A kuhli loach is an incredible fish for anyone fascinated with adding new friends to their freshwater aquarium. These fish are small-sized, friendly, playful, and produce little waste. If you’re considering finding tank mates for your kuhli loach, you may be left wondering about their best and worst tank mates. 

Some of the best kuhli loach tank mates include corydoras catfish, danios, tetras, rasboras, gouramis, bettas, red cherry shrimp, angel fish, Apistogramma, guppies, mollies, and discus. Avoid keeping kuhli loaches with aggressive fish, pet snails, and most shrimp species as they’ll eat the latter.

What are Kuhli Loaches?

Scientifically known as Pangio kuhli, kuhli loach is also known as slimy loach, giant coolie loach, coolie loach, and leopard loach in the fish-keeping hobby world. This fish resembles an eel and can be traced from Indonesia, Southern Thailand, and Malaysia. 

Kuhli loaches prefer living in sandy bunks of clean-mountain streams and slow-moving rivers. Under suitable conditions, these fish can live up to 14 years in the wild and an average of 10 years in captivity. Their life starts after two adult fish species mate with a few hundred green-colored eggs, which hatch into fry.

From their young age, loaches prefer settling at the fine gravel within the bottom of the aquarium during the day. However, you can efficiently train kuhli loaches to feed during the day.  

These fish are timid in a fish tank such that you can easily notice them bury themselves in the substrate or dart under the tank ornaments occasionally. They can stay there for more prolonged periods making most kuhli loach owners think they are dead.

Kuhli loaches are just but one breed of loaches available. Others include the zebra and yoyo loaches each different from the other in certain ways.

Kuhli Loach Tank Mates

Here are the 10 most suitable kuhli loach tank mates:

Best kuhli loach tank matesWorst kuhli loach tank mates
Corydaros catfishPet snails
Danios Shrimp
Tetras Guppies 
RasborasLarge tetras
Gouramis Large and aggressive fish
Bettas African dwarf frogs
Red cherry shrimpCichlids
Angelfish Tiger barbs
Apistogramma Arowanas
Discus Betta fish

1. Corydoras Catfish

Corydoras are extremely calm fish. They form suitable tank mates for other small peaceful fish such as kuhli loaches. These fish spend most of their time swimming at the base of the tank, feeding on leftover food that has sunk at the bottom of the fish tank. 

Similarly, kuhli loaches are bottom dwellers who spend the most time at the base of the tank, covering themselves with sand during the day and dining at night.

2. Danios

Danios are energetic fish that tend to swim anywhere within the fish tank if space allows them. They can easily be combined with other active fish, which makes them good tankmates for kuhli loaches. Loaches are also active under comfortable tank conditions and after finding other active friends to live with.

However, zebra danios are aggressive but can be happy and social in an appropriate environment. Therefore, they can also cope with kuhli loaches and other less-aggressive species.

3. Tetras

Tetras are peaceful and colorful tropical freshwater fish. Due to some specific diseases attacking them, it can be challenging to keep tetras alive. These fish are susceptible and require high maintenance. 

For instance, they need a school of their species to thrive in a tank. However, you can keep them with other species in a tank but with a school of their species.

If you aim to add tetras as Kuhli loach tank mates, you must also observe their school groups’ requirements. This fish will form an attractive addition to your tank due to its elegance. They will easily maneuver with loaches to create a gorgeous fish tank.

4. Rasboras

The rasboras are typically a schooling species. This means they like living around a group of their kind. Mostly, they prefer working in groups that allow you to keep them in groups of ten. 

These fish generally require little maintenance, making them easy to combine with kuhli loach. Rasboras will easily thrive with kuhli loaches when you ensure they are in a suitable school.

5. Gouramis

Gourami fish are a suitable addition if you are looking for a fish that swims at the center of the tank. Since kuhli loaches spend the most time at the bottom of the tank, shallow water and middle water swimmers are great options to keep together since they will less likely interact. 

Kuhli loaches spend most of their time digging into substrates. This implies that they can easily cope with other bottom dwellers. Therefore, gouramis will suitably match them since they are harmless and loaches mostly hide at the bottom of your tank.

6. Bettas

Betta fish is an aggressive fish. Thus, it can be a tricky species to manage in your fish collection. This fish is highly aggressive when it notices something invading its territory. 

Fortunately, you can quickly introduce this fish to your kuhli loaches by having a larger-sized fish tank. The kuhli loaches will hide at the bottom as the attractive bettas swim at the top of your tank.

