I bought one a few months ago, but thought it must have died as I hadn't seen it for weeks, then as I was rearranging my stones it popped out! Poor thing, I didn't realise they would burrow. Great fish to keep, and got along great with my other fish.
I have three of thse little guys. One is like this picture, with the stripes, and the other two are all black.
In my experience they are very hardy little critters. The stripped one we have had for at least two years and has been through a lot; even when other fish have gotten sick and died, he hasn't.
They love places to hide and generally eat whatevers food or debri is on the bottom of the tank. You won't see them the majority of the time and they are very flexible and "burrowing". If you look in there and don't see him anywhere, even under your ornaments/plants don't worry - he may just be under the gravel.
Please, please, PLEASE make sure you take the proper precautions with the filter if you're thinking about getting kuhli loaches! I, sadly, did not. Imagine my shock and dismay when I found all five of mine wriggling at the bottom of my canister filter after going missing for a few days. They were very pale and sick when I got them out and managed to survive but it was a very near thing.
The fish in the main picture (coming out the hole in the rock) is not, a far as I can make out, a [I]Pangio kuhlii[/I] but looks like it's a [I]P. myersi[/I] (aka Slimey Myersi).. the common name Kuhli (aka Coolie) Loach seems to be used in LFS for any small, snake-like loach. I've had about a dozen "kuhli loaches" over the years, and only two were [I]P. kuhlii[/I].. worth hunting to see what's been mis-labelled in the store.
Keep an eye out for [I]Pangio anguillaris[/I], it's particularly elegant in my opinion and I've seen them in mixed shipments of other [I]Pangio[/I].
I had a Kuhli Loach many years ago. After seeing it every day, it suddenly disappeared. About 2 weeks later, I cleaned my AquaClear filter and found it alive (wow!) on the bottom of the filter. Somehow, it got past the impeller in one piece!
Its best not to mix these guys with corrys because they may starve to death since corrys eat most the food up very quickly. mix with slower bottom feeders such as catfish. I have three and plan on getting more. They are mixed with a bumble bee (SA) catfish and Raphael cat fish. Also 2plattys, roseline barb, betta, and a mini crab. You want to use soft sand or smooth rocks. I'm thinking of putting a pile of smooth rocks or a path way in order to see them barrow.
I keep 6 of these in a 30g tank with moderate heavy planting and driftwood. I started with just a couple and they didn't do much, but now they are very active, foraging the sand and climbing over the plants, even during the day. It's not often I don't see any loaches at all milling about. They'll eat pretty much anything you'd feed other small fish, but I need to be target feed them or put food in at night to keep other fish from getting to the food first.
we bought a four of these guys (just like the one in the picture) and they were sold as "zebra kuhli loaches" but they make for a great clean up crew. It's my first tank, and after reading quite a bit about how many fish to keep in a tank, I consider these guys as neutral. They don't follow the same "one inch of fish per gallon" rule. We have a german blue ram, two zebra danios (pink glowfish) a guppy, and several ghost shrimp. After we got them, my wife thought that they had all died, because we hadn't seen them for a month. But alas, they are nocturnal, and very shy. But when they are out, they are pretty, and very full of life. I most certainly recommend them, as they will pick up any and all tidbits left over from over feeding your fish.
I haven't seen these guys in a LFS for ages. We had them years ago. Some weren't striped, so I don't know if they were true Kuhlis, but they all had similar habits. We had 2 that we called Wriggle and Giggle, and Giggle was very active and entertaining. I'd never seen a fish dart back and forth, up and down the front pane of the tank like this one. Good thing it was a 55 gallon tank! Unfortunately we didn't know our Pictus Catfish would treat them like gummy worms! Such cute little faces. I would love to find some Kuhlis again. Correction: I just found the entry for Golden Dojo Loach. If I remember correctly that's what Giggle was. Got along fine with the Kuhli though.
Ditto the filter issue, bought 6 of these, then after 4 weeks cleaned my filter and found 2 very pale and skinny looking loaches in the bottom. A pair of tights zip ties to the filter intake will save the issue.... once they settled though they would happily swim all over the tank, day and night.
As a few members have already spotted, unless you keep these in a group of six (at a minimum) you won't see them. Keep them in a group of twenty and you might think different about the description of these fish as shy. Be careful of the filter. I'll also second the comment about not keeping them with cory cats; they don't compete well at all.
Probably one of my favorite fish of all time. The personality and behavior is amazing, in a planted tank these fish will flourish! They are invert safe(rare for loaches and bottom feeders) I absolutely love these fish. A perfect addition to any planted tank.
I have had 5 Kuhli for a couple months now. As I add more plants the become more active. I would say they fit in the category of, "the more hiding places you have, the more you will see them." They are definitely better to keep in a group. I would suggest keeping at least 5 or more of them if possible.
As long as there is food Kuhlis are happy. Many aquarists have broken down a tank only to find long lost kuhlis living and breeding in the under gravel filter or beneath a large rock. If there is competition from Corydoras or other catfish there are tricks. You can maintain a very densely planted area where other fish find it difficult to navigate. Kuhlis will naturally gravitate and hide there. Using a plastic tube lowered into the mass of plants, you drop Kuhli sized pellets or other sinking food down the tube so it comes to rest around the roots of the plants. You can also construct a cave, like a half coconut shell, with openings around the sides just large enough for Kuhlis as well as a small opening in the top. Lowering the tube onto this opening will deliver the food into the cave. Even a pile of small rocks will provide a labyrinth of caves and passages. Same trick, deliver the food via pipe.
A nocturnal species that prefer to be in groups of 5 or more, otherwise you will not see them. can swim through the smallest of filter intakes, so keep everything covered. They will hide or burrow through low lying dense vegetation. There is another separate species of kuhli loach known as pangio myersi that looks almost completely identical to this one.