While many fish are sold in the pet industry for decoration, some make good additions to the bottom of an aquarium. These fish help clean up any waste in your aquarium; they clean it up by eating it and expelling it out through their gills.
This is beneficial for the owner because this waste usually makes the water in your tank unsanitary and much more dangerous for fish to live in. Cleaning up this mess will keep your pet safe from any hazardous toxins that may result from it.
In this article, we will discuss the best bottom feeder fishes that you can get for your aquarium.
Table of Contents
- List Of All 14 Bottom Feeder Fishes
- 1. Plecostomus
- 2. Clown Loach
- 3. Kuhli Loach
- 4. Chinese Algae Eater
- 5. Bristlenose Pleco
- 6. Flying Fox
- 7. Otocinclus
- 8. Shrimp (Ghost, Crystal Red, Amano)
- 9. Synodontis Catfish
- 10. African Butterfly Fish (Freshwater)
- 11. Bumblebee Goby (Freshwater)
- 12. Harlequin Rasbora (Freshwater)
- 13. White Cloud Mountain Minnow
- 14. Oscar Fish
List Of All 14 Bottom Feeder Fishes
The following list is 14 bottom feeder fish for aquariums. This list also consists of a description of each one, the primary care of each fish, and some information on where they may originate from.
It is important to remember that many of these fish can grow quite large while some are completely harmless.
This may cause difficulties for the owner because larger bottom feeders require a bigger tank. Some owners prefer to make it work; others decide their pet will go elsewhere if they don't have room for the fish.
|Scientific name||Hypostomus plecostomus|
|Origin:||Amazon river of Brazil|
|Size||Up to 15 inches|
|Lifespan||5 to 10 years|
The plecostomus is a great addition to almost any aquarium that it is placed in. They are relatively easy to care for and do an excellent job cleaning up your tank's waste.
The plecostomus is also a great-looking fish; they can be any color from yellow, brownish, or grey. They also come with many different patterns, such as blotches or stripes on their sides, and can be spotted or unspotted.
They are usually very friendly fish and will not bother any of the other fish in your aquarium, but on occasion (and with some plecostomus) they can become territorial. This fish also has whiskers that it uses to find food on the bottom of your tank; they use these whiskers as feelers to search for food that may be on the bottom of your aquarium.
Plecostomus get most of their nutrients from algae, so they are usually kept in tanks with many plants.
They have a sucker-like mouth used to attach themselves to surfaces and rocks. The plecostomus has been known to be very peaceful and tolerate other fish who happen to share territory.
Plecostomus are originally from South America. They prefer water that has a pH level of 6.0-8.0 and temperatures between 72-78 degrees Fahrenheit. This fish usually inhabits stagnant water in the wild, so they should be provided with lots of plants to help keep the water clean and rocks to hide.
Plecostoms are bottom-dwelling fish with sucker mouths to help them stick on the tank floor. They are large, heavy-bodied fish with small fins.
These guys can grow up to 20" long in an aquarium, so they need a decent-sized tank (55 gallons or more) to live in. Plecostoms are very dull colored and have a brownish-grey coloring.
These fish require a meaty diet consisting of brine shrimp, blood worms, krill, and any other food that is high in protein. They also require a bottom substrate to bury themselves to search for food. Plecostoms are nocturnal, so they like it best when the aquarium lights go out, and they can find their food.
This is a very large group of fish known for eating vegetation and algae and cleaning up the bottom of your tanks.
They range in size from a few inches to several feet long. The peacock pleco (pictured above) is a common example of how you can get creative with what kind of plecos you want.
It is important to ensure your plecostomus stays healthy by feeding it vegetable matter, algae wafers, and sinking pellets.
2. Clown Loach
|Scientific name||Botia macracantha|
|Size||Up to 13 inches|
|Lifespan||8 to 12 years|
|pH level:||6 to 7|
The clown loach is a very active fish with plenty of space to swim around. They are often nocturnal, which means they become more active at night and when the aquarium lights go out.
Clown Loaches will scour the bottom for their food, so providing a long-stem plant or a rock in their tank is important for them to snack on.
Clown Loaches are very social fish and need several of their own kind to be happy, so it is important that you do not keep them alone.
