Cleansing fish: Do I get into my aquarium? How many?


Bet on one of these species that clean aquariums, will fill your life with color and joy, you should not underestimate them.

Keeping the aquarium clean is essential for your pets to live and grow in perfect condition. Cleaning an aquarium is not complicated, especially if you take care of its hygiene on a regular basis and do not lead to the accumulation of waste. However, there is something that can help you with this task and they are cleaning fish.

Cleansing fish are the most natural and effective way to keep your aquarium cleanHowever, you should keep in mind that they do not take care of cleaning the trash literally. They are bottom fish that feed on algae or that search for any remaining food that falls into the bottom of the aquarium, so they clean it in their own way.

Many people get to underestimate these fish just because they feed on food scraps. But nevertheless, They are fantastic species that in addition to guaranteeing you this cleaning function will fill your aquarium with life. If you are willing to get one of these cleaning fish in your aquarium, you should know which species will best carry out this task and how many you can get into your aquarium.

The ancistrus

Normally, when you go to a pet store looking for a cleaning animal, they recommend what is known as 'pleco', a very cheap 'seaweed' sucker but not suitable for an aquarium. These fish can measure up to 30 centimeters long in a few months, so unless your aquarium is large, pleco is not recommended.

As an alternative are the ancistrus, similar to plecos in the price and in the facility to find them in any pet store but that grow up to 10 centimeters long. Like the plecos, They are vegetarians and help in cleaning the bottom of the aquarium by eating all the algae they find in their path, but this activity is carried out during the night. During the day they usually hide, so, for your convenience, add some amphora or trunks to your aquarium after which they can take refuge.

In adulthood, male ancistrus are quite territorial and prone to peel, therefore, the ideal is that if you want to take home these cleaning fish do not put more than two or three in the same aquarium to avoid possible conflicts.

On the other hand, you should know that this animal you need cellulose to do the digestion so it is best to buy cured wood and introduce it into the aquarium so that the ancistrus extract bits of it that will help them make it.

Suction cup cleaner fish: El pleco

The typical seaweed lollipop that is usually sold in stores is the «Pleco» (You can consult a file about plecos in this link). True, there are many more, but this is the most typical and this is a post for beginners.

People often say "give me a cleaner fish," so they go home with "a cleaner." My advice: DO NOT BUY PLECES.

Yes, it has sounded a bit radical, but in 90% of cases (and being good, because it would have to be said in 99.9%), Pleco is NOT an ideal fish for an aquarium. Why? Well, the reason is only one, it is a species that in a few months can be 30 centimeters long (and its whole body grows in proportion). Do you need me to explain something else about it? I think not 😉

Plecostomus or pleco, typical cleaning fish, but that we should NOT have in the aquarium

What alternatives are there to plecos? The Ancistrus

The alternatives to plecostomus are many, but similar to plecos, cheap and easy to find in stores, we have the Ancistrus (you can see its tab by clicking here). These grow up to 10-12 centimeters you can see the comparison of size between Plecos and Ancistrus in this video.

Okay, now that I've decided on an Ancistrus, again the question, how many Ancistrus did I get?The males of this species are adult territorial fish, and since they do not have enough hiding places they can have enough fights, so I would put 2-3 and put a couple of logs, some amphora, etc. With this they will mark their territories once they are adults and there, in addition, they hide during the day, since they are fish of nocturnal habits (especially of adults).

In case you did not know, both Plecos and Ancistrus need trunks in the aquarium and a good specific meal for them, since they are vegetarian (they usually label them as for Plecos, but it is also for Ancistrus). We like it a lot JBL Novopleco, although there are many other options. You can look at different options on Amazon, Zooplus, Kiwoko and obviously in your trusted store.

Tectus niloticus

This type of snail is certainly large reaching some 15 centimeters so it is recommended for larger aquariums. Has high nutritional requirements So it will serve us as a potential cleaner. We should not have more than one copy per 100 liters.

Turbo lamiferus

This specimen is somewhat smaller than the previous one, yet it reaches considerable 9 centimeters. It is perfect to live with fish that have a great appetite or aggressive since its shell is hard and thick which will protect you. Although it is not exactly a great devourer, it will help us to eliminate small remains of the bottom.

Nerbic albicella

The snails of this species will help us to control the algae in an excellent way and they are quite resistant. However, we do not recommend them for uncovered aquariums as they tend to come out, which can lead to death. It is very compatible with aggressive fish because of its resistance and its shell will grow as it becomes larger.

Astrea tectum

This species of snail is smaller, measuring some 4 centimeters, and it is a species very active and voracious that will surprise us moving regularly in search of food. It is perfect for those with diatom algae.

Certain types of fish are also excellent for cleaning the bottom of our aquarium, here are some The most popular:

The corydoras are a catfish genus Freshwater very popular. Usually the most popular species in bottom cleaning is the Corydoras paleatus although depending on the temperature of the aquarium we can opt for some copies or others.


It is perfect to remove the green remains of the crystals of our aquarium. It is also a resistant species.

Although this species is known as a cleanser in itself, specifically Labroides dimidiatus is an excellent tropical reef cleanser so it is ideal if we have a tropical fish aquarium along with corals and anemones.

Gobies are also excellent cleaners although their symbiosis system is more closely related to crustaceans. On the other hand it usually removes the ectoparasites from the fish, something very beneficial.

The stars have a very important function in the ocean cleaning since they do not feed only on small particles. A group of 2,000 stars is able to shred a seal in a minimum of 6 hours. They are indicated for saltwater aquariums. Here are some examples:

The clown fish

Not only is it a perfect animal to have a beautiful aquarium for its bright and bright colors, but it is also a cleaner. The clownfish feeds on small invertebrates that inhabit the seabed as well as marine plants and plankton, so it acts as a perfect cleaner. In addition, it gets rid of snails that are born among the decorative elements of the aquarium.


This group is closely related to starfish and there are many different species. They are not recommended for beginners since they need a very precise acclimatization to survive, however they are excellent cleaners of the bottom of the saltwater aquarium.

The corydoras

Corydoras are possibly the most widespread pets as aquarium cleaners. Many people refer to them as 'dumps' fish because they think they feed on waste and excrement from other fish, but this is false.

They have a diet like any other fish but with the peculiarity that they eat the remains of food that fall to the bottom and that waste the rest of the inhabitants of the aquarium. In this way, they avoid the problems of excess food among the fish.

They are gregarious fish so they must live in groups of at least 5 or 6 so they feel safe and are in better conditions. If you put only 2 copies in your aquarium you will not be able to enjoy them to the fullest because they will be more scary.

Feeding of cleaning fish

To think that cleaning fish only feed on algae and food debris is a serious mistake. Like any other fish, they need to have a diet that varies depending on the species. Plecos and ancistrus, for example, only feed on marine plants, but the rest of the species mentioned do not.

Their diets are based mainly on protein and the best thing to give them this nutrient is feed them with pills that fall faster to the bottom of the aquarium. On the other hand, they consume live or frozen food such as artemia or mosquito larvae. These foods are a problem and it is not that much reaches the bottom of the aquarium so, to avoid this, It is recommended that you use a glass tube through which you enter the food and fall directly to the bottom thus preventing the rest of the inhabitants of the aquarium from eating it. As for vegetable food, in addition to seaweed you can provide your fish with pills such as spirulina, homemade porridge or boiled vegetables.

Halathuria spinifera

Unlike the previous issue, this feeds on virtually any remaining living matter found at the bottom of the aquarium. It is not at all scrupulous and resists effectively.

If you want to read more articles similar to Animals that clean the aquarium, we recommend that you enter our What you need to know section.