7. Red Cherry Shrimp

A red cherry shrimp can be an incredible addition due to multiple reasons. First, they feed on algae that settle in your tank without harming the aquatic plants during this act. 

Also, adding the red cherry shrimp adds a new color to your tank. It also means you’ll have a little less mess to clean up in the tank.

These fish are peaceful, colorful, and won’t harm your kuhli loaches. Instead, they will form a great addition and enhance the water quality in your aquarium.

8. Angel Fish

Without a doubt, the angel fish are a beautiful additional fish to your kuhli loach tank. They have sleek angelic figures and beautiful fins that you will enjoy watching as they swim. Additionally, they are non-aggressive, making them quickly get along with other non-aggressive fish.

Angelfish are carnivorous and feed on other smaller-sized fish. However, kuhli loaches are larger than the size that angel fish feed on. These fish are also quite noisy, and keeping them in a large relaxing area is preferable. 

They come in different colors and allow you to choose the most suitable color addition to your loaches tank.

9. Apistogramma

Apistogrammas are excellent fish with an attractive personality. They are often curious and spend most times exploring their surroundings to discover something interesting. Interestingly, they will approach the glass of your aquarium when you drag a finger across it. 

These fish are partially aggressive under unsuitable conditions. If you keep them in groups of 10-20, they will easily get along with your kuhli loach. Unlike other cichlids, Apistogramma is less aggressive and can easily thrive with other species in a tank. However, you will require some supervision at first.

10. Discus

Discus are among the most beautiful, exciting, and fun fish. They appear round and spotted with blue, red, and yellow colors. Having a discus in your aquarium is like having fine art. Fortunately, you can keep them as tank mates with kuhli loach.

However, you should be careful not to put Discus with multiple species as they can be overwhelmed and aggressive. To get along well with kuhli loach, you must keep them in a group of 4 or 5 to develop a social personality. This implies that they will form attractive, bright-colored friends.

Worst Tank Mates for Kuhli Loaches

Despite kuhli loaches having multiple tank mates, some combinations won’t serve as suitable tank mates for them. Here are the worst tank mates for kuhli loaches:

1. Pet Snails

If you consider keeping kuhli loaches with snails, you might get mixed results since not all loaches will be ready to feed on snails, especially when they are large-sized. Thus, if you’re wondering about kuhli loaches as a suitable fish for reducing the adult snail population, your loaches will most likely only eat tiny snails and snail eggs.

To effectively reduce the snail population, you’ll be required to add other snail-eating species such as yoyo loaches, assassin snails, and ghost shrimp. On the other hand, if you have tiny pet snails in your kuhli loach tank, you should be careful since your loaches may be prompted to make your pet a fast snack.

Nonetheless, snails will disappear in your aquarium depending on the number of kuhli loaches you keep inside. However, a big school will cause damage to your pet snails but will be a solution to pest snail invasion. Therefore, pet snails are unsuitable tank mates for your kuhli loach.

2. Shrimp

When kept in the same tank, kuhli loaches will feed on shrimp. Mostly, the loaches toss over before tearing them out of the shell, as they do for snails. 

It can be sad as an aquarist to be unfamiliar with this fact because kuhli loaches live below the shrimp and are nocturnal (they are active at night), so you may less likely find them in this act.

In addition, both pets prefer heavily planted aquariums. This means you may assume that your shrimp are hiding when they have already been consumed as a snack. 

Therefore, if you aim to put shrimps with loaches, you should be careful about the size of loaches since large-sized loaches will attack shrimps. You can also add adult shrimps that cannot easily fit in the mouth of the loaches. 

Bearing that in mind, putting shrimp together with kuhli loach in a fish tank is an expensive task. The large-sized omnivorous fish will eat shrimp – a problem you will likely dislike.

Besides snails and shrimp, kuhli loaches also eat guppy fry and thus shouldn’t be kept with guppies in the same tank.


Kuhli loaches are unique, peaceful, and attractive fish. These fish mostly hide at the base of your fish tank and can be seen feeding at night. This unique nature makes them prefer specific fish species as their tank mates. Fortunately, we’ve discussed various best and worst tank mates for kuhli loaches. 

You can easily choose the most suitable tank mate for your loaches to make your aquarium attractive. Good luck with your fish-keeping hobby!



Florida International University. Rapid Assessment of the Rioni and Alazani-Iori River Basins, Republic of Georgia.

Academia. Freshwater Aquarium Guide.

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