Freshwater Tropical Fish Profiles: Bottom Feeders

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AQUARIUMS: Tropical freshwater fish profiles: Bottom feeders

I recently rediscovered a childhood hobby of mine, that being the joys and wonders of maintaining an aquarium of freshwater tropical fish species. It really is a therapeutic experience watching them swim about and do as fish do. I wanted to share what I’ve found regarding some of my fishy room-mates with anyone who has a similar interest in aquatic life. Here are some of the bottom feeders I’ve kept before.

Julii Cory (also known as Leopard Catfish or Armoured Catfish)

  • Julii CorysSize: 5 – 6cm (2 – 2.5 inches)
  • Lifespan: 3 – 5 years
  • Tank Region: Bottom
  • Temperature: 23 to 26°C
  • Origin/Habitat: Lower Amazon River and coastal rivers in northeastern Brazil
  • Temperament/Behavior: Very peaceful
  • Breeding: Not impossible but can be difficult in a home aquarium (similar to other species of Cory)
  • Gender: Females are often larger and have rounder bellies than males.
  • Diet: Not a fussy eater. Accepts flake foods, algae wafers, Cory pellets, shrimp pellets, insects, benthic crustaceans and most types of worms and vegetable matter.

The Julii Cory is probably the most popular Corydora species. They are very pretty and active little creatures that co-exist very peacefully with other tropical fish. They thrive in tanks that best replicate their natural Amazonian environment. A soft river substrate with a few branches of driftwood and a handful of leaves is ideal, but not essential. Most importantly, keep your tank well maintained as Corys are very sensitive to deteriorating conditions. Your substrate should be kept scrupulously clean as these cats can lose their barbels if kept in poor conditions.

Tropical Fish Profiles: Bronze Corydora

  • Bronze CorydoraSize: 6cm (2.5 inches)
  • Lifespan: 3 – 5 years
  • Tank Region: Bottom
  • Origin/Habitat: South America
  • Temperament/Behavior: Very peaceful
  • Breeding: Can be difficult in the home aquarium.
  • Gender: Females are larger and rounder than the males of the same age.
  • Diet: Bottom feeder, they will scavenge around the tank looking for scraps. Supplement their diet with sinking foods such as wafers.

Bronze Corys are one of the most popular tropical fish species because of its extreme peacefulness and its habit of constantly hovering the aquarium floor to find food. They should be kept in groups of five or more as they love each others company. It is part of the Bronze Cory’s nature to occasionally shoot up to the top of the tank to grab some air.

Tropical Fish Profiles: Red Tail Shark

  • Red Tail SharkSize: Up to 6 inches (15 cm)
  • Temperature: 23°C – 26°C
  • Lifespan: 5 – 8 years
  • Gender: Larger females have a grayer stomach whereas the males are solid black.
  • Tank Region: Middle and bottom
  • Origin/Habitat: Thailand
  • Temperament/Behavior: These fish can be hostile but seem to behave just fine when kept with larger fish.
  • Diet: Omnivorous scavenger that will happily accept flake foods.

Quite a solitary creature, the Red Tail Shark is happiest when alone. They can become quite territorial and aggressive towards other shark species so best to just keep one of these fish in your tank. When grouped with others, the largest shark will likely become the dominant fish and chase the others relentlessly. Provide your shark with several hiding places to help make him feel safe and secure. It’s also recommended that you have a tight fitting lid as this fish are also known to be excellent jumpers!

Tropical Fish Profiles: Clown Loach

  • clown loachSize: 30cm (12 inches)
  • Temperature: 24°C – 29°C
  • Lifespan: 10 years and longer
  • Gender: Difficult to determine
  • Tank Region: Mostly the bottom
  • Origin/Habitat: Borneo, Sumatra
  • Temperament/Behavior: Generally peaceful
  • Diet: Will accept many types including flakes, freeze dried and live foods.

Another favourite in the tropical fish world, the Clown Loach can live for a very long time – 10 years or more if given good water conditions. They can be quite comical at times too – often found laying on their side having a rest. You should also keep more than one Clown Loach together to reduce stress. Males may fight for dominance by going pale and making a clicking sound, but their spars are never fatal. Provide plenty of hiding spaces for your Clown Loaches for they can become quite shy at times.

Tropical Fish Profiles: Banded Kuhli Loach

  • banded kuhli loachSize: 7 – 10cm (3-4 inches)
  • Temperature: 24°C – 30°C
  • Lifespan: 10 years and longer
  • Tank Region: Bottom, usually under something
  • Diet: Omnivorous. Will gladly accept most fish foods
  • Origin/Habitat: Indonesia, Malaysia, Borneo, Java, and Singapore
  • Temperament/Behavior: Peaceful fish that should only be kept with other peaceful fish, and one or two of its own species.
  • Gender: Females are fuller bodied than the males when they are filled with eggs, otherwise males and females look very similar.
  • Breeding: Egg-laying fish but rarely spawn in the aquarium. When they do spawn they scatter large green eggs among the aquarium plants.

The Kuhli Loach is an eel-like fish that usually has light and dark bands along its scaleless body. They look more like snakes than fish. You will often find them hanging from plants and other objects in the tank. Kuhli Loaches are nocturnal fish that spend most of the day hiding under plants or rocks. It is best to provide dark caves or tubes in their tank for them to hide in during the day. Kuhlis also like to congregate in groups. You should keep at least three Kuhli Loaches together in a tank.

Tropical Fish Profiles: Pleco (Algae Eater)

  • pleco algae eaterLifespan: 10 – 15 years
  • Size: up to 46cm (18 inches)
  • Temperature: 23°C – 28°C
  • Tank Region: Bottom and sides of tank
  • Origin/Habitat: Central and South America
  • Diet: Herbivore. Try to supplement their diet with algae wafers
  • Breeding: It can be very difficult to breed them in a home aquarium
  • Gender: There are no visible differences between the male and female
  • Temperament/Behavior: Generally peaceful, but can be aggressive toward others of the same species.

Algae Eaters are popular because of their skill in keeping tanks clean. They are excellent scavengers that suck up much of the dirt on the bottom of the tank. If you have ornaments in the aquarium you will find that these fish attach themselves to them in all different hanging positions. When they are first introduced into an aquarium they will generally find their own spot that they will call home. Driftwood is a great addition to include in the tank if you have Algae Eaters.

More Tropical Fish Care Posts:

5 responses to “Freshwater Tropical Fish Profiles: Bottom Feeders

  1. More pics…

  2. All the help I wanted to choose new bottom feeders.
    Going for clown loaches

  3. Hi Baz, I’m glad you found this article useful. I LOVE my Clown Loaches. A good tip is to keep a large seashell in your tank. They climb right up inside it and it’s one of their favourite resting spots. Just note that this can affect your PH levels. I balance mine by keeping a piece of driftwood in the tank with the seashell.

  4. Debra Kaczmar

    Just found your article. It has me worried! We have three of those algae eaters in our 50 gallon tank….they started out quite small, but are now about six inches long. Should I gift two of them away? I hate to do that, but I can’t imagine three 18 inch fish in this tank.

  5. Hi Debra, yes, plecos get VERY large very quickly – especially if you are feeding them algae wafers or any other kind of food. Best to put two of them up for adoption 😦

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