Aggressive Algae eaters! Your loyal tank cleaners.

By reefspecialty, June 3, 2015

In every aquarium there will be a lonely crappy grisly creature sticking to the tank glasses or the lying at the bottom of the tank. These fish may not be impressive or presentable; they do not run around the tank actively nor gives you a pleasant feeling. Nevertheless, they are the unpaid employee of your tank. Most of the bottom dweller fishes are commonly called tank garbage disposers or algae eaters, as they are natural scavengers. Many of you will not prefer to have a bottom dweller, as there is misconception that they will latch in the sides of the other fishes in the tank. That is not always true. Like every other fish, bottom dwellers are also very interesting aquarium pet.


In this article, let us learn how interesting and useful creatures they are.

Nocturnal beings

All bottom dwellers are not algae eaters, still most of them feed on algae, uneaten foods that gets settled at the bottom of the tank and sometimes the poos of other fishes. They are primarily nocturnal. Like life in Vegas, they are very active at nights. They love darkness. They prefer an independent life all alone than playing, running around with a school of fishes.

Let us walk through their characteristics and requirements.

  • Tall creatures:

    Generally, all algae eaters grow up to 2 to 12+ inches long. They are quite tall mortals than other fishes. That is why it is advisable to own a bottom dweller in big aquariums.

  • Water temperature:

    Most of them prefer a water temperature of 72 -82°F. They can enjoy warm or hot temperature, but they cannot manage extremely low temperatures. Therefore, it is good to have a heater in your bottom dwellers tanks.

  • Comfort the bottom tenants:

    tankclean2Remember algae eaters are your aquarium’s bottom tenants. So make sure you comfort them with soft aquarium sand or colorful gravels. If you want to keep varieties of fishes including bottom dwellers then you must chose a large tanks with a water capacity of minimum 20 gallon. Keep one algae eater in a tank. Do not put many algae eaters in one tank, as they are very aggressive towards their own gender. Your lazy algae eaters at times love to play hide and seek, so make sure that you decorate their environment with caves and corals to make their game more interesting. They hide, sleep, and relax inside the dark caves or corals.

  • Other equipment to ease the bottom dwellers:

    Like every other aquarium creature, your creepy pets also require filters, heaters, aquarium lights to survive their day-to-day life.

  • Food is must:

    You may be surprised if we tell you to feed them with extra food. Yes! Algae and left over food will not fulfill their appetite. Therefore, you should feed them with other supplements. There are many special foods available in the pet stores for them such as sinking algae wafers, sinking pellet. They are special because they are prepared in such a way that they sink to the bottom immediately so that the top swimmers do not get a chance to grab the bottom labors food. You can also treat them with varieties of food like raw zucchini or cucumbers. Make sure that the raw vegetables fasten near the bottom. The food you feed them must sink to the bottom quickly so that they get to feed on them. These lazy ground lovers will not swim up the tank to grab their food. They tend to feed on other fishes slime coat when they do not get enough food. Thus make sure to feed them at the right time, and its best to feed them at night as that is their desirable food time.

  • Water condition:

    Like every other aquatic creature, stable water quality is must for algae eater. However, they can manage poor water state to some extent than other fishes. Changing one-third of tank water every week and maintaining the water pH levels provides a healthy atmosphere. Most of the algae eaters live for a long period like 10 to 30 years. So good water condition prolongs their lifespan.

  • Diseases:

    These fishes keep up sanity in the tank thus keeping the environment clean, but they also get sick due to many reasons. You may observe that their eyes will be covered with white or gray slime and appear cloudy, this condition is called cloudy eye. Sometimes your loners may appear off-color, swim gracelessly or may rub against rough objects. These are the effects when your aquarium’s water quality is bad. In such cases do the apt things to improve the water quality (change water; use water treatment solutions; check the pH level), also consult your aquatic veterinarian for treatment.

  • Breeding:

    It is very rare to see algae eaters breading in aquarium. As they are very aggressive towards their own breeds, most of them lead a lonely life in the aquarium. If you wish to see your algae eater breed, then you have to follow few scenarios.

