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FAQs About Kuhlii Loaches

Related Articles: Loaches, A New Look At Loaches By Neale Monks,

Related FAQs: Loaches 1, Loaches 2, Dojos/Weatherfishes, Clownloaches, & Loach Identification, Loach Behavior, Loach Compatibility, Loach Selection, Loach Systems, Loach Feeding, Loach Disease, Loach Reproduction,

Kuhli Loach Question       3/14/17
Good Afternoon WWM Crew:
Your help in the past has been invaluable, and I've had no issues since my last correspondence in November, but now have a question about an injured Kuhli loach.
I'm attaching a photo of one of my Kuhlis (I have 3-5).
<I see your excellent pic and ouch!>
I have a 29 gallon freshwater setup, heavily planted with Java fern, Java moss, and Anubias. I have white aquarium sand as a substrate.
Most of my fish have been in the tank for 1-2 years, with the exception of 2 Corys, 2 Albino BNP, 5 Nerite snails, and one Glowlight tetra that I added in November 2016, and Red Cherry shrimp added in December.
On Saturday I did a 20%+ water change, routine, no issues, didn't dig in the sand with the siphon, but I did pick up a plastic cave ornament to siphon underneath, and seeing no fish underneath, put it back down and wiggled it a little to settle it into the sand, just a bit, nothing really hard or forceful.
The next day, on Sunday evening (about 24 hours later) I noticed one of my Kuhlis lying against the side of the tank, which is unusual, as they usually hide in the plants. Upon closer inspection, I saw what appears to be a bite or gouge on her side, see photo.
<Yes; a physical trauma>
Two other Kuhlis were lying "in the open" very close to her, laying against the outside of the "cave". They appeared to be fine, so I thought maybe they were staying by their friend. This morning she was in a similar position, but the other Kuhlis were not in view.
The tank mates in my 29g are as follows:
3-5 Kuhli loaches (I released 5, never see more than 3, they keep hidden)
4 Albino Corys
5 Glowlight tetras
5 Nerite snails
2 Albino Bristlenose Plecos (young, about 2-3" long)
1 Red Cherry shrimp (might be more, I released 4)
I have not read that Bristlenose Plecos are aggressive, but cannot imagine any other fish in the aquarium biting my Kuhli. I added the BNP in November, and have had no problems.
<Usually Ancistrus species aren't aggressive...>
I fear that I might have injured my Kuhli while cleaning yesterday.
The tank is heavily planted, and removing the Kuhli for treatment is probably not an option. I know adding salt is not an option, either, due to the tank mates.
I keep the water clean (1 Eheim canister, 1 Aquaball, & 1 Marineland 200), pH 7.0-7.2, Ammonia 0, Nitrites 0, Nitrates 20-40 (it's usually at 30-40 when I do a water change, every 3-4 days). Water temp is 74-76F.
I'd appreciate your input on what you think might be the cause of this injury. I'm hoping my Kuhli survives, but if not, I want to prevent the others from a similar injury.
Thank you.
Lor, aka Fuzzi
<If this were me, my system, fishes, I would leave all as is (not treat, not move the fish...). Just maintain the system as you've been doing; and hope this fish heals given time, good maintenance and nutrition.
Bob Fenner>

Kuhli Loach Question /Neale      3/15/17
Good Afternoon WWM Crew:
Your help in the past has been invaluable, and I've had no issues since my last correspondence in November, but now have a question about an injured Kuhli loach.
<Indeed! Quite the wound.>
I'm attaching a photo of one of my Kuhlis (I have 3-5). I have a 29 gallon freshwater setup, heavily planted with Java fern, Java moss, and Anubias. I have white aquarium sand as a substrate.
<All sounds good.>
Most of my fish have been in the tank for 1-2 years, with the exception of 2 Corys, 2 Albino BNP, 5 Nerite snails, and one Glowlight tetra that I added in November 2016, and Red Cherry shrimp added in December.
<Understood. Nothing here sounds risky.>
On Saturday I did a 20%+ water change, routine, no issues, didn't dig in the sand with the siphon, but I did pick up a plastic cave ornament to siphon underneath, and seeing no fish underneath, put it back down and wiggled it a little to settle it into the sand, just a bit, nothing really hard or forceful.
The next day, on Sunday evening (about 24 hours later) I noticed one of my Kuhlis lying against the side of the tank, which is unusual, as they usually hide in the plants. Upon closer inspection, I saw what appears to be a bite or gouge on her side, see photo.
<Indeed. Looks like an ulcer, could be caused by the physical damage, could be something else entirely coincidental with your tank cleaning exercise.>
Two other Kuhlis were lying "in the open" very close to her, laying against the outside of the "cave". They appeared to be fine, so I thought maybe they were staying by their friend. This morning she was in a similar position, but the other Kuhlis were not in view.
The tank mates in my 29g are as follows:
3-5 Kuhli loaches (I released 5, never see more than 3, they keep hidden)
4 Albino Corys
5 Glowlight tetras
5 Nerite snails
2 Albino Bristlenose Plecos (young, about 2-3" long)
<Do watch these don't rasp on the sore; while Ancistrus are normally pretty good, many Plecs will, given the chance, graze on wounded fish.>
1 Red Cherry shrimp (might be more, I released 4)
I have not read that Bristlenose Plecos are aggressive, but cannot imagine any other fish in the aquarium biting my Kuhli. I added the BNP in November, and have had no problems. I fear that I might have injured my Kuhli while cleaning yesterday.
<See above.>
The tank is heavily planted, and removing the Kuhli for treatment is probably not an option. I know adding salt is not an option, either, due to the tank mates.
<Unlikely salt would make a huge difference anyway.>
I keep the water clean (1 Eheim canister, 1 Aquaball, & 1 Marineland 200), pH 7.0-7.2, Ammonia 0, Nitrites 0, Nitrates 20-40 (it's usually at 30-40 when I do a water change, every 3-4 days). Water temp is 74-76F.
I'd appreciate your input on what you think might be the cause of this injury. I'm hoping my Kuhli survives, but if not, I want to prevent the others from a similar injury.
Thank you.
Lor, aka Fuzzi
<I'd be optimising water quality and using a good antibiotic or antibacterial until such time as the wound was obviously healing over. Fish *can* recover from flesh wounds like this rather well, all else being good.
So I'd be quite optimistic. Cheers, Neale.>

Kuhli Loach Question - Should I be worried? Beh. f'        4/7/16
Hello Crew (whatever kind volunteer receives this one!)
You're website has been invaluable to me over the last 6 months or so since
I got into this wonderful hobby. Both Neale and Bob were very helpful with helping me treat fin rot in my Betta (Thank you so much he's all better now and as feisty as can be! Although NOT one of those laid back Bettas who
can live in a community tank as I found out - much better off on his own. lol)
I now have a question about some newly acquired kuhli loaches. I recently upgraded from a 20 gallon to a 50 gallon long aquarium - it is planted (java moss, some type of sword plant, Anubias and dwarf Hygro I think it's called - love this plant)
<Hygrophila polysperma is one of my faves as well. A FAST grower under good conditions>
with caves and hidey holes etc. Sand substrate.
I am running 2 filters (one new one when I upgraded, as well as my filter from my 20 - originally for bacteria establishing purposes (along with some added substrate from that tank as well) and now just for the added
filtration - better to have too much than too little!. It's at 78 degrees, ammonia at 0, nitrite at 0 and nitrate at 10. Weekly 20% water changes.
Over the past weekend I added 2 kuhli loaches (the solid colour ones, if that makes a difference). I know they need larger groups and the intention
is to purchase 4 more - but prefer to add fish slowly, so only got 2 for now and will get more after a week.
I know they are nocturnal and shy, but my concern is that when lights are out I very very occasionally see a glimpse of one, but only one. The sightings have been far and few between. At what point should I be concerned about the other loach?
<Never... even if it perished in this volume, there would not be negative consequences. They will be out more when you have several specimens>
The tank is covered, and the filter intakes only have tiny slats much too small for anything other than the tiniest of fry to get through. I did a gentle stir around the sand and didn't turn up either of the Kuhlis so clearly they are excellent hiders.
At what point should I move from they are just being shy to perhaps one has died somewhere?
<I would not be concerned. Time will tell here>
Perhaps this is a silly question, but I thought it couldn't hurt to ask.
I am new to loaches and while I have read everything I can find, the fact that I have only ever seen one at a time I am concerned that something might be wrong.
Am I just being impatient?
<Are you?>
Every forum I have read is that once you have more than 5 Kuhlis you will start seeing them all the time - I am really
looking forward to that. Such neat little fish. I have always wanted loaches, but having only a 50 gallon I felt these were the most appropriate ones for the size. I'd love some yoyos but I think they might be too big.
Anyway I digress!
In case this is important, their tank mates are:
6 cories
4 guppies (1 male, 3 females & 2 tiny guppy fry)
2 female platies
2 female swordtails
6 black phantom tetras (3 males, 3 females)
1 African dwarf frog (hand fed so he doesn't have to compete with the fish for food)
So no bullies, all are very peaceful.
Other than the 4 Kuhlis I am planning on adding I am not planning on adding any other fish for now, perhaps ever. The tank is busy and active without being crowded at present which is how I like it :)
Any advice for a new loach owner would be so appreciated, I know you are all very busy.
Kind regards,
<Patience and the new additions. Bob Fenner>
Re: Kuhli Loach Question - Should I be worried?       4/7/16

Thank you Bob, sometimes one just need someone to tell you to relax! haha
I appreciate you doing that for me here.
And yes, that plant is just the easiest plant ever, the fish just love swimming through it.
I appreciate you taking the time, yet again, to assist.
I hope you have a lovely rest of your week.
<And you; BobF>

