Bottom feeding fish can help maintain your tank by cleaning up the mess. Could they be a viable solution for your aquarium?
Keeping an aquarium fresh and healthy is a momentous task. The bigger the aquarium, the larger that task becomes. Bottom feeders help you to maintain the tank while keeping your workload to a minimum.
Often undervalued, these might not represent the prettiest sea creatures, but they certainly represent the hardest working.
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What is a Bottom Feeder?
Bottom feeders come in all shapes and sizes, from ugly snails to beautiful fish. The term applies to any underwater creature that seeks its food from the waste other sea creatures produce.
Nicknamed bottom feeders due to their habit of clinging to the bottom or sides of your tank, this group of creatures include snails and specific fish.
You can buy bottom feeders for salt water and for freshwater aquariums, for heated and cooled tanks.
Aquanswers can help you decide which fish are best for your saltwater tank. Otherwise, these lowly, overlooked fish can help you keep your tank clean.
The 10 Best Bottom Feeders for Your Tanks
If you are rescuing any fish soon, don’t discount the hard work and helpfulness of the humble bottom feeder.
These ten types of sea and freshwater creature make great choices. Remember to match your new underwater lovely with the salt/fresh, heat/cold combo in your aquarium.
1 – The Bristlenose Pleco
This is a hardier, wider version of the catfish that you have probably seen already elsewhere. These hardy catfish are flatter to the bottom but retain that distinctive black with white spots look.
They require a heated tank which stays between 60 and 80oF. The Bristlenose Pleco will happily feed on any algae that grows on the inside of your aquarium.
If your freshwater heated tank has an algae problem, then catfish are your answer. They do need a supplement to keep them healthy.
2 – The Red Cherry Shrimp
The Red cherry Shrimp, also known as the Neocaridina species, are a tough species of shrimp with a bright red coloring.
Native to Taiwan, these shrimps are special because they can breed in fresh water, where most shrimp require salt water.
Cherry shrimp like algae and will eat up the food remains which make it to the bottom of the tank. They are much like goldfish in size, in that they will grow as big as your aquarium allows them to.
3 – The Ghost Shrimp
The ghost shrimp should come with a warning label. They look like any other normal, white, or clear freshwater shrimp.
However, when they get big enough, they may well start attacking the other fish in your tank. They feed on forgotten waste materials at the bottom of the tank, such as old food and algae.
When they get strong enough, they will also sense weakness in your other shrimp or fish and may even attack. They attack when fish are sleeping or sick. They usually only attack fish which are smaller than them.
4 – Rabbit Snails
Rabbit snails are the freshwater snails who require at least a 40-liter tank. They like the temperature around 26-30 degrees Fahrenheit and they are omnivores.
These cute little snails will do the rounds of your tank, cleaning algae from the glass and eating up any leftover fish food.
They come in bright colors like orange and yellow. But there is one overriding feature of snails which put aquarium owners off…
5 – The Mystery Snail
The mystery snail is one of the biggest escape artists known to the ocean floors. Second only to octopi, these wonderful snails will show up all over your home if you don’t keep your tank covered.
Worse, the silly creature escape, can’t find their way back to water, dry out, and die. And nobody likes finding a dead snail in their kitchen cupboard. Still, the mystery snail is a cutie – just watch out for the overbreeding.
6 – The Sand Sifting Gobi
This little fish is exactly what it sounds like. The tiny Gobi fish will sift through the sand to pick out particles for its next meal.
In the wild these fish eat smaller invertebrates; in the tank they will happily munch on fish flakes. The good news is that they will sift it out of the substrate material in your tank, keeping the bottom shiny. There are many different types of sand-sifting Gobi. They like a tank between 20-30oC.
7 – The Sea Cucumber
If you have a saltwater tank, a sea cucumber is an interesting alternative to either a fish or a snail. These beauties are considered the caterpillars of the sea.
They will shuffle along, snuffling up waste and cleaning the substrate. They need salt water and ambient temperatures to thrive. They also need a big tank to move around in.
8 – The Kuhli Loach
Loaches are bottom feeding fish which grow longways, rather than width-ways. These long, smooth bodied, eel-like freshwater creatures will burrow down into the dark hidey-holes of your tank and hide there.
It will eat the biofilm and algae in your tank. They are quite sociable, so buy them a buddy if you can.
9 – The Cory Catfish
The Corydoras catfish is a familiar breed to any large aquarium owner. These are funny, friendly fish who are easy to spot due to the long feelers on its chin.
They can come in brown, black, spotted, striped, and mixtures of those colors. It’s a handsome looking fish.
10 – The Brittle Star Fish
Brittlestar, or brittle sea star fish, are interesting alternatives to all the above. They are echinoderms which have spiny looking appendages all over their bodies.
These are usually red in color and help remove all kinds of detritus from your aquarium floor.
Is it time to Upgrade Your Aquarium?
If you are finding that the workload of keeping tropical fish is too much for you, these ten fishy suggestions could be the answer. Select the bottom feeder of your choice and give it a go, today.