19 Best Kuhli Loach Tank Mates

A kuhli loach is a great fish to have if you are looking to add some new friends to your freshwater aquarium. They are small, playful, don’t produce a lot of waste, and are very friendly. If you are looking for some tank mates to keep your kuhli loach company, there are many breeds to consider that will get along nicely with this eel-like fellow.

1. More Kuhli Loaches!

Kuhli loaches are generally quite shy when they are the only ones in the tank. Ideally, a kuhli loach and should be kept in a group of 6 or more to make them feel more comfortable. A minimum of five kuhli loach tank residents will help them feel secure and comfortable in their home. When they are able to be social with their own species, you will see them around the tank much more often. They will be less stressed and more happy and active with other fish around.

2. Corydoras Catfish

Corydoras are extremely peaceful fish. They are best kept with other small non-aggressive fish such as kuhli loaches. A corydoras will spend most of their time swimming at the bottom of the tank, scavenging for leftover food that has sunk into down into the ground.

A kuhli loach is a bottom-dweller as well and will spend a lot of time near the bottom of the tank, hiding in the sand during the day and scavenging at night.

3. Danios

Zebra Danio | Source: Deposit Photos

Danios are very active fish. They tend to like to hang out anywhere in the tank where there’s room to swim around. They are best with other active fish, which makes them great tank mates for the kuhli loaches which are also active when they get comfortable in the tank and have other friends to be active with.

Glofish’s Take on the Zebra Danio | Source: Deposit Photos

Zebra danios, as a word of warning, can be slightly aggressive. Mostly, however, if they are in the right type of environment, they are social and happy. They would get along nicely with the loach or any other nonaggressive species.

4. Rasboras

The rasboras are shoaling fish. This basically means that they like to be around a group of their same species. They prefer to always work in groups, so it’s best if you keep them in groups of ten or more. They are generally pretty low maintenance so if you are looking for an easy fish that you won’t have to worry about introducing to your kuhli loach, a rasbora could be worth looking into. Just make sure you are keeping these fish in a nicely sized school.

5. Tetras

Tetras are tropical freshwater fish. They can be very colorful and peaceful. Due to tetra specific diseases, tetras can be a bit difficult to keep alive. With some very specific requirements, these fish can sometimes be quite sensitive and high maintenance.

For example, they must be in schools of their own type to survive. You can keep different species in the same tank, but they each must have a school of their own type of tetra.

This means, if you have one neon tetra, you must keep it in a school of other neon tetras (3-4) before introducing a rosy tetra. And the rosy tetra must be in a group of other rosy tetras as well. These group rules apply for introducing your fish to a kuhli loach as well. If you want ALL of your fish to feel comfortable with each other, they should ALL be in groups of their own kind.

Aquarium fish. Rosy Tetra. Nature tank. Freshwater tank. A green beautiful planted freshwater aquarium with Tetra fishes. (macro, soft focus).

The fish types listed so far have all been “community fish.” A PetSmart fish specialist that we contacted recommended that any fish that is a community fish, is peaceful, gets along with other fish, and isn’t big enough to eat the kuhli loach will be just fine as a tank mate.

6. Gouramis

Honey Gourami | Source: Deposit Photos

A gouramis fish could be a good option if you want fish that primarily swims in the middle of the tank. Given that a kuhli loach spends most of its time at the bottom of the tank, midwater swimmers and shallow water swimming fish are great options to put together with a bottom-dweller because they will be not as likely to interact much.

Honey Gourami | Source: Deposit Photos

Kuhli loaches are known to spend most of their time burrowing in the substrate. This means that even another bottom-dweller is a fine option to put with them. A fish that could do harm may not even be able to because the loach will hide in the ground.

7. Red Cherry Shrimp

A red cherry shrimp is an awesome addition to your tank for several reasons. First of all, they eat the algae that gathers in your tank like it’s nobody’s business. And they don’t harm your aquarium plants when doing this.

Introducing a red cherry shrimp is sure to add a new pop of color to your tank. It also guarantees less mess for you to clean up! It is cleaner to have a cherry shrimp than it is to not have one.

They are peaceful, mind their own business and the fish won’t harm these colorful crustaceans.

8. Bettas

The betta fish is definitely a difficult one for your fish collection, but it can be done. This “Siamese fighting fish” has its name for a reason. A betta fish can be extremely aggressive when it feels like something is coming into its territory.

By introducing the fish slowly and having a tank large enough in size, you may be able to get by with having a sleek kuhli loach hiding in the shadows of your tank while a beautiful betta fish steals the show out in the open.

9. Common Molly

Dalmation Molly | Source: Deposit Photos

A common molly is a freshwater livebearer that is a pretty simple and basic fish. They are low maintenance and get along with plenty of other fish. Like most fish, they prefer to be in groups of four or more.

