kuhli loaches on gravel eating
kuhli loaches
kuhli loaches

Breeding kuhli loaches (pangio kuhli)

What you will need

  • 2×36 inch tank
  • 2 sponge filters and airpump
  • 2x200w heater – stat
  • aquarium sand
  • floating plants with roots – such as water lettuce
  • several pieces java moss
  • 8 adult kuhli loaches
  • water that is slightly acidic or neutral and soft
  • Stones
  • Plastic tubing

Kuhli loaches care

kuhli loaches on gravel eating
group of kuhli loaches in an aquarium

A smooth sandy subtrate is a must for these. Keep this in a group of 6 or more. Have plenty of hiding places for them. This will ensure that they become less shy. They prefer slightly acidy, soft water. However, this is not crucial as long as the water conditions are quite clean. They prefer no nitrites or ammonia and low nitrates from water changes. They are a great community fish that are colourful and active while not aggressive at all.

Kuhli loaches: Preparation for breeding

Males have more a muscular back and their pectoral fins are slightly bigger and paddle like. Females are slightly larger and plumper.
Your breeding tank needs preparation with sand substrate floating plants with large root systems, several pieces of java moss around the tank, 2 sponge filters. Also include plenty of hiding places for the loaches. Plastic tubes cut into 6 inch lengths can be used for this. Also use small stones or pebbles dashed around the sand. This will provide more hiding places as well as providing shelter for any fry.

Place your 8 kuhli loaches in the breeding tank. Raise the temperature to 82F or even higher. Feed exclusively with blood worms, tubifex, white worms and grindal worms. Feed several times a day. Do 5% daily water changes with rested water. Keep the sponge filters flowing. If they start to become clogged then squeeze out the excess mud from the sponge inside some aquarium water in a bucket. Do not remove everything from the sponge. The water level should only be 75% of the height of the aquarium.
It has also been reported that adding Indian almond leaves to the water will help induce spawning through the slow acidic release from the leaves.

Slowly but surely the females will pad out with eggs. When they look pretty full then try spraying some cool, pure water (such as RO water or rain water) into the tank in the evening especially when the weather forecasts rain. This may be the trigger that induces them to spawn.

Breeding Kuhli loaches

kuhli loach pair swimming to surface
kuhli loach pair mating embrace

If the trigger was succesful, on the following early morning the fish will swim around all over the aquarium excitedly. Males and females will pair up swimming side by side and start swimming along the surface of the tank. There the male and female will splash together then entwine as they drop downwards from the surface. It is when they entwine that she lays her eggs that are fertilised by the male.





kuhli loach pair drop down after spawning


water lettuce
water lettuce roots – excellent for surface spawning


The eggs are bright green and will slowly sink and attach themselves to the floating plant roots or falling onto the java moss.
When spawning has finished, remove the floating plants and java moss with eggs attached to another aquarium using the water from the breeding aquarium. Move a sponge filter from the main aquaria to the raising aquarium too. Start your first infusoria culture. Start a new culture every day. Always feed with a 5 day old culture every day.


Raising Kuhli loach fry

The eggs hatch after 2 days and become free swimming after a further 3 days. There could be as many as 400 fry. For the first week feed with infusoria. After the second week feed with brineshrimp and microworms. After 6 weeks introduce dry fish food but be careful to remove any food that the fry have rejected.
Keep the tank clean by doing 5% daily water changes with aged water. After 2 months the fry should be 1.25 inches long. After 5 months they will be of saleable size.
Kuhli loaches are always in good demand. They are difficult to farm. If you manage to find a formula to successfully breed them on a regular basis then you can make a profit from them. But they are not easy to breed. However, continual home breeding will over the generations make them easier to breed.