Do Kuhli Loaches Eat Snails? Here’s What Happens

Kuhli loaches are some of the most peaceful tank mates snails may want to live with in an aquarium. However, these loaches are highly opportunistic and will feed on snails if possible. Generally, Kuhli loaches are not good hunters. Therefore, they will eat considerably sized snails as part of their diet due to their slow nature.

Kuhli loaches do not feed on larger snails. Their preferred snails are younger snails that are relatively easier to catch, pull out of their shells, and chew in their relatively small mouths. They might experience difficulties pulling the snails out of their shells and the bigger ones might be even more challenging.

Whether it’s a male or female snail, kuhli loaches will find it hard to eat them when they’re large. As such, the loaches will only eat small breeds and young snails but not large ones.

Kuhli Loach and Mystery Snail

Is it safe for Kuhlis to eat snails?

Snails are known for their likelihood of being infested with parasites. Therefore, Kuhli loaches will likely ingest such parasites and suffer the effects.

Irrespective, snails are part of a Kuhli’s diet. They do not pose any safety threats to Kuhlis as they are rarely hazardous. Also, the fish mostly eat smaller snails that are usually less likely to be infested with parasites, given their environment.

Unlike the bigger snails, smaller snails have fewer parasitic infestations and are less likely to transfer such parasites to the fish.

The parasites that may be transferred from snails to the loaches are worms and cercariae. The latter is known to inhabit invertebrates and is most commonly transmitted by snails. Luckily, they have little effect on Kuhli loaches.

Besides parasites, most snails aren’t aggressive or poisonous to other aquarium animals. While some, like mystery snails, might appear to eat each other, they’re merely mating or taking a ride.

Do kuhli loaches eat adult snails?

Kuhlis are not excellent hunters and will easily let go if they find it challenging to pull snails out of their shells. Adult snails are known to put up a fight in such eventualities and may not easily leave their shells to be eaten.

Given the challenges of eating adult snails and their small body sizes, Kuhli loaches tend to avoid adult snails. In the wild, these loaches can grow as big as five inches long. However, they often maintain a length of three to four inches while in captivity.

Fully grown loaches are barely big enough to eat adult snails, whose shells might grow as wide as five inches. The implication is that the mouth size of a Kuhli loach might not allow it to swallow an adult snail. It might also not be big enough to crush a snail’s shell.

Kuhli loaches are indiscriminate in terms of the types of snails to eat. However, some snails can be more difficult for them to eat compared to others given their large sizes.

Will kuhli loaches eat snail eggs?

Kuhlis will eat most of the tiny organisms in the water. Snail eggs form a part of this diet. These loaches are extremely poor hunters and will scavenge for whichever food they might find within their environments.

Snails are known to lay eggs in clusters, and the eggs are usually transparent. Kuhlis can see through them and spot the developing snails that attract their attention and inform their appetites.

Snail eggs are highly vulnerable as they are never guarded. Snails are not aggressive enough to fight off Kuhli loaches, even if guarded. Therefore, snail eggs are part of a Kuhli’s easiest organic foods to access.

Snail eggs are usually covered in slime that is known to contain the rat lungworm parasite. This parasite is harmful to humans but is never harmful to fish. Some snail eggs, like the apple snail, also contain toxins that may harm humans but will not harm the loaches.

Therefore, it is not just safe for Kuhli loaches to eat snail eggs. Worrying about your Kuhlis and their appetite for snail eggs is unnecessary. They will often eat the eggs irrespectively.

Can you protect snails from Kuhli loaches in a tank?

Keeping Kuhli loaches and some ornamental snails may often be interesting as both organisms add beauty to the tank. It is critical to understand the behavior of the kuhli loaches before keeping them with snails in the same tank.

In that case, protect the snails from the loaches as follows:

  1. The easiest way to protect your snails from Kuhli loaches is to feed the loaches sufficiently. These loaches do not fancy eating snails so much and are often attracted to other foods like frozen and dry foods. They are more likely to be attracted to other food sources and ignore the snails.
  2. Alternatively, transfer the snails into another aquarium to allow them time to grow before returning them to the same tank shared with Kuhli loaches. These loaches will avoid eating grown snails because they are difficult to kill. They are also poor hunters and rarely go after fully-grown live snails.

Generally, Kuhli loaches prefer meat-based meals but will also eat other foods like flakes and vegetables. It’s thus critical to keep switching their diets when feeding them to prevent them from eating the snails in the tank. Doing so allows them access to nutrients from a wide variety of foods.

Also, never let fish food lie for too long on the substrate. The decomposing foods may poison the fish and interfere with the water quality.

One thing to note is that kuhli loach tank mates may feed on larger snails even when the loaches avoid them.

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