Pictus, kuhli loaches <in>compatibility.      10/14/15
Hello, thanks for answering my earlier message.
I have started gathering what few knowledge there is about the fish told you about. ill get to you on that again in a few weeks, when i have done some planning.
<Okay.... likely Neale Monks.... you don't include prev. corr.>
This time its a very straightforward question:
Can i have pictus catfish and kuhli loaches together?
<No; not compatible.... really the Pimelodelids will "over-run" the loaches.... eating all food; traumatizing them. Should be kept in separate systems>
do you have any experience with the combination or have you heard about it working?
<You can see/read our bibliographies on WWM. Have a bunch of experience w/ these species>
The lfs has brought in some pictus and i would like to get a pair,
<Better in larger groupings>
i have read they reach about 11 cm, and my Kuhlis right now range from 6 cm to about 12 (15 or so of them....lost count really... i have myersi, oblonga and the spotted type). They are around the same size but im asking because when i got my spotted Raphael,
<Not compatible either>
at about 6 cm, it killed 3 of my Kuhlis in one night, this happened in the 40 gal planted tank and im sure it was the Raphael as it was added 3 days prior and the Apistogrammas in there don't really pay attention to anything but each other. The Kuhlis looked like they had been scratched on their faces and had their tails bitten.
Can i expect the same result with the pictus?
<About; yes>
I wanted to add them to the planted tank first while they grew a bit, since they are about 6 cm, very small, and then i would add them to the catfish tank housing a 11 cm spotted Raphael, 15 cm stripped Raphael and the 8 cm or so bumblebee catfish. Will the pictus, at their current size, be ok to be added with the rest of the catfish then?
<Keep reading; better to consider a biotope for keeping these and all other aquatic life>
Thanks again, Rob.
<Welcome. Bob Fenner>
Re: Pictus, kuhli loaches compatibility.       10/15/15

Oh yes, sorry, i just checked the earlier response and it was you who answered Bob, in fact, it is you who has answered my many emails.
I asked information on breeding various fish on a new 125 gal planted tank i was planning.
Hmm, in a previous conversation i told you i have my current 40 gallon tank with the Kuhlis and Apistogrammas and also an 80 gallon for "catfishes",
<Heeeee! Some Siluiiforms are amongst the largest of fishes. See Siluris glanis>
sorry for not giving out these details again. This catfish tank is housing Raphaels, bumblebees, ghost catfish, boesemanni rainbows and an African butterfly fish, this is the tank the pictus is really intended to go, is it ok?
<Should go in here; with attention to make sure the other catfishes are getting food, that they have sufficient habitat (likely hollow faux logs, what have you>
It is a slightly black water tank sparsely planted with crypts, Aponogetons and Anubias and many caves.
<Ah, good>
At the time i thought the Raphael would not attack the Kuhlis as they were about the same size long and the Raphaels seemed peaceful... So far my Raphaels and bumblebees get along well but are they really aggressive to other bottom dwelling fish or is it just that he mistook the Kuhlis for worms or something?
<Doradids are often mistaken... being sedentary, inactive by day... they are not slow cleaner-uppers; but able competitors, meat seekers and eaters by night>
Thanks again.
<Welcome. Bob Fenner>
Re: Pictus, kuhli loaches compatibility. Neale's addn.s        10/16/15

<<Will somewhat echo Bob's comments that Pimelodus pictus is, at best, an untrustworthy member of most community tanks. They can and will eat any bite-sized prey (including juvenile Kuhli Loaches) and their restless activity (especially at night) makes it difficult for slow-moving fish to compete for food. Much better companions for medium-sized tetras, barbs, and things like Anostomus that wouldn't be good choices for the average community tank. You could combine them with similar sized Botiine loaches (Botia almorhae for example) as well as Horseface Loaches, and they also do well with Clown Loaches. But I'd reserve Pangio spp. for life alongside the smallest, most gentle community species: Cardinal Tetras, Harlequin Rasboras, Cherry Barbs... that sort of thing. Would also caution you that most Pimelodidae prefer brisk currents and moderate temperatures (22-25 C) whereas Pangio species are mostly fish for slow-moving water environments and do well at middling to warm temperatures (24-28 C). Pimelodidae appreciate deep, open tanks and sandy substrates, while your Pangio prefer shallow tanks with dense tangles of bogwood roots and thickets of plants. Not much overlap between the two in terms of biotope, so would plan accordingly. Cheers, Neale.>>
Re: Pictus, kuhli loaches compatibility. And now, used tank purchase consideration      10/17/15

Yes, thank you both for answering. So i discarded the pictus for the time being, i will probably get one of the Ancistrus varieties to expand my collection of catfishes. However, i brought home to the 40 gallon planted tank (Apistogrammas and Kuhlis), 5 Otocinclus, they look silvery-blue, probably vestitus? and also Sturisoma aureum and Farlowella vittata. I figured these small, delicate suckermouths would make good additions and be comfortable in the densely planted aquarium with plenty of algae to eat, i have added blanched cucumber and romaine lettuce but so far none of them have tried the vegetables. They don't look malnourished and in fact have seen them poop (they must be eating something hu?). Will keep adding vegetables on a regular basis as Ramshorn snails eventually get to them.
Now, on a different question, as i told you a few messages before i am planning on a new planted tank. I want something between 100 and 140 gallons. There is someone who is selling his 125 (145cmx60cmx60cm) with a base of 12 mm glass, but the rest of the panels are 6mm...
<Mmm; is this a commercially made aquarium? For Americans, this is quarter inch nominal.... NOT what I'd use... 3/8, like 8, 10mm would be much better; perhaps it's tempered plate>
it has 3 braces and it has reinforcements on the bottom, like braces too but on the bottom panel and also some kind of diagonal reinforcement on each corner, and has an extra piece of glass in and out of the corners, which makes it thicker at the corners.
<Custom, DIY, home-made>
I don't have a camera right now but i will attach a photo in my next message (i hope!). Anyway, he is selling the tank very cheap, he said he has used it for 8 months for his pair of Oscars without trouble, but said he would be upgrading his tank size, and no kidding, he really has a new 200 or so gallon. Anyway, what do you think of this?
<What little I've read; I'd give it a pass>
i feel it is risky, and that's being generous but im probably exaggerating, i am somewhat knowledgeable on mechanics of materials and ran a few simulations if i were to use this tank. All of the simulations (and hand calculations) said the tank would not break, with a safety factor of around 1.25-1.5 for tempered glass.
<Yes; agreed>
I wont be housing any tank busting species and while it may hold water, the extra stress done on the walls by rocks, wood, other aquascaping stuff etc could be different, and also i have no sure way to factor in these and the corner reinforcements in my calculations so im very unsure.
<It's more the periodic shifting... earthquakes and jars; that concern me>
The tank sounds like a deal but i really DONT want to deal with cracks, leaks or worse...sudden bursting of the tank... So i may just save money for a tank made with the right thickness (8mm simulations threw out 1.8-1.93 in safety factor... am i good here?), which may be 3x the price i would be paying for this one...
<I'd go commercial; new>
Anyway, thank you very much for your time, keep up the good work.
<Welcome. Bob Fenner>

PraziPro and delicate fish... Kuhliine loaches lost     11/5/13
Hi I have recently gotten a batch of meyersi and I noticed that they aren't putting on any weight. And now I have lost a few of them.
I am pretty sure it's parasites.
<Do you have a 'scope? I'd open up some and look for gross signs, lumenal....>
And I have some Prazi pro but before I treat the tank I need to be sure it's safe for my other fish.
Heflin banded sharks
Black ghost knife
African brown knife
I just need to be sire t
<? Not particularly toxic to these fishes. Bob Fenner>
Re: PraziPro and delicate fish   11/5/13

I don't but I can take them to my school and have one of my professors check it out. That is a good idea.
Thanks a ton for the info. Was worried to use it without being 100% sure cus these fish mean a lot to me. My bgk is more like my dog than my fish
<Ahh; I understand. BobF>
Mysterious meyersi deaths   11/5/13

Ammonia 0
Nitrite 0
Nitrate below 5.0
Ph 7.2
Temp 74
I went through a period a few months back where within two weeks I went from about 40 Kuhlis to 3. They showed no symptoms until all of the sudden they had trouble swimming lay on there side and were dead within minutes of symptoms showing.
I have bgk, hifin shark, dojo, and Pygmy hovering loach in this tank as well and none have ever showed any signs of anything.
My friend who owns an lfs ordered me another 25 and he quarantined them for me for three weeks. They were skinny but seemed otherwise fine when I put them in the tank. It's been a couple weeks and I haven't seen any of the erratic swimming but am finding loach after loach dead. I am stumped.
Before this happened the first time the loaches I had were 5 or six years old never had a problem. I waited and watched the remaining ones for almost two months before I put the new ones in.
<Something wrong in/with this tank/system>
I'm at my wits end. My heart can't take much more of this :(
I started them on Prazi today cause they aren't putting on weight so maybe parasites. But if you have any ideas pleas let me know.
Thank you.
<Would like to see someone who knows what they're doing necropsy these loaches. BobF>
Re: Mysterious meyersi deaths     11/7/13

I do not know of anyone who can do that. maybe one of my biology professors.
But barring that do you have any suggestions as to how I should go about helping these fish?
<I do; have been in the trade many years; had occasion/seen such massive losses of these loaches... "Mysterious"; that is, of unknown source of mortality. What I suggest, what we'd do, is take the "loss tank" down, bleach it and all non-biological it contains; move the loaches elsewhere>
I'm looking for a place I can send them away to have them autopsied as well.
<Ask the bio. folks at school re would be my first choice. BobF>

