7 Popular Bottom Feeders

aquarium bottom feeders

To have a well rounded ecosystem for your aquarium, you want all levels of fish habitats. The bottom feeders are sort of known to do the dirty work of clean up crew. If you think about it, everything has to fall to the bottom of your aquarium and it makes for a dirty aftermath. You can really help keep your tank cleaner by choosing a suitable bottom feeder.

1. Snails are VERY Popular

3 Assorted Mystery Snails (Gold, Ivory, Black)
List Price: $22.79
Price: $22.79
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A lot of people are afraid of snails because they reproduce very fast at times. Don’t let that scare you. Not all snails do that. The snails are the experts of smooth surfaces. They absolutely love sucking on the side of your glass in your fish aquarium all day and every day. I would say they are the most efficient bottom dweller because they consume so much and give off so little.

Issues arise with snails eating live plants but if you keep an eye on them it shouldn’t get out of hand too fast. One of the most common types of snails for fish tanks is the Mystery Snail. They don’t reproduce very fast and can be kept with your other fish very easily. Here is a link to amazon to check some out.

2. Cory Catfish are Small!

cory catfish

The Cory species from the Catfish family is a great addition to an aquarium. They don’t get more than a few inches long and are very compatible  with other fish. The #1 reason why they do so well is because they eat meaty substances along with algae substances.

This omnivore will eat dead fish and they happen to love it. This means that almost anything that sits at the bottom of your aquarium get eaten by the Cory catfish. Very comparable to the Plecostomus catfish except they grow very large and you need a large tank for them.. which some of us don’t have.

3. Crayfish are an Awesome Choice

A lot of people don’t think of crayfish as being an aquarium bottom feeder. They actually do an excellent job of cleaning the bottom of your aquarium and they will even devour dead fish when given the opportunity. It’s really an eye catcher as well too because there is a species of crayfish that is a bright and vibrant blue color. Outside of being a tasty snack for us humans this crustacean makes for an awesome bottom feeder of your aquarium that most people never think if. You want to do proper research on hiding spots though because I do know that these crayfish get very insecure when I don’t have the proper places to hide.

4. Plecostomus Catfish

aquarium bottom feedersMy personal favorite of the bottom dwellers is the Pleco fish. Reason being, this creature is somewhat of a dinosaur in my opinion. It lives from 20-30 years long and can grow up to 2 feet long at times. Tell me that’s not crazy!

The Pleco is constantly feeding and is nocturnal. When you go to shut the lights off, that’s when the Pleco starts its day. It has a special eyelid that closes during sunlight to protect its vision and opens up and night. I love these things but I must warn you, when you have a 12 inch Pleco in your tank… it eats a lot and poops a lot. Consider your algae problems gone if you have a Pleco.

5. Shrimp are Great Cleaners

What works out so well in aquariums with freshwater shrimp is they act as a meal for most of your fish and also to eat smaller particles of algae and decay than most other scavengers. How they do it as they have small hairlike antennas that filter constantly so that they can feed on what these hairs filtering through the water. It’s almost like a piece of fish filter except it’s built into their organs and it just works amazingly. On top of constantly cleaning your aquarium there also a tremendous meal for your fish as a live food source.

6. Loaches Show So Much Personality

A very popular choice due to the personality levels. These fish love to be in groups and really will show passion towards each other with their movements. You actually have to watch out for loaches crawling out of your tank because they can get out of the water and desire some basking in the sun.

They really enjoyed digging in gravel and findings or next tasty meal. I have seen some stories online where they have moved so much that the decorations have fallen on them and they have gotten stuck under the decorations.

7. Chinese Algae Eaters are Awesome

These guys are very nice when they are juvenile to teenager stage but as soon as they hit adulthood… you may notice them trying to kill your other fish. If you don’t keep them fed well, they will take matters into their own hands. Guppies and small fish usually fall victim because of their small size.

The Chinese Algae Eater grows up to 6 inches long and that’s where the problems come into. When a bottom feeder gets to be this large, it causes problems. This fish almost becomes ‘aware’ of its own growth in size and abilities.



Speak Your Mind:


Reply from Vanessa H:
I’ve seen a common misconception that these catfish and bottom fish eat other fish’s poop or waste and that’s not the case. Most of these fish if not all.. are mainly algae eaters but some share an omnivore trait and can eat meaty foods too. And because there is always so much to eat on the bottom, these fish thrive. I know here in the state of Florida that Plecostomus fish lurk the ponds everywhere because an aquarium owner let theirs go in the lake and now were over populated with them. Don’t let your fish go in the wild! But yeah.. I love my bottom feeders and the Cory cats have got to be my favorite because hey are so small and keep to themselves ever so peacefully. http://water.epa.gov/drink/contaminants/basicinformation/nitrate.cfm

Reply from David F:
I’m surprised that the article did not go more into detail regarding the different cat fish species. I think right off hand I can I will sleep around 20 different species of catfish narrow bottom feeders so it’s kind of a big deal to mention them. I’ve been trying to do some research to find the best species of catfish for my aquarium and I have a 55 gallon and size so I was looking for a good source but there is a much info here on catfish.

