One of the most commonly asked questions in fish keeping is what fish can help us to keep our aquariums cleaner?
No matter how diligent you are in aquarium maintenance, it’s inevitable that algae, uneaten food, and fish waste will accumulate throughout your tank and make it dirty in between your routine maintenance.
What are the Best Cleaner fish fo your Aquarium?
There are mainly two types of cleaner fish in the aquarium hobby as Algae Eaters and Bottom Cleaners. In addition to the fish varieties, there are some more creatures like snails and loaches that are really efficient in aquarium cleaning.
So, here is our top 10 list of fish tank cleaners to help you to keep your aquarium looking a little cleaner until your next maintenance.
What are the top Algae Eating Fish for Freshwater Aquariums: Algae Eaters
Hillstream loaches are a super unique fish. They do an amazing job by keeping your aquarium glass and other flat surfaces free of algae.
Normally Hillstream loaches never take a break. They constantly work and scavenge for food. They swim all over the tank by sucking and scraping algae.
When selecting an algae eater, sometimes it is quite challenging to Find a fish that will not become too large. Hillstream Laches won’t get any bigger than 3 inches. So, they’re great for smaller tanks, but don’t put them in a tank smaller than a 30-gallons.
These fish can tolerate a wide range of water parameters. You can keep the pH anywhere from 7 to 8 and temperatures from 68 to 78 F.
Another great thing about Hillstream loaches is that they don’t only eat algae. They’ll also go around the tank and pick up uneaten food and even frozen & live foods. They don’t get huge, tolerate most water parameters, and they eat algae .what more can you ask for?
Otocinclues are also great little fish that work constantly. They swim around everywhere to eat algae and whatever they can find a munch on.
Otocinclues are algae-eating fish that can wipe off algae in your tank super fast. They’re schooling fish. So, even if you have a ton of algae in your tank, the group will get together and gobble it all up.
Otocinclues are amazing little fish that will not bother any other fish in your aquarium. They prefer a pH of 6 to 8 and a temperature from (70 to 80)F. Keep them in clean water and feed them well. Then they’ll be little workhorses for you.
When most new fish keepers think about cleaner fish, they automatically think about Plecos. It’ll be the common Pleco fish that comes to mind in most cases.
Pleco is a very cool and unique fish, but it won’t be the cleaner fish of choice in most aquariums. There are various types of Pleco fish, and most of them can grow over 2 feet in length.
So a lot of home aquariums will not be a good fit for them. Therefore when selecting a Pleco fish, you should think about smaller varieties like Bristlenose Pleco.
Bristlenose plecos are an amazing type of Pleco fish. They don’t get huge, and will not bother any other fish in your tank.
Also, Bristlenose plecos are good in almost any water parameters, making them great for beginner fish keepers. Keep the pH anywhere from 6 to 8 and a temperature from 68 to 80 F.
This is another fish that should be fed when there are not enough algae for them to eat. So throw in some algae wafers regularly. They will go crazy over food, and it’s really fun to watch. Also, it will brighten the vibrant colors of the pleco fish.
Aqua snails might not be the most active creatures in your tank, but they’ll serve as great little workers, and they’re pretty cool to look at. Also, they’ll give your tank a little bit of character.
Snails are constantly on the prowl picking up anything and everything that gets in their way, like algae and fish food.
They just won’t do it fast. They’ll do it at a snail’s pace. They might not be the most efficient glass cleaners for an aquarium, but they’ll definitely help keep things tidy.
There are really cool varieties of snails with different sizes and fancy colors. Also, some types of snails would be considered a nuisance because of their breeding habitats. But, they are great aquarium cleaners.
They won’t cause a considerable load on a tank and won’t bother your fish. As we said, there’s a wide variety of snails from different habitats. So, when you find any type of snail, just Google it to ensure it is compatible with your water parameters.
Siamese Algae Eaters
Siamese Algae Eaters are one of the best algae-eating fish in the entire hobby, and it’s not even really debatable. But, some people will tell you that they can have an aggressive attitude towards other fish in your aquarium.
In all honesty, they are not such aggressive. They leave other fish alone and just do their cleaning job.
Here’s the thing. This is why I think they have a reputation for being aggressive. These fish are omnivores which means they will eat meat or anything else that they can see laying around, including dead fish.
The truth is that Siamese Algae Eaters can be called algae-eating powerhouses that could clean a tank spotless, especially if you put a few in the tank together.
Siamese Algae Eating fish will get a little bigger than others on this list. They can grow up to 5 inches. So, I would definitely recommend putting them in at least a 55-gallon aquarium, especially if you’re going to put a group of them there.