"Issue" with Kuhli Loaches; beh. concern     10/1/13
Hi, I have had this new tank for about 2 months. It's planted and cycled, and the first fish I bought was a group of 5 Rasbora heteromorpha (planning to buy 5 more). I waited a week before buying a group of Kuhli loaches (before I made sure the Rasboras were healthy). After buying them I made a cave using a piece of driftwood I bought, and naturally they hid right away. They were shy the first days, but eventually they started coming out (I bought 6, because there didn't have more, but anyways I read 6 is a decent number). The numbers helped, as they were acting very natural and social.
The thing is, they did what some fish do when introduced to a new tank, they swim against the wall and other behaviours like that. The fourth day or so some of my Kuhlis started swimming against the left aquarium wall, doing big circles. It was funny to watch, but they wouldn't stop, and even drag the others to do the same thing! It's been two days now and they don't seem to stop, even at night. They DO feed, so they are definitely not that bad. I read that Kuhlis TEND to do this, depending on each tank, but nobody knows exactly why. There are some threads online discussing it, no one really got the definitive answer... Could they be establishing some kind of hierarchy, like the "pecking order" in schooling fish?
<A good speculation... there are fishes that are known to "select" an area/wall of their tank and swim about it... in response to their own reflections, in orientation to ambient light (sun mostly); even electromagnetic sensation; change in barometric pressure... Nothing to worry about; and does (after a few weeks) tend to become attenuated>
I look forward to your reply, thank you!
<Thank you for sharing. Bob Fenner>

Feeding Rainbow Shark and Kuhli Loaches 2/21/13
Hi, I was wondering what is a good food to feed my bottom dwelling fish since my other fish seem to eat all the flake food before it gets down to my shark and loaches. I was thinking either algae discs or sinking shrimp pellets. Would these be ok, and if so which would be better? Thanks
<Both these foods are good. In addition, remember to feed at night, when the Kuhli Loaches will want to feed. One penny-sized wafer should provide ample food for 3-4 Kuhli Loaches. The Rainbow Shark is a bit more of a day-active animal and can compete with midwater fish quite effectively, so one algae wafer dropped into the tank 3-4 times per week should be sufficient for an adult specimen as a supplement to its usual diet. Cheers, Neale.>

Ich with shrimp and Kuhli loaches      11/28/12
I would really appreciate some advice on how to best go about treating Ich in my 55 gallon freshwater planted tank (parameters being nitrite at 0ppm, nitrate under 20ppm, pH around 7. I got some new fish about a week ago, and they all seemed healthy. Today I noticed that my new Madagascar Rainbowfish, and my old ones (there's 9) have Ich, but it only seems to be affecting them for the time being. I'm worried about one of the Rainbowfish in particular because he has more white specks than the others. More like 10 or 12 whereas the others have more like 4-5. So far I've done a 25-30% water change, and right now I'm trying to figure out the best way to go. I have 5 bamboo shrimp, 5 Kuhli loaches, and 8 Nerite snails that I don't want to lose. I don't want to use anything harsh for medicating if I don't have to, and I was looking into the salt and heat method, but I don't know that the bamboo shrimp would do well with the heat. I am not opposed to taking my plants out if need be, but of course it would be easier if I had some method to use that is safe for snails, shrimp, Kuhlis, and plants. I think the salt would be okay for everybody else, but I'll go ahead and make sure with you guys. My stocking has Otocinclus catfish, a Bristlenose Pleco, Kuhli loaches, neon Rainbowfish, harlequin Rasboras, ghost catfish, a dwarf gourami, gardneri killifish, zebra danios, Madagascar Rainbowfish, and bamboo flower shrimp.
Also, one of my ghost catfish kinda has a light gray somewhat cloudy looking upper lip and instead of facing his whiskers forward, they're kind of out and down. I'm not sure what that is, but I hope you can take a guess at it.
Your advice is greatly appreciated.
<Mmm, well; the best process would be to remove the fishes to another system and treat there, but if it were me/mine, I might try simply raising the temperature (but not adding salt/s) here. Read:
and the linked files above. All you list should tolerate 86 F., I'd increase aeration if practical. Bob Fenner>

Ropefish? Nopefish - Maybe A Loach? - FW Fish ID - 10/04/12
Hi there all at WWM, love your informative site and snappy responses!
<Love your kind words! Sabrina here, who adores all things odd and creepy!>
I've been running a well-planted 20ga for the last year or so, with a dozen zebra/longfin Danios in there. All is pretty okay in terms of water parameters (ammonia, nitrate, nitrite 0, ph 7.5).
<So far, very good.>
Now a friend is moving out of province and wants to give me some fish - I said no to his convicts
<Good move - these would quickly outgrow (and overpopulate!) your 20g tank.>
but there's a crazy looking fish in there I want. It didn't grow much since he's had it in the last year and is quite small (good intentions, poor husbandry skills) - is it possible he's stunted the fish?
<Mm, well, possible, but.... let's keep going....>
Fortunately it's mouth is too small (currently) to eat his or my Danios
<A Ropefish of almost any size would be "iffy" at VERY best with zebra Danios.>
and I know that if it is indeed a Ropefish, I'll be able to upgrade to a larger tank shortly.
<If it IS a Ropefish, Erpetoichthys calabaricus, and you DO take it, you'd want to upgrade, well, urgently. They're rarely offered for sale less than 8 or so inches in length, and at that size, and considering their active, boisterous personalities, would need more than a 20g tank.>
So: it's dark brown-black,
<Strike one.... A Ropefish would be "muddy" dorsally, paler ventrally; not blackish.>
3-4 inches long,
<Strike two.... E. calabaricus is ALMOST never offered for sale at this size. It does happen, but very seldomly.>
and about half the diameter of a ballpoint pen. What differentiates it from all the Ropefish I've seen is, rather than no dorsal fin, it has a short, rectangular dorsal fin, about a half inch long by a quarter inch high, 2/3 down its length.
<Strike three.... This isn't a Ropefish.>
The caudal fin flares outward with stiff spines supporting a similarly squared edge, like a shovel, instead of the diamond-shaped caudal fins I see on other Ropefish and bichir. It does however have four small mouth appendages and I have seen it burrowing in the substrate between making occasional darts to the surface of the water. It definitely doesn't resemble a caecilian, dragon goby, fire eel, or a bichir.
<Sounds identical, however, to a "black kuhli loach", which could be one of a couple species, probably of genus Pangio.... links:
http://www.loaches.com/species-index/pangio-pangia >
Forgive me if I'm mistaken, but I was under the impression that Erpetoichthys was the only species in its genus?
<Well, E. calabaricus is the only species of the genus Erpetoichthys. I think that's what you meant.>
Is there anything else that this wiggly, mellow little worm could be that I missed?
<As above.... I think it's a loach. Especially now that you use the terms "wiggly", "mellow", and "little worm".... very apt descriptors for a black kuhli.>
And if I'm lucky and it actually is an Erpetoichthys,
<Aren't you lucky even if it's not?>
what will happen to the dorsal fin as it matures?
<If it is a Pangio, it's probably already mature.>
Should I expect this if/when I acquire more Ropefish?
<If you add an actual Ropefish, it will probably eat the loach first, and snack on the Danios later. But fortunately, if it IS a loach, it is pretty much compatible with the Danios - but would really appreciate soft water with a pH 6.5-7.0 if possible.... Check out your friend's tank's pH and see how far off it is from yours. Stability is most important, so if your friend has had the little guy in a pH similar to yours for an extended period of time, it may do quite well in your tank's pH of 7.5. That is, however, higher than I'd like to keep this sometimes delicate fish. Also, Pangio are gregarious. He wants conspecific friends. If you can't find conspecifics, other Kuhlis will do. In the US, it is easier to find some of the banded Pangio. Look here:
http://www.loaches.com/species-index/pictorial-species-search-index/serpentine-striped-brown-to-black-bands-over-yellowish-ground-color I'd recommend a minimum of five (though preferably more!) for most Pangio.... The more the merrier. Plus, they are TONS of fun to watch. You'll love this
Sorry that I was unable to add a photo, thought I'd ask an expert anyway!
<A photo would make for a more sure ID, but your description is very good.
I hope I've landed this one, but if it does not resemble Pangio, do please consider snapping a pic.>
Thanks again, Hilary
<Best wishes to you and your new Pangio pal, -Sabrina>
Re: Positive ID on a Ropefish?     10/5/12

Ah! A Kuhli? Thanks so much!
<Glad to help.  -Sabrina>

Black Kuhli/Java Loach Fry 8/2/11
My husband and I are definitely amateur aquarium keepers. We found this site immensely helpful when we were trying to figure out what fish to add to our tank. We received an already established 20 gallon high tank, which had been established at least 6 months when we got it, to total at least 8 months. We don't currently have an adequate water testing kit. We have dip strips with the 5 tests on one strip that tell us about where it is, with plans to get a decent testing kit ASAP. We ran out of funds before we realized how important it is to know your parameters. It's currently reading pH between 7.2-7.8, Alkalinity close to 180, Hardness a little above 'hard', so probably around 200, Nitrite reading 0 and Nitrates close to 0, but less than 20.
<All sounds fine for a mixed community tank.>
We have 4 male guppies and 5 guppy fries about 5 weeks old. We, as I stated, are amateur and accidentally ended up with a 4 to 1 balance of guppies. As we tried to remedy the situation the female guppy had fries and died shortly after. Our levels were testing fine and no other fish showed signs of stress/illness.
<Likely a combination of stress from the males and the strain of giving birth. Sadly, the death of a lone female Guppy or any other livebearer isn't that rare when they're kept with larger numbers of males. Just gone through much the same thing with my Halfbeaks, so after having 6 females and 3 males, the females have all died after 2-3 years of life, while the 3 males seem right as rain. Frustrating.>
In our tank we also have 6 GloLite tetras, and 5 Black Kuhli Loaches. We have a Tetra Whisper 20i and an underground filter of unknown make and/or age which uses airlines and risers for the filtration flow. We have gravel due to the UGF and knew it was not ideal for the Kuhlis. We have created places to hide above the gravel and have watched for signs of scratches, fin tears, etc. We also have some live plants: 3 small Wisteria plants and a few pieces of Anacharis floating on the top. The rest of the tank has lava rock and fake plants.
<Nice, but do watch the lava rock -- it's scratchy, and can damage fish sometimes.>
Our loaches were sold to us as Black Kuhli Loaches, which appears to be accurate using the loaches.com species index. They match the description of the Pangio Oblonga and the pictures as well.
<Yes, would agree that the bigger of the two Loaches you've sent me is a Pangio of some sort.>
However, we aren't able to tell the difference between the Oblonga and the Pangia, so it might be that breed of loaches instead.
<Indeed, and besides the hybrids and varieties, the true species aren't easy to tell apart either.>
Now to the point of this e-mail. My husband was watching the tank and thought he saw one of our guppy fry swim around on the bottom of the tank.
He watched closer and saw the fry disappear under a rock, which is abnormal behavior for our fry. He watched closer, and a small but long and thin fish swam out from under a fake plant. It is very distinctly a baby loach.
Upon further observation we've been able to see at least one other 'fry'.
We now accidentally have at least 2 loach fries. We do 40% water changes once a week, and vacuum 1/3 of the gravel thoroughly each time, so we're amazed any eggs survived. We did not expect to have our Loaches breed.
<Indeed not. Pangio breed only very, very rarely in aquaria, and always -- so far as I know -- by accident.>
We attempted to do some research, but not much is available on how to care for the fries. I refer to this site frequently for thorough information and hoped you might have some insight on how to best care for them. Attached is one picture of an adult loach, and one picture of the loach fry. In the picture with the loach fry, one of our guppy fry is in the foreground and is about 1 cm long for a size comparison. Any help or advice you can give would be great!
<The loach fry are clearly big enough to fend for themselves, so there's nothing much you need to do. Your loach fry seem to be at least a month old judging by their size, and really all you need to ensure is that you don't add anything to the tank likely to view them as food.>
Thanks for having such an informative site,
<In this instance, I'm going to recommend you take a look at the excellent Loaches Online site, which has, among other things, another, rather similar report on Pangio oblonga breeding in an aquarium:
PS. Here is a link to a video of the loaches doing a 'rain dance' which we've read is probably more of a mating dance than a celebration of coming rain. In case it's helpful: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R0m4J9N8Uzw
<Well done, and thanks for writing. Cheers, Neale.>