Keeping Clown Loaches with other bottom-feeding fish like Gouramis or Cory Catfish makes a great combination.
The clown loach is a long fish that comes from Asia, usually found in rivers. It's quite an attractive fish, with different shades of brown on its scales and has three yellow blotches along its body.
The clown loach is a great addition to your aquarium because of its unique look, gentle nature, and ability to clean algae off rocks in your tank.
Clown loaches have a special way of removing algae- they have a pair of suckers on their undersides that they use to attach themselves to rocks and then slowly move across them, eating the algae as they go.
Their diet consists mainly of vegetable matter, so you can feed them boiled zucchini slices from time to time if you want. Algae pellets and tablets are a good option.
The clown loach will reach up to 13" long, and is a social fish. It will get along with other bottom feeders but may fight with its own kind, so keep two of them together in your tank.
Keep this fish in an aquarium that's at least 20 gallons, and make sure the water stays clean because this fish likes to sift through the dirt on the ground to find food. It eats algae, plants and any leftover food that sinks to the bottom.
The clown loach is a very active fish, so make sure your tank has some places for them to hide. Hiding places can be formed by driftwood or rocks piled together on the ground of your aquarium. Clown loaches also need a lot of territories to swim around in.
3. Kuhli Loach
|Scientific name||Pangio kuhlii|
|Origin:||Thailand and Asia|
|Size||Up to 5 inches|
|Lifespan||5 to 8 years|
5.3 - 6.4
If kept alone or with its own kind, it may become withdrawn and inactive. It's best to keep this fish in groups of 3 or more. The kuhli loach is peaceful with other bottom-dwelling fish and inverts but may eat or harass plants in your aquarium.
The kuhli loach is a very active fish, so make sure your tank has many things to hide in. They love to swim along the bottom, but they also need places to perch on the upper levels. Driftwood and rocks piled together should be sufficient.
The aquarium should have a tight-fitting lid since this fish can jump out.
The Kuhli Loach is a small pale brown or tan bottom-feeding fish that can grow up to 5 inches long. It's a very social loach so it should be kept in groups of 3 or more.
As a bottom feeder, it will eat leftover food from your other fish as well as algae and detritus from the bottom of your tank. Since it's a bottom feeder, you can feed it sinking pellets or wafers as well as vegetable matter like cucumber and zucchini.
This loach isn't picky about water conditions and will tolerate most aquarium set ups. Just make sure you give them enough hiding spaces with driftwood and rocks for when you feed them.
The kuhli loach is a pretty brownish-grey colour with black accents on its dorsal fin and tail. It's a great addition to an aquarium because it looks good and eats up algae and leftover food. These loaches are usually around 6" long but can grow up to 8".
They are very active, but you only need a tank of at least 10 gallons with plenty of hiding places. Keep them with other non-fin-nipping bottom feeders that aren't aggressive toward the Kuhli Loach. They will eat algae, leftover fish food, and plant matter they come across.
4. Chinese Algae Eater
|Scientific Name||Gyrinocheilus aymonieri|
|Origin:||China and Vietnam|
|Size||Up 10 to 11 inches|
|Lifespan||up to 10 years|
|pH level:||7 to 8.5|
The Chinese algae eater should only be kept with other semi-aggressive fish without fin nippers. They can be somewhat territorial, so you might want to keep more than 1 in your aquarium.
This fish is more active and will do better in a larger tank (at least 20 gallons) with plenty of swimming room.
The Chinese algae eater is a small fish growing up to 7 inches long. It has a stocky, almost oval-shaped body with olive green coloring on top and white underneath.
They're pretty peaceful and will only get aggressive if they're in a small tank with fewer hiding places. They're also known as the Indian Sucker Fish and need an aquarium of at least 20 gallons with lots of wood and rock hiding spots.
The Chinese algae eater is a peaceful fish that can be kept with most other community fish. Just make sure to give this bottom feeder some hiding places away from the others in your aquarium. They love to eat algae and sinking pellets or wafers and plant matter.
The Chinese algae eater is a bottom feeder that feeds on algae, detritus, and leftover fish food from your other fish.
