In order to maintain your aquarium, you may want to purchase a maintenance crew. This crew is actually a group of scavengers that will feed on algae and on uneaten food at the bottom of the aquarium. Some scavengers can dwell in community tanks without causing harm to the fish while some may eat or attack smaller fish, so be sure that you only buy community friendly scavengers. Why not add a few of these cleaning machines to your aquarium’s maintenance crew?
Algae in your tank is proof that your tank can support life on its own. Unfortunately, most tanks are plagued by more algae growth than is actually necessary. Luckily, this is where algae-eaters come in.
Chinese algae-eaters can easily scrape algae off of flat surfaces. As they become adults however, they will become aggressive and attack fish even larger than themselves. They are ideal in your tank only when they are young. Trunk barb or flying fox eat algae as well as leftover food in the tank. Don’t put them in a tank with a similar species because as they become adults they become territorial and aggressive. Catfish are also great algae-eaters and are ideal community members. They are shy and peaceful fish.
Snails usually eat plants before they eat algae, so if you have lots of plants in your tank snails may not be such a great idea. Apple snails prefer algae but they may feed on sleeping fish! Snails also reproduce quickly, so if you don’t want your aquarium to be filled with them, only put one in.
Sometimes live plants may come with snail eggs, which will lead to an overabundance of snails in your aquarium. To get rid of them, you may want to consider purchasing snail-eating fish such as loaches. Loaches are also algae-eaters, so they will continue to be useful after the snail invasion has been cleaned up. You should avoid sucker loaches because they may nip at other fish as they become adults.
Shrimp are also useful in maintaining your tank. Algae multiplies if there are enough nutrients available, such as leftover food at the tank. Bumble bee shrimp will feed on leftover food, but you will have to provide them with additional food, as well. They are very small (about an inch long) and relatively harmless. Ghost shrimp eat fish food at the bottom of the aquarium as well as algae. Unfortunately, they may also eat smaller fish and will devour fresh fish food before your other fish can. Mountain fish are ideal scavengers, but may feed on smaller fish in your aquarium.
Crabs are some of the best algae-eaters for saltwater aquariums. Hermit crabs eat algae and food at the bottom of the tank. It’s best to purchase crabs that don’t grow larger than an inch, larger crabs may attack and kill your prize fish. Emerald green crabs are small and relatively harmless to other fish. Mithrax crabs will eat algae, especially bubble algae, and leftover food. Sally Lightfoot Crabs are peaceful even though they appear otherwise, they eat bubble algae and hair algae.
These algae-eaters and bottom-feeders help keep algae growth to a minimum and maintain the cleanliness and water quality of your aquarium, which means you can spend more time enjoying the beauty of your tank and less time scrubbing the sides!