Yoyo loaches becoming friends with a zebra loach? And also, company for Kuhlis? 3/4/11
Hi! I've just found this excellent website and would love to get some advice about my loaches. Have looked in the archives but to my knowledge nobody has asked this question before so here we go:
When I first set up my aquarium I was persuaded by the LFS to buy a (one) zebra loach for the tank to keep any snails at bay.
<Mmm, like most Cobitids, social animals>
He seemed to be doing the job as I've never had an infestation yet, but he also hid away all the time.
Sometimes I didn't see him for days on end and if I did he'd very quickly scurry away again when he noticed my presence. So, very skitty and scared. It was only months later that I realised that they like to be in groups, and I only noticed this after I'd bought a couple of yoyo loaches and one (again, one!) Kuhli
loach. The yoyos seemed happy enough - really gregarious and getting on great.
The Kuhli immediately hid away not to be seen for weeks (I thought he'd been eaten before he suddenly popped up again). I was a bit worried when I realised what I'd done by just buying one of the zebras and the Kuhli, because I have a 250l tank that is basically fully stocked already (with Danios, Platies, guppies,
a frog and a couple of Corys). Still, I was willing to go to get at least a couple of zebra and Kuhlis to make sure they didn't remain totally traumatized by their enforced solitude. Went to the fish shop and got a couple of Kuhlis that weren't stripy but which were, so I was told, the same species (like for example Platies in different colours are).
<Might be, might not>
Again, they get on great together, but it's not done anything for the striped Kuhli, making me think that they
are not the same species after all. So now I've actually added to my problem because I'm rapidly running out of space in the tank. So my first question is - should I go and get more Kuhlis to give them all a chance as separate species?
<I'd just wait, be patient for now>
My second question concerns my zebra loach. As I said, he didn't mix at all with the yoyos, initially, but in the last week or so he's suddenly emerged from his hiding place and seems to swim and interact with them all the time. Is he accepting them as company?
<Appears to be>
Does this mean that he will be OK with the yoyos for company and doesn't need more of his own type?
<Likely so>
Or is this stressing him out more?
<Not really>
Sorry for the long email - ideally I would of course just go out to buy 4 more of each species, but as it is that would totally overpopulate my tank I think so I'm hoping that maybe I can at least have the zebra and the yoyos as a team?
Maybe the striped Kuhli will come round to the idea of having non-stripy mates too?!
I'd be grateful for any advice you may have
<Welcome. Bob Fenner>

Sick Pangio Loaches 8/11/10
Good evening.
I'm really hoping someone can help my with a Pangio loach problem.
First things first;
My tank is a Juwel Koralle 60 (54 litres), this was set up on 22/07/10 using the same filter media as was in my Fluval Edge (I decided I needed to upgrade).
<Good move.>
The water is testing as 0 ammonia, 0 nitrite and 10ppm nitrate.
In the Juwel tank there are 4 Three-Stripe Corydoras, 4 Zebra Danios, 5 Neon Tetras and 5 X Ray Tetras. There were also 9 "Kuhli" Loaches.(I put "Kuhli" in quotation marks as there were 5 varieties of Pangio loach, all sold as Kuhlis).
<Mostly a good mix of fish, but the Danios would be a dubious choice in my opinion. They need a lot of swimming space, 60 cm from left to right, and in smaller tanks can become aggressive.>
I started adding Ferrol 24 plant fertiliser (one drop a day as per the instructions). This may not be related to my current problem, but thought I should better mention it.
<Shouldn't be an issue if used correctly.>
4 days later one of our striped Kuhlis was dead. I had not noticed any problems with him (I don't know it was a him) the day before, and he had lived in my tank for about 13 weeks. So it wasn't old age.
The next day I noticed the other two Pangio Kuhlis were looking very sluggish and twitching. I thought this might be something to do with the plant fertiliser so I moved them, and the other Pangios, to the Fluval Edge (I quickly set this up with some filter media from my main tank). I also added carbon to the filter in my main tank to help remove the plant fertiliser.
<The problem with carbon is that it also removes any medications you might use.>
The smaller Pangio Kuhli died within the hour. But the larger one made it to the next morning, when he also died. During this time he seemed unable to swim and would just roll around when he tried. It was very sad and
distressing to see. There were no visible signs of any problems (apart from the inability to swim).
<Loaches are sensitive to copper and formalin. Have you used any medications containing these? Do you use a water conditioner that removes copper from tap water?>
It is now 6 days later, and the Pangios are still in the Fluval Edge. The water in this tank is 0 ammonia, 0 nitrite and 5ppm nitrate. Today, my silver Pangio (From what I can tell he is Pangio Unknown, a panda face Kuhli), looks like he is fitting and does not seem able to swim. I thought everything was fine now, and was just waiting for a bit longer for the plant fertiliser to be gone before I moved them to the main tank.
What could be wrong with my loaches please? This is really distressing me as I love them so much, and hate to think I'm doing something wrong with them. The 6 left are Pangio Unknown 01 (Silver Panda Face Loach), Pangio Doriae (Gold Loach), 3 x Pangio Oblonga (Chocolate Kuhli Loach) and a Pangio alternans (Borneo Kuhli Loach).
<It's very difficult to say for sure. My hunch would be some sort of poison in the water, such as copper, that the other fish aren't bothered by. Water quality appears to be fine, but what about water chemistry? Do check it's
stable and within the comfort zone of these loaches, pH 6-7.5, 3-15 degrees dH. Most parasitic infections have fairly obvious symptoms, for example wasting in the case of gut parasites. An autopsy on dead fish can sometimes
be useful, though if you don't know what you're looking for it probably won't be too informative. It's also important to note individual Pangio species should be kept in groups of their own kind, and while I doubt this
is what's killing them, in the long term you really do want three or four of each species. If you haven't already seen the excellent Loaches.com web site, you might want to hop across there and canvas some opinions at their
I hope I have mentioned enough detail (and not too much).
Thank you for any help you can give me.
<Good luck, Neale.>

Re: Sick Pangio Loaches 8/11/10
Hi Neale,
thank you for your response.
<No problem.>
Unfortunately my silver loach has passed away.
<Sorry to hear that.>
This happened in about 24 hours as yesterday morning he was fine.
I have not used any medications ever, so it is not this, and I use Tetra AquaSafe with all my water changes, which says "heavy metals like copper, zinc and cadmium are bound completely".
I cannot think what could be poisoning my loaches.
<It's a mystery. Did they all come from the same shop? Perhaps the damage was done there.>
I do know they need to be in groups of 3 for the different species, but unfortunately they have all been "contaminants" in with the more common chocolate kuhli and striped kuhli deliveries.
<I see. Well, it is what it is. You seem to know what you're doing, so I'm not too worried.>
I bought the gold Pangio thinking it was silver in the shop's light, but it was definitely gold when I got home, so not the perfect friend for my silver loach as I had hoped, (Not a problem anymore <sniff>).
Do you think I should keep the loaches in the Edge rather than my main tank?
Or shall I move them back? It obviously wasn't something in the main tank, as my silver loach died a week after the move.
<I'd minimise any further trauma by *not* moving them.>
I have attached 2 photos of the dead loach, in case there are any visible signs you can see as an expert that I have missed?
<Nothing obvious, unfortunately. Kuhli Loaches are fairly easy to keep normally, so I'm surprised you've had all this trouble. That's why I'm wondering if they were poisoned prior to purchase.>
(The Danios were sold to me to cycle the Fluval Edge, they are the main reason I upgraded to a bigger tank, the Koralle is 60cm long, so they do have the 60cm of swimming space).
I will have a look on the loaches.com website, thank you for the recommendation.
<It's a good site. Emma Turner is a noted loach expert who hangs out there -- and the manager of Maidenhead Aquatics in Peterborough -- and I'd trust her to give you good advice. She sent someone across to me yesterday via Facebook about a brackish water fish, so if you want to return the favour, go ahead!>
Thanks again, your website is brilliant, I have learnt so much from it.
<Glad to hear this.>
<Good luck, Neale.>