Choose your algae eater now

Several varieties of algae eaters are present. But some algae eaters can only live in tropical water and others in salt water aquariums. So you should know which one will be suitable and choose algae eater based on the type of your aquarium.

  • Tropical aquarium pals

Below are some of the varieties of algae eaters or bottom dwellers that suits best for your tropical aquarium.


This is the most favorite species preferred by aquarist as an algae eater or as a bottom dweller. There is a wide range of pleco’s. Catfishes also belong to pleco family. They are very effective in Greentankclean4 surface algae, brown/diatom algae aquarium. Plecos are too bellicose towards other plecos. Therefore, it is good to avoid putting different breeds of plecos in the same tank. However, they can very well go with a community of fish. Bristlenose Catfish, sucker mouth catfish, common pleco, king tiger pleco, royal pleco, golden nugget pleco are the commonly sold plecos in pet stores.

Water Temperature    : 72 – 82° F
Max Growth Size        : 60 cm


They have snake like appearance and special sequences of dorsal finlet that may vary from 8 to tankclean512.They are less aggressive tropical aquatics, so bichirs make a decent tank mates with fishes like tiger fish, knife fish, angelfish, tinfoil. You can also have more than one bichir in a tank, but make sure the tank is relatively large as they can growth up to 97cms.

Water Temperature    : 72 – 82° F
Max Growth Size        :       97 cm


tankclean6Loaches are very attractive bottom dweller. They are not like other algae eaters; they are very active and have an attractive appearance. They make a good tank mates and are less aggressive than other algae eaters.

Water Temperature    : 78 – 87°F
Max Growth Size        : 12 cm


Chinese Algae Eater

Commonly known as sucker fishes or sucking loach. The little ones are very peaceful and easy to tankclean7maintain between a schools of fishes. However, they become territorial when older but still you can handle them in a tropical aquarium.

Water Temperature    : 64 – 86°F
Max Growth Size        :      28 cm

Siamese Algae Eater

tankclean8Siamese Algae Eaters go very well in an aquarium with thread algae and brush algae. They are not aggressive so you can have them with any collection of fishes. However, Siamese are very good in long jumping, so they may play jumping out of tank. So make sure you keep your aquarium covered.

Water Temperature    : 75 – 79°F
Max Growth Size        : 16 cm

  • Saltwater aquarium pals

Salt-water algae eaters are not like tropical algae eaters. Salt-water fishes are too attractive and colorful. They are also active and cute creatures. However, they do have a similar character like tropical fishes; yes, they are also aggressive and are regional. They feed on the algae attached to corals and rocks. Therefore, it is necessary to decorate their tanks with corals and rocks.


They can control algae largely. Blennies are relatively smaller and could be owned in a small aquarium too. They feed on red and green algae. However, you can keep only one blenny in an aquarium, as they are extreme fighter cocks with their own species.

Water Temperature    : 72 – 78°F
Max Growth Size       :      12 cm

Tangs and surgeonfish

tankclean10They feed only on algae. Koli, Bristletooth are the common names of tangs. Also well known as surgeonfish because their spines or scalpels are very sharp that can cut like a knife. So be careful while handling them. They are very active swimmers, so will be comfortable is a large tank. They are blameless tank mates.

Water temperature   : 72 – 78° F
Max Growth Size      : 8 cm

Rabbit fish

They are excellent hair algae consumers. They can survive feeding on vegetable. However, extratankclean11 caution is required in handling them as their toxic fin spines can cause a painful sting. That is also their added advantage. This is the reason you can add them with many aggressive fishes as they can defend themselves and keep your aquarium clean and tidy. They are quite peaceful buddies, and love to be in pairs.

Water temperature    : 72 – 82° F
Max Growth Size       :       38 cm

Now you will know that the so far crappy, ugly, dirty bottom dwellers are the most useful buddies of the tank. They prolong your aquarium’s water quantity by removing the leftover food and algae. So make sure that you bring algae eater to your precious aquarium now. Most of the bottom dwellers are scavengers. One important aspect to note is that all algae eaters require a large tank to survive. Do not worry of maintaining a big aquarium; our creepy scavengers are there to help you keep them clean.

Nemo in your home! – The Clownfish
Interesting facts about “BETTA" - The Fighting Fish

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