Clean-Up Crew for Aggressive Fish Tank - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 14 (permalink) Old 07-14-2016, 02:32 AM Thread Starter
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Clean-Up Crew for Aggressive Fish Tank

What do people who house aggressive, top-predator fish in planted tanks use for the clean-up crew? Who cleans the hardscape, stirs up the substrate...be the general janitors basically?

I don't have much experience owning animals higher up in the food chain. I have always stuck with peaceful fish. I really really really want to own fish with a bit more personality; but personallity generally equates to aggressiveness which equates to killing the shrimps, snails, etc. whom I rely on for general tank maintenance.

I don't know why people like otocinclus. They are pretty much useless IME. Bigger catfish gets...well BIG...and are more trouble in the long term than the service they provide.

Anyway, I would like to start with some Dario dario, soft-water cichlids, gobies, pygmy sunfish, etc. but would like to know what I can keep with them for clean-up: rasping at plant leaves, hardscape, etc. After years with the basic small schooling fish, mindless drones...I'm getting a bit bored.
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post #2 of 14 (permalink) Old 07-14-2016, 02:34 AM
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If we're going into unique circumstances, I'm not sure why people tend to call these guys "clean up crews". I know that name is popular but outside of scavenger snails I don't know how much cleaning up they really do.

I would assume large MTS would work out fine for big predator fish tanks. Nerites if you're wanting something to eat algae.

I would never consider Otocinclus to be clean-up fish. They are spectacularly awesome as a fish though.
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post #3 of 14 (permalink) Old 07-14-2016, 04:31 AM
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Plecos are quite well armoured.
Mine ate too many of my plants though.

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post #4 of 14 (permalink) Old 07-14-2016, 04:45 AM
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Well I think the term "cleanup crew " is catch 22, for anything added to the tank in the way of fish also creates their own waste, which only adds to the total waste being created thus one is not gaining much in the way of cleanup IMHO.
For the fish that the OP mentioned ,the gobies are pretty good on their own at searching out bit's of food I think.
Corydoras come to mind also, for I do not consider any of the fishes OP mentioned to be able to inflict much harm.
Any larger Cichlid's however,could do harm to the fish mentioned for this tank and plant's as well.
Some species I have kept with larger cichlids(6 inch +) were Raphael catfish,Synodontis Multipunctatus,Loaches such as Clown loach or YoYo loaches.
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post #5 of 14 (permalink) Old 07-14-2016, 05:40 AM
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Attempting to eat a corydora could mean death for both prey and victim.... They have spines they will use to get stuck in the fish's mouth and drown it....and themselves. An act of self sacrifice to save its species.

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post #6 of 14 (permalink) Old 07-14-2016, 11:04 AM
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In the truest sense a real clean up crew doesn't "add" waste to the system they merely process excess food into a less harmful waste product. Rotting food is broken down in a way that is less desirable to a closed system IMO. Snails etc... are a worthwhile addition if you can live with the cons. If you are talking about eating algae, that's a whole different game. Not that it isn't a valid thing if executed correctly. If you don't deal with the underlying issue causing algae growth all you are doing is supplying selective pressure to which algae species will flourish. In other words if you have excess light or nutrients and add Otos but don't solve the nutrient/light issue all that will happen is that a different species of algae that Otos don't eat will start to dominate. This can be exactly what you want in some planted tanks. For example use of slower growing plants in a scape can be helped by algae eaters that keep the plants leaves free of algae. In this case you are applying selective pressure in favor of you plants.

For actual clean up as in excess food left by predators I lean towards snails as having the least negative impact on the system. MTS are self regulating(population fluctuates with the food supply) but they can be viewed as an eyesore to some as you end up with a lot of shells in your substrate. Thiara sp are an alternative; bigger , prettier and reproduce much slower than MTS. Poso snails might be an option in harder water setups.