Different coloured Kuhli Loaches - do they mix? 6/1/10
Before today I had one striped Kuhli Loach and one black Kuhli Loach. They seemed to get on fine, but did not ever intertwine or group together as I have read about on other sites.
<Too few of them. These loaches really need to be kept in a large group, I'd recommend 5 or more. Since they add very little to the aquarium loading, being so long and thin, you only need to set aside a couple of gallons per loach.>
I was worried this was because I only had two, so today, I have purchased another striped Kuhli Loach. My two striped loaches have instantly become tight friends, and always seem to be together.
My question is, should my black Kuhli have another black Kuhli, or is he/she just antisocial? I was told the two different colours would group together, but it would seem they are a different species/genus, (Not very good at biology, sorry).
<They are likely different species of Pangio, the Black Kuhli being Pangio oblonga while the Common Kuhli is usually Pangio kuhlii. So yes, they may well be unwilling to mix in much the same way as humans and chimps don't
attend the same dinner parties, despite being closely related.>
They are in a 10 gallon tank with pea gravel, 4 zebra Danios and 5 neon tetras. There are plants and caves for them to hide in. The ammonia and nitrite are both 0, and the nitrate is 20-25ppm.
<Tank is a bit small for Danios... but otherwise sounds fine.>
Thank you for any help you can offer. I just want to do what is best for my loaches, they are definitely my favourite fish in my tank.
<I'd get some more of both kind, so you have at least three of each, and hope for the best.>
<Cheers, Neale>
Re: Different coloured Kuhli Loaches - do they mix? 6/1/10
thank you very much for your response. I will be getting more Kuhli Loaches as soon as I can! I just wanted to double check I will not be overstocked if I get three more loaches? It is only a 10 gallon tank, and with 4 Zebra
Danios, 5 Neon Tetras and 6 Kuhli Loaches, would this not be overstocked?
Brilliant if not.
<Certainly "well" stocked. But provided you have zero nitrite/ammonia levels, you'll probably be okay. To be honest, I'd swap the Danios for 4 more Neons, and you should be fine.>
I do know the tank is too small for Zebra Danios, but they were sold to me as good fish for cycling the tank before I had done any research.
I naively trusted my LFS. I have made sure to have as much swimming space at the top of my tank as possible (i.e.. no high plants or ornaments to get in their way), and they all seem healthy and lively.
Thanks again,
<Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Different coloured Kuhli Loaches - do they mix? - update 6/2/10
Just a quick update email to let you know I have followed your advice, and, even though the new loaches have only been in the tank for a few hours, they all seem much "happier".
The black Kuhlis have taken over the cave, and the stripey ones have the ground covering plastic plant, (the new stripey one is so tiny, he must be a baby!).
<Interesting that they've claimed different spots. I wonder if one species is dominant and chose the best hiding place? Or do the two species prefer different types of hiding places?>
My Kuhlis and I thank you for your quick response and much valued help.
<No problems.>
<Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Different coloured Kuhli Loaches - do they mix? - update 6/3/10
Hi Neale,
if it helps with the different spots conundrum, they are definitely staying in their different claimed areas. They will mix when they're swimming around, but not often.
When the Black Kuhli was on his own, he very rarely went in the cave and lived under the plant (where the striped Kuhlis live now). It is only now there are 3 black Kuhlis he has shown any interest in the cave. This would leave me to believe, correctly or incorrectly, that under the plant is the best hiding place, but maybe there are just too many Kuhlis to all live under there. :-) They are wonderful creatures and are keeping me very entertained.
<Yes, lovely fish.>
Thanks again for all your help with these critters,
<Glad to help! Cheers, Neale.>

Kuhli Loach Question, low supply/avail. - 4/19/10
Hello Gang,
Just a quick question. For a few months now I have been searching high and low for Kuhli loaches and I can't find any.
<Sometimes can be seasonal, spotty in their availability>
My recollection is that they used to be plentiful. Any ideas where a hobbyist might buy a few these days? I know Live Aquaria lists them but has been out of stock for eons...
Thanks as always,
<Just have to be patient... Pangio kuhlii (Valenciennes, 1846) are all imported. Though they've been bred in captivity, most are collected/shipped indirectly from Indonesia and Malay peninsula. Bob Fenner>

Re: Sick molly fish, Kuhli Loach, 3/31/10
Thanks for your help, will go brackish asap.
I forgot to mention however that somewhere in the tank is a Kuhli loach, he goes missing for days but he's definitely in there. Will he fare okay in brackish if we phase it in slowly or will he not adapt well?
<He will need to find a new home, he will not survive in brackish conditions.>
Thanks again,

Pangio spp.; basics 11/3/09
I am interested in getting Kuhli Loaches - but am having a hard time nailing down their needs.
<Nice fish, easy to keep.>
The Petstore says to keep them individually yet online it says to keep them in groups.
<Definitely schooling fish. Kept singly, they just hide all the time. A group of five or more is best. For one thing, you might just get to see them.>
I can not find anything about numbers to keep them in, tank size requirements etc etc
<Pangio spp. are not fussy about water chemistry, but avoid very hard water. Aim for around neutral (pH 6.5-7.5), and soft to moderately hard water 5-15 degrees dH. Don't add salt. Since they're burrowing fish, soft silica ("silica") sand is best. They're fine with pea gravel too. Don't use abrasive sand (e.g., Tahitian Moon Sand) or heavy gravel. Provide lots of hiding places, including things like lumps of bogwood and hollow ornaments.
Plants, real or plastic, are important for shade. Floating plants are extremely useful, and inhibit their tendency to jump out of tanks.
Nocturnal (very, very nocturnal) so feed at nighttime with good quality catfish pellets. Enjoy wet-frozen bloodworms and mosquito larvae too.
Minimum aquarium size around 37 litres/10 US gallons. Generally hardy, but often starve to death in tanks with too many nocturnal bottom feeders.
Females to about 6-10 cm in length, depending on the species, males smaller and thinner. Like all loaches, they're sensitive to medications that contain copper and formalin, so avoid using these where possible.>
Can you also tell me which fish etc make good tank mates and which fish should be avoided?
<I'd limit the number of bottom feeders for a start. If the tank is less than, say, 115 litres/30 US gallons, I'd suggest keeping a group of them as the only bottom feeders, perhaps with an algae-eater like a Bristlenose
Catfish but that's about it. Otherwise they mix extremely well with midwater tetras, barbs and Danios. Might be kept with very peaceful cichlids and gouramis, e.g., Angelfish or Pearl Gouramis. Very good
companions for Bettas, assuming the tank is big enough. Do well with shrimps and snails. Hope this helps, Neale.>

Well Established Tank 7/1/09
Hi. I see this term *well established tank *often. Specifically in regards to introducing Kuhli loaches. Can you define this term's meaning for me?
<It means that the tank has gone through the cycling process, that water chemistry is stable, that plant growth is good, and that most of the fish and plants that are going to be added have been added. Typically, it's a tank around 6 months old or more.>
Is there a time minimum?
<Certainly at least 3 months, and realistically 4-6 months.>
Algae growth?
<Green algae yes, but the diatom bloom should have been done by now, and problem algae such as hair algae and blue-green algae should be absent.>
Water parameters?
Thanks in advance,
<Cheers, Neale.>

Kuhlii trouble 3/9/09 Hi Crew! I hope you can help me with this, because I have no idea what it is. <Will try my best!> 3 months ago I bought 7 Kuhli loaches (Pangio kuhlii). Everything was great until a month ago when I noticed that one of them is sometimes lying on his side. I couldn't see anything else wrong with him, and I rarely see them anyway - the aquarium is well planted, they have tons of places to hide and they are difficult to tell apart so I didn't do anything. <Hmm... sometimes loaches will lie on their sides, notably Clown Loaches, but I've never seen Kuhli Loaches do this.> Bad idea. Yesterday I saw him again. He has some kind of growth on his belly, I hope you can see it well on the photo - about 2 mm long and 1 mm thick (sorry, English is not my mother language). It is red, looks inflamed, I touched it and it is harder than the rest of his body. It's not moving (first I thought it was a small worm). It probably hurts and that's why he's lying and moving on his side. He's also a bit thinner than the rest of them, although he has grown. Do you have any idea what this is, is that maybe a wound that won't heal? What should I do, I moved him to the quarantine tank. Other than that he looks fine, no other growths or spots, color is ok, breathing is normal, he's eating. <Not sure that it's a growth; actually think it's the pelvic fins, and the red is evidence of Finrot. As ever, treat using either an antibiotic or an antibacterial. I happen to find eSHa 2000 reliable and safe to use with delicate fish, and would recommend it. Finrot rarely comes out of nowhere, so review physical damage and water quality issues. With benthic fish like these, sharp sand/gravel, or sharp rocks, can cause scratches that result in infections.> The tank is Juwel Rio180, 180 l. It was started a year ago, water parameters are stable: temperature is 25 C, pH 7,2, nitrites 0, nitrates around 25. I do 20% water change every 8-10 days. I feed them with Nutrafin flakes, tablets for bottom feeders, frozen bloodworms, frozen daphnia and frozen home made food (peas, carrots, spinach, Tubifex, egg yolk and Spirulina). All other fish (2 Trichogaster trichopterus, 4 Microgeophagus altispinosa, 4 Crossocheilus siamensis, 2 Botia histrionica, 2 big Ancistrus and their "kids") are healthy. <All sounds good.> Thank you! Morana <Good luck, Neale.>

