Aquarium Maintenance

15 best types of bottom feeder fish for your aquarium

What Is A Bottom Feeder Fish?

A bottom feeder fish is the aquatic animal that primarily live and eats at the bottom of a water on or near the body of water.

Instead of grabbing food on the surface or in the middle of the water, the bottom feeders get their food from the substrate or at the bottom of the water.

Some are scavengers who usually eat dead invertebrates and fishes.

What Classifies Bottom Feeder Fish?

In case you are wondering what are the characteristics of a bottom feeder fish, this section will clarify that for you. While the simple answer would be “fish spending their time at the bottom of the tank” there are a few other features you will mostly notice about a bottom feeder.

  • Type of mouth and their position

Bottom feeder fish usually have very different mouths than most other fish. This serves the purpose of helping them to easily grab and eat while gliding along the substrate.

Suckermouths are a common feature of bottom feeders fish which are being used in different ways.

The first is to help them stick to whatever area they are camping on. This could be a rock, a log, or a glass in your tank.

It is also very effective when it comes to food too. Since these fish often feed on algae and other micro-organisms that can be hard to reach, their suckermouths allow them to escape from any attached area.

Their mouths are positioned on the underside of the fish. Because of the way they scavenge and hunt for food. This allows them to easily capture anything they find on the substrate while observing their environment for any potential threats.

  • Flattened Bellies

This is another aspect to consider. Since the fish that feed on the bottom often roll over the base or rest in flat areas, having a flat belly makes it much easier.

When other fish search for food that has fallen on the ground, they need to swim to the ground and pivot their entire body just to find to find it. After that they need to swim above the substrate to protect themselves from abortions.

A flat belly makes it easier for bottom dwellers to stay close to the substrate so that they do not miss anything and can make a quick grab on food that falls on the bottom.

  • Barbels

Barbels are little like slender whiskers located on the head of a fish which may also extend from the nostrils or can sometimes be on the chin. They are used as a aid to navigate successfully in low visibility bodies of waters or murky waters in search of food.

Barbels also hoses taste receptors which are able to distinguish between enzymes in water and also to know if it is food or a possible source of danger.

Benefits of bottom feeder fish for your fish tank

The bottom feeder fish below are a great addition to almost any aquarium. They are added to the tanks mainly as a fresh fish. They eat pieces of food that make it past top and mid-levels of the aquarium.

Aquariums can be seen as small ecosystems that work in the same way as lakes or ponds.

Bottom feeder fish eat up leftovers food that ends up at the bottom of the tank after feeding other fishes. Bottom feeders will also feed on algae and dead matter at the bottom of the tank.

That way, the aquarium will remain clean and there will be a good biological balance.

In the absence of bottom feeders, leftover food will rot and contaminate the aquarium. It will need to be cleaned regularly or you will need to add chemicals to keep it in good condition.

Bottom feeder fish are actually natural cleaners. Algae eaters will increase the amount of oxygen giving you a good and clean fish tank.

Also including bottom feeders in your aquarium tank will another layer of interest that will make your aquarium look good and nicer.

They come in many shapes and colors. And each species has its own behaviors.

The bottom layer of the tank can be made colorful and pleasing not only by pebbles, plants, and crustaceans. It is also essential to add bottom dwellers to your tank as they can add delightful movements to the lower end of the tank.

Listed below are fourteen bottom feeder fishes:

  1. Bristlenose Pleco

bottom feeder fish

“Albino bristlenose pleco” by novocainstain is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

This is one of the smallest aquarium species that exist. It is widely sought after for its small size, compactness and easy-going nature. Similar to the suckermouth Pleco, Bristlenose pleco also continues to absorb algae and other particles from the tank, thus cleaning the tank.

They come in dark, subtle and pale colors such as black, brown, gray, olive and albino and are easy to care for as they are calm. They live up to five years and can grow up to 5 inches in size.

Bristlenoseplecos have tentacles on their head and bony plates covering their bodies. The tentacles of the male fish are longer compared to the female. They are constantly sucking and sweeping the bottom of the tank.

As easy to maintain, it is a good choice for beginner’s fish keepers.

  1. Carp

bottom feeder fish

The carp species present in North American waters are introduced from Asia and Europe. Although grass carp, the most greenfish, sometimes feeds on the bottom. The common carp, a fish that can reach more than 50 lbs, is omnivorous, eats anything algae, larvae, bugs and plants on the ground. Common carp live in rivers, streams, lakes, and throughout North America. The common carp crawls on the ground and uses its ventral mouth to catch anything that is edible. Their teeth are in their throat, some resembling human molars.

