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The Myer's Loach Pangio myersi (previously Acanthophthalmus myersi) is one of the best looking kuhli loaches in the Pangio genus. Its background color is an orangish to salmon red, being paler underneath. It has 10 to 14 broad black or dark brown bands, some of which may completely encircle the body. This is a delightful little loach and a school of these active fellows will liven up any peaceful community aquarium.
The Myer's Loach is very similar to the other loaches in the Pangio genus. As a group they are often called 'kuhli' loaches. The Myer's Loach has the unique distinction of being very slimy. Because they have a slimier skin than the other loaches, one of its common names is the Myer's Slimy Loach. It is also known as the Giant Kuhli Loach and there is an albino variety as well, called the Albino Myer's Loach, which can have either red eyes or black eyes. It has been debated whether this is its own species Pangio myersi or a subspecies of the Kuhli LoachPangio kuhlii, thus being Pangio kuhli myersi, so both designations are found.
The worm-like Myer's Loach is a great little helper in keeping the aquarium clean of foods left uneaten by other fishes. Scavenging for tidbits it wiggles in and about the ornaments and plants, getting into nooks and crannies where other fish just can't fit. Because it is nocturnal and doesn't care for bright lights, the Myer's Loach does most of its work at night.
They are hardy little fish with a peaceful disposition, making them well suited to a community aquarium. LIke many of their genus, the Giant Kuhli Loaches are loners rather than schooling fishes, but they are more comfortable if they have companions. If kept singly they will be unlikely to venture out of hiding and so will seldom be seen though they can live for several years.
Other members of the Pangio group of Kuhli loaches that are often available include the Java Loach (Black Kuhli Loach)Pangio oblonga, Indian Thorneye Pangio cuneovirgata, and Half-Banded Loach Pangio semicincta, Shelford's Thorneye (Borneo Loach) Pangio shelfordii. Some others that are not often seen are the Dwarf Kuhli Pangio robiginosa, Pangio borneensis, and Pangio filinaris.
The Myer's Loach Pangio myersi (previously Acanthophthalmus myersi) was described by Narayan Rao in 1920. It is also found under the scientific name Pangio kuhli myersi as it has been debated whether it is its own species or a subspecies of the Kuhli Loach Pangio kuhlii. This loach is found in Asia in the Mekong Basin including southeast Thailand, Cambodia, and possibly in Viet Nam.
This species is listed on the IUCN Red List as Least Concern (LC) because although it has a wide range, there is intensive cultivated areas in Thailand creating pollution and other detrimental effects to the natural habitat. Other common names it is known by are Giant Kuhli Loach, and due to its very slimy skin it is called Myer's Slimy Loach. There is also an albino variety is called the Albino Myer's Loach.
They live in moderately flowing streams and in swampy areas that are normally shaded from the sun by the forest's tree canopy. These loaches spend much of their time on the bottom among roots and leaf debris. They typically feed on insect larvae, plant mater and small crustaceans by sifting mouthfuls of substrate through their gills. In nature these loaches are found in small groups, however they are not schooling fish.
Scientific Name: Pangio myersi
Social Grouping: Groups - Not actually schooling fish but are usually found in clusters of their own kind.
IUCN Red List: LC - Least Concern
This is a smaller, thin loach that can reach almost 4 inches (10 cm) in length with a life span of about 4 - 5 years. The Myer's Loach has an orangish to salmon red background color, being paler underneath. There are 10 to 14 broad black or dark brown bands, some can be just a partial band and while others may completely encircle the body. The tail fin can be either entirely black or have a large black blotch on it. They are also known Myer's Slimy Loach because they have a slimier skin than the other loaches.
Like other Kuhli loaches, the Myer's Loach has an elongated worm-like body and 3 pairs of whisker-like barbels. There are no scales on the head of Pangio Kuhli loaches. Their eyes are covered by a transparent skin and there is a short spine in front of them, thus the designation of all the Cobitidae family of being "thorny-eyes". The dorsal fin is set very far back, and the anal fin is set at the end of the base of the dorsal fin.
Albino Myer's Loach
The Myer's Loach shown to the right is an albino color form of this loach. The Albino Myer's Loach has red eyes. A similarly colored Myer's Loach with black eyes is a leucistic form that would be described as a hypo-melanistic color form.
This a bred color form, and it is not certain whether the Albino Myer's Loach occurs naturally in the wild. But these would be highly visible animals, so beacons for predation.
Size of fish - inches: 3.9 inches (10.01 cm) - These fish can get up to almost 4 inches (10 cm).
Lifespan: 5 years - This fish matures at between 8 - 12 months and has a lifespan of about 4 - 5 years, though possibly much longer.
Fish Keeping Difficulty
This loach can be hardy under the right conditions. They are not recommended for beginners because of their need for pristine water and having small body scales and no scales on the head. Reduced scales makes them more prone to disease and very sensitive to medications used to treat disease. Experience in treating scaleless fish is very important to be able to give your loach a healthy and long life. Do not try to introduce these fish into biologically immature tanks.
Aquarium Hardiness: Moderately hardy
Aquarist Experience Level: Intermediate
Foods and Feeding
Since they are omnivorous, the Myer's Loach or Myer's Slimy Loach will generally eat all kinds of small live and frozen foods and meat based foods are relished the most. They also like sinking pelleted and tablet foods, flakes, and a bit of vegetable foods such as algae wafers. To keep a good balance give them a high quality prepared food everyday. Feed tubifex worms, brine shrimp (either live or frozen), mosquito larvae, and daphnia as a treat.