Dead Kuhli 02/08/09 Hi Crew, Last night I found my beloved Kuhli had passed away! He/She had apparently been swimming about happily earlier that morning (according to my partner & kids) but alas! :( On retrieving the Kuhli I noticed that it had a severely swollen abdomen (almost from gills to vent) that appeared slightly greenish. I squeezed the poor thing in an attempt to determine if it was pus, and indeed green goop appeared from its vent. The goop sort of appeared like eggs from a spawning female, but I didn't have the heart to start an autopsy on my pet. I have recently added a smaller Kuhli to the tank and was wondering about the probability of breeding? I had also added a Whitespot treatment after the last 3/4 water change 2wks ago (as one of my goldfish looked suspect). This was a single precautionary treatment follow up after the initial dose before water change. I was wondering if Kuhlis perhaps built up concentrations of malachite green internally - as the goop was a pale green colour. The other chap is fine, as are my 9 white cloud minnows, 2 red caps and 2 large goldfish. Any ideas? The tank has a Fluval 4, traditional air pump (with airstone and charcoal/wool filter), fitted with 2.5" of small pea gravel, stone, slate and artificial plants. Feeding flake, pellets and bloodworm/daphnia/brine-shrimp sachets as a treat a few times a week. The late Kuhli was around 5yrs old, 4" long and quite broad around the middle. Best Regards, -Steve <Hello Steve, it is just possible that this fish was egg-bound and died because it failed to spawn. This has been suspected with loaches of various types before. For whatever reason, loaches refuse point-black to spawn in captivity, or home aquaria at least. Maintaining Kuhlis in groups of 6+ is the best way to ensure there would be at least one male in the group, since they cannot be sexed as the juveniles you seen sold in shops. On the other hand, certain medications have been reported to be toxic to loaches. Copper is the one thing generally recommended not be used in loach aquaria, but malachite green, despite its name, does not contain copper. But whether it is toxic to loaches, I do not know. Ick medications, however, usually do contain copper, so they shouldn't be used around loaches, and the old salt/heat method used instead. All this said, at five years the loach was probably in advanced years, and given its size, full grown. It is equally possible she simply died of old age, or at least some infection that killed her because she was too old and weak to fight it off. Cheers, Neale.>

Color loss in Kuhli loach 07/07/08 Hello there. I've been looking at your site, and you all really seem to know what you're doing with Kuhli loaches, which is rare. So I'm hoping you can help me. (I looked through the FAQ about Kuhli loaches, but the only case regarding loss in pigmentation didn't match mine.) But I digress. I have three Kuhli loaches in a 10 gallon tank with around fourteen Cory catfish of varying species (bronze, panda, peppered, and a few of those black-spotted white ones that there are dozens of subspecies of). It's a peaceful tank, and it's been healthy for a while, though last week I had one of the spotted catfish die. <Note> (The rest of the cories look fine though; I've noticed the white catfish seem to be a lot weaker for some reason; perhaps I should get some lighter gravel...) I'm not sure what killed it, but the rest of the fish seem fine; no spots, no rotted fins (quite the opposite, actually), no apathy. They've been doing a lot of courting rituals, in fact. I feed them fish flakes and sinking wafers and they all eat well. The pH is slightly alkaline (7.2), which is normal for my tank. The temperature is 76 degrees, though it can get as high as 80 when it gets humid up here. I've never had problems with the tank when I've put the AC on before, but now I'm starting to wonder, as the tank is very near it. But on to the loach (I tend to babble, I fear) himself. Archipelago is a he; I've had him and his sister Resin for about a year this august; he's grown long and lithe while she's slightly shorter and stockier. <Typical> I've noticed him being a little lighter the last few days, mostly when I turn on the light, which I don't find very strange, since all fish lighten when the light goes on. Today, however, I noticed he has gone from being a solid black with a pale orange belly to a pale, almost transparent grey. I thought he was dead until I saw him breathe. He isn't apethic; I dropped a few sinking wafers into the tank to see if he would spaz out like he usually does (he did) or only flutter and go back to lazing (as the deceased catfish had done). He resumed swimming around the tank and exploring with his brethren, and is currently on the other side of the tank, which they do when they're sick of me looking at them. But yes. The color change occurred extremely fast; within an hour or so, I think. I know that sounds ridiculous, but I'm certain he wasn't that light when I got home and fed them. I don't think it's a fungus, <Mmm, no> as the black pigment in his tail is still there. Unless it's just affected his whole body? I'm at a loss at what to do.... He's transparent now, and he never used to be anywhere near this light. I've had loaches that were this transparent, but they were always that way. They didn't suddenly turn transparent overnight. And I do mean transparent; I can see his spine, and all his organs. It's fascinating but worrisome. But yes. Have you ever heard of loaches turning lighter like this? <Yes> Like with age? <Mmm, other causes> 'Cause usually they get darker.... I've had Salvador for two years he's absolutely velvety black, much darker than the other two or any I've seen (he's much longer too, I wonder if he's a different species). <Could well be> Resin has also gotten darker over time, and so had Archipelago. I'm wondering if it's stress from the AC changing the temp.... <A good possibility; at least a co-factor here> I put in two drops of Methylene blue, though I'm hesitant to take out the charcoal and do a full treatment of the tank. I'm debating doing a water change, as I don't want to stress him more. I put a small pinch of salt in the tank; not much, I don't want to burn him or the others. Should I not worry? <Good to worry a little... if this brings you to consideration, action ultimately> This is just a distressing thing... He looks like a ghostloach.Thank you in advance for any help you can give me, and sorry for the long babbling email. Sincerely, noisebeast. P.S. I've included an MS Paint drawing of his change in coloration...I don't know how helpful it'll be, but I don't have a camera or anything, so I can't upload any pics. ._. <A very nice rendering. Now... "stress" is the root cause here... either from the thermal mix, whatever led to or consequences of the Cory loss... I would do regular water changes (with stored water...), and look to moving these Loaches to their own systems... sans the Callichthyids. Bob Fenner>

Black Kuhlii Loach, comp. 6/7/08 Good morning, afternoon or evening what ever the case maybe. <Morning here in England!> Can Black Kuhlii Loach live in hard water with out suffering any health problem and be happy? Can one keep red cherry shrimp and Black Kuhlii Loach in the same tank? <Kuhli loaches and most species of algae-eating shrimp get along just fine.> or will one have no shrimp and fat happy loaches? I know the larger loaches would make a meal out of my shrimp but these guys don't get very big. <You are correct that the "Botiine loaches" (after the genus Botia to which may have been assigned at one time or another) will indeed eat shrimps and snails. But the loaches of the genus Pangio primarily feed on insect larvae, algae and organic detritus. They have relatively small mouthparts, and while they could eat newborn Cherry Shrimps, adults and even half-grown individuals should be fine. I keep Cherry Shrimps with small fish all the time, and while some baby shrimps might get eaten, Cherry Shrimps breed so fast when properly kept that you will still get lots of extra shrimps after just a few months.> I ask because I just discover a small group of them in one of the 3 pet stores that exists near me and would love to own such interesting fish, but my red cherry were in the tank first and it would be unfair to put a shrimp hungry loach in with them. <Indeed so. But in this case, I'd take the risk.> The tank a 33 gallon tank that has a AquaClear power filter meant for a 40-70 US gallon Aquarium.... 40-70 just read the box one would think it be a bit weak for a 70 gallon tank mind you in a 33 gallon tank I have lovely current. So much so that the free duckweed that came with my red cherry shrimp didn't have a hope. Even with a filter bag over my intake to keep my filter from eating my baby shrimp my other plants rock back in forth in the watery wind. <Don't put much (any) store by quotes on the filter packaging about how big an aquarium these can service -- like the "miles per gallon" ratings on cars, or the "servings per box" on breakfast cereals, these numbers bear absolutely no relation to the real world! Your safest approach is to choose a filter that offers not less than 4 times the volume of the tank in turnover per hour. So if you have a tank 33 gallons in size, pick a filter with 4 x 33 = 132 gallons per hour turnover. Simple as that. Anything smaller will become clogged too quickly, and you're likely to find water quality poor unless the tank is understocked. Both loaches and shrimps come from fast-flowing streams, so from their perspective, the more water current, the better. The subtropical shrimps we keep in aquaria (of which Cherry Shrimps are one species) are rather sensitive to low oxygen concentration, especially when the water gets much warmer than 25 C. Mind you, one tank I have on a windowsill goes as high as 30 C for a couple of hours during the summer months and the Cherry Shrimps there seem to be breeding happily enough.> I would like to introduces a school of 6 Cory cats when my shrimp numbers fill out. Would be nice to be able to introduce all 6 at ones, but I am not sure if the tank could handle it with out going into a new cycle. How many do you think would be a good number to introduces at a time? The tank been cycle but with only shrimp in it the filter remains not very grate. <Add Corydoras as a group, say 4 at one go, and then 2 more later on. Again, Corydoras seem to get on fine with Cherry Shrimps, especially if you pick the smaller Corydoras species like C. panda.> The red cherry shrimp were to much of a pain to get to have them all eaten by a Peaceful fish... Peaceful so long as your not a snail or shrimp. <Hmm... do check the Cherry Shrimps aren't dying for other reasons: I have found them to be very hardy. I started off with 4 about a year ago, and have something like a hundred now in two different tanks, plus any number that I've given away to other people. Mostly fish don't eat them; at least, not small fish like Cardinals, Limia, Bumblebee Gobies, Wrestling Halfbeaks, Whiptail cats, etc. Do review issues like medication (copper kills shrimps) and water chemistry stability. Shrimps are definitely things to add to a tank *after* it has matured for at least 6 months, since they feed primarily on micro-organisms that they find in the algae and detritus around the tank. They seem to do best in "messy" tanks with lots of plants, algae and things like that. Cheers, Neale.> Are Kuhlii loaches compatible with red tailed sharks and clown loaches. 4/9/08 <Broadly yes. Potentially adult Clowns (30 cm/12") could eat small fish, but I've not heard of this happen. Red-tailed Sharks generally ignore tankmates that don't look like themselves. Do remember to keep Kuhlii loaches in groups: at least 4 specimens, and ideally at least 6. Otherwise they become very shy and you'll never see them. Cheers, Neale.>