They do well in tanks with plants but can also eat some plants so keep an eye on your plants if you have one of these in the tank.
The Chinese algae eater eats mostly algae off of rocks and glass, even out of the water. It will also eat leftover fish food from the bottom of the aquarium. This fish should be fed sinking pellets or tablets.
5. Bristlenose Pleco
|Scientific Name||Ancistrus sp|
|Size||Up 3 to 4 inches|
|Lifespan||up to 10 years|
|pH level:||6 to 8.5|
The Bristlenose Pleco, scientifically known as Ancistrus cirrhosis, is a popular freshwater fish species among aquarium enthusiasts. It is native to the rivers and streams of South America, particularly the Amazon River basin. The Bristlenose Pleco is well-regarded for its unique appearance and beneficial characteristics.
This fish species gets its name from the prominent bristle-like growths on its snout, which are more pronounced in males. These bristles serve various purposes, including communication and territorial defense. Bristlenose Plecos exhibit sexual dimorphism, with males possessing more elaborate bristles compared to females.
In terms of appearance, Bristlenose Plecos have a stout and flattened body, typically adorned with a mottled brown, black, and gray pattern. They are equipped with sucker-like mouths that allow them to attach themselves to various surfaces, including rocks, driftwood, and aquarium glass.
One of the key reasons why Bristlenose Plecos are sought after in the aquarium hobby is their algae-eating capabilities. They are renowned as efficient algae grazers, making them excellent natural aquarium cleaners.
Their diet primarily consists of algae, biofilm, and vegetable matter. However, it's important to supplement their diet with other foods like sinking pellets or blanched vegetables to ensure balanced nutrition.
Bristlenose Plecos are generally peaceful and can coexist with various tank mates. They prefer well-oxygenated water with hiding spots provided by caves or driftwood. Adequate filtration and regular water changes are essential for their well-being.
This pleco comes from the Loricariidae family and has alligator-like ridges along the sides of its head. It has a brown-olive color on top with lighter coloring underneath.
The Bristlenose pleco can grow up to 3 inches long. This small fish is more active than other bottom feeders and likes to swim around, looking for food in the tank. They do well in tanks with lots of hiding places and should be fed sinking wafers or tablets for maximum health.
6. Flying Fox
|Scientific Name||Epalzeorhynchos kalopterus|
|Size||Up 5 inches|
|Lifespan||up to 10 years|
|pH level:||8.5 to 7|
The Flying Fox fish, scientifically known as Epalzeorhynchos adopters, is a captivating freshwater fish species that is highly sought after in the aquarium hobby. Known for its vibrant colors and unique characteristics, the Flying Fox fish adds a touch of elegance to any aquarium setup.
Native to Southeast Asia, particularly Thailand, Malaysia, and Indonesia, the Flying Fox fish is often confused with the Siamese Algae Eater due to their similar appearance. However, the Flying Fox fish can be distinguished by its more streamlined body shape and a distinct black stripe that runs horizontally along its side.
One of the most striking features of the Flying Fox fish is its coloration. It typically has a bright golden or orange body with contrasting black markings. The fins are adorned with a touch of red or orange, adding to its overall beauty. These vibrant colors make the Flying Fox fish a visually appealing choice for aquarium enthusiasts.
Apart from its attractive appearance, the Flying Fox fish is also known for its algae-eating abilities. It is highly effective in controlling and consuming various types of algae, making it a valuable asset in maintaining a clean and healthy aquarium environment. However, it's important to note that as the fish matures, its algae-eating behavior may decrease and require additional food supplementation.
The Flying Fox eats algae off of plants and rocks, along with leftover fish food. It needs lots of hiding places and should be fed sinking wafers or tablets for maximum health.
|Scientific Name||Otocinclus sp|
|Size||Up 3 to 4.5 inches|
|Lifespan||3 to 5 years|
|Care level:||extremely hardy|
|pH level:||8.5 to 7|
Otocinclus, commonly known as Otos or Otocinclus catfish, is a small and fascinating freshwater fish species that is highly regarded for its algae-eating abilities. Belonging to the Loricariidae family, Otocinclus catfish are native to South America, particularly the Amazon River basin and its surrounding regions.
