These guys are special. How can you not love a fish that does part of the work for you? When I was planning my first "real" planted tank, plant buddies told me I needed to plan to include an assortment of algae eaters, which did NOT make me happy. I thought fish like that were boring and would take up room I'd rather devote to something more exciting. Thank goodness I had sense enough to listen and get them anyway. Cories I didn't have to be sold on, I'd always kept them, but I had no experience with fish like ottos and SAEs. I really didn't know that not only would they help keep my tanks clean and free of algae, they would become some of my very favorite fish with their interesting and amusing behaviors. Now I can't imagine having planted tanks without them! Maybe someday, if I ever get a night vision camera, I'll be able to get a picture of one of my bristlenoses, the glass-cleaners extraordinaire, and add it to this page; they're an important part of the crew, but they're camera shy.
Adolfo cories going about their business with gusto
Adolfo cories going about their business with gusto. Nobody seems to have more fun than cories--except maybe for SAEs.
Otocinclus affinis Ottos (Otocinclus affinis) are among the smallest of the loricariid family, and are one of its most useful members for planted tanks; they can remove green algae from the most delicate leaf without damaging it; here, they're working on the red temple (Alternanthera reineckii v. roseafolia). The more you have, the more fun they are--they're very social, and love to flit around the tank together. They really NEED live plants to thrive, and won't do well unless algae makes up the bulk of their diet. They will snack on chunks of zucchini, though, and have been seen slurping up bloodworms like spaghetti when they get the chance! Finding healthy ones can be tough, but if they can recover from the trauma of collection and shipping and you can get them eating again, they'll generally do fine. They don't seem at all subject to disease, what they go through to get here seems to be their biggest problem
Cories aren't much help with algae, but my personal observations make me believe that they do such a good job cleaning up leftovers that they'll help keep phosphate levels down, which is a big benefit, too. Of course, they need their own sinking foods to keep them healthy, not just leftovers. I feed mine bloodworms, Tetramin tablets, shrimp pellets and Brine Shrimp Plus VHP, nasty, stinky stuff they just go NUTS over! This is a bronze cory (Corydoras aeneus); hubby and I found him one Saturday at the lfs, all alone except for one buddy, and they were pretty pathetic-looking--small, pale, chewed up and just didn't look healthy. I was going to pass them up, but hubby looked unhappy, and said "What will happen to these guys if we don't buy them?" So of course we did. Now they're just as pretty as any of their relatives, although they'll always be smaller, I think--even after two years they're only an inch long. I sure am glad hubby was with me that day. Cories aren't much help with algae
Siamese algae eater This is the wonderful Siamese algae eater, Crossocheilus siamenis. Nothing will take care of brush and hair algae like this guy will--and once he's cleaned it up you'll never see it again. It may appear to the untrained eye that he'd rather just eat whatever you put in the tank, but it's not so--he'll eat everything, all right, but in between meals he'll constantly be after the algae, too. These guys can reach six inches pretty quickly--and they do much better in groups (and are more fun to watch that way, too), so make sure the tank you put them in is going to accommodate their adult size. I've seen this fish described in some books as being "not very attractive;" I have no idea what fish THEY were looking at, I think they're absolutely beautiful.
Okay, I suppose technically clown loaches (botia macarantha) aren't cleanup guys--unless you have a snail problem. My snail problem is that I can barely maintain the population I want in my tanks with these guys around. They've long since got 'em all in the 55 gallon, I have to swipe them from other tanks now. Snails are excellent food for loaches, and I try to make sure they have a steady supply. This is the little guy, he's about two inches in body size now; he wasn't even an inch long when he came home with his two buddies. As often happens with loaches, these guys popped out with ich spots a day after I brought them home, but they recovered just fine after being treated with Coppersafe. Treating loaches for ich can be problematical; for more information, take a look at My Fish Have WHAT? botia macarantha


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