Siamese algae eaters can live in a wide range of water parameters. But they prefer the water a little warmer like 75 F. Keep the pH between 6.5 to 7.5.
Shrimps are tiny, but you’d be surprised at the amount of work they can do. These are another type of fish that are constantly moving around and working. Shrimp will be all around your tank, picking tiny little things. They’ll do a great job by eating algae.
One of the coolest things about shrimps is their breeding habitat. Some of them, like cherry shrimp, are super easy to breed, and they breed a lot at once. You can buy a group of six to eight Shimps and end up with a huge army of shrimps.
But you’ve got to be careful if you have other fish in the tank with your shrimp. They’ll most likely eat the shrimp babies. So, make sure there’s nothing in there with shrimps that’ll feast on those babies.
There are a ton of different shrimp varieties. So, do some research and find the best-suited shrimp for your aquarium.
What fish will clean the bottom of my tank: Bottom Dwellers
Let’s see the best bottom-cleaning fish in the aquarium hobby.
Corydoras or simply Cory catfish are cute adorable fish. They’re not just cute .they’re also great little workers and easy to keep.
Corydoras aren’t algae eaters that are gonna suck the algae off the glass .but they’re bottom-dwelling scavengers. They’ll sift through the substrate and pick up things left all around the bottom of your tank.
One caution regarding Cory fish is that they can get their mouths damaged from rougher substrates. So, when you select a substrate for your Corydoras tank make sure, you use something that’s nice and smooth.
Corydoras are super easy to keep fish because they’ll tolerate most parameters. A pH from 6 to 8 and a temperature anywhere from 72 to 80 F will suit this fish.
Most of them stay pretty small, and I’ve never heard a single story about them being aggressive towards other fish.
Keep their water clean and feed them with a quality tropical flake.
Kuhli loaches are one of the unique fish on this list. They literally look like snakes or little worms. They swim around your tank and get into tight nooks and crannies that you might not be able to reach.
The only problem with Kuhli loaches is their shyness. So, if you bought one of them, you might not see them very often. So it’s better to get a small group of them. Then, they might feel a little less skittish and come out to explore the tank.
Kuhli loaches are super easy fish to keep that will not hurt any other fish in your tank. Give them a pH of 6 to 7 and keep the temperature from 75 to 85 F. It’s better to feed them with a good tropical flake, and they’ll do just fine.
Clown loaches are another cool bottom-dwelling scavenger with a similar shape to Corydoras. But in size, there’s a big difference between clown loaches and Cory fish.
These fish grow a lot bigger than most people think. Most of the Clown loaches you see for sale in stores will only be an inch or two. But what you need to know is that these fish can get over twelve inches when fully grown.
Clown loaches will swim all over the tank and scavenge everywhere for food. They’ll sift the substrate, sneak behind the decorations, and generally do a great job picking up messes.
Clown Loaches are somewhat difficult to keep compared to other cleaning fish in this list. Because they grow up to 8 inches in size, you’ll need to have the right tank setup for this fish. Also, Clown loaches are schooling fish. Therefore you should also want a few of them to keep them happy.
However, If you have the right setup to keep them, they’ll do a great job helping you keep your tank clean during your routine maintenance.
Final Word for selecting a Cleaner Fish
One of the misconceptions in the aquarium hobby is that people think that Algae eaters and other cleaner fish should not be fed. But It is totally wrong. You should consider what will they eat if all the Algae is over and there’s nothing left for them to eat.
This is where you will need a suitable algae wafer. We recommend the cat scrapers from Xtreme. These are great because they have every nutrition your algae eater needs when there are no more algae in the tank.
If you are looking for a fish that can make your life easier and lessen the amount of work you need to do. The fish on this list will do a great job helping to keep your aquarium nice and neat, and free of algae.
But it doesn’t mean that you can avoid your regular tank maintenance. You will need to continue all your regular tank cleaning stuff to keep your aquarium clean and healthy.
These cleaner fish eat stuff lying around. But what happens then? The mess doesn’t just disappear; it comes out later as waste. Fish waste contaminates the water in your aquarium, and no fish’s gonna change that.
In addition to cleaner fish, you can use a good filter system and live plants to keep the aquarium clean. Read our Ultimate Guide to Aquarium Filters to get a better idea about aquarium filters.
There isn`t an aquarium on this earth where you don`t have to do any maintenance. It’s a part of the deal, and don’t worry about it. It’s a great feeling taking a step back from your aquarium that you just cleaned and seeing how good it looks and how happy the fish are. it’s one of the rewards of this amazing hobby.