10 Kuhli Loach Tank Mates – List of Compatible Species
Disclosure: I may earn a commission when you purchase through my affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. – read more
There’s no doubt that Kuhli loaches make for a fine addition to any aquatic setup. These eel-like fish are the perfect companions to a thriving community setup in a lush and healthy ecosystem.
But there’s also no doubt that Kuhli-only tanks aren’t as lively as you might expect.
These fish rank as bottom lurkers and substrate diggers, so expect them to be less active than other species. Kuhli loaches are shy and will spend their time burrowed in the substrate or hiding around caves and rocks in their environment.
If you want a livelier and more colorful aquatic setup, you need to consider going for a community tank.
Best Kuhli Loach Tank Mates
So, which fish species make for compatible tankmates for Kuhli loaches? Let’s talk about it!
1. Neon Tetras
Neon tetras are notoriously hardy and active fish occupying the tank’s medium and top areas. They like to live in schools, so you need around 6-8 or more of them for a stable and thriving population.
When it comes to overall setup, consider at least 20 gallons of space for one tetra group of 6-8 members, although more is always better.
You most likely require 30-50 gallons to make sure there’s enough space for both tetras and the Kuhli loach(es).
Aim for a water temperature of 73 to 83 F and clean living conditions to keep your tetras happy and comfy. These fish also love planted habitats and an environment that they can explore at their hearts’ content.
Any rocks or decorations you might add will be more than welcome, especially since loaches appreciate them in equal measure.
Neon tetras are egg-scatterers which is another way of saying that they spread eggs everywhere. This means that your loach will have a field day when the tetra spawning season comes.
If you want to save your future tetra fry, consider investing in a breeding tank. If not, you can allow your tetras to breed in the main tank and simply let nature take its course.
There isn’t much I can say about guppies that hasn’t been said already. These gorgeous, adaptable, and peaceful fish will fit in any community setup.
They make for great companions for other peaceful species, especially bottom feeders, given that guppies occupy the tank’s higher regions.
Guppies prefer water temperatures around 72-82 F and clean water conditions to prevent skin parasites and bacterial or fungal infections.
Guppies aren’t prone to any specific disease, but they tend to be sensitive to improper water conditions.
Fortunately, they will share space with the Kuhli loach, so much of the tank’s maintenance routine will fall under the loach’s prerogatives.
Guppies are astounding breeders that will produce offspring every month. They don’t need any special breeding conditions and can produce hundreds of eggs in one spawn. This is the main reason why guppies rank as the most hybridized fish on the market today.
I’m telling you this to highlight the risks of buying guppies from unverified sources.
Regular fish shops overstock guppies, often causing them to interbreed, which is a hotline to producing fish with genetic faults.
Beware of guppies hybrid with features that can diminish the fish’s lifespan and affect their quality of life.
Mollies are small, diverse, and joyful livebearers that display just as much color and pattern diversity as guppies, if not more.
They’re also easy to breed and maintain, making them ideal tankmates for Kuhli loaches and many other fish species.
These can grow up to 5.5 inches, live up to 5 years in good conditions, and don’t need much to thrive. Keep its water temperature between 74 and 82 and aim for water hardness around 15-30 dGH for optimal results.
Mollies are friendly with most of their tankmates, especially the ones that they won’t interact with.
Make sure there’s enough space for both your mollies and the loach, and you shouldn’t have any problems accommodating the two.
Mollies rank as algae eaters in the wild, and they have retained this feeding tendency in captivity as well.
You can always rely on mollies to clean the tank of algae, but don’t expect them to survive on algae alone. This fish is omnivorous, so it requires a rich and varied diet to thrive.
4. Zebra Danio
These 2-inch fish are some of the most popular specimens you can get for your community tank.
Zebra danio won’t grow past 2 inches but will make up for it via their energic and relentless demeanor.
You should keep zebra danios in larger schools since this is a social animal that prefers the company of its own species. It’s worth knowing that zebra danios form pairs and mate for life and that they can produce a lot of offspring.
This species is prolific at breeding, so you might want to invest in a breeding tank if you want to keep the fry.
Zebra danios don’t need much space. A 10-gallon setup will do for a moderate group of 4-5 specimens. However, I recommend at least 20, maybe 30 gallons, considering that you’ll also have the loach to account for.
These fish are hardy and adaptable and good tank companions for your loach. But you need to be careful about the temperature differences between the 2 species.
Kuhli loaches demand a temperature range of 73-86 F, while zebra danios require temperatures of 64-74 F.
This makes this species difficult to accommodate to a Kuhli loach setup, but it can be done. You only need to invest in a heater, balance the water temperature as best you can, and observe your fish for several days.
If they show signs of discomfort despite all your best efforts, you might want to scrap the entire situation and find more fitting tankmates for your loaches.
Platies are another type of livebearer coming from Central America and Mexico. These fish grow up to 3 inches and showcase an impressive variety of colors and patterns.
Platies can accommodate to most aquatic setups and make for ideal companions for Kuhli loaches with some preparation.
The only noteworthy difference between the 2 species is in the water temperature range, just like with zebra danios. The difference is that the situation is more manageable this time around.
Platies demand a temperature range of 70-77 F, so it shouldn’t be difficult to accommodate their needs in this sense.
These are community fish that like to live in groups of at least 6 members. This is the reason why they’re mostly sold in bulks, so follow the fish’s natural tendency. Make sure that your fish live in a well-balanced school to keep them calm, friendly, and safe.
