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Should You Keep A Kuhli Loach With A Betta Fish?

The betta fish is one of the most commonly kept species of fish within the fish keeping hobby in the whole world and although the kuhli loach has always been a more niche option, they are starting to see a steady increase in popularity too.

This has resulted in a number of people reaching out to ask about keeping a kuhli loach and betta fish in the same aquarium tank as each other.

Due to the reputation of betta fish, we commonly see people asking about suitable tank mates for them so we decided that we would publish this dedicated article going over the ins and outs of keeping a kuhli loach with a betta.

Our hope is that we will be able to help our readers avoid some of the more common mistakes that we see people make time and time again and help you keep your aquarium free from aggression.

Are Betta Fish Aggresive?

Some male betta fish can be hyper aggressive but even the calmer males are still more aggressive than most other fish species, especially in smaller tanks.

Female betta fish tend not to be as aggressive as their male counterparts but they are still usually classed as being an above average fish when it comes to their aggression levels.

Due to this, you usually need to make sure that there is plenty of space available in the tank for the betta fish as well as plenty of plants and hides to act as sight breaks to reduce the chances of aggression.

Are Kuhli Loaches Aggressive?

Kuhli loaches are one of the calmest and most peaceful freshwater fish species that you can keep and they are perfectly happy to live alongside other fish without any issues.

This is especially true when you compare them to other bottom-dwelling fish such as Corydoras catfish which have a reputation for being quite nippy.

Kuhli loaches are known to be very shy fish too so they usually need to be kept in groups of 3 or more but this many people do keep a single kuhli loach in a tank that offers plenty of cover via live plants and hides.

Can Kuhli Loaches Live With Bettas?

You are able to keep kuhli loaches in the same tanks as betta fish provided that you take all of the required steps to reduce the aggression from your betta towards your kuhli loach.

This is surprisingly easy but we constantly see people making the same mistakes over and over again that sometimes results in their betta fish being aggressive towards their pet betta fish.

Although the majority of betta fish do have higher than average levels of aggression, there are a small number of exceptions where the betta fish is totally placid and passive but this is rare.

The majority of people should always act as though their betta fish will be aggressive unless they have owned the betta for a couple of months, ideally more than six months to get a feel for its personality.

Should You Add Plants And Hides To A Kuhli Loach And Betta Fish Tank?

Plants and hides offer your kuhli loach a sense of security in the tank as well as somewhere to hide away from your betta fish should it become agitated or start to show aggression.

Although we would always recommend adding plants, live plants are often seen as being more beneficial than fake plants due to the fact that they help improve water quality too.

As we briefly mentioned earlier in the article, kuhli loaches are a very shy fish and they much prefer to keep to themselves rather than being out in the open where they feel more exposed.

For this reason, you need to make sure that there are plenty of places for them to hide away when they want to as this will help to keep them stress-free.

Some betta fish also tend to like hanging out amongst the plants in their tank as well as checking out fish hides from time to time too.

Can You Keep A Kuhli Loach And Betta In A 5 Gallon Tank?

Although you can technically keep a betta fish in a 5 gallon tank, it is considered bad practice these days.

Even if you are an experienced betta keeper who can keep a single betta fish in a 5 gallon tank, there is definitely going to be a much higher chance of the betta being more aggressive towards the kuhli loach in such a small tank.

Due to this, we would never recommend that you keep a kuhli loach and betta fish in the same 5 gallon tank as they are just too small.

Even a single betta should be kept in a tank larger than 5 gallons if possible to offer it the best quality of life possible.

Can You Keep A Kuhli Loach And Betta In A 10 Gallon Tank?

A 10 gallon tank is the absolute minimum size we would recommend for keeping a kuhli loach with a betta fish.

Even then though, it is on the small size and ideally, you want to be going for a 15 gallon or larger if possible.

There are some excellent 10 gallon setups that let a kuhli loach and betta thrive in the same tank as each other but if you are a beginner, it may be tricky and a kuhli loach tends to need a tank larger than 10 gallons anyway.

This is why we would recommend you go with a 20 gallon tank if possible as that additional 10 gallons of space really does help make up for any mistakes you make make during your setup phase of your tank.

What Size Tank Do I Need For A Kuhli Loach And Betta Fish?

We feel that the 20 gallon tank is the best beginner tank size for a kuhli loach and betta community tank.

Plenty of people are successfully keeping kuhli loaches and betta fish in a 10 gallon tank though but we would never recommend anything smaller.

If you have a tank that is larger than 20 gallons then this is even better as it allows the fish to go off and do their own thing while also potentially offering the possibility of adding additional fish species to the tank too.

How Do You Set Up A Tank for Kuhli Loaches And Bettas?

When it comes to setting up a tank for kuhlis and bettas, the key thing you need to remember is that both of these fish come from different parts of the world.

This means that they have different water requirements which you will need to take into account when setting up your tank.

The first thing you need to do is choose a tank size.

As we mentioned earlier, the 20 gallon tank is the minimum size we would recommend for this setup but if you can go larger, then that is even better.

Once you have your tank, you need to add in some substrate.

For kuhlis, they prefer a soft, sandy substrate as this is what they would naturally find in their natural habitat.

Bettas, on the other hand, come from murky water where there is often a lot of vegetation.

As a result, they are fine with just about any type of substrate although many betta keepers do prefer to use a plant-based substrate such as eco-complete.

When it comes to plants, you have a bit more freedom as both kuhlis and bettas are fine with most aquarium plants.

Some good options to consider include java fern, anubias, and hornwort.

You can also add in some floating plants to help diffuse the light and make your betta feel more comfortable.

Once your plants are in, you can then add in your kuhlis and bettas.

Start by adding your kuhlis first and then let them acclimate to the tank for a few days before adding your betta.

This will give them time to get used to their new home and reduce the chances of them stressing each other out.


We hope this article has helped you to better understand the requirements for keeping kuhli loaches and bettas together.

Both of these fish make great additions to a community tank but it is important to remember that they do have different water requirements.

As long as you take these into account and provide them with a suitable habitat, they should be able to live together peacefully for many years to come.

Thanks for reading!