Nerites are far and away the best algae eaters I have encountered for biofilm/GSA type stuff. Good at cleaning the glass and leaves of plants. They don't touch hair/filament/turf/BBA types though IME. If you end up with males and females you do end up with eggs all over the place that never hatch. I've found mine do this in waves and eventually stop doing it much at all as they get older.

I wouldn't ever add a catfish/pleco solely as a cleaner. As a display specimen in their own right that happens to occupy an available niche in your system is what's appropriate/responsible IMO. As an aside Rubberlip and Bristlenose are the only plecos I would recommend keeping in 55 gallon and smaller systems(at least on the algae eating side)

You'd have to be more specific I think to get a real list of recommendations as "soft water cichlids" includes things from inch long apistogramma to Discus and temperament and diet requirements all across the spectrum.

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post #7 of 14 (permalink) Old 07-14-2016, 11:20 AM
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Anything living that eats whatever, also excretes that which it eats back into closed system = more waste to be processed by either the filtration or hopefully large thriving plant mass.
I agree that snail's ,shrimp, create much less waste than fish which I assumed (always a bad thing) the OP was looking for as "cleanup crew" .
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post #8 of 14 (permalink) Old 07-14-2016, 11:58 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by roadmaster View Post
Anything living that eats whatever, also excretes that which it eats back into closed system = more waste to be processed by either the filtration or hopefully large thriving plant mass.
I agree that snail's ,shrimp, create much less waste than fish which I assumed (always a bad thing) the OP was looking for as "cleanup crew" .
I guess we'll have to agree to disagree. If they are eating excess food that is already in the system they are not generating MORE waste as the excess food IS waste already they are just reducing it to a less undesirable form that is more easily processed. If you are adding food for them or they are eating algae then yes they would be adding waste.

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post #9 of 14 (permalink) Old 07-14-2016, 12:20 PM
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Unless you plan on keeping a dovii or something of that nature, cories should be fine. Dario Dario are tiny, so perhaps amano shrimp could hold their own.(?) I don't see Dario Dario taking down decent sized snails. This is not to say that they couldn't, but not likely.

I'm not a fan of plecos simply because they are big poopers and make a mess.
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post #10 of 14 (permalink) Old 07-14-2016, 01:41 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fermentedhiker View Post
I guess we'll have to agree to disagree. If they are eating excess food that is already in the system they are not generating MORE waste as the excess food IS waste already they are just reducing it to a less undesirable form that is more easily processed. If you are adding food for them or they are eating algae then yes they would be adding waste.
We can surely disagree.
Two fish produce more waste than one fish.
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post #11 of 14 (permalink) Old 07-14-2016, 04:27 PM
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I agree with @roadmaster, many species of corydoras would be suitable tankmates for the fish you mentioned. Be mindful of floor space however when housing corys and gobys together as some species of gobys can be territorial. My Bumblebee Goby got along just fine with my pygmy corys but my Stiphodon Goby would emerge from his rock and proceed to headbutt everything in sight.

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post #12 of 14 (permalink) Old 07-14-2016, 08:39 PM
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This is where chinese algae eater comes in.

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post #13 of 14 (permalink) Old 07-15-2016, 03:42 AM
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Algae
slime-> Nerites(leave eggs) Mystery snails(eggs above water line) Bristlenose pleco
Hair-> siamese algae eater(needs to starve before it will actually eat algae lol)

Excess food
The above 2 snails and bristlenose
Larger cories(might get picked on)
Loaches going to recommend YoYo as its size is reasonable(not compatible with the snails)

Pond/Ramshorn/MTS snail infestation all not compatible with above snails
Loaches again recommend the yoyo
Assasin snail(reproduces so not the best option)
Amazon Puffer(might get picked on and teeth need filed once in awhile)

55g-> Cardinal Shrimp,Rabbit Snails,Mystery Snails, Koi guppies
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post #14 of 14 (permalink) Old 07-15-2016, 04:00 AM
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Cichlids like to eat snails IME.
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