  1. Peppered Cory catfish (Corydoras paleatus)

bottom feeder fish

Peppered cory catfish grows to a height of 6 cm in size. These feeders on the bottom have black and green spots all over the body and white underparts. Also, this is a quiet and easy-to-care fish and is perfect for new aquarium keepers. These fish do their best and you can have a lot of fun watching them being kept in groups of six or more per tank.

Peppered cory catfish need nutritious food, so they will need both plant and animal food. You can feed them with dried worms, dipped fish, or shrimp pellets, as well as organic food. They need a minimum tank of 10 gallons which should be well planted with many hiding places, such as coconut caves, so that they can escape from the light. With the substrate, choose aquarium sand or fine gravel

Temperature: 72-79 ° F / 22.2-26 ° C

pH: 5.8-7.9

kH: 2-12

  1. Loaches

There are many types of loach suitable for home aquariums and they come in a variety of sizes and shapes. Some loaches, such as the giant clown loach, require moderate care and are highly suitable for experienced aquarium keepers. For that reason, we have selected three types that are very easy to maintain and are very suitable for beginners who may be starting with a small tank.

  1. Zebra Loach (Botia striata)

bottom feeder fish

“Zebra loach (Botia striata)” by m.agullo is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

One of the best species of loach is the Botia striata, also known as the zebra loach. These bottom dwellers grow to the same size as many other public fish (about 3.5/9 cm) and make a nice addition to the community tank. As you would expect, given the name, they are black and white in colour with translucent fins and tail.

You should feed zebra loach your various catfish pellets as well as a variety of frozen foods, such as brine shrimp and daphnia. They should be stored in a small size of 78-liter tanks, with a soft substrate so as not to irritate their barbels. Their tank should also include more hiding places using rocks and caves.

Temperature: 73-79 ° F / 22.7-26 ° C

pH: 6.0-6.5

kH: 5-12

  1. Kuhli loach

bottom feeder fish

“Kuhli Loach” by Kasia/flickr is licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0

They grow to about 13 inches only but can live up to 14 years if the tank conditions are right. While kuhli loach are the most common fish and will interact with other species of the same type as the other bottom feeders, they do not actually swim together. For this reason, it is recommended to keep at least 5 together in a large enough aquarium at least 80 cm in size.

These fish have an eel-shaped appearance and are yellow with black / brown vertical stripes; And they have barbels in their mouths to help feel the food up close. Kuhli loaches are mainly carnivores, so they can be fed with fish flakes or pellets but should also be regularly served with frozen foods or foods such as brine shrimp and bloodworms. Remember that these fish are not compatible with snails or shrimp before adding them to your tank.

Temperature: 74-79 ° F / 23-26 ° C

pH: 5.5-7

kH: 2-10

  1. Yoyo Loach (Botia almorhae)

bottom feeder fish

“Yoyo Loach” by Ken_Lord is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

The yoyo loach grows to about 13-15 cm in size. They are very active and almost always require a substrate and the bottom of the tank for food, so some smaller and less active fish may tend to avoid them.

The yoyo loach gets its name from the black / brown stripe on their creamy body; the black stripes actually look like they form Ys with alternating open spaces that look like O, forming a YOYO throughout their body. These fish also have small barbels and use them for food. Basically carnivores, but they will also eat any pellets or fish flakes provided. For this reason, be careful when introducing any small invertebrates.

It is important to remember that these fish will prefer small hiding places rather than open caves. Any additional decorations, such as rocks and wood, should not have sharp edges as your yoyo loach can injure itself when you squeeze them into these spaces!

Temperature: 75-80 ° F / 24-27 ° C

pH: 6-7.5

kH: 2-10

  1. Otocinclus sp.

bottom feeder fish

“File:Otocinclus Catfish (Otocinclus sp.) on Malaysian driftwood.jpg” by Evan Baldonado is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0

Otocinclus species usually do well with in groups of at least 6 per tank. They have a black peppered colored body and grow up to 10 cm. peaceful and can often be kept with other small fish in a public tank, but unfortunately, they are not easy to care for because of their special diet: otocinclus is a vegetarian and therefore needs vegetarian food, vegetables, and algae wafers. They are one of the most well-known algae-eaters and will use their suckermouth to clean stones, glass and all areas in your freshwater aquarium.

