How to Setup a Successful Cleanup Crew Inside your Aquarium

Do you want to build a sustainable ecosystem inside your aquarium? Or do you just need an extra hand keeping your tank clean. Well today we have detailed what a healthy cleanup crew is and what one would suit your aquarium. 


What is a Healthy Cleanup Crew? 

A healthy cleanup crew is balanced with different fish that work in harmony with each other. Them being healthy also quite literally translates into them being kept in an adequately sized aquarium and kept well. This is achieved by first establishing how much space you have for additional fish within your aquarium. When established you can then make judgement on what fish you want out of the select few that would suit your tank. It is best if looking to create a cleanup crew that you don't add any boisterous or aggressive bottom feeders. All fish chosen should be able to mix not only with the fish on the bottom but also those dwelling in other spaces within the tank.

It is important when starting your cleanup crew that you feed them specifically with wafers, pellets and other freeze dried foods that suit their needs. Yes, some species you may have chosen may eat algae, but it can be easy to forget about them when the algae runs out. Thus, they should all be fed foods regularly. Hiding spots should be made or be present with some foliage and hardscape. This is to allow refuge as even the most intolerant bottom feeder may still need somewhere to relax.  

Best Cleanup Crews per Aquarium Size

Nano Tank 
0-60Litre Aquarium
7.0 pH
20-26 Degrees Celsius



- Otocinclus, Pygmy Corydora, Kuhli Loach -

The options listed above are great choices for a nano cleanup crew that should be housed in a tank around 50-60Litres. This trio will work incredibly well together, and none are aggressive. The Otocinclus will cover any algae while the Pygmy Corydoras will eat any nano food on the substrate. Kuhli Loaches are awesome for getting debris and leftover fish food from awkward places and even under the substrate. This is due to Kuhli Loaches streamline body and tendency to burrow underneath the substrate. All should be in groups of 4 or more and can combine well with any peaceful nano fish.


Medium Sized Tank
7.0 pH
20-26 Degrees Celsius



-Bristlenose Pleco, Skunk Loach, Hillstream Loach, Horse Faced Loach, Flying Fox, Adolfi Corydora, Orange Venezuelan Corydora -

With a larger sized aquaria many more options are now available when choosing a cleanup crew. All together to house this cleanup crew a tank size of at least 175-200Litres is needed. For only 3 options above a 125-150Litre Tank can be used. Bristlenose Plecos, Skunk Loaches and Flying Foxes can live alone whilst all other options should be kept in a group of 4 or more. If chosen as an entire group, you will have all aspects of your aquarium clean to the best extent a fish could clean it. 

The Bristlenose and Hillstream will act as your main algae eating species. While the Skunk Loach, Flying Fox and the Corydoras will sift through the surface scavenging and cleaning the substrate. Now for awkward places in the tank and below the substrate the horse faced loach will cover as they love to burrow and have a very streamline body.  


Large Tank
7.0 pH
20-26 Degrees Celsius



- Royal Pleco, Clown Loach, Dojo Loach -

Although there are not many options listed some options from the medium sized aquarium can do well in the smaller side of large aquaria. This is if their fellow tankmates are not aggressive or can fit them in their mouth. In this trio there is practically no way they can be harmed unless you are keeping seriously aggressive and territorial fish. The trio should be housed in a tank of 500-600Litres but as mentioned, using some of the medium tank options in smaller aquaria is fine. The Royal Pleco may be kept by itself and will eat some algae. They do however also need a natural form of wood to rasp on so keep that in mind when adding to your aquarium. Clown Loaches in this scenario will be your scavengers to help clean up any debris left on the substrate. They should also be kept in groups of at least 4. Lastly Dojo Loaches will act again as the fish that will get into the awkward spots in bigger aquariums. Dojo Loaches should be in a group of at least 3. 

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