Platy males can be extremely dominant and aggressive towards one another at times. Especially during the mating season, if food is insufficient, or if there are more males than females, among other things.
To prevent violence, only keep one platy male per tank. Either that or go for a larger aquatic setup, enough for males to enjoy a larger territory and avoid each other if they so, please.
This species of catfish grows up to 4 inches and can live up to 5 years in good water conditions. These are omnivorous fish that showcase a peaceful demeanor and can easily adapt to community living.
Go for environmental temperatures between 70 and 78 F and keep water hardness between 5 and 10 dGH.
Since these catfish are bottom-dwellers, make sure that their interests don’t conflict with those of Kuhli loach. The fish will patrol the same area of the tank, so territorial and food-related disputes may spark occasionally.
Fortunately, Corydoras are not combative by nature, so they will mostly try to flee and hide from their attacker(s).
Make sure that the catfish has plenty of caves and crevices to flee through in case the situation goes south.
It may sound weird that I’ve recommended a bottom dweller as a good companion for your Kuhli loach. However, it all makes sense when considering the Corydora’s profile. This fish is faster and more active than the loach, so it can easily avoid fights if it chooses to.
Plus, Corydoras showcase armor plates instead of scales, as is normal with most catfish. This makes the fish impervious to nipping and light attacks, even from larger fish.
Even so, your Corydoras shouldn’t live in fear or stress because of a more aggressive fish species.
While the Kuhli loach is a peaceful tank companion, always monitor and assess your fish dynamics to make sure they don’t get violent with each other.
7. Honey Gourami
The honey gourami is probably the most interesting entry on today’s list. This honey-dipped fish is a truly astounding fish with amazing looks. The gourami showcases a compact body with a rich honey-like color and transparent fins.
Honey gourami only grows up to 5 inches and are generally peaceful, unlike other gourami species.
Provide the gourami with temperatures around 72-82 F and at least 10 gallons of water per fish. These fish are active swimmers and need more space than you would expect from a specimen their size.
Honey gourami rank as labyrinth breathers. This classification includes fish that possess a specialized breathing organ called labyrinth.
Bettas also fall into this category. In short, gourami breathes at the water’s surface occasionally, especially in poorly-oxygenated waters.
Ensure you provide the fish with direct access to the water surface while securing the tank properly. Honey gourami are known to jump out of the tank if given the opportunity.
Rasboras are peaceful mid-to-top dwellers that can live up to 6 years in optimal conditions.
As shoaling fish, rasboras demand to live in groups of at least 10 individuals but prefer larger communities if possible.
This comes with a demand for more space to keep the fish peaceful and happy.
Go for a water temperature of 73-82 F and water hardness up to 12 dGH. The pH should fall between 6.0 to 7.5.
These fish are highlighted as intermediate in terms of care level. The primary reason for that is their food preferences.
These fish have a sweet tooth for live foods, meaning you may need to set up a live food culture to satisfy them.
Rasboras are notoriously difficult to breed because they require special breeding conditions to even consider mating. Many aquarists prefer to buy them instead in case they need more.
9. Bristlenose Pleco
The pleco ranks among the most beloved catfishes in the aquarium trade. These herbivorous bottom dwellers grow up to 5 inches and can live as much as 10 years in optimal conditions.
You can easily identify plecos by their trademark whiskers that they use to look for food on the tank bed.
Plecos require a temperature range of 72-81 F and a water hardness of up to 30 dGH. Also, consider at least 40 gallons of space for one specimen, probably more, given that you also have a Kuhli loach to account for.
Plecos represent the tank’s cleaning crew and prefer a veggie-based diet. So, they won’t compete with your loach over food too much, especially if food is plentiful.
Even so, keep an eye on the fish to account for their interactions and prevent any unnecessary violence.
10. Discus Fish
Discus fish are cichlids, so this alone should speak volumes about the fish. These are gorgeous animals that showcase a round and brightly colored body with wide anal and dorsal fins.
Most discus fish display a striped pattern, but this varies from one fish to another.
The discus fish grows up to 8 inches and can amazingly live 15 years in captivity, which is typical for well-maintained cichlids in general.
One of the very few downsides to consider is the fish’s need for space and companionship.
Discus fish that live alone are more aggressive and territorial and live less than those housed in groups. You need at least 6 of them to create a stable and thriving cichlid community.
Such a group requires at least 55 gallons of space. So, you probably need around 70 gallons to accommodate your loach as well.
High-quality discus fish are captive-bred and very difficult to find on sale. Common fish shops only have standard discus fish for sale.
If you’re a bit pretentious about the quality of the fish, get them from reputed breeders instead. They may cost more (up to $250 per fish in some cases), but it’s worth it.
Kuhli Loach Worst Tank Mates
There are several bad tankmates for Kuhli loaches that I would like to highlight here.
- Prey companions – Your loaches won’t think twice about eating snails or shrimps, so avoid these as potential tankmates. Unless you want your loaches to eat them, in which case, be my guest.
- Annoying fish – Betta males, barbs, goldfish, and other similar species can stress your loach via nipping or due to their overly energetic demeanor. Goldfish also poop more than common sense should allow them to, which is bad news for the Kuhli loaches living in the lower areas of the tank.
- Aggressive species – Some fish are simply too aggressive to live with Kuhli loaches. Large and territorial cichlids are a good example, especially since they live in the lower areas of the tank where the loach dwells.
Kuhli loaches are easy-going fish that don’t mind live in peaceful and friendly fish communities.
Find the ideal tankmates for them, and you will create a breathtaking aquatic ecosystem where diversity is the name of the game.