Reef Cleaners and Tank Cleaners: The Servicemen of the Aquatic Life

By Hannah Henegar


Cleaner Fish

Cleaner fish are fish that provide a service to other fish species by removing dead skin and ectoparasites. This cleaning symbiosis is an example of mutualism. Mutualism is known as an ecological interaction that benefits both parties involved. However, the cleaner fish may sometimes cheat and consume mucus or tissue, thus creating a form of parasitism. A wide variety of fish including wrasse, cichlids, catfish, pipefish, and gobies display cleaning behaviors. Similar behavior is found in other groups of animals, such as cleaner shrimps.

Cleaner fish advertise their services with distinct coloration, mostly showing a brilliant blue stripe that spans the length of the body. This adaptation has evolved independently in different species of cleaner fish, making it an example of convergent evolution.

Aquarium Cleaners

Maintaining an aquarium can be an ongoing task. However, there are little creatures that can cut down the work for you. These fish are scavengers that feed on the any food on the bottom of the crater rim as well as the algae. When buying these kinds of fish you need to be careful of the kind that you buy us some can exist peacefully with your other fish while others will attack them.One of the toughest problems In maintaining a tank is keeping the algae growth down. However, there are fish that clean tanks and eat the algae.

Tank Cleaning Fish and Algae Cleaners

The Chinese algae eater can eat algae and attach themselves to the flat surfaces of your tank and decorations scraping algae off. The Chinese algae eater can become aggressive when he becomes an adult and may even attack larger fish so they are great having a tank when they are young, but not so good when they’re adults.

The flying fox (trunk barb)  will eat the leftover food at the bottom of the tank. They shouldn’t be put in with a similar species though as they can become territorial. If you want a shy and peaceful fish that is a good community member and also each algae then you could try getting a catfish for your aquarium.

Snails are another fish tank creature that eats algae but they’ll go for the plants first so if you have live plants in your tank you might not want to add snails. Another thing to keep in mind, snails reproduce pretty quickly so if you don’t want a tank full of snails by only one. If you come across a live plant with snail eggs already on it and a large reproduction of snails occur, you may want to invest in a loach. Loaches eat snails, and they also eat algae.

Cleaner shrimp are also another organism that can help with tank maintenance. Bumblebee shrimp will eat leftover food enough help keep down algae growth in the tank.These shrimp are only about an inch long and relatively harmless to your other fish. Ghost charm will eat both algae and the food at the bottom of the tank too, but they also might eat small fresh and may get to the fish food before your fish.

Saltwater Clean Up Crew

As saltwater aquarium enthusiasts know, keeping algae under control is a balancing act. Too much algae can suffocate marine life and too little is unhealthy for creatures who need algae in their diet. Experts recommend everything from sea urchins to fish to aid in keeping algae under control. If you have any saltwater aquarium, getting a couple of crowds might be a great way to cut down on  saltwater algae. For example, hermit crabs are saltwater algae eaters and also eats the food that settles on the bottom of the aquarium. Keep in mind, however, that you must buy crabs that don’t grow larger than an inch as big crabs might kill your fish. Emerald green crabs and need Mithrax crabs might be good for saltwater tank. Sally Lightfoot crabs eat hair algae and bubble algae and are also very peaceful creatures. Depending on the type of marine organisms present in the aquarium determines the type of algae eater to get. If unsure, you may visit your local fish store to obtain more information.