Best Cleaner Fish

Best Cleaner Fish

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While cleaning an aquarium is a responsibility that comes with owning fish, you can also employ the help of some species in your tank. The best cleaner fish may surprise you, but knowing about them and adding them to your tank can help keep your fish healthier and your tank more beautiful.

Freshwater Sharks – Rainbow and Redtail Sharks

Best cleaner fish


While you might not think of these sharks as typical “cleaners” they love to hunt around for bits of food that have been dropped in plants, rocks, and other decorative items in your tank. They can be a bit aggressive though, so only put 1 in a tank of at least 30 gallons. 

South American Cichlids 

Eartheaters are a great cleaner for tanks with live plants. They will filter substrate through their gills and swallow up any edible bits they find. They’re best in 55 gallon or larger community tanks.


American Flagfish

The flagfish is great at eating certain kinds of algae from hardy plants. Don’t trust it to effectively clean a dainty plant without ruining it! 


Corys are of course one of the best cleaner fish and great scavengers.  They’re like peaceful roombas for your tank! However, they’ll also need a diet supplemented with bloodworms or wafers to keep them full. 

For more ideas on cleaner fish, check out this article from

Be sure to check out our blog post on the best fish for “beginner” aquariums too.

Need help deciding on the right fish for your aquarium? At J&M Aquatics and Pet Center our fish experts can help you get started with your first tank or your fifth.  We’ll guide you through choosing the right combos of fish for a community tank or the right plants for a live planted aquarium. If you have questions be sure to contact us! We’re open 7 days a week to help you help your pets.