Otocinclus catfish are known for their adorable appearance and petite size, typically reaching a maximum length of about two inches (5 centimeters).
They are slender and adorned with a distinct pattern of dark spots or stripes along their sides. This unique coloration adds to their charm and makes them a delightful addition to community aquariums.
One of the primary reasons why aquarists value Otocinclus catfish is their remarkable appetite for algae. They are efficient grazers, eagerly consuming various types of algae, including green and brown algae, diatoms, and even soft film algae.
This makes them highly beneficial in naturally controlling algae growth and maintaining a clean and healthy aquarium environment.
Otocinclus catfish are generally peaceful and sociable, making them suitable tank mates for a wide range of community fish species.
They thrive in a well-maintained aquarium with plenty of hiding spots provided by live plants, rocks, or driftwood. Offering a diverse diet is essential for their overall well-being, as they may require additional food supplementation beyond the available algae in the tank.
Despite their small size, Otocinclus catfish have a lively and active nature. They are often observed darting around the aquarium in search of algae and exploring different nooks and crannies. Their presence adds a sense of vibrancy and dynamism to the tank, making them a favorite choice among aquarists.
It needs lots of hiding places and should be fed sinking wafers or tablets for maximum health.
The Otocinclus is extremely small, at only 3 to 4.5 inches long. It has lighter coloring on the top and sides, with the underneath being blackish-silver. This fish is more active than other bottom feeders and likes to swim around looking for food in the tank.
The Otocinclus eats algae off of plants and rocks, along with leftover fish food. They should be fed sinking wafers or tablets for maximum health.
8. Shrimp (Ghost, Crystal Red, Amano)
|Scientific Name||Otocinclus sp|
|Size||Up 3 to 4 inches|
|Lifespan||up to 10 years|
|Care level:||extremely hardy|
|pH level:||7 to 8|
They can be kept with other bottom feeders without a problem, but they should not be put in tanks with large or mean fish. Because shrimp are sensitive to environmental changes, they should be kept in groups of at least 3 so one or more can act as a lookout if another is hiding.
These shrimp spend most of their time on the bottom of the tank eating food there and looking for small waste particles to eat. They will occasionally venture into other areas but not far from where they started.
The ghost shrimp is a freshwater variety that is white with grey markings. There are also saltwater shrimp that are transparent with purple markings, but it is the freshwater version that this article refers to.
Their coloring tends to be different because of their environment; for example, if they live in a dark tank, they will have crystal clear bodies instead of white because it provides camouflage. They enjoy hiding places like plants, rocks, and large PVC pipes.
This bottom feeder only needs to be fed 1-2 times weekly because they are inactive.
The ghost shrimp prefers a water temperature of 72 to 82 degrees Fahrenheit. They need an environment with hiding places like plants, rocks, or PVC pipe pieces. The optimal pH level range is 6.
These shrimp are considered "large, " meaning they will only grow up to about 1 inch long. They eat leftover food and algae on the bottom of your tank. They are peaceful and will not bother any fish in your aquarium.
They should be kept in groups of 3 or more because shrimp are very sensitive to environmental changes, and one or two may hide if another is scared.
9. Synodontis Catfish
|Scientific Name||Cherax quadricarinatus|
|Lifespan||up 8 to 10 years|
|pH level:||6 to 8|
They have a dark brown body with lighter coloration on their underside and a distinctive spot above each pectoral fin that gives them their name.
Synodontis catfish can grow up to 12 inches in length, but they are typically only found in the wild that are 6 to 8 inches long.
These bottom feeders are nocturnal, so you will not see them during the day because they will hide until nightfall. Then these fish are very active and can be seen feeding at this time.
Their bodies are triangular with wide back fins that allow these fish to swim very fast.
The best way to feed them is by purchasing sinking pellets for bottom feeders or catfish tablets that slowly dissolve near the bottom of your aquarium. These fish are scavengers so they should be given sinking food 2 to 3 times daily.
Synodontis catfish can live approximately 5 years in captivity, but the average lifespan is 3 years.
They are a popular bottom feeder because they can be kept with other Synodontis catfish as long as you have enough space for them to hide during the day.
