Tank set up
P.myersi. Though they are known to be nocturnal -
some of my kuhlis are coming out to eat with other fish.
Common name - kuhli
(coolie) loaches. After spending tons of time reading about them
(though there is not much information available…) I realized, that
there is two genus names - old Acanthopthalmus and new - Pangio.
I can not call myself a big kuhli specialist, but I had several
different species for over a year now, so I guess I share some of the
things I was able to find.
Not all the loaches you can find in the stores by
the name "kuhli" are actually kuhli. It is more like a
common name, used for 4, or maybe even more, different species of fish
from Acanthopthalmus (Pangio) genus: P.myersi, P.kuhli,
P.semicinctus,P. javanicus . Currently I have two Myers loaches (P.myersi)
and 3 black loaches (P.javanicus), and used to have several
"plain kuhli" (P.kuhli)
All of them look similar - thin eel-like body, dark
brown with or without stripes, which can be yellow or even orange, and
slightly lighter body. There are no scales on the head, mouth is
surrounded by three pairs of whiskers, eyes have something like little
whiskers as well. Because of them kuhlis got their genus name -
Acanthopthalmus, or "thorn eye". They spend most of the time
on the bottom hiding or sneaking for food. Swim bladder has bony
shell, so they do not use it to adjust their depth, but vice versa -
the swim bladder adjusts the fish position. During the abrupt pressure
changes kuhlis start swimming along the aquarium walls - I guess just
because they suddenly become lighter due to the relatively high amount
of air inside of them. It is fun to watch them in the beginning of
that process - they'd use their "normal" way of swimming to
get around, but suddenly would swim much higher then usually! I am
sure it surprises them as much us! During these periods they can
easily stay in the mid-level, sniffing the aquarium walls. It used to
bother me - but now I can predict the weather change much better then
the weather bureau! But one of the books on loaches said also, that
these type of behavior might be the sign of stress due to water or
P.Kuhli - is a relatively small fish,
3.5 inches long, maybe ?" think, dark brown with 15-20 yellow
strips, which almost circle the body.
P.semicinctus - is a half banded
loach. In some of the description I saw, that the number of strips
might be smaller and the loaches themselves is shorter.
P.javanicus - This kuhli is unbanded.
Body is uniformly colored - brown, gray-brown or even redish brown.
There are other unbanded spieces known: borneensis, pahangensis,
P.myersi - This is my favorite type.
These are quite big - over 4 inches long, easily ?" thick, mostly
dark, almost black with 10 or so thin yellow/orange strips. One of
mine has small orange dots in the middle of dark brown bands. Their
bodies are mostly tall then think, such that while they crawl on the
bottom the tail part sometimes is turned on the side!
This are "Black kuhlis" - P.javanicus
(probably), native of Java and Sumatra.
This fish originates from South Asia, where they can be found in
heavily planted arias hiding between the leaves. So, in the tank they
love to find lots of plants - even plastic ones, hiding places and
rocks. It seems that they prefer small empty rocks. My big loaches if
they have a choice would go to confined places, even if they hardly
fit in there, but not into spacious dark rocks. To make them
comfortable I buried the empty ceramic half-logs into the gravel, such
that loaches have just enough space to fit their quite tall bodies.
I have three in the 5 Gal tank and only two of in my
20 Gal tank now - I probably need to find more. They seem to be doing
better in a group - though they don't spent all the time together,
they do seem to be more comfortable if other loach is around.
Especially when something stressful happens - they try to find each
other and stay together for awhile...
One rule: just because they are scavengers, does not mean they will it
junk. They eat anything - flakes, brine shrimps, daphnias, and pellet
food. And sinking pellets is not the best - it is too hard in the
beginning, but then they still do not eat it, maybe because it is not
fresh, or they get enough without those pellets. Dry tubifex worms are
not too popular in my tanks either - loaches seem to like to try it,
but then spit it back right away, try again, and spit again. Maybe too
Kuhlis are known to be nocturnal. You can even find, that they usually
come out only during the night, and hiding all the day long, making
their owners think, they perished. But mine do come out all the time.
They learned to come out when I am feeding other fish - get scared by
any movements, but would still try to find the way to get some of that
Tank set up
I have one more point to add to hiding places and plants: filter. In
one of the tanks I have Aquaclear 200 and very happy about it's
performance. Though it killed 2 of my loaches this spring. It looked
like loaches use their tail a lot - and if it gets stuck somewhere
they can not swim away... The strainer on my filter has vertical slots
3-4 mm (~1/8") wide. I saw my first loach stuck with the very
tail there - he could move, but could not swim away. I switched the
filter immediately, but that second or two were enough for him to die
later. Then I maid another strainer
from window screen net around the water uptake tube to protect my
loaches - I had to clean it quite often though. Now I have a strainer,
which was originally meant for Tetra filter, it fits on the end of the
Aquaclear uptake tube quite well. The wholes are pretty narrow, so I
don't worry about loaches (or just small fishes) getting into the
My tap water is extremely hard (>16° GH) and well buffered. So pH
is very stable, but high. I use distilled+tap water (3:1 or so) and
add salt when I do the water change. I did kill several loaches a year
ago or so, because I was adding too much distilled water and not
enough salt, so loaches, being small scaled fish and very sensitive to
any bacterial infection, got too stressed. Unfortunately it took me 3
loaches to understand that… that's why I write it here - so somebody
can avoid that.
That's the hardest part. I am pretty sure one of my Meyrs loaches has
eggs in it - I can see, that the belly is thicker, then the tail and
head regions, and it's only in one loach. Plus his (her, I guess…)
belly has a greenish color - which adds to my suspicion, because they
do have bright green eggs. Nobody was able to describe the breeding
conditions. They were accidentally bread in well planted tanks. I have
seen baby loaches in the store - that was a surprise to the owner as
well. There are many reports from Russians on injecting them with
hormones to facilitate the breading behavior. Spawning usually takes
place right under the surface, the couple swims up and down together.
Around 5 to 7 hundred eggs might be released, but they will eat most
of it, plus some might not be fertilized. I wish I saw that all by
myself. Not yet.
Do you see the loach peering through the hole in the rock? I often
see hem doing that - probably they are not brave enough to come out,
but want to know what's going on up there!
I'd appreciate any suggestions
and information about kuhli loaches.
1. Braz walker. Sharks and loaches.
Others will be added soon.