli Loach
Tank Mates
  • Other peaceful similarly sized fish, including other Kuhli Loach, tetras, guppies, mollies, etc.
  • Avoid larger, more aggressive fish such as cichlids.
Diet Omnivore
Length 7 – 10cm
Sexual Dimorphism
  • Females are plumper
  • Female tails have a straight tip, whereas males are curved
Breeding Difficulty Very difficult

Water/Tank Recommendations

Water Temperature 77 – 82°F (25 – 27.8°C)
Water pH 6.0 – 7.0
Water Hardness <10 GH
Tank size  20+ gallons (30 ideally)


The Kuhli Loach is a lovely freshwater fish that can add some unique colors to your aquarium. While not as popular as their more colorful relatives, this species can be found in tanks all over the world!

In fact, we’ve heard from plenty of aquarists who swear by these critters. They are known to be hardy and quite easy to care for, which makes them great options for owners looking to get into breeding or raising fish without any hassle.

This guide contains everything you need to know about Kuhli Loach care (plus a bit extra). By the time you’ve finished reading it, you’ll be ready to go. These fish will thrive under your care!

About Kuhli Loach

The Kuhli Loach, also known as Leopard Loach or Coolie Loach, is a distinct freshwater fish that comes from Southeast Asia. It’s relatively common to find these fish in rivers and streams throughout Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, Sumatra, and other Southeast Asian countries.

Also known by its scientific name of Pangio kuhlii, the Kuhli Loach has become a staple in many tank setups since their introduction into the aquarium trade.

This hardy species make excellent additions for beginners due to their straightforward care requirements (especially compared to other tropical fish). They also add a fantastic unusual pattern and color to any tank!

Due to their unique appearance, these fish have also been used in many breeding projects. This has led to a large supply for the aquarium trade and made them quite popular among aquarists.

Maximum Length

The maximum length of a Kuhli Loach is no more than 15cm, although most are between 7-10cm. Not that long compared to other bottom-dwelling species.

TIP: It’s worth noting that some specimens have been known to exceed this length in the wild (but quite rarely). If you want your Kuhli Loach to get as big as possible, make sure they get plenty of high-quality food in their diet. This will help them grow faster and reach their maximum size.

Aquarium Size

The absolute minimum recommended tank size for Kuhli Loaches is 20 gallons, but we’d recommend aiming for a 30+ gallon tank if possible. Fish-only tanks are preferred, and you can keep them in a community aquarium.

Larger tanks (50 to 60 gallons) will help your fish thrive and live much longer. If you want them to live to reach their maximum lifespan and encourage maximum growth rate, we recommend going with the larger tank.

TIP: Some owners keep Kuhli Loaches in smaller aquariums (20 to 30 gallons). However, this is not recommended because they need room to swim and explore.


Remember that Kuhli Loaches are bottom dwellers, so you won’t have to worry about them knocking over decorations. They hide in the shadows and stay out of trouble!

You shouldn’t have to worry too much about keeping these fish healthy. They are hardy and do well in standard freshwater aquarium conditions. As long as the water quality is good and they have plenty of food available, your Kuhli Loaches should live a long and happy life.


Kuhli Loaches are native to fresh waters in Southeast Asia. They inhabit slow-flowing rivers and lakes that have low oxygen content.

The same conditions found in their natural habitats are suitable for Kuhli Loach aquariums as well. These fish do best when the tank environment replicates their natural habitat as closely as possible (within reason).

That means you need to provide relatively soft water without too much debris floating about! Keeping a filter on your aquarium will help keep any unwanted gunk from affecting the water quality too much, but some organic buildup is expected over time. As long as it doesn’t affect oxygen levels or become so thick that it prevents your fish from swimming freely, we recommend letting things be.

TIP: While Kuhli Loaches are a hardy fish that can thrive in less-than-ideal conditions, it’s important to monitor the water quality. Perform regular water changes and tests with your test kit so you know if adjustments need to be made.


Kuhli Loaches are omnivores and will eat just about anything. In the wild, they eat plants (including algae), seeds, insect larvae, worms, etc. They definitely enjoy live foods in captivity.

In captivity-based aquaculture facilities in Asia, where these fish are bred on a large scale for sale to aquarium owners around the world-they are fed sinking pellets or flakes with high protein content as well as live food every day.

However, you can get away with feeding them dry flake food and commercially frozen foods wither (such as bloodworms). These foods provide ample nutrients that your Kuhli Loach needs for good health.

If you want some variety and want to keep your fish super-happy, try some live food. We recommend brine shrimp and bloodworms as the best options.

Behaviour & Tank Mates

Peaceful by nature, the Kuhli Loach usually stays towards the bottom of its tank. This is where they feel most secure. They are not schooling fish, but they enjoy being around other fish and should be kept with at least five other Kuhli Loach.

You can group these fish with other peaceful species such as rainbow tetras, guppies, or mollies that occupy different parts of the water column. Avoid aggressive or fast-swimming fish since these will likely scare your Kuhli loaches into hiding out of fear.

You may also see your fish eating aquarium snails, which is a favorite food. Some fish-keepers recommend that you keep these loaches separate from other snail species to avoid any unwanted victims.

TIP: Kuhli loaches are nocturnal. They spend most of the day hiding at the bottom of their tank, only coming out to snack on algae or scavenge for food at night. This is why it’s important to have a lot of vegetation in their tank for them to explore.


Breeding is possible in captivity, but it’s very rare. It can be hard to trigger this behavior as they aren’t particularly motivated to breed (unlike some other popular fish).

During breeding, Kuhli Loaches will lay their eggs on a flat surface like a plant leaf or rock. Once she does this, the male will chase her away so he can protect them from interested females! He may also “clean” them from time to time using his mouth.

These fish are very protective of their young once they hatch out after about three days inside the egg sac. They eat any remaining egg sac.

Should You Keep Kuhli Loach Fish?

Kuhli loach fish make great additions to freshwater aquariums. They are peaceful, hardy little fish that do well in a variety of different water conditions.


  • They are peaceful fish that get along well with other tank mates.
  • Kuhli loaches are very hardy and can tolerate a wide range of water conditions.
  • These little fish add interest and activity to your aquarium and have unique coloring and stripes.


  • They may not do well in tanks with other aggressive fish species
  • These fish are nocturnal, so they may spend most of the day hiding in caves or other dark places in your aquarium.


As you can tell, keeping a Kuhli Loach healthy is not very complicated. The key is to have them in the right environment and provide them with the correct diet.

Once they’re established in your tank, these fish will be quite hardy and able to thrive for many years to come (up to a decade)!

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