Algae are natural to an aquarium's ecosystem, but their overgrowth can cause fish tanks to be slimy and unsightly. Introducing certain catfish can help control algae growth and aquarium detritus, making the tank a safer, more comfortable environment for all its residents.
Otocincluse catfish are noticeably small varieties of catfish, but they make amazing work of cleaning tanks. According to Doctors Foster & Smith's LiveAquaria.com Web site, "award-winning planted-aquarium experts like Takashi Amano will employ this tireless algae eater." The Otocinclus tends to focus on the consumption and removal of algae on plants, although aquarium glass doesn't go unnoticed by these voracious suckermouths.
Bushy Nose Plecostomus
Most of the diet of the popular busy or bristle nose plecostomuses is a hodgepodge of leftover food, algae and plant and animal detritus. These easygoing, primarily nocturnal fish get along with almost all varieties of aquarium residents, save those identified as predatory in nature. That said, when an aquarium population is small or in between restocking of fish inhabitants, bushy noses require supplements of green foods like blanched vegetables and algae tablets in order to survive.
Twig or whiptail catfish come in a range of striking, thin, suckermouthed varieties that can grown between 4 and 8 inches long. While highly proficient algae-eaters, twigs are more fragile than average catfish and require special environments in which they might thrive. For example, twigs do best in larger, already-established aquariums bustling with life. They prefer live-planted greenery, aged water, an abundance of semidecayed bogwood and places to hide, as well as a population of shy or peaceful fish.
Corydoras catfish usually grow 1 to 4 inches long, making them ideal for smaller aquariums. Their small size allows them to move between and clean tight spaces larger scavengers are unable to reach. Another benefit to keeping Corydoras catfish is that they are diurnal, meaning they are fully awake when other fish are being fed. This means they can snatch up uneaten food that falls to the tank bottom before it begins to decompose and potentially compromise water quality.
Ruth Nix began her career teaching a variety of writing classes at the University of Florida. She also worked as a columnist and editorial fellow for "Esquire" magazine. In 2012, Nix was featured in the annual "Best New Poets" anthology and received the Calvin A. VanderWerf Award for excellence in teaching from the University of Florida.