A Cory Owner Explains: Do Cory Catfish Clean The Tank?

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I have kept cory catfish in my home aquariums for quite some time now. And I know how these lovely little companions act in the tank and whether or not they can help you maintain your tank clean.

Without further ado, let’s dive in and see out how effective they are at cleaning the tank and more!

A Closeup Of Cory Catfish In My Fish Tank

How Much Do Cory Catfish Help In Keeping The Tank Clean?

ParametersOur Score
Substrate Cleaning5/5
Leftover Cleaning5/5
Algae Cleaning1/5
Tank Wall Cleaning1/5
Overall Peaceful Temperament5/5
Waste Production3/5
*I scored cory catfish on the chart above based on their tank cleaning skills and other factors. Cory catfish do well when the score is closer to 5, but badly when closer to 1.

If you’re considering adding cory catfish to your tank, you might be wondering how much they actually help in keeping it clean.

Having owned cory catfish in my home fish tanks, I can tell you that these cute little buddies can actually be quite helpful in maintaining a healthy tank environment.

One of the reasons cory catfish are good at cleaning is because they are bottom feeding fish. This means they spend a lot of time scavenging the substrate for food, which includes any dirt or debris that might be trapped down there.

Their small size and specialized mouth structure also allows them to grab food from the crevices of the substrate, helping to clean it up.

Another reason cory catfish are great at cleaning is because of the barbels near their mouth. These sensory organs help them to unearth food scraps buried inside the top layer of the surface.

And because their mouth is protruded downward, they’re able to easily consume the food they find.

But perhaps the best thing about cory catfish when it comes to cleaning is their activity level. These little guys are known for being very active fish, especially if all the tank conditions are right.

You can often find them frequently roaming around near the tank bottom, searching for food and cleaning up any debris they come across.

Of course, it’s important to note that while cory catfish can be helpful in keeping your tank clean, they’re not going to do all the work for you.

Proper maintenance is still key, including regular water changes, filter cleaning, and gravel vacuuming. And while cory catfish are great at cleaning the substrate, they might not be as effective at cleaning the walls or decorations in your tank.

Do Cory Catfish Clean Algae?

Well, in short – no, cory catfish don’t clean algae in the tank.

In my earlier article about do cory catfish eat algae wafers, I have explained that cory catfish don’t have the mouth structure that a typical algae eater like a pleco fish has. The mouth structure of cory catfish is more suitable for digging, and finding food from the substrate.

Even though you may notice them passing over an algae prone surface of the tank –  they are actually finding tiny bits of food scraps from the surface more than cleaning algae from that area.

Does that mean they don’t eat algae?

Well, no! Cory catfish are omnivorous fish which means they can eat both plant and animal matter in their diet. And that’s why, you can feel free to complement their diet by adding plant based food sources along with regular fish pellets you give them.

Do Cory Catfish Help In Keeping Algae In Control?

Interestingly, even though cory catfish don’t actively help in eating away algae from the tank, they can be indirectly helpful in keeping the algae in check.

In any fish tank, algae growth usually happens when there is a presence of excess food or other organic waste particles – because that acts as a nutrient source for the algae to feed on and grow in numbers.

And that’s where cory catfish come in. They help in keeping the amount of waste or left over food in check.

When there are not enough food sources present in the tank for an algae to grow, they won’t be able to grow in excessive amounts! Isn’t that cool?

Things To Consider Before Keeping Cory Catfish

Cory catfish are a popular addition to any tank for their adorable appearance and helpful cleaning habits.

But before you go out and add these little guys to your tank, there are a few cautions you should be aware of.

First and foremost, while cory catfish are great at cleaning up food scraps from the substrate, they are not heavy algae eaters. So if you’re looking for help with algae cleaning, you’ll need to add other algae eaters to your tank crew.

Some of the best options include Plecos, Siamese algae eaters, and otocinclus catfish. These guys are experts at snacking on algae, and can help keep your tank sparkling clean.

It’s also important to note that you can’t simply let your cory rely on scavenging for food. While they do eat leftover particles, they still need a well-balanced diet for optimal growth and health. 

A good diet for cory catfish includes a combination of sinking pellets, frozen or live foods like bloodworms or brine shrimp, and fresh vegetables like zucchini or cucumber.

Check out my detailed guide on albino cory catfish diet for further reference.

Another caution when it comes to cory catfish is their substrate preference. These little guys love to dig in the substrate until they get a hold of any buried food scraps

Pro Tip: To protect their delicate barbels, it’s important to choose a smooth sand or small, smooth gravel as a substrate. Avoid anything too rough or sharp, which could cause damage to their sensitive mouth structures.

Wrapping Up

So, in short, while these adorable little buddies do scavenge for food and eat leftover particles, they’re not necessarily proficient at cleaning the tank on their own. But don’t worry, there are plenty of other ways to keep your tank clean!

Properly maintaining your tank with regular water changes, gravel cleaning, and filter maintenance is crucial for the health and happiness of your aquatic friends. Also, you can add other algae eaters to your aquarium for ensuring better cleaning of the tank.

And even though cory catfish may not be expert cleaners, they still make fantastic additions to any tank for their lively and amusing behavior.

So, if you’re considering adding cory catfish to your tank, just remember that they may not clean the tank on their own, but they are still a wonderful addition for their playful personalities.

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