These bottom-feeders prefer an aquarium that's at least 10 gallons, but they can live in smaller tanks if there are plenty of hiding places.
They are not difficult to care for if you provide them with ideal water conditions, stay well-fed, and keep them in a large enough tank.
They only eat live food because these bottom feeders will starve otherwise. You can feed them crickets or earthworms as long as they are small enough for Synodontis to eat. It feeds on plant matter, small crustaceans like brine shrimp, and even algae in the wild.
Synodontis Catfish are easy for beginner aquarists with low experience to care for because they eat anything you put into the tank (meaty foods like bloodworms or brine shrimp), and their water requirements are not too strict.
They will help keep the bottom of your freshwater aquarium clean because they feed on algae and dead plant matter, but it is important to note that they will eat any fish that they can fit in their mouths.
Synodontis catfish can grow up to 4 pounds in the wild, but most only grow up to 1 pound in the aquarium.
10. African Butterfly Fish (Freshwater)
|Scientific Name||Pantodon buchholzi (freshwater)|
|Origin:||South of the Sahara Desert.|
|Lifespan||up 5 to 6 years|
|Care level:||medium difficult|
|pH level:||6 to 7.5|
The name "Butterfly Fish" is derived from its graceful appearance, resembling a butterfly's delicate and fluttering wings. With elongated fins and a slender body, this species showcases an array of vibrant colors and intricate patterns.
Its body is typically adorned with shades of brown, green, and black, helping it blend seamlessly into its natural habitat.
Due to its unique hunting behavior, providing a suitable aquarium setup for the African Butterfly Fish is important.
A well-planted tank with floating vegetation, such as Amazon frogbit or water lettuce, mimics its natural environment and offers the fish the cover it needs for successful hunting. Maintaining a calm water surface is essential to allow the fish to execute its hunting strategy effectively.
African butterfly fish are best kept in aquariums that have live plants because these fish will eat them if they can get to them or if there is no algae for them or other bottom feeders to eat.
They should only be fed algae-based foods because they will not survive on any flake food.
You can feed African butterfly fish algae wafers or catfish pellets. They should only be fed once daily so you don't feed them too much food, which goes to waste. Just a few flakes or pellets will do the trick.
These fish are peaceful and can be kept with other African butterfly fish, but they will also do well alone because they prefer a solitary life. They won't bother any other fish in the aquarium, but they may quarrel with other bottom feeders that want to eat what's on their menu.
They are very delicate fish, so you will need to provide them with the perfect water conditions for them to stay healthy.
Keep the pH level at 6.5, and maintain a temperature of 75-80 F. African butterfly fish can't tolerate high levels of nitrates or ammonia in the water, so it is essential to have a healthy bio-filter in the aquarium.
11. Bumblebee Goby (Freshwater)
|Scientific Name||Brachygobius spp|
|Lifespan||up 3 years|
|pH level:||6.5 to 7.4|
The name "Bumblebee Goby" is derived from its striking resemblance to the bumblebee insect. These gobies typically display a bold black and yellow striped pattern across their body, mimicking the appearance of a bumblebee. This eye-catching coloration makes them an intriguing addition to any aquarium
They can be kept with other bottom feeders because they are peaceful, but you should only keep them in schools of 3 or more fish.
They look very pretty when they are swimming around in an aquarium, especially if the other fish in the tank are fast swimmers. Their unique colors and patterns make them one of your aquarium's most attractive bottom feeders.
These fish need a lot of hiding places because they usually hide when there is too much activity in the tank. You must keep plenty of plants and rocks because they will swim into them when stressed.
These fish are very active, so your tank needs to be large enough for them to swim around freely without bumping into things. They aren't fussy regarding water conditions, but that doesn't mean you should neglect their tank.
You need to keep the aquarium clean and do water changes at least once a week because bumblebee gobies produce excess waste.
They can make fantastic pets for any age group. They are very easy to care for and don't require much attention.
12. Harlequin Rasbora (Freshwater)
|Scientific Name||Crossocheilus siamensis|
|Lifespan||5 to 8 years|
These fish will eat almost anything you give them, including algae and shrimp pellets. They need to be kept with fast-swimming species such as guppies because their speed is very slow and they won't get enough food if they are kept with slow-swimming species of fish.