Sick Kuhli Loach 1/28/08 Hi. I have a cycled 10 gallon planted with 4 wisteria, 2 Amazon swords, a micro sword, dwarf baby tears and duck weed which houses 2 Kuhlis and 4 narrow wedge Rasboras. This tank has been operating for about 5 months. The loaches have been doing fine until Thursday last week. One loach is very dark and small- slender and in length. The other is large and perfect, just like you see in all the aquarium photos. There are hidey pots in the tank, but they don't use them much, prefer to be in the plant fronds or around the base or snuggled up together, so I get to see them quite a bit. Before leaving for the day I always do a check and look in on the fish. This day I noticed that the small loach looked sick....and I actually thought it was dead. It was ashen looking, and looks somewhat emaciated. I went to scoop it out but it swam all over the tank. I was behind by a few days (4) days on my regular 25% a week water change (last one was the prior Saturday), so I quickly did a water change with same temp Primed water hoping that was the only problem. At the end of the day, the ashen color on the body looked somewhat diminished. I just observed it over the weekend and noticed that a small part of the tail fin is missing, it is hiding more than usual, still looks emaciated and the ashen color seems to be coming back. I feed a pinch of flake food every morning, along with a few HBH frog and tadpole bites, maybe once a week I will throw in a few frozen but thawed blood worms. I try to supplement feeding of the pellets a second time at night, but not always. I was worried when I first got these fish that they weren't getting enough to eat, but they have been alive for about 4 months in my tank, so Im not worried about that anymore, and usually do a fast on Sundays. I have no idea what is happening to the loach, but its condition changed over a 24 hour time frame. One day it was hanging out with its buddy looking great, the next day it looked almost dead. Any idea? Kristen <Difficult to say without a photo. Male kuhli loaches are much more slender than the females. Where males look like worms, the females look quite robust, almost as if they'd swallowed a male! The body is often twice as deep as a male of similar length. On the other hand, if the thinner fish is losing condition, i.e., it's fins are ragged and it doesn't have great colours, then there may be something else at work. Diet is certainly one thing to consider. Are you feeding them enough? Do these fish have to compete with other fish? Kuhli loaches tend to lose out in busy community tanks. They are best kept as the only nocturnal bottom feeders -- i.e., they shouldn't be mixed with other catfish or loaches. Anyway, if you can send a photo, that would be great. Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Sick Kuhli Loach 1/29/08 Thank you for your reply Neale. I will try to get a photo but as I am sure you are aware, this can be quite hard. <I bet. Sometimes the best approach is to net the fish, and photograph it at the surface.> I don't want to move it until I decide it has to go into a hospital tank, just to ease any more stress on it. <Agree; with social fish, you do need to balance quarantining something for medical purposes and the fact the fish won't settle down if its on its own.> These two loaches are the only bottom feeders in the tank. It could be that they haven't eaten much, but Im pretty sure that with the food going into the tank, they are at least getting something. <Sometimes easy to get this wrong. I'd try switching to a solid pellet thing, like Plecostomus algae wafers. Half one of these discs (each about the size of a penny) should be adequate. Because these things break apart slowly, they don't get sucked into the filter, and catfish and loaches have ample time to feed.> The other loach (from your description, most likely the female) has not shown any signs such as this loachie is expressing. It might be in his best interest to simply move to a hospital tank... but then treat for what? <I'd stick with upping/varying the food a bit.> Internal parasites? <Possible. You could try something like PraziPro to see if it helps.> I don't think its Ich, none of the other fish are showing any white dots... except this loach, has white on its body. <OK.> It doesn't look like wet or dry cotton, it pretty much looks like lack of pigmentation. The skin seems to be sagging a little bit too, which is why Im calling it emaciated looking. I will put it in a hospital tank tonight and try to get you a pic. Thanks. <Look forward to seeing the pictures. Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Sick Kuhli Loach 1/29/08 Here are some photos of the sick loach. The ashen color between the stripes: this fish has always been a deep, dark brown color with white or creamish colored stripes. The photo looks washed out, but this is what this fish looks like now. <This fish is emaciated but not otherwise (obviously) sick. It may well have a "Wasting Disease" including internal worms, so treating with PraziPro is definitely a good idea. But I'd also step up the food. This fish is in the sort of state where force-feeding might be required, but if its foraging normally, I'd simply use a solid pellet of food that lasts all night, and let it graze freely. Force-feeding small fish is very difficult to do safely, and does take a lot of care. I'm a bit worried about the gravel: Loaches are never at their best in tanks with coarse gravel, not least of all because if food sinks between the "stones", they can't easily get it out. Sand is the best for these fish.> The head appearing larger than the body: emaciated. This fish has not always appeared to have a large head. The body in relation to the head is larger and this makes it appear emaciated. I have been caring for this fish for 4 months or more and was shocked by how skinny it looked, over night. <Agreed.> Its hard to see in great detail and I cant get any better photos at this time, but the tail piece missing. It looks as if a corner of it was just torn off. <The tail damage could indicate it is being harassed by something in the tank, like nippy tetras or barbs or catfish. But given your stocking, that doesn't seem to be likely. Finrot is definitely on the cards though, so treating pro-actively, or at least being prepared to treat Finrot, would be sensible.> The only inhabitants of this tank are the 2 loaches and 4 Rasboras, and a couple of errant snails. No sharp edges in the tank. I added the sword plants about a month ago. <The gravel looks plenty sharp.> I feed them sinking frog and tadpole pellets every day, along with flake food and once a week throw in some blood worms, but I will try to get them something more substantial and see if that helps, too. Thanks again for the response. <Yeah, I think you need to beef up the diet. Algae pellets, catfish pellets, or about a half-cube of wet frozen bloodworms would be a good idea. Try putting the food on something like an up-turned peanut butter jar lid, so the food doesn't fall straight into the gravel. This is a trick seahorse keepers use, and once the fish figure out where the food is, it works pretty well.> -Kristen <Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Sick Kuhli Loach 1/29/08 Neale, thank you so much, again for all your wonderful suggestions. I am currently trying to locate some medication, so in the meantime, I will get some algae wafers and a "dinner table" for them to see if I can entice the loach to eat more. I really have become taken with these little creatures and now knowing that they were wild caught, I am inspired to do what ever I possibly can to keep them healthy. Even, I guess, if it means getting a new tank with sand and getting them some more friends! :) <Cool. All sounds like a good plan, and I'm glad you're enjoying the hobby. Sandy substrates are a great investment of time. They're cheap to do, and though a little work is involved, they can look amazing. There's an article somewhere at Wet Web Media called "Nice Bottoms" by my good self, and that's all about this topic. Cheers, Neale.>

Kuhlii Loach 1/16/08 Hello, <Hi Jessi> I recently purchased three small (about an inch and a half each) kuhlii loaches. <Wow, tiny> They seem healthy as far as feeding and activity levels, but I noticed last night as one did rested half of it's body vertically against the tank wall that it's gills seemed a little pink. <Mmm, these little loaches do/should appear so...> I'm wondering if that means they have some sort of gill irritation or if maybe it was just that the loaches are so tiny maybe they're a bit transparent and showed up pink. <Yes, the latter> I can only see this pink color when I view the loaches from below or can get a glimpse at their bellies. Otherwise their coloration seems normal. If this is something to be worried about, how should I treat it? Thanks, Jessi <No need to treat. Cheers, Bob Fenner>

About Kuhli loaches and snails Hi, I have a bit of a snail problem in my 20-25gal tank. (size isn't 100% sure since it's not a standard tank) I pick out snails whenever I see them and I don't usually notice them much but sometimes it gets to be a problem. Also on my java fern which is in separate living quarters at the moment because of the education I am using) there are a ZILLION baby snails. (not surprising - I noticed several snail egg sacs on the fern when I moved it to its current quarters) I'm treating the separate bucket with had-a-snail. oh yes and I am currently treating the main tank with CopperSafe for Ich, which is supposed to be 'dangerous' to invertebrates but it doesn't seem to bother the snails at all! <Figures! But it may be doing a number on your filter. Please check for ammonia and nitrite spikes. Much better to QT fish for treatment and allow the tank to be fish free for a month. Treating the main tank can cause you more problems than snails.> (I am using a half-strength dosage to be gentle on plants, tetras and Otos) Anyway I am concerned about this as the last thing I want is a big snail infestation. I'm wondering if Kuhli loaches might do the trick? Obviously a clown loach would be the most effective, but I don't want to have to trade the fish back again as I live over an hour's drive from the nearest pet store. Also I was reading your faq a bit and you guys mentioned zebra loaches - I've never seen one but they also sound like a good option if I could actually find them. <Hi, Don here. Please check the link below for an thread on this subject going on in the forum right now. Please feel free to join in. Aquabid.com is great for finding fish not stocked in most LFS. Of course with the price of shipping added in, it can be costly. Perhaps talk to the manager at a pet store. > [l] http://wetwebfotos.com/talk/thread.jsp?forum=3&thread=23318&tstart=0&trange=30[/l] Can you guys give any recommendations? a permanent, live in fish would be best. If the Kuhli loaches might do it (I have heard in a few places that they may eat snails) I have had them in the past and I quite enjoy them :) If zebra loaches wouldn't get too big (the tank is around 36 inches long and about 15 wide, and 10-12 deep, I don't recall exactly), and if I could find them, they seem like the best choice. Thanks for any help you can give, your site has always been helpful :) ~Anna

