Algae are a completely normal thing to have in your aquarium. That being said, you don’t want the green stuff all over the place making your once pristine tank look dirty. You want to be able to keep it under control and in the right balance.
Thankfully you’re not short on options to be able to do this. Nitrate levels and light have a large effect on algae and help to promote their growth. Regular water changes can help to keep them down but this can be time-intensive. Cory catfish, however, aren’t going to be the right solution for your aquarium.
A solution that many aquarium owners turn too is algae-eaters as they will help to keep the situation under control. While some snails and shrimp can do this, you can also use a few different species of fish but are cory catfish suitable for the job?
Do cory catfish eat algae?
Well, the answer to this is unfortunately no, not really. However, if you’re looking for a fish that is going to act as a great cleaner then cory catfish could be a perfect choice. The reason for that is due to them being a highly efficient bottom feeder.
Food can often fall to the bottom of the tank and start to create a messy environment. The cory catfish have the ability to get food from places that are inaccessible to other fish. It makes them ideal for keeping the gravel or sand at the bottom of the tank clean.
They help to improve the quality of the water and make it a nice environment to look at but also a nice place for other fish to be. If you have catfish then you don’t want them to have to just rely on scraps and instead can be supplemented with pellets or flakes that sink.
The fish may have a nibble at algae but aren’t going to look to it for a source of food. This means that you’re going to have to look for something else to clean the algae for you or learn to control it via other methods.
What are the best algae eaters?
If cory catfish don’t eat algae then what does? Well, here we look at the options available for you with fish, shrimp or snails.
While cory catfish don’t eat much algae, twig catfish (also called whiptail catfish) do. They require around 12 gallons of water per pair, don’t like large environment changes and also can be vulnerable to attack from bards and cichlids. If none of that is a problem, they’re a great option.
Bristlenose plecos are a brilliant option for your aquarium. They are easy to care for but do need a fairly large 25-gallon tank at a minimum as they can grow up to 5 inches. There are many different types of bristlenose plecos available in a wide variety of different colors.
Some other great options are Otocinclus Catfish, Mollies, Siamese Algae Eater, and Siamese Flying Fox. You just need to ensure that you have the right conditions and tanks mates for them but all those species mentioned are fine with most community fish.
Snails are often overlooked as they are seen as quite ugly but they are perfect for algae. They don’t require a huge tank and don’t grow very big. The Malaysian Trumpet Snail is a great example as they only need 10 gallons of water and grow to 2cm max.
They are extremely good at cleaning your tank but can breed quite quickly. In contrast, despite their name, rabbit snails breed slowly but do grow to be quite large at nearly 5 inches so are going to be ideal for those with bigger tanks.
Another good option, especially if you need to clean substrate, are nerite snails that generally stay at the bottom of the tank. They grow to be about 1 inch but aren’t compatible with loaches, cichlids, crayfish or goldfish. If you have live plants in your tank and are worried about snails eating them, the Ramshorn Snail is a good option as they tend to leave plants alone when they have other food sources.
Shrimp is another good idea as they often don’t require a lot of water. The ghost shrimp is perfectly fine in just 5 gallons of water and grow up to 2 inches. They aren’t the best algae eaters but perfect for smaller tanks as they get on well with non-aggressive fish.
Cherry Shrimp is a much more efficient algae cleaner but need even less water at just 2 gallons. They are also compatible with a wide variety of smaller fish but would become a target for larger fish. Their bright red color can look great in your tank and are great for getting algae from hard to reach places.
Amano Shrimp is another great example of an algae eater. They work perfectly in groups and are probably the best bet if you quickly want to get rid of algae. You just need to not match them up with larger fish as they may well get eaten.
Should I get a cory catfish?
Yes! They are great fish and as mentioned earlier, are great for cleaning your tank. You can get a snail or a shrimp to clear up the algae while a cory catfish will be able to get rid of any scraps left over. They are peaceful fish that make great tank mates with many other types of species.
You’d be able to mix them in with other community fish to make a thriving tank that will be able to keep itself clean and healthy. Despite being bottom feeders, cory catfish can be attractive in color and entertaining to watch.
If you just want something to get rid of algae, then there are plenty of different options as we have seen here. Whether you want fish, shrimp or snails just make sure that you are giving them the right conditions and they fit in with the rest of the marine life in the tank.