front of their eyes that make them an
Because kuhli loaches are small and
hardly swim around at all, they can be
excellent fish for the small aquarium.
They usually slither around the bottom
of the tank looking for morsels of
food. Unlike most other loaches, kuhli
loaches are completely peaceful and
need the company of their own kind.
Keep them in groups of four or more
for best results. Kuhli loaches make
excellent community fish, and will
happily feed at night on things like
catfish pellets and bloodworms.
Kuhli loach Pangio kuhlii.
Mature females are remarkably robust
and quite a bit longer than the males, but
for whatever reason, this species very rarely
breeds in aquaria. They are otherwise easy
to keep, except for a tendency to find their
way out of uncovered tanks.
The shell-dwelling Neolamprologus brevis makes a good beginner’s Tanganyikan cichlid.
Sparkling gouramis aren’t particularly farmed fish have been plagued with a viral
territorial, and a 10-gallon tank can infection that causes lethargy, body sores,
easily house four or five specimens andeventuallydeath.
without problems, especially if there
are lots of hiding places. When kept
in groups they are surprisingly noisy
as well, making croaking and purring
sounds that are presumably used as
threats or to attract mates. Definitely
something to listen for!
Alternatives to sparkling gouramis
include honey gouramis Trichogaster chuna
and female Siamese fighting fish Betta
splendens. Dwarf gouramis Colisa lalia are
best avoided, though. The males tend to
be rather aggressive, and in recent years,
#4: Kuhli Loaches
A number of different species of Pangio
are sold as kuhli loaches, though the most
commonly seen is probably Pangio kuhlii,
a worm-like fish that is 3 to 4 inches
long, with a pinkish-orange body ringed
with thick chocolate-brown bands. Their
natural habitat is the leaf litter at the
bottom of streams, where their coloring
helps them to hide from predators. If such
discretion doesn’t work, these loaches
are armed with sharp, erectile spines in
#5: Dwarf Lamprologus
The small shell-dwelling cichlids of
Lake Tanganyika can make excellent
additions to the community tank. While
territorial, they tend to ignore fishes in
the middle and upper levels of the tank.
Since they need hard, alkaline water
there’s no point keeping them in a soft-water community, but combined with
surface-dwelling hard-water fish like the
least killifish (see #7) or Endler’s guppy,
these dwarf lamps are a nice way to get
into Tanganyikan cichlids.
A good species for beginners is
Neolamprologus brevis. Males are a mere
1½ inches when fully grown, and females
even smaller. Both are pinkish-brown with
electric-blue markings on the face and
flanks. A 10-gallon tank will easily house
a pair of these fish. Although the pair will
share the same shell, it is a good idea to
provide them with a variety of shells so
that they can choose their own home.
Clean apple-snail shells are ideal, and
can be picked up from tropical fish shops
easily enough; but another good type of
shell is the type sold in gourmet food
stores for serving escargot. Once settled in,
the pair will spawn inside the shell with
both parents guarding the eggs and fry.
There are quite a few shell-dwellers
that turn up less frequently, such as
Lamprologus ocellatus. Most of these tend
to form harems rather than pairs; that is,
the male needs to be kept with a group of
two or more females. Each fish needs its
own shell, and the male will mate with all