Diet Type: Omnivore
Flake Food: Yes
Tablet Pellet: Occasionally
Live foods (fishes, shrimps, worms): Some of Diet
Vegetable Food: Some of Diet
Meaty Food: Most of Diet
Feeding Frequency: Several feedings per day
The most important thing for these loaches is that they always have clean and well-oxygenated water. Frequent water changes of about 30% a week are needed for the Kuhli Loach. With your weekly water change make sure to vacuum the gravel to remove all excess food and waste, but It's best not to remove any bio film on rocks and decor. A magnet algae cleaner normally does a great job in keeping the viewing pane clear.
Water Changes: Weekly - Water changes of about 30% weekly.
The Myer's Loach will swim mostly on the bottom of the aquarium, but at night these loaches may swim all over the tank. Never introduce this loach into a biological immature setup as these fish require pristine water. This fish will do well in a medium sized aquarium (ideally 20 gallons or so) with soft, slightly acidic water and subdued lighting. They need good water movement that provides plenty of oxygenation. The tank water should turnover at least 10-15 times per hour. An undergravel filter is a great choice for these fish as it creates high oxygen through out the tank as well as reducing the waste. Adding a canister filter or power head to the setup will make the proper current for this loach.
The decor with for fish is really up to personal taste, but the substrate needs to be a fine gravel or sand that does not have sharp edges. They will also enjoy a bit of peat moss spread over the substrate to simulate the natural mulm found in their native environment. Some smooth water-worn large rocks and stones should be scattered throughout along with a couple pieces of driftwood and some twisted roots will make a great place to retreat. These loaches are very inquisitive and like to explore so make sure to have a lot of caves and crevices. These fish can and will jump out of the tank if given the chance so make sure to have a tight fitting cover.
Minimum Tank Size: 20 gal (76 L)
Suitable for Nano Tank: Yes
Substrate Type: Sand/Gravel Mix - Substrate needs to be soft, so use fine gravel or sand.
Lighting Needs: Low - subdued lighting
Temperature: 78.0 to 82.0° F (25.6 to 27.8° C)
Range ph: 6.5-7.2
Hardness Range: 5 - 12 dGH
Water Movement: Weak
Water Region: Bottom - These fish are mostly bottom dwellers but may swim in all areas of the tank at night.
This loach is a peaceful community fish and a great scavenger of uneaten foods that settle to the bottom of the aquarium. They hide during the day, but are quite lively and active in the evening. Though they do not school, they will be more likely to come out of hiding if they are kept with some companions. A singly kept Myer's Loach will seldom be seen. It is recommended that they be kept in small groups of at least 5 or more of its own kind.
Same species - conspecifics: Yes - Best kept in groups of 5 or more, if kept singly it will seldom be seen.
Peaceful fish (): Safe
Semi-Aggressive (): Monitor
Aggressive (): Threat
Large Semi-Aggressive (): Threat
Large Aggressive, Predatory (): Threat
Slow Swimmers & Eaters (): Safe
Shrimps, Crabs, Snails: Safe - not aggressive
Sex: Sexual differences
Unknown, though a female with eggs will be plumper.
Breeding / Reproduction
Not much is known about the breeding habits of the Myer's Loach, though they have been bred successfully in the aquarium and are reported to have been regularly spawned in Russia using hormones as a spawning agent. They scatter adhesive eggs underneath floating plants where the eggs then attach to the stems and roots. The eggs have been described by Herbert Axelrod as a type of bubble nest, with each egg enclosed in a bubble.
Ease of Breeding: Difficult
Loaches are more susceptible to disease than other aquarium fishes. This may have to do with the faint body scales and no head scales. So take caution when introducing these fish to an established tank. They are also very sensitive to different medications used to treat many diseases; a separate hospital tank is needed. Cold water and condition changes can also cause stress to this fish which makes them even more prone to disease.
Most common disease that affects this loach is Ich. Ich is short for Ichthyophthirius, also known as "white spot disease". It is a parasite that can attack nearly all aquarium fishes, but you'll find that loaches are often the first to be attacked. Take great care in treating ick as loaches are very sensitive to the medications used to treat it. Often the dose is half of what is normally used.
The second most common thing that affects loaches is a thing called skinny disease. This can be diagnosed fairly easily. If your loaches are eating a nitrous and healthy amounts and still seems to loose weight it is a good chance it has skinny disease. This is caused by internal parasites and can be treated with medication if used carefully.
An outbreak of disease can often be limited to just one or a few fishes if you deal with it at an early stage. When keeping these sensitive types of fish, it is common to catch deteriorating water conditions and disease before other fish are affected. The best way to proactively prevent disease is to give your Myer's Loach the proper environment and give them a well balanced diet. The closer to their natural habitat the less stress the fish will have, making them healthier and happy. A stressed fish will is more likely to acquire disease.
Anything you add to your tank can bring disease to your tank. Not only other fish but plants, substrate, and decorations can harbor bacteria. Take great care and make sure to properly clean or quarantine anything that you add to an established tank so not to upset the balance. It is recommended to read up on the common tank diseases. Knowing the signs and catching and treating them early makes a huge difference. For information about freshwater fish diseases and illnesses, see Aquarium Fish Diseases and Treatments.
The Myer's Loach or Myer's Slimy Loach is often available at pet stores and online, and is moderately priced.