In an aquarium, fish species are typically categorized according to the location that they eat: top, mid-water, and bottom feeders. Top feeders eat their food at the surface of the aquarium as it enters the tank or just starts to sink, mid-water feeders eat their food as it makes its way through the water column, and lastly, but certainly not least, are bottom feeders who typically are the cleanup crew for most aquatic environments.
When setting up your aquarium environment, it is important to create a harmonious balance keeping in mind the specific space each one of these types of fish prefer to feed from. Often, the most effort and energy to feed is expended by the last line of eaters, the bottom feeders. Making sure they have enough nutrition to live a long and health-filled life is a key to long term aquatic success. Here are a few of our favorites in this category:
- Pleco: Commonly known as the sucker mouth catfish, Plecostomus are nocturnal fish that can grow to approximately 18 inches or larger in specific environments.
- Loaches: Another popular bottom dwelling fish, loaches come in many different forms and sizes. Dwarf Chain and Hill Stream loaches make for good aquarium candidates as they are peaceful tank mates offering lots of movement.
- Crayfish: To diversify your tank population, crayfish (or crawfish) can be a fun addition. With over 500 different types, lots of great colors and load of activity they’re perfect for most aquatic setups. Crayfish live on average of two years in captivity, but with good water quality, lack of stress by attacking tank mates and good nutrition, they can live longer.
- Sturgeon: These prehistoric creatures are found in both salt and freshwater. They can be identified by their five rows of bony plates and a ventral mouth that prods the bottom of the tank to help them locate their food. They make great conversation starters too.
- Carp: Carp, like sturgeon, also have ventral mouths that they use to grab food along the bottom of the tank. They most commonly eat algae, plants, and insects collected from the bottom, but can easily be trained to eat from the surface also.