Bottom Feeder Fish

Best Bottom Feeder Fish: 9 Stunning Species

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As usual, you will want to have a proper spread of fish in your aquarium, including surface feeder, mid-water feeder fish, and bottom feeder fish. Bottom feeder fish swim and feed on the lower section of the tank, where they can provide a stunning addition of life and color.

These fish are a ton of fun to observe and can even help improve the water quality of your aquarium.

So what are the best bottom feeder fish to add to your tank?

We’ve compiled a list of the most amazing fish species for you to consider. Regardless of what your setup is, you will certainly come up with several fish that are a great fit for you.

What is The Physiology of Bottom Feeder Fish?

As their name implies, bottom-feeder fish mainly live and eat at the bottom of the tank. Rather than catching food from the surface or midwater, bottom feeders forage their food along the substrate.

Some are scavengers that usually consume dead fish and inverts. Meanwhile, there are some herbivores that prefer algae and other plant materials.

Inferior Mouth

Bottom feeder fish have developed specialized traits that allow them to survive at or close to the substrate.
They have an inferior mouth that is located more towards the bottom of the fish’s body and is often pointed downwards. That enables the fish to root around in the substrate for delicious treats but still keep their eyes watching out for predators.


A lot of bottom-feeder fish contain barbels and fleshy whiskers that grow on or close to their mouths. Barbels support fish in finding food. They are sensitive to touch and have tasting cells, almost similar to a tongue.
Therefore, if just the outside of the mouth reaches something edible, the fish can taste it and seek it.


Some types of bottom feeder fish have significantly specialized mouths, such as oto cats and plecos, that help them latch onto surfaces, and scrape biofilm and algae. Their mouths are round and similar to a suction cup.
With this mouth, they even can stay in place to feed if they are in fast-moving waters.

Flat Ventral Region

Many bottom feeder fish feature a common body shape. They get a flattened ventral region that helps them rest and swim along the bottom with ease.

In some bottom feeders, such as Chinese hillstream stingrays and loaches, their ventral region is so flattened that the fish is not like a fish at all. Whereas, for others, the flat ventral region is not that severe, such as koi.

And obviously, there are a number of species between these two extremes, like cory cats

Best Bottom Feeder Fish to Add to Your Aquarium

1. Bristlenose Plecostomus

Bristlenose Plecostomus
Bristlenose Plecostomus

If you’re keeping a 10-gallon fish tank and want to add bottom feeders, Bristlenose Plecostomus is a perfect choice.

It is a comparatively laid-back fish that are slow-swimming and get along with most other fish in your aquarium.
You’ll want to keep them far away from aggressive fish, like Cichlids, as the docile Pleco might find itself under continuous pressure.

Plecos are one of the most popular algae-eaters for freshwater tanks. They spend most time of the day slowly swimming from spot to spot, clearing up algae as they move. If you’re searching for a housekeeper pulling their weight, you should choose this type.

Bristlenose Plescostomus love being surrounded by plants. Any place where they can eat plants and algae in your aquarium is an ideal environment. Besides, these fish love having flowing water and will constantly stay near the outlet on your filter.

These are nocturnal species. They tend to be most active during the nighttime hours, while they stay hidden during the daytime.

2. Otocinclus Catfish

Otocinclus Catfish
Otocinclus Catfish

Otocinclus Catfish, or Ottos, are commonly called a “suckerfish”.

Although they are catfish, they are different from what people expect as they hear “catfish” since they do not share whiskers on the front of their faces. That usually makes them mistaken for other types of bottom-living fish.

Otto Cats are not aggressive. They live harmoniously with most tank mates, particularly other non-aggressive creatures. If you want to improve your livestock, you can keep Ottos with Cory Cats, snails, and shrimp without much worry.

Ottos grow well when they are raised with their type. They will school and burrow together.
Remember not to add this bottom feeder fish to the tank that contains aggressive fish, like Goldfish, Oscars, Cichlids, and Convicts.

Moreover, make sure that you maintain your aquarium conditions and water quality consistent. These fish do not thrive well if the water conditions are unstable. Large swings in the temperature might be harmful to your fish.

3. Siamese Algae Eaters

Siamese Algae Eater
Siamese Algae Eater

These are bottom-dwelling freshwater creatures belonging to the mainland of Southeast Asia. They are extremely versatile, quickly adapting to most tank conditions. They are known to begin foraging for food as soon as you add them to your aquarium.

These fish formerly come from environments with dense vegetation. Hence, it’s best to simulate the natural habitat by adding more plants to the tank. You also can decorate the aquarium with fast-thriving plants and rock shelters covered with algae.

However, they don’t eat algae alone; they are omnivorous species. You can feed them with dead animals, worms, and insects.

4. Cory Catfish

Cory Catfish
Cory Catfish

CoryCatfish are another incredible bottom-feeder fish for your freshwater tank. They have a solid plating over their body, which lets them survive against more aggressive species.

