7 Best Aquarium Bottom Cleaners

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Any aquarium has to be cleaned regularly. To do that, you have to change the water constantly and use a water filter as well. But there is another thing you can do, to clean the bottom of the tank.

This is what we’ll talk about in today’s article. More exactly, we’ll cover 7 of the best aquarium bottom cleaner fish, you could get for your tank.

Any of the following fish can be a good choice. But at the end of the article, you’ll know for sure which works best with your needs. Let’s begin with the first bottom cleaner:

Aquarium Snails


Aquarium Snails

Ok, as you can see, the first bottom cleaner isn’t a fish. However, we can’t leave them out, because most of the aquarium snails are masters at cleaning the bottom of your tank.

They will stick to smooth surfaces, mostly the glass wall of the tank, and clean all the debris at the bottom. You know why they’re so good for this job?

Because snails will consume all the remaining debris, and give off very little of it. Their efficiency is off the charts. However, some people tend to leave them out of this job, because they think snails reproduce too quickly.

It’s true, there are snails that reproduce very quickly, and if you don’t keep an eye on them, they could fill your tank by themselves. But not all snails are a part of this category. For instance, here are some species, that work really well in any aquarium, and we gladly recommend them:

  1. Malaysian trumpet snails: they can reproduce quickly, but if you start only with a few, you shouldn’t have problems. Usually, a pair is enough for start.
  2. Rabbit snails: this breed will reproduce between 4 to 6 weeks on a regular basis. So, it’s best to start with only a few, like above. They are efficient at cleaning the aquarium, like you’d expect.
  3. Lava snails: these are similar looking to the ones above, but their shell is dark red in coloration. Reproduction time is similar, so keep an eye on them.
  4. Ramshorn snails: they are among the best bottom cleaners on the list. You won’t be disappointed by them.

Many other snail species will reproduce even quicker than the ones listed above. If you think to use snails, as your next bottom cleaners, choose from the one listed above. But be careful and always keep an eye on them, if you don’t want your plants eaten too. However, this will only happen if you don’t care for them well.

Cory Catfish


Cory Catfish

The Cory Catfish, or Corydoras, is a very popular freshwater breed. Many people buy them, not only because of their bottom cleaning abilities, but because they work well with most other fish in the aquarium.

By nature, the Cory is a peaceful fish that lives well among others. Usually, it’s active during daytime, scavenging the bottoms of your tank for any food left-overs. This is why they’re good at bottom cleaning: they search the tank’s bottom each day and clean it from most debris.

Since the Cory is a bottom dweller fish, it is recommended to keep at least 2 inches of gravel or aquarium substrate on the bottom of your tank. This will give your Cory enough room to unleash its cleaning abilities.

A Cory Catfish can live up to 5 years, if properly cared for. Keep an eye out for the right water conditions, so you Cory will thrive in it. The water temperature should be 72-78 degrees Fahrenheit and the pH level between 7 and 7.8.

There’s a great benefit that comes with the Cory Catfish: it lives peacefully together with cleaner snails as well. So, you can have Cory and aquarium snails in the same tank together. They won’t bother each other, and your tank will become cleaner than ever.




The Crayfish is not a traditional fish, like you’d expect. Actually, this is a lobster. There are multiple different versions of it. For example, these are only some of the different breeds you can get from a store:

  • Hammers cobalt blue lobster: like the name suggests, this Crayfish has a stunning blue coloration on its claws and antennas. It can become a beautiful addition to any aquarium.
  • White Crayfish: if you have black gravel on the bottom of the tank, the White Crayfish will be a joy to watch while scavenging through it.
  • Tangerine lobster: this one is orange and has dark eyes, and it’s among the best aquarium bottom cleaners out there.

If you think Crayfish could be a good choice for your tank, first check your aquarium’s size. Crayfish shouldn’t be kept in aquariums smaller than 20 gallons in volume. They need a large body of water to feel at home and a thick layer of gravel, for scavenging through it.

Crayfish shouldn’t be kept together with small tropical fish breeds. Why? A simple reason: small tropical fish species could be eaten by your Crayfish. And even if that doesn’t happen, other fish breeds could be easily hurt by the claws of your Crayfish. So, it’s not recommended to keep them in the same tank.

Crayfish will also eat dead fish, when given the opportunity. So, if one of the other fish dies in the aquarium, your Crayfish will clean the tank from the dead body.

Cherry Shrimp


Cherry Shrimp

Since we’re talking about the best aquarium bottom cleaners, we can’t forget to mention the Cherry Shrimp. This shrimp is originally from Taiwan, but these days you can get it from nearly any store that sells aquarium fish.

It has a vibrant red color, making it a beautiful addition to any aquarium. Usually, the Cherry Shrimp will grow no more than 1.5 inches long. So, it’s quite small, but even so, it’ll do the job.