Otocinclus requires a small tank size of 38 liter that is well planted with rocks and small caves for hiding. These bottom feeders will also need a good aquarium substrate with a good filtering system and high aeration.

Temperature: 74-79 ° F / 23.3-26 ° C

pH: 6.8-7.5

kH: 6-10

  1. Twig catfish (Farlowella sp.)

bottom feeder fish

“Twig Catfish” by Ryan Somma is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

The twig catfish (Farlowella sp.) Is one of the largest bottom feeders. It usually grows to about 15 cm in size. Their name is derived from their amazing ability to hide in the wild: these fish look like twigs, very long and slender, with an elongated nose, and a beautiful black and brown color. These peaceful community fish are easy to take care of and add the best to any aquarium!

Twig catfish are omnivores, so their diet should be algae and bloodworms with frozen food. They will get most of their nutrition from leftover fish and algae at the bottom of the tank, but always be sure to check them out to make sure they are eating enough.

These fish require a minimum of 50-gallon tanks. The aquarium should be planted and have a lot of rocks and pebbles.

Temperature: 73-79 ° F / 22.7-26 ° C

pH: 6.5-7.0

kH: 4-8

  1. Bumblebee goby

“Mangrove bumblebee goby (Brachygobius kabiliensis)” by wildsingapore is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

The Bumblebee Goby is native to freshwater areas in the southeastern part of the Asian continent. These carnivorous fish seem to sweep the bottom of the tank into which they are allowed to enter.

The Bumblebee Gobies grow to a height of 4.2 inches. They have a short life span of of four years. They are always sought for their sophisticated appearance and their colorful presence. Fishing is fun when you have these new species in your tank. Bumblebee loaches are very knowledgeable about their location, so they may be able to fight off areas more often. The scientific name of Bumblebee Goby is Brachygobiusxanthozona. it requires the supply of very brackish water to thrive. So be careful when buying a Bumblebee Goby for your aquarium or tank.

  1. Siamese Algae Eater

“Siamese Algae Eater” by carolineCCB is licensed under CC BY 2.0

The eaters of Siamese algae are silver or gold in color with a black horizontal line separating their body. Their smooth body makes them look attractive. As the name implies, these fish are award-winning winners in the field of algae food. If you are going to buy them and put them in your tank, then you do not have to worry about cleaning up the annoying algae waste.

People often confuse the Siamese flying fox with the Siamese Algae Eater. The scientific binomial of Siamese Algae eaters is Crossochelius oblongus. These are the most peaceful fish that grow well on their own and in groups.

These fish are also very easy to care for as they require very little attention. They live for up to ten years and grow to a size of six inches.

  1. Tiger Shovelnose Catfish

“Tiger Shovelnose Catfish” by scary_mary is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

The scientific binomial of Tiger Shovelnose Catfish is the Pseudoplatystomafasciatum. The common name for this fish is Barred Sorubium.

These are many types of fish, so be prepared to buy a larger tank. They will grow to over 60 pounds in size. They are very east to take care of. The only thing that matters is that you have to give them more space.

They reach a height of 15 feet 4 feet and can live up to 20 years in ideal conditions.

  1. Snails

bottom feeder fish

Water aquarium snails are one of the best bottom feeders. They do a good job of hunting over algae that are hard to reach. While many other fish will catch algae, the persistence and small size of the snail give them a unique advantage.

And they’re about as low maintenance as available. They are easy to care for.

  1. Shrimp

Shrimp is one of the most commonly neglected bottom feeders that does an amazing job of keeping your tank organized while in a very low condition. Like snails, these tiny creatures regularly hunt for algae and other floating organisms around your freshwater aquarium.

These little critters are adorable and fun to watch. By rushing to fill their tanks with fish many aquarists are missing out on how delightful shrimp can be.

They work well with a variety of other fish and can be cared for without much difficulty. As long as the freshwater conditions required are the same as shrimp it will be fine.

There are many of great shrimp to choose from for your tank. Our personal favorites are the Cherry shrimp and amano shrimp . Both of these animals have everything you want and look great too!


You now have many options for large bottom feeder fish that you can add to your tank. No matter what type of setup of fish tank you have.

Water should be conditioned and filtered the right way. The filter of ammonia and nitrate should be kept low. These fish are very sensitive to sudden major changes; you have to keep an eye on them.


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