Having just bought a new pet, you might be worried about it getting lonely, and in the interest of finding your betta fish a new tank mate, you may have ended up here.
It’s a normal concern, and we’ve all been there, scouring google for “What fish can live with my betta?” Or “Can bettas live with Kuhli loaches?” Or even “Will my betta eat my Kuhli loach?”
You’ll be pleased to know that a Kuhli loach can be a great addition to a betta tank. These fish can coexist harmoniously and help make your aquarium look diverse and lively.
Read on to learn the details of keeping these fish together and get advice on the best tank set up to ensure the health and happiness of both species of fish.
Can Betta Fish and Kuhli Loaches Live Together?
In short, yes.
Bettas and Kuhli loaches make excellent tank mates, provided they get on well and have plenty of space to hide.
These tropical fish are very popular for home aquariums, and it’s great to know that they’re likely to be good companions, as a betta-only tank can sometimes look a little lifeless and lonely.
Will My Betta Fish Attack a Kuhli Loach?
There are many misconceptions about bettas, with one common misunderstanding being that they have to live alone due to their somewhat violent nature.
Bettas are also known as Siamese fighting fish. They are aggressive fish, particularly with those of the same species. But this doesn’t mean your pet needs to live in complete solitude.
When introducing new pets to your fish tank, closely monitoring them is always recommended. And as betta fish can be aggressive, it’s good to keep a close eye on how they interact with their new tank-mates.
If they seem to get on well within the first few days, then it’s probably safe to say they’ve settled in. This, however, does not mean they’re all of a sudden best friends! A spontaneous attack may still occur – Stanley can’t tell you that Mark keeps stealing his food; he’s just a fish!
On the flip side, it’s also important to note that although known to be peaceful fish, Kuhli loaches are quite active and may nip your betta if they get too close or agitate them.
They likely won’t cause any serious damage, but it could lead to aggressive retaliation and overall bad vibes in the tank. The next thing you know, Mark is dead, and Stanley looks guilty.
At the first signs of aggressive behavior from either fish, it’s best to move them to separate tanks. If the fish don’t get along, it’s best to keep them all safe rather than risk things escalating to the point of a fatality.
The tank environment plays a considerable role in helping the fish integrate well initially. Having plenty of space to swim around and explore with many hiding spots for both fish will enable them to have their privacy – like any animal, fish are more likely to lash out and get aggressive if another is in their space all the time.
Are There Benefits to Bettas and Kuhli Loaches Living Together?
We would never recommend the Kuhli loach as a tank mate for your betta if there weren’t some benefits to these species living alongside one another.
They also enjoy the same diet, which helps ensure a variety for both fish. Make sure you keep the tank well stocked with nutritious foods that all your pets will love!
What Tank Size Might They Need?
Bettas are often, quite sadly, kept in fish tanks way too small for them. Just because they’re well known to be able to survive in small spaces doesn’t mean they can thrive in small spaces.
When living alone, the minimum tank size for a betta is a 10-gallon tank.
But as with any tank, the bigger, the better is the general rule. The more living space – the happier the fish. I mean, let’s face it, if we had the choice between a luxurious mansion and a cramped studio apartment, I think we’d all make the same decision! Your fish are no different!
When it comes to Kuhli loaches, at least a 15-gallon tank is recommended because they should be kept in a group of three or more, so the more space they all have, the better.
Ensuring that both species of fish have enough room to swim around, explore, play with toys, and hide in and amongst ornaments and plants will enable them to live a happy and stress-free life.
Can Betta Fish and Kuhli Loaches Eat the Same Food?
One benefit of housing betta fish with Kuhli loaches is that they have roughly the same diet.
Sinking live food is a great choice for both fish – neither do well on a diet of flakes. Feeder fish pellets and bloodworms are good choices instead.
A betta will thrive on live, frozen, or fresh fish or aquatic invertebrates, whereas a Kuhli loach’s diet should consist primarily of meaty foods, such as bloodworms and crickets.
A good combination of these will ensure both types of fish are happy and healthy and, if evenly distributed across the tank, will limit meal time conflicts and fighting over their favorite foods.
Things To Know Before Buying a Kuhli Loach for Your Betta Tank
One of the first things you should know about Kuhli loaches is that they’re social creatures and should ideally be housed in groups of three or more, meaning that you must ensure ample tank space for a whole little family of them!
They are also somewhat susceptible to parasitic infections and diseases, making them problematic pets for first-time fish keepers. Most fish have hard scales to protect them from the effects of bacteria and fungi, but Kuhli loaches have soft scales on their body and no scales on their head, making them more vulnerable.
With their vulnerability to these illnesses, a good cleaning regimen is crucial for your tank.
That said, Kuhli loaches can be extremely sensitive to changes in the water, be it the quality, temperature, or chemicals already in use in the tank. For example, if other fish in the tank are being medicated, you could risk harming the Kuhli if you introduce them before the medication has cycled out.
Another thing to remember is that due to their vulnerability, Kuhli loaches are one type of fish most susceptible to Ich, a parasitic disease that can quickly spread and infect all fish in the tank.
If Ich is present in your tank, it’s likely to be picked up first by your Kuhli loach. This illness can be fatal if not treated and can cause persistent issues to the tank’s ecosystem.
But don’t let this put you off! Kuhli loaches are great pets and will eat anything, often acting as a natural filter/cleaner for your tank. And with a good diet, high-quality water, and a happy environment, your Kuhli will thrive!
The Ideal Setup & Tank Parameters for Kuhli Loaches and Bettas Living Together
As discussed before, providing ample space for your fish to explore and swim around is the first step to ensuring an ideal setup.
The water temperature and quality are also critical. A temperature of 75 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit (23 to 26 degrees Celsius) is required for both fish. You should also maintain a water hardness of 5 dGH and a pH of 6.5 to 7.5.
A filter should also be present in the tank to ensure the water is clean enough for both types of fish.
A sandy tank substrate is the best choice for this Kuhli-betta combo because Kuhli loaches like a gritty substrate, whereas bettas prefer a smooth substrate. Sand is a happy medium that should keep both fish happy.
If you’re into aquascaping and want to get creative, introducing grittier sand or small gravel at one end of the tank and some large smooth rocks at the other end, along with the regular sand, will help keep both fish happy.
As with most tanks housing fish that don’t burrow, ensure that sand is not too deep or cramped for the fish to move around well.
Another aspect of your tank setup is decor and plants:
- Decorative ornaments, toys, and caves are all great additions to a tank for bettas and Kuhli loaches.
- Plants compatible with both of these fish, such as water lilies or Java ferns, help provide cover and hiding spaces and are an additional way of purifying the water in your tank’s system.
All in all, Kuhli loaches and bettas can exist not just as ideal tank mates but also the best of friends. Given the proper setup and tank conditions, a tropical tank with these two could be a very happy home for both of them.
So, if you’re an experienced fishkeeper or looking to advance your fish-keeping skills beyond a betta (while wanting said betta to have a new fishy friend), get a Kuhli loach. These freshwater aquarium fish are adorable and, most likely, won’t get eaten!