These fish stay close to the bottom of the tank, where you will find them most of the time if they are healthy and happy.
They prefer small, dimly lit aquariums because their colors look best in that type of environment. It would help if you kept this fish in a school or at least 3 or 4 because they like to be with their own species.
You should give them plenty of hiding spots in the tank because they like to rest in dark places when they can't find any food.
They don't need a huge aquarium, but it needs to be large enough for them to swim around freely and search for food. They don't like bright light very much and like dimly lit areas of the tank. You should keep them in soft, slightly acidic water with a neutral pH level.
They won't bother any other type of fish in your tank as long as they stay away from them, but you need to keep this fish with fast swimming species because it isn't a very good swimmer.
They prefer living in groups because it makes them feel more comfortable, but they don't really need a group to survive.
13. White Cloud Mountain Minnow
|Scientific Name||Tanichthys albonubes|
|Origin:||Asia and Indonesia|
|Lifespan||3 to 4 years|
These fish are very peaceful, so they shouldn't cause any problems for other types of fish in your tank. They should only be kept with other species with a similar temperament to keep things calm and quiet.
The males will fight each other if you put more than one together, but the females shouldn't have any problems living together.
These fish eat a lot of different types of food, but they especially love algae and live plants. You will need to give them a large tank so that there is plenty of space for these plants as well as the fish, because the plants are an important part of their diet.
They should be kept in groups with 5 or more minnows in the same tank at all times because they are very social.
They will feel more comfortable if you keep them with 5 or more minnows, but it is possible to keep them with only one other minnow.
These fish shouldn't be kept with aggressive types of fish, so avoid putting them in tanks with cichlids and larger types of catfish. They are really only compatible with smaller, peaceful species that won't bother them or try to eat them.
These fish are easy to care for if you make sure the tank has plenty of plants because they need their algae fix.
14. Oscar Fish
|Scientific Name||Astronotus ocellatus|
When they are larger and fully grown, Oscar fish become very territorial and aggressive, and they will constantly fight with each other if you put them in the same tank.
It would be best if you only kept these fish alone because they won't calm down until their tank is free of any other species.
Oscars eat a lot of different types of food, but they especially love live meat, like worms and insects. They also eat crustaceans, fish, snails, crawdads, earthworms, and aquatic plants.
Oscars need a huge tank with plenty of hiding places that are big enough for them to hide in comfortably because they are very territorial and shy when they are little fish.
These fish need a very large tank because they will grow up to 12 and 20 inches long. You must have plenty of space for them to swim around comfortably in the tank, so your Oscar can live a healthy life.
You also want to leave room for any plants or rocks that you want to put in the tank with them because they are important for their diet.
These fish will eat almost anything you feed them, so they are really easy to care for. They don't need any special types of food or supplements to stay healthy and alive, so it is very easy to keep them happy.
They also like to dig up the substrate around the tank, which can damage your live plants. They should be kept on their own unless you want to clean up after them constantly.
These fish also prefer to live in tanks that are at least 55 gallons, so there is plenty of room for them to grow and move around. They will fight each other if you put too many fish in one tank so they should only be kept by themselves or with a small group of 3 or 4.
These fish aren't very active, so their tanks don't need to be filled with plants and things that they can hide under. You can decorate their tank with fake plants and stones because Oscars don't like exploring new environments, so they will stay in one section of the tank if you give them something to look at.
If you want to keep these fish as pets, put a lot of live plants in their tanks because they won't touch the real stuff and they like to hide under them when they feel threatened.
They will eat any food, but you should save the seafood and take it out after 24 hours because the meat will go bad and make your tank smell bad.
These are the 14 Bottom feeder fish for your aquarium. You can keep more than one of these fish in the same tank as long as you have a big enough aquarium with plenty of hiding places so they feel safe. Make sure you provide them with plenty of food. These fish are very easy to care for and don't require much attention at all.
They are very peaceful, but they may nip the fins of other bottom feeders when they feel threatened. Make sure you keep them with fast swimming species because they are quite slow swimmers and don't have a lot of stamina.