Friday, July 1, 2011

Creature of the month: Kuhli Loach

The Kuhli Loach (Pangio kuhlii) is a small eel-like freshwater fish belonging to the loach family (Cobitidae). It originates in Indonesia and the Malay Peninsula. This snake like creature is very slender and is nocturnal. You can buy it at any pet shop, they retail for about R35 each.

The kuhli loach will live for several years in an aquarium in which it is the only fish of its kind, but it seldom comes out in the open and cannot be enjoyed for its comical actions. If it is kept in small groups (I like to keep at least a half dozen together), the kuhli loach will be seen swimming in and around piles of rocks, under and over pieces of driftwood or around the stems of plants. It will be out looking for food, playing tag with its friends or simply "sunning" itself on a raised object in short, it will act more like it would in the wild.

When breeding, the females often become monstrously fat and their greenish ovaries can be seen through the skin before spawning. Spawning is not easy, but when it occurs a few hundred greenish eggs are laid among the roots of floating plants. Kuhli loaches reach maturity at 2 ¾ inches (7 cm) and have a maximum length of 4 inches (10 cm). They natively live in a tropical climate and prefer water with a 5.5 - 6.5 pH-but will tolerate 7.0 pH in aquaria, a water hardness of 5.0 dGH, and a temperature range of 75 - 86 °F (24 - 30 °C). Kuhli Loaches are scavengers, so they will eat anything that hits the bottom. Kuhli loaches usually feed in the night time, but can be taught to be fed in the day in the home aquarium. Breeding in captivity requires plenty of hiding spaces and consistent water quality.

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