  • I have an ADF (African Dwarf Frog) in my tank and want to add an algae/bottom feeder to it. What would you suggest as the best one? Thanks!

Reply from Pete S:
I’m surprised there’s no information regarding freshwater stingrays. I do know that they are super popular and they go for a couple of hundred of dollars apiece. I’ve been trying to find a good deal on some but they’re tough to come by. I think every aquarium owner should take a lot of concern over the bottom feeding fish because they are the cleanup crew any kind of picks how clean your aquariums going to be. Is fish that hang out on the bottom are going to be the ones that cleaner tanks and make it so that we don’t have to put forth as much work to help clean it.

Reply from Admin:
The spectrum of bottom dwellers was only touched based on here but if we were to get into marine and saltwater habitats, there would be much more. This is our guide on freshwater aquarium bottom dwellers. Helping clean our tanks and showing tons of personality while doing it. The bottom of the feeding scale is my favorite habitat and that’s why I write these cool articles. Let me know what you guys think and your future plans of bottom dwellers.

-I have questions about betta female sororities.

-Is it better to have just 2 females in the same 10 gallon tank or should I get a 3rd?

-The minimum for a sorority is 5 females in 20 gallons. Experienced sorority keepers can sometimes get away with 10 gallons but many end up regretting it. So no, you cannot keep 2 or 3 females together. That is not enough girls to establish a pecking order.

-It’s typically recommended to have at least 5 females in a sorority and a 20g min with lots of plants and places for them to hide . When it groups of 2 or 3 the more dominant one may harass the other two and potentially kill them .. you can get a divider for your 10g and keep your two females in it.

-Sororities are so hit or miss, I wouldn’t risk going against what is typically thought to be the most successful formula to make it work. As above, the 20 gallon minimum, with 5 females + seems to be more likely to work.

-Id like to add that ive seen a lot of people say 20G long work better than 20G tall. They don’t utilize the entire water column in taller tanks so by taking that room and widening it they then use the entire tank. Can be done but can be bad. They need distractions for it to be successful, unless they are just docile girls. I have had more success with introducing small communities to my sororities, ie live bearers, killis, ropefish, tetras, etc. Sometimes I’ve had aggressive sororities completely equalize from putting a single guppy fry in the tank, everyone finally got along “swingingly” lol

-The inch per gallon rule shouldn’t be used because it does not consider the bioload or the social needs of the fish. If this rule were to be followed it would say that it is ok to put a 12 inch goldfish into a 12 gallon tank. Another example are neon tetras who only grow to be a little over an inch. The inch per gallon rule indicates that only 1 neon is needed for a 1.5 gallon tank. Their actual care requirements are a minimum of 5 neons in a 20 gallon.

-Exactly what She said. The inche per gallon rule came around before we knew what comparability and bioload were.

It also doesnt take into account the social needs of a fish. Some are far more active and require larger tanks compared to a bigger but less active fish.

-Still won’t work. That is not enough to spread out aggression. What will likely end up happening is the 2 strongest will pick on the weakest, sometimes to the death. Get a divider and keep the 2 you have seperate.

-An even number of females will work just as well as an odd number of females as long as there are at least 5 females. For a 20 gal everyone says you can’t do it in a 10 and it’s possible. With at least 3 I had two and they fought. Introduced a 3rd and everything’s fine. So get outta my throat. I believe having 3 or more is the rule. If you have just 2 they will fight 50/50 on each other. If you have 3+ it helps even out the aggression. It’s better to have 5 because one is Lesley likely to be singled out.

-Hey its advisable, yes.

I also recommend you have the tank planted and heavily decorated. Pick out a female who is similar is size. Add some distraction fish. I use male endlers as distraction fish for my females. They are small and fast and you should be able to keep 4 in the 10. Itll be a little cramped though. you need a larger tank that is heavily planted like a jungle and at least 5 females. Keeping females together (called a sorority) is tricky. Often it does not work out and the girls will injure or kill each other. Don’t risk anything smaller than a 20 gallon tank and less than 5 females. If you have two females, separate them.

-Please somebody tell me about fish TB. I rescued this fish today. He is super skinny and his back is wavy. I googled it and naw I’m freaking out. It’s been at the store for more than a month in a little jar. When I saw him first time he looked healthy. I bought him because I felt so bad for him. Really want to help this guy. But I am not expert in Betta keeping. Any help is appreciated.

-This is my betta with the broken back I asked for help for when I got him about 2 weeks ago now he’s doing the best he can considering he can’t swim he’s in an almost hospital like tank for however long he lives not sure what he was doing in this picture but it made me luagh.