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I've been reading some of the threads in this forum and have run across phrases like "the usual clean-up crew," referring to fish that everyone puts in their planted tanks. I'd be interested in knowing what your must-have fish are for an aquarium. I'm not referring to show fish or schooling fish, but the fish you use to keep up the tank--bottom feeders, algae eaters, and the like.

So what's your list of must-haves (and how many) for a planted aquarium?
 

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Otocinclus - no less than 3 in a Nano, and no less than 5 in a 'normal-size' aquarium. (That's pretty vague, I guess.)
 

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I agree with the Otocinclus although most of my clean-up crew is inverts. I have Malaysian trumpet snails in all my tanks to clean up the bottom and sift through the substrate. Ramshorn snails and nerites are in most of my tanks to clean the glass and plants. I also have some other snails that came in as hitchhikers (tiny flattened ramshorn-like snails and pond snails) and I have shrimp in a couple tanks. I have to vary the crew depending on the other inhabitants of the tank since most snails won't survive with most loaches and many fish will eat or harass the shrimp. I also have to determine whether the temp and other water parameters of each tank are appropriate for each member of the crew. That's part of why Otocinclus are great since they can go in with just about anything.
 

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Hi totally_vacant,

My "clean-up" crew for a 45 gallon is 9 cory catfish (1 per 5 gallon) for the bottom and 4 Otos plus 2 True Siamese Algae Eaters for the algae. The Otos get most of the algae off of flat surfaces including plant leaves, the SAE do the same job plus they eat the occasional hair algae strand that the