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Do Kuhli Loaches Eat Snails?

Although not one of the more popular additions to tanks, more and more fish keepers are starting to add a kuhli loach or two to their tanks.

Their popularity seems to be continuing to increase with each year that goes by too as more and more people decide to add a kuhli loach to their tank so the number of questions that we see from the community is also increasing too.

We see a ton of questions every single month about keeping kuhli loaches in aquariums but a very popular question that we have seen people asking time and time again recently is about kuhli loaches eating snails.

It seems that people either have rare snails that they are trying to keep safe in their tanks or they are trying to find something to help them control the snail population in their tank.

No matter the reason that you are wondering if kuhli loaches eat snails or not, this article should be able to help you.

After seeing so many people asking about kuhli loaches eating snails, we decided to publish our own article on the topic to try and help as many of our readers as possible.

Do Kuhli Loaches Eat Snails?

The majority of kuhli loaches will not eat fully grown snails as their jaws are too small to fit most adult snail species in their mouth.

Some kuhli loaches will eat large amounts of baby snails as they are much easier for the kuhli loach to eat but this is not a normal behavior for the species with around half eating baby snails and around half not paying baby snails any attention.

You have to remember that kuhli loaches are small, very small, they are actually one of the smallest species of eels kept as pets so their jaws are proportionately small too.

Unlike some other fish that will try to work on getting anything they possibly can into their mouths, kuhli loaches tend to use their brain and work out what they can and can’t fit in their mouth and potentially eat.

This means that the smaller snails or baby snails and potentially snail eggs are definitely fair game for the kuhli loach but adult snails and some juvenile snails are simply too large for the kuhli loach to eat.

This drastically reduces the chances of a kuhli loach eating any rare snails in your tank or being an effective addition to your tank to control the snail population in your aquarium.

“Kuhli Loaches in Kale” by Krista76 is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0. To view a copy of this license, visit

Can Kuhli Loaches Be Used To Control Your Snail Population?

A kuhli loach is a poor option to control the snail population in your tank as it is will not eat the adult snails that are of breeding age.

Although some kuhli loaches will eat baby snails and snail eggs, there is no guarantee that they will eat the baby snails and snails eggs with their being much better options out there for snail population control.

In our opinion, assassin snails are a much better option for eating snails than a kuhli loach and we would always recommend that our readers take the assassin snail approach.

In our opinion, they are definitely the best option for controlling the population of the snails in your aquarium and they really do eat a huge amount of snails leaving their shells behind for you to easily remove from your tank.

Another option that some people use that beginners to fish keeping often confuses with kuhli loaches are clown loaches due to their similar names.

Clown loaches have been known to eat various types of snail but there is no guarantee that they will take to eating the snails in your own tank so an assassin snail is a much better option for most tanks.

But I Have Seen My Kuhli Loach Trying To Eat My Snail!

Although it may appear that your kuhli loach is trying to eat a snail in your aquarium, it is more likely that it is just eating algae off its shell.

This is very common and you can often see the kuhli loach grazing across the snail’s shell if you look closely showing that it is simply pulling algae or biofilm off the shell of the snail rather than trying to eat it.

It is very common for most species of freshwater snails to have some sort of buildup of algae or biofilm on their shells and attract the attention of the other algae eaters in your tank.

You will often see your other snails in your tank on the shells of snails eating the algae and biofilm too due to it often being soft, early growth stage algae that is usually easier to eat.

As we mentioned above, some kuhli loaches will eat baby snails though so if you saw your kuhli loach trying to eat a baby snail then it is highly likely that it was actually trying to eat the snail and not the algae.

The majority of the time when a kuhli loach tries to eat a baby snail though, it will simply eat it instantly without a second thought.


That brings our article going over if kuhli loaches eat snails or not to an end. We hope that we have been able to help you understand the chances of a kuhli loach eating snails in your tank are very low. This should help you choose it as a tank mate for your aquarium depending on if you are specifically looking for something their either will or won’t try to eat all of your snails.