Do Kuhli Loaches Eat Snails? Everything You Need to Know

Do Kuhli loaches eat snails? It’s a question that has puzzled aquarists for years, and it still isn’t apparent. The loach is a scavenger, so some believe it might scavenge on snail eggs or snail meat. However, no evidence has been found that the loach eats snails despite repeated trials. So while this question remains unanswered, aquarists can at least rest assured knowing that their Kuhli loaches are safe with snails.

Kuhli loaches can eat snails and snail eggs in aquariums. Yet kuhli loaches do not hunt or seek out snails; they are scavengers and opportunistic eaters. As nocturnal, bottom-dwelling fish, they usually wait and eat food that falls to the bottom of the tank. They have been known to eat snails or snail eggs smaller than but not enough to help control a snail population.

This article will discuss the topic in-depth to answer all questions about kuhli loaches and snails in aquariums, which loaches eat snails, and what food kuhli loaches eat.

The original uploader was Marrabbio2 at Italian Wikipedia., CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Do Kuhli Loaches Eat Snails or Snail Eggs?

Kuhli loaches have been known to eat snails and snail eggs more than they are if they come across them while scavenging for food. They will not actively hunt snails or seek the eggs out to eat but will consume food they find at the bottom of the tank. So they may eat snails and eggs living in the same aquarium.

Should Kuhli Loaches and Snails Be Kept in the Same Tank?

Tankmates for kuhli loaches (Pangio kuhlii) can be a bit of a challenge to decide on. Some people believe that they should only be kept with other fish that share their peaceful nature, while others think they make good companions for various tank mates. When it comes to snails, the debate continues. Some aquarists feel that kuhli loaches and snails should never be put together in the same tank because the loaches will eat the snails. Others believe that if there is enough food for both the loaches and the snails, they can coexist peacefully.

So, what’s the verdict? Should you keep kuhli loaches and snails together in the same tank? The answer is: it depends.

If you wish to protect the snails in your aquarium, it is not advised to keep loaches and snails together as there is the risk that the kuhli loaches will eat the snails and their eggs. However, if you do not want snails in your aquarium, kuhli and other loaches can be introduced to the tank, but they do not eat enough snails to control the population.

What Are Kuhli Loaches?

Kuhli loaches (Pangio kuhlii) are small, eel-like fish found in Southeast Asia, specifically Indonesia and the Malay Peninsula. They are a schooling fish and can be kept in at least three groups, but better six or more. Kuhli loaches are a pale brown to black color with several light-colored stripes running along with their bodies. They have a long, slim body and, at maturity, about 2 3⁄4 inches, but they can grow up to 4 inches in length. Kuhli loaches are peaceful fish and make an excellent addition to the community tank.

Kuhli are bottom-dwelling fish who stay on the bottom of the tank to wait for any food to drop down to them. They are nocturnal and will therefore look for food during the night. In good conditions, they can live up to 10 years or more.

Kuhli loaches are very hard to catch in an aquarium, making it a nightmare for every fish shop if you ask them to get a specific one. 

Which Species of Snails Live in Aquariums? 

There are various species of snails that can live in aquariums with kuhli and other loaches. These include pond snails, rabbit snails, Rams Horn snails, assassin snails, Gold Inca snails, Malaysian Trumpet Snails, Apple snails, and Nerite snails.

What Do Kuhli Loaches Eat? 

Kuhli loaches are bottom-feeders that like to eat insects, worms, and other small aquatic creatures. They will also eat some plant material. In the wild, kuhli loaches mostly eat algae and other organic matter on the bottom of the river or stream.

In the aquarium, kuhli loaches will eat all offered types of food. They seem to like live foods such as bloodworms, brine shrimp, and Tubifex worms best. However, they will also eat pellets, flake food, and freeze-dried food.

What Do Snails Eat in Aquariums? 

Aquarium snails will eat various foods available in the tank, such as algae, plant matter, vegetables such as lettuce and kale, fruits, and bits of fish food, including bloodworms or brine shrimps. The food available to them is dependent on the species of snail, the aquarium they live in, what other species they co-habit with, and if they have any specific nutritional needs.

Which Loaches and Fish Eat Snails? 

As discussed, kuhli loaches will occasionally eat snails. Other species of loach also consume snails and may be introduced into an aquarium to help control a snail population. The largest of these are clown loaches, which can grow 12 inches long. Other smaller loaches are zebra loaches and yo-yo loaches. Other fish that eat snails in a tank includes bettas, red-tailed sharks, and large goldfish.

How Can the Snail Population in A Tank Be Controlled? 

Fish Keeping Guide recommends hand-picking snails out of the tank or laying a snail trap. Place a piece of lettuce in your tank overnight, and by morning, you will find snails on the leaf. By removing the lettuce, you can take several snails out of the tank at once. Keeping loaches and fish that eat snails and their eggs is an excellent way to keep the population down.

Are Kuhli Loaches Helpful in An Aquarium?

Kuhli loaches are a popular choice of bottom-dwelling fish as they help clean up tanks by scavenging for food and consuming what lands at the bottom of the tank. This means they are easy to feed and essentially tidy up any mess from the bottom of the aquarium. They are also peaceful fish that keep to themselves and are not aggressive with any other species they live alongside.

Are Snails Helpful in An Aquarium?

Snails can be seen as helpful additions to an aquarium as they help keep the tank clean by eating uneaten fish food, dead plants, and algae. This prevents any uneaten food in the tank from forming ammonia, which harms fish and species living there. Yet snails can also turn into pests if they often breed, taking over the tank and becoming harmful, eating plants and even clogging filter tubes.

What Are the Proper Conditions to Keep Kuhli Loaches?

Fishkeeping wisdom claims that kuhli loaches should be kept in a tank of around 20 gallons, and the water should be at a temperature of 73-86 degrees Fahrenheit. Kuhli prefers a softer material, such as sand, at the bottom of the tank rather than just pebbles or stones so that they can bury themselves in it. They also feel safer in hiding places, such as wood, rocks, or vegetation.

In summary

Kuhli loaches scavenge food from the bottom of the tank, and if they come across a tiny snail or snail eggs, they will eat them. Whether or not to keep kuhli loaches and snails in the same tank is dependent on your view of snails. To protect snails, it is not advisable to keep loaches with them but to control the snail population, loaches can be part of the solution.


My name is Jaap, and I am a passionate shrimp and fish enthusiast. I rediscovered my love for this hobby with my son and want to share our knowledge and tips with you on this aquarium blog. We cover topics such as setting up and maintaining an aquarium, feeding and breeding your shrimp and fish, and creating the perfect environment for them to thrive.

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