They are hardly ever aggressive except if they are in a tank that’s too small and have too many other fish nearby. A molly needs 3 gallons of space per additional fish. The most common way that this fish (and many others) die is because of poor water regulation.

10. Dwarf Otocinclus

Otherwise known as “dwarf suckers,” the otocinclus is a type of catfish from South America. They are also commonly called “otos”.

Otocinclus in planted aquarium | Source: Deposit Photos

These fish are easily identifiable by their under-the-belly sucker mouths. They will spend all day and all night holding tight to the glass of the tank, sucking all the algae off of it so you don’t have to! A very out of the way, unsocial fish like this gets along great with the kuhli loach.

11. Guppies

A guppy can be super simple and low-maintenance or fancy and high-maintenance depending on which type of guppy you go for.

A simple multi-colored Guppy is your best bet for a long-living, easy thriving fish. They also get along great with other fish and especially your kuhli loach.

12. Clown Loaches

Clown loaches are very similar to kuhli loaches. They will be timid in groups of less than 6, so it’s important to keep them in a tank with company. They also tend to like hanging out at the bottom of the tank, but they will get along with a kuhli loach just fine if they each have enough space to do their thing. Loaches, in general, tend to be friendly to one another, so there’s not too much to worry about in that regard.

13. Angelfish

Angelfish are without a doubt one of the most beautiful fish on this list. Their sleek angelic figure and elegant fins will send you into a peaceful state just watching them. Luckily, they are also angelic in personality, They get along with any fish that isn’t directly aggressive to them.

They are carnivorous, feeding on fish that are smaller than them, so keep that in mind, but a kuhli loach is nowhere near small enough for an angelfish to want to make a meal out of them.

They also can be quite skittish with loud noises and such, so it’s best to keep the tank in a relaxing area. Angelfish come in a handful of different colors so you can choose the color scheme that you are most drawn to.

14. Discus

Symphysodon discus | Source: Deposit Photos

Discus are one of the most fun, exciting, beautiful rainbowy fish you can have! They are very round and spotted and red and blue and yellow and all kinds of completely beautiful varieties. It’s like having a pop-art pancake in your tank. And the best part is, you can keep them in the same tank with your kuhli loach!

You don’t want to mix your discus with too many different species, however, as they can get aggressive if they feel overwhelmed. They also must be in a group of 4 or 5 in order to develop a personality and be social. This means more beautiful, brightly-colored friends!

15. Apistogramma

The wonderful thing about these fish is their personalities! They are curious and will explore their surroundings trying to find something interesting. They also will come up to the glass of your tank when you look in at them and even follow your finger as you drag it across the glass! This is rare for a fish to do.

They can be semi-aggressive if the conditions are not right for them. As long as they are kept in groups of 10-20, they will get along fine with a kuhli loach. Other cichlids are too aggressive to be kept in a community tank, but that is what makes Apistogramma special. They can thrive in a tank with other species as long as they have supervision at first.

16. White Cloud Mountain Minnows

White Cloud Mountain Minnow | Source: Deposit Photos

This hardy species makes a great tank mate for a kuhli loach for a few reasons. They are originally from China and are now almost extinct outside of captivity due to pollution and tourism. They are unique and sleek-looking, with a bold white stripe across their bodies. They are also very helpful in cleaning up algae in the tank like a dwarf sucker and red cherry shrimp. This fish is a great choice for a tank mate to any fish, but especially kuhli loaches.

17. Aquarium Plants

Aquarium plants and decorations are best to have in the tank with your kuhli loach because it will give them lots of places to hide when they are scared.

© Tiny Underwater | CC BY v4

It also is good for the oxygen of your tank to have live plants inside. Kuhli loaches are nocturnal so they tend to hide during the day and come out to scavenge at night. This means they will feel most comfortable with large structures to hide in whenever they can.

18. Red-Tailed Black Sharks

These are some really cool fish but they can be aggressive with other tank mates. It is best to provide LOTS of places for these fish to hide to keep everyone in the tank safe. Sand is also best for the floor of the tank because a kuhli loach will love to burrow itself in there and hide from aggressive tank mates.

19. African Dwarf Frogs

Frogs can be a great addition to your tank if the water is shallow enough and you are sure to have a lid over your tank. Frogs will escape through any opening they are provided.

Albino Clawed Frog | Source: Deposit Photos

Generally, A kuhli loach will not eat the frog if they are provided with more nutrition than just pellets. They should be eating brine shrimp or other small types of real food to keep them from wanting to eat the frogs.

Fish can be complicated to take care of and keep happy in the right conditions at every moment of the day, but they are beautiful creatures and peaceful to look at. They are also therapeutic to care for!

You can have a really amazing, happy, and healthy community tank with a variety of interesting species of freshwater fish if you just do your research on the personalities of different fish and pay close attention to how they interact with each other and what they might need.