Sick Kuhli Loaches Thank you for considering my question. I actually have two which are related. 1) My local pet store used to be able to get healthy Kuhli Loaches all the time. In recent years (no matter the source) they arrive sick and the whole lot of them die. The symptoms are reddish gill area, then swirling, then they die. Any recommendations. We would love to be able to get some "new stock" in our area. 2) This is my main question, the first is background for what knowledge I do have. This morning I discovered one of my Kuhli Loaches is pinkish around the gill area. I have had my Kuhlis for quite a long time and have not introduced any new fish for - 6 weeks. What is my best bet for treatment? I don't want him to follow the same fate as those at our pet store. <<Hello. Kuhli loaches are a problem lately in most stores. The stock is just not healthy anymore, and they seem particularly prone to bacterial infections and gill flukes. Stores can treat them with antibiotics, and if lucky, some may survive. Strong antibiotics will kill your nitrifying bacteria, though, so be careful! For you, I would recommend Melafix and salt (a teaspoon per gallon). Or you can try to find yourself some Maracyn Two, which is a safer antibiotic to use since it's relatively gentle, and not as much of a threat to your nitrifying bacteria when used as directed. To prevent further Kuhli problems in your tank, maintain good water quality and do regular gravel cleaning. This will help keep the nasty bacteria levels in your substrate under control, which promote infections, and prevent anoxic areas from developing underneath your decorations and rocks. It's hard to vacuum using a regular siphon, since cutting your Kuhlis in half with the tube is always a possibility, so what I recommend is that move the decorations around, and you "sift" the gravel with your hands regularly to release the debris, and let your filter remove it. Make sure you have good water circulation, so the suspended debris is removed by your filter. If need be, you can add a powerhead to your tank for circulating the dirty water during this cleaning process. Then clean your filter floss and do a water change about an hour later. Also, if you happen to see the solid black Kuhli loaches for sale, buy them instead. They are (thus far) much hardier, easier to keep, and just as entertaining. -Gwen>>

Loach Colored Loaches? - 11/02/2005 Hello, <Hi.> Can you please email me with the name of the fish I had when I was younger? <Umm, I hope you've got a description?> I am starting a new tank and wanted to get him again. He had the loach colors <"Loach colors"? There are many species of loaches in many, many sizes, shapes, and colors....> but was long and tubular like a worm, fast as hell and very good with other community fish. Have any idea what he is??? <Your description seems to be of a Kuhlii loach, http://www.fishbase.org/Summary/SpeciesSummary.php?genusname=Pangio&speciesname=kuhlii . Take a look here for just a few others: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/cobitids.htm , and here for many more: http://www.loaches.com/ .> It's driving me nuts and Petco and PetSmart are no help! <Hope this has shed some light.> Thanks. -Angelo <Wishing you well, -Sabrina>

Loach(?) ID 8/26/07 Hello I was just wondering if you could ID this fish for me thanks Tom <Hello Tom. That's a species of Pangio (formerly Acanthophthalmus). Collectively, Pangio spp. are known as Kuhli loaches. The orange-and-brown banded species (of which there are several) are the most commonly traded. Yours is one of the "unbanded" Kuhli loaches, quite possibly Pangio oblonga known in the trade as the Java loach. Basic care is identical to any of the other Kuhli loaches: soft sandy substrate, needs to be kept in groups of 3 or more, keep water temperature at or below 25C, keep tank securely covered, etc. Cheers, Neale.>

Loach ID, Kuhlis 7/25/07 Hi all, thanks for all the help in the past. I have a very simple freshwater question for you guys. I searched the FAQs and articles and couldn't find a definitive answer and the necessary page on loaches.com, conveniently, was down. It is long (5"-6") and serpentine like. He is pinkish in color with 4 'whiskers' around his mouth. My LFS called him a True Kuhli Loach but they have a bad history in correctly identifying fish. Could you please tell me what this guy is and if he needs any similar tankmates; I understand other types of Kuhlis need groups of 3 or more? Also after several hours of web searching I found that the same store had sold me a water bug and I believe it's a 'Dragonfly Nymph'; green, 1 1/2" long, big eyes and 6 legs. The same site mentioned nothing about these critters in captivity and that they are predatory towards small fish and insects. Non-coincidentally, I believe, one of my Glass Catfish had a an (eventually) fatal bite taken out of him near his organs. I'm leaning towards throwing him in the Cichlid tank if he keeps this up, is unsuitable for captivity, or I can't feed him reasonably. Or maybe I should quit being stubborn and setup a quarantine, but with Cichlid, Reef, Catfish, and Community tanks it would be quite an investment. I apologize as this was supposed to be a short letter, but with a pension for diversity there's always something to talk about! Thanks in advance -John <Hello John. Identifying species of Pangio (the genus to which kuhli loaches belong) is difficult. There are around 30 species, many of which are very similar to each other and almost none of which are correctly identified by retailers. The problem for me is the size of your specimen: most kuhli loaches are very small, and even the biggest species in the genus, Pangio myersi, tops out at around 5"/12 cm according to Fishbase. And such big specimens are exceptional: around 4"/10 cm is much more typical. For this reason, I'm wondering if you don't have a species of Misgurnis. These are sometimes called weather loaches in the trade. They reach around 6-8"/15-18 cm in length but have the same snake-like build as kuhli loaches, though they are much more robust. They typically have mottled brown bodies but there are albino and golden varieties in the trade and you might have one of these. Alternatively, Horseface loaches, Acantopsis spp., are also commonly traded. These are also quite a bit larger than kuhli loaches, but they have very distinctive long heads, uncannily like a horse's. The best thing to do is visit Fishbase and research loaches. Go here: http://filaman.ifm-geomar.de/Summary/FamilySummary.cfm?ID=127 and then where there is a link "Show Species" click on it and review the photographs presented to find something similar to your fish. As a general rule, all Pangio and Misgurnus are sociable, while Acantopsis run the range from harmless and fairly sociable through to territorial and waspish. Loaches in general are somewhat territorial, which is why only Pangio and Misgurnus have really made it in the hobby as community fish; even among the loaches formerly called "Botia" most are pretty mean animals, the Clown Loach being one of the rare exceptions. Now, Dragonfly nymphs are indeed highly predatory and cannot be kept with fish. That said, they are extremely cool animals, and far more interesting than most fish! They have amazing jaws and some varieties get very large indeed. I HIGHLY recommend setting aside a bowl or similar with some pondweed just for the nymph. They don't really care about filtration being adapted to stagnant ponds. Change some of the water every couple of days though. Add small water creatures from any ditch or pond outdoors from time to time. You can even hand feed them bloodworms using tweezers. Watching them catch the worm and then suck out the juices is quite something. They grow rapidly, and watching them metamorphose is truly a spectacle of nature not to be missed. Enjoy! Neale>

Sick kuhli loach 8/29/07 Dear Crew, I purchased a Kuhli loach about a week ago. He didn't look terribly healthy to begin with, but I had him ordered and felt sorry for him. So now he's in a 10 gallon tank by himself. The water parameters are fine and the tank is 3 months old. He was sick to begin with, I had hoped to cure him but failed thus far. His symptoms are rapid breathing and whitish sickly looking patches on his skin, which don't appear to be fungus but more like a there's a gap between some surface layer and a subsurface layer, almost like a blister. I finished a 5-day course with both Maracyn and Maracyn II and he's about the same. I'm actually surprised he's still alive. Any suggestions? Regards, Michelle <Hello Michelle. OK, the first rule is don't buy sick-looking fish. Now, given you have the fish, let's see what's going on. My guess is you have a fish with some sort of "slime disease". This a catch-all name for a variety of things. Basically you need to treat for an external bacterial infection and hope for the best. There are some medications designed specifically for slime disease, and those are the ones you want; things like API Erythromycin and eSHa 2000 should do the trick. If things still don't improve, saltwater dips can be very useful for clearing up slime disease. But loaches aren't terribly salt tolerant, so if you opt to supplement the slime disease medication with saltwater dips, be careful. Adding salt directly to the aquarium isn't recommend, either. Cheers, Neale>

Troubles with Ich 7/7/06 Hi, Larry here. My son started a FW 20g planted tank with Cardinals, Blue Rams, Thread fins and a Clown and Kuhli loach. Unfortunately the clown loach had ich. < Common problem with this fish.> We treated with Maracide which is basically Malachite green as directed on the bottle and the ich disappeared for a few days only to come back. So we retreated 2 more times and the ich has returned. We raised the temp to 82F and switched to Quick cure which is M.Green and formalin and have had no luck in effecting a cure. The tank uses a Fluorite gravel. Do you think the Fluorite is absorbing the malachite? < No but any organics would absorb this medication.> <<Could easily be. RMF>> The water does not stay blue green very long. Our plants by the way have done very well through all this. We have now moved all the fish to a 29g QT tank that I normally use for my Marine fish. We are now treating with Cupramine copper. Now how long do we have to leave the 20g fallow before we can put our fish back into the tank? < At 82 F the ich parasites need a host. They will die in 7 days without a host fish.> I was also thinking about treating the 20g tank with Epsom salts as I have read in WWM FAQ's that this can be effective, what's your opinion on this? < Salt increases the slime coat on the fish and make it more difficult for the parasite to get established on the fish. You don't want to add too much because this will also increase the slime coat over the gills and prevent the fish from breathing properly.> We also have an African frog and some Japonica shrimp which have survived the Malachite and formalin much to my surprise. It is my understanding that they do not act as hosts or reservoirs for ich. Will they be ok if we treat the tank with Epsom salts and what dose do I use? < I think your problem is that you don't let the medication stay in the water long enough. If I had ich in my tank I would do the following. Raise the temp to 82 F. This makes it more difficult for the parasite to survive because at higher temps, water has less holding capacity for oxygen. Secondly I would do a 50% water change. This automatically removes 50% of the free swimming parasites. Third I would clean the filter and remove any carbon. Fourth I would vacuum the gravel to remove any organics and make any medication more effective. Then I would treat with Rid-Ich by Kordon. It is a combination of malachite green and formalin. Follow the directions on the package. I would add a teaspoon of rock salt per 5 gallons of aquarium water. The ich should be gone for good in a week. Now to prevent any further outbreaks I would get a quarantine tank. No fish goes into the main tank without a minimum two week quarantine period. Much easier and cheaper to medicate in the QT tank.-Chuck> What a frustrating mess, I have a 120g FOWLR marine tank that I tore down because of battling ich for over a year thanks to a blue tang that I FW dipped and QT for 2 weeks. Thanks for the advice and all the wealth of knowledge that the WWM crew supply. Larry, basking in the sun in Minnesota! <<... need to remove the shrimp, frog... and I'd raise the temp. to the mid to upper 80's F. RMF>>

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