Actually, the Cherry Shrimp is one of the best bottom cleaners on the market. You can put multiple ones in a single aquarium; thus, they will do a better job at cleaning its bottom.

From time to time, the Cherry Shrimp will shed its exoskeleton and leave it in the aquarium. When you see that happening, don’t take the exoskeleton out of the tank. The shrimp will consume it later, to replenish its minerals, lost in the shedding process.

Most Cherry Shrimps will stay on the bottom of the tank, almost all the time. They will move the gravel around with their claws, and eat any food they find among those particles. Most of the food eaten by Cherry Shrimps is composed of left-over algae and decay that other fish leave in the tank.

Keep in mind one thing though: don’t keep Cherry Shrimp together in the same tank with big fish. The shrimp is a common food for many fish species. So, keep this mind, if you want your Cherry Shrimps to stay alive.


This species is another great choice as an aquarium bottom cleaner fish. What should you know about it?

For start, Loaches should be kept in smaller groups. This is their natural state, so be careful about it. if you don’t only keep 1 or 2 Loaches in the same aquarium, they won’t live up to your expectations.

However, if you do have a small group of them, they can do wonders cleaning the bottom of the tank. The whole will be scavenging through the gravel, to find their next meal. They are very efficient at this.

Actually, it happened that Loaches worked so hard at cleaning the bottom, that they moved too much gravel from its place. This resulted in certain decorations and plants to fall on them, so they got stuck.

Keep this mind when you purchase Loaches. I said they like to live in groups. But that doesn’t mean you have to create a huge group of them. This way, you can prevent certain accidents to happen in the aquarium.

If you plan to add Loaches to your tank, know that 20 gallons of water is a minimum for this breed. Ideally, 3 to 5 gallons of water should be kept for each Loach in the tank.



Pleco Fish

The Pleco Catfish is a very popular bottom cleaner worldwide. This is a fish that grows up to 2 feet long during the span of 20 years. So, keep this in mind, if you plan to buy one into your tank. The aquarium should be 50/60-gallons big at least, for one or 2 Plecos.

If you can provide these conditions, the Pleco will be a great help in the bottom cleaning process. For instance, every Pleco is notorious for eating the algae in the tank. It can happen, that only one Pleco will eat all the algae in a 50-gallon tank.

However, since the Pleco grows this big, it will eat a lot of normal fish food as well. After all, you can’t expect it to thrive only on the algae that’s left in the water. Since this is the case, you have to clean the water quite often, from the remains that Plecos will leave over.

Another thing you should know, is the fact that Plecos are nocturnal fish. When you kill the lights, that is when your Plecos start “living”. So, don’t be afraid if you don’t see them the entire day. This is totally normal.

Goby Fish (freshwater)


Goby Fish

The Goby Fish is the last on our list, but that doesn’t it’s worse by any means. Actually, the Goby is one of the most popular bottom cleaners for many freshwater aquarium owners. This species comes in many different versions, but any of them is a bottom dweller.

Usually, most Goby species will grow no longer than 4 inches. There are even some versions that only grow up to 1 inch big. Most species come with different characteristics, but there is a general rule for them, that any Goby is a peaceful fish.

Because of this, they will work very well in community tanks, that house lots of different species. But don’t put it together big huge fish, like Plecos, because they could get eaten.

Like the Loaches before, Goby Fish also like to live in smaller groups, and clean the bottom of the tank by working together. However, they’re not as aggressive in this cleaning process as the Loaches (decorations falling on them).


In this article, we talked about the 7 best aquarium bottom cleaners:

  • Aquarium snails
  • Cory Catfish
  • Crayfish
  • Cherry Shrimp
  • Loaches
  • Plecos
  • Goby Fish

As you can see, not all of them are traditional fish species. However, that doesn’t mean they’re not good at cleaning the bottom of the tank. For instance, the snails we talked about first, are one of the most effective bottom cleaners, and not only on this list.

How can you make a good choice from these 7 candidates? Every tank owner is in a specific situation. You need to think about your personal circumstances regarding the aquarium.

For instance, it’s important to measure your tank’s size, to see which bottom cleaners might fit in it. Another thing to look out for, is the tank mates you already have.

Some cleaners don’t like to be in close proximity to other species (as you can see from above). Choose a species that love to be together with the ones already in your aquarium.

If you think about all the aspects, you’ll be able to choose the perfect aquarium bottom cleaner fish from our list.

Author Image Fabian
I’m Fabian, aquarium fish breeder and founder of this website. I’ve been keeping fish, since I was a kid. On this blog, I share a lot of information about the aquarium hobby and various fish species that I like. Please leave a comment if you have any question.
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