As their name suggests, these bottom dwellers are well known for their catfish-like whiskers on the front of their faces. These barbles make it easier for them to grab food.

These fish are not aggressive, getting along with almost all kinds of freshwater fish, except for aggressive ones.
Cory Catfish will often not defend themselves. They likely seek a place to hide and stay until they grow an illness.
These species love living in bigger groups of fish. Raising them in a school of their kind can help maintain their health and bring their natural personalities out.

In wild environments, Cory Catfish prefer hiding in and around plants and rocks. They would want to live in and around sand rather than gravel. Additionally, ensure you have undercurrent and water moving to simulate their natural habitat.

5. Kuhli Loach

Kuhli Loach
Kuhli Loach

Kuhli Loach is an incredible bottom feeder fish to add to your tank. This is an elongated, eel-like fish that can prevent waste and food byproducts from accumulating.

These fish are not aggressive and love gathering with their kind. That means you can raise more than a few Kuhli Loaches without causing problems.

You’re going to find Kuhli Loaches burrowing into your substrate most of the time. You should make sure they have fine gravel or sand for hiding and avoid adding sharp rocks that can hurt them.

Moreover, you need to cover the outlet and inlet tubes on your filter. You also should put a screen over the pipes and add a screen to the top of your aquarium, preventing your Loaches from jumping out.

6. Yoyo Loach

Yoyo Loach
Yoyo Loach

Another Loach species – Yoyo loach is also a popular bottom-feeder fish. It has some different names, such as Reticulated Loach, Almorha Loach, Pakistani Laoch, and Y-Loach.

Its body is silver with dark coloring, which will be more visible when younger but becomes reticulated during maturity. The fish had its name due to its giraffe-like pattern markings wherein there is plenty of Y and O throughout the body.

This bottom feeder can turn bluish under dim light and can change into gray when in hiding and fighting mode. Its mouth points downward with 4 pairs of whiskers.

This Loach fish is an omnivore that can feed on most food, including insects, herbs, bloodworms, brine shrimps, and algae.

7. Tiger Shovelnose Catfish

Tiger Shovelnose Catfish
Tiger Shovelnose Catfish

The common name of this fish is Barred Sorubium. The fish can grow up to 60 pounds in weight, so remember to provide them with much space.

Provided that you let them swim freely in a full aquarium or pond, there will be no issue. The development rate of this bottom feeder fish is proportional to the food you give them. A one-year-old fish can be more than 12 inches in length.

The adult fish are incredibly firm when getting frightened; they can break down the tank glass in some cases. Hence, it is crucial to keep them in a spacious tank or, more preferably, in an outdoor pond.

The fish is extremely resistant to all kinds of diseases. They do not contract infections easily. If they get sicked, you can treat them and bring them back to good health in no time. Moreover, these fish can be let starve for 4-5 days but remain in good condition.

As Tiger Shovelnose Catfish can grow big, you won’t want to add small fish to the same aquarium; otherwise, they will be consumed as snacks.

8. Dwarf Gouramies

Dwarf Gouramies
Dwarf Gouramies

The Dwarf Gournamies can be a joyful addition to your aquarium. They are broadly compatible with different varieties of fish because they get a calm temperament. These bottom-feeders have unique lung-like organs which allow them to breathe oxygen from the air.

These fish will thrive well if you keep them in an aquarium that is spick and span. The minimum capacity of the tank is 10 gallons in capacity.

You should add a lot of plants to the tank to replicate the natural environment of the fish. These also need plants to create nests to lay eggs in the spawning season.

Keepers can feed the fish with larvae, worms, insects, shrimp, etc., in addition to artificial food on the market. Just note that do not overfeed or underfeed them. Their diet must be a proper balance of nutrients, minerals, protein, fiber, fat, and carbohydrates.

9. Bumblebee Goby

Bumblebee Goby
Bumblebee Goby

This bottom-feeder fish is brightly colored and striped with dark colors. The fish is native to the freshwater ecosystem of the south-eastern parts of the Asian continent.

Although these fish are small, they are incredible predators. Their diet is omnivorous. To be more precise, their menu is mainly carnivorous in nature. It is not vital that you always give them live fish; you can also provide them with frozen food.

You should keep Bumblebee Gobies in an aquarium with a minimum capacity of 10 to 15 gallons tank. Even though this size seems to be big for their bodies, offering them space will help them stay happily without excess territorial insecurity. Plus, make sure you use high-quality biological filtration systems to maintain water quality.

What’s more, these species are very allergic to dirty water and can get diseases easily. Any type of bacterial, fungal, protozoan or infection should be treated as quickly as possible.


Now you have a bunch of options for gorgeous bottom feeder fish you can introduce to your aquarium.
Bottom-living fish brings an interesting and unique element to any tank. While other species spend more time moving around the upper half of the aquarium interacting with each other, these fish enjoy their little world of scavenging.

It’s essential to research the species you’re going to get. That way, you will know exactly what you’re getting into and don’t end up with unwanted problems.

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