Top 5 Bottom Dwellers

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Top 5 Bottom Dwellers

This is the list for you if you are looking to add some bottom-dwelling cleaners into your tank. Our list of the Top 5 Bottom Dwellers gives you a list of our top choices for the best fish that you can add to your tank to keep it functional and attractive.

5. Geophagus

Geophagus is our top-ranked pick. Geophagus translates to sand-sifter or eartheater. These fish will dive to the bottom of your aquarium, grab some sand and then sift through it. This process will be repeated all day long. This is a larger fish based on the species and they can range anywhere from 6-10 inches. They come in several varieties and each variety has their own attitude. Some of these fish are more aggressive while others are peaceful. You might notice you are using a gravel vac less because these fish will do all the dirty work for you. You should be aware that fish can dig up your plants. To protect your plants, it is best to place some big rocks around the base for protection. These tiny worker bees will help keep your tank clean.

4. Synodontis Lucipinnis


Our number 4 pick is a specific fish called the Synodontis Lucipinnis. These fish are about 3 inches long and tend to swim like sharks. They are distinctive looking and love to hide. The Synodontis Lucipinnis is part of the catfish family, which means they are also nocturnal. These fish are great cleaners and will happily clean the bottom of your tank. These fish will swim approximately halfway up your tank’s top if they are small. Their unique look sometimes pushes people to keep them as a single centerpiece fish but it is best to keep them in groups of 3 or more. They lay on the pricier side at around $18 per fish, so be sure that you are willing to invest in their care.

3. Loaches

The Loach Family is our number three choice. Loaches are scavengers that come in many different varieties. You should be able find the right species for your tank. Here are some of the different types of loaches that are our favorite bottom dwellers.


Clown Loach

The Clown Loach is quite active in big groups. Their energy will be most noticeable if they are kept in groups of at least 10 individuals. They are, however, a large fish with most coming in at about 12-14 inches as adults. They clean off the bottom and go through the substrate to look for food. These require large tanks.

Kuhli Loach

The Kuhli Loach measures approximately 3 1/2 inches. Their striped bodies are long and slim like an eel. They are scavengers and nocturnal, so to catch a glimpse of these fish, you’ll have to take a peek at night time when they emerge. In most stores, the Kuhli Loach sell for about $3 per fish and they like to eat black worms but will mostly scavenge. These loaches are very friendly to plants and won’t eat snails. They like to do their own thing and you can be sure that adding these fish to your aquarium will bring a unique look, without sacrificing the lives of your snail buddies.

Dwarf Chain Loach

This fish is our favourite for planted tanks. These fish will go up to about mid-water and are as active as clown loaches. Likewise, it’s best to keep them in a school. At $12 per fish, they are on the pricier end, but they are extremely personable and enjoyable to watch. If you have a snail problem, these fish will happily take care of that for you.

Zebra Loach

The Zebra Loach is another great option if you want to add some fish to your tank. These fish are best in groups of 3 or more and grow to be about 4 inches. Like others listed, these fish are plant safe.

2. Shrimp

Our number 2 top pick is shrimp. Shrimp are the second most popular choice because they can’t eat everything. Shrimp can and will be eaten by most larger fish. They are available in many colors and can clean through all kinds of algae. Because they are so small, they can reach every nook and cranny. Because they love to reproduce, you can expect to see more in your tank. Shrimp can be an excellent bottom dweller and scavenger, provided they are kept in a tank that has compatible mates.

1. Corydoras

At the top of our list are Corydoras. There are many Corydoras you can add to your aquarium. Most of them are small but it is good because it is best if they live in groups of 6 or more. There are many varieties that can grow to about 2-3 inches in length, including the Corydoras labrosus, Salt and Pepper Corydoras and Bronze Corydoras. A dwarf Corydora might be the best choice for you if you’re looking to add a lot of schooling fish to your tank. The Corydora axelrodi is a smaller fish and can easily be added in large numbers. Some Corydoras can be more expensive than others. The Green Laser Corydora usually sells for about $17 per fish.

There are hundreds of species that you can choose from and these little armored catfish usually can’t be beat by others. They prefer to be in their own little communities and dig through the tank’s bottom. They are friendly and very personable.

Bonus: Dwarf Anchor Catfish

One bonus fish to add to the list is the Dwarf Anchor Catfish. They are a small type of catfish that grow to be about 1 3/4 inch. However, Dwarf Anchor Catfish are rare and uncommon, so finding them in store may be a challenge.


When it comes to deciding on which bottom dweller will best suit your tank it is important to balance finding a fish that will suit what you already have but also one you will enjoy personally. You should buy a fish that you want to keep and not a fish that is only used for cleaning. Buying a fish only to be used to clean is similar to adopting a dog just so it can eat food spilled on the floor. You should be motivated, interested, and invested in any fish you add to your tank. Not only do they need to be functional, but also clean and attractive for personal enjoyment. Be sure to choose what is most appealing to you and which tank you will enjoy!