Kuhli Loach Tank Size – What is the Best?

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Kuhli loaches are great for community setups, thanks to their peaceful demeanor and ease of care. But you can also keep them in loach-only environments, so long as you have multiple of them in the same tank.

These are not schooling or shoaling fish, but they are sociable creatures that like to live in groups.

Kuhli loaches can grow to 4 inches and live up to 10 years with proper care. The notion of proper care encompasses a variety of factors, one of which is the tank size.

How much space do these fish need, and can they adapt to smaller tanks? Let’s find out!

Minimum Tank Size for Kuhli Loach

Kuhli loaches can live in tanks as small as 15 gallons, but I don’t consider that ideal for them.

You want at least 20 gallons for one loach, with extra 3-5 gallons for each additional fish.

Kuhli loaches aren’t particularly active, given that they are substrate-burrowing bottom dwellers, so the 20-gallon recommendation may sound excessive. But it’s not.

These fish require more space than you would expect due to their tendency to look for food on the substrate. Kuhli loaches can cover a lot of space in search of food.

You also need the extra space to decorate the fish’s habitat properly. Kuhli loaches are rather shy and need several hiding areas available to make them feel safe and comfortable.

Their natural environment features a variety of rocks, caves, crevices, wood, and other elements that loaches can use as cover.

Their aquarium should reflect their natural habitat, so you need the extra space to decorate their environment properly.

Best Tank Size for Kuhli Loach

I say 20 gallons is enough for one loach, but you won’t only have one. Kuhli loaches thrive in groups, so you need to consider getting several of them.

So, before investing in your Kuhli tank, consider that the new aquarium should be large enough to:

  • Accommodate the necessary decorations
  • Provide all your fish with the necessary space, depending on how many loaches you’re getting
  • Have sufficient space for various tank equipment like heater, filter, etc.
  • Be large enough to accommodate live plants or any other necessary elements you might add into the mix

As a general rule, have at least 4 loaches and follow the 5-gallon-per-fish tip. That will get you to a 35-40-gallon tank for 4 loaches.

If your fish look like they could use more space, feel free to adapt to their needs.

After all, Kuhli loaches can live over a decade in good conditions. So, you want them to live their best lives, including sufficient space for improved comfort.

How Many Kuhli Loaches Can You Keep in a Fish Tank?

The answer depends on the tank’s size, the size of your fish, and the fish’s temperament. In theory, you have no limit to how many Kuhli loaches you can keep in an aquarium, provided there’s enough space for everyone.

Kuhli loaches are fine with 5 gallons per fish past the initial 20-gallon milestone.

So, adjust this general rule to figure out the best number of loaches to fit in your preferred aquarium.

Most importantly, don’t forget to consider the rest of the elements that will also take up tank space. We’ve already mentioned them briefly in the previous section.

Also, you can fit fewer loaches in a community setup, given that you’ll have other fish with their own space requirements as well.

Can I Keep Kuhli Loach in a 5-Gallon Tank?

No, you cannot do that. Kuhli loaches may be small fish, but they cannot live comfortably in a setting that small. On one hand, the fish needs more space to roam the substrate in search of food.

On the other, it prefers living in groups for improved mental health and a stronger immune system.

These preferences are incompatible with a 5-gallon setup. Such a space is too small for a 4-inch fish anyway, especially a Kuhli loach which requires caves, plants, and a variety of other aquatic elements.

You should keep your 5-gallon tank for smaller fish species like the dwarf pencilfish, the green neon tetra, the chili rasbora, and others.

Can I keep Kuhli Loach in a Glass Bowl?

No, you can’t keep your Kuhli loach in a glass bowl for the same reason you can’t keep it in a 5-gallon tank. The fish requires space to grow properly.

Keeping it in a tight space will dramatically hinder its growth and decrease its life quality. You should stick to the 20-gallon recommendation, despite what you may read elsewhere.

It’s actually common for many aquarists to recommend Kuhli loaches as viable nano-tank dwellers for some reason.

And, sure, many people keep their loaches in 5-gallon-setups, but that doesn’t mean that the fish is happy or healthy.

I bet you right now that those are the people dragging the fish’s average lifespan numbers down. Don’t be one of them!


Kuhli loaches don’t need much to be happy and remain healthy in the long run. Several factors will influence the fish’s lifespan and overall health, including tank layout, other loaches’ companionship, a varied diet, optimal water conditions, and the tank’s size.

Believe it or not, the tank’s size is just as important as all the other factors.

So, provide your loaches with adequate space and ignore the confusing information noise that can plague the aquarium world.

Author Image Fabian
I’m Fabian, aquarium fish breeder and founder of this website. I’ve been keeping fish, since I was a kid. On this blog, I share a lot of information about the aquarium hobby and various fish species that I like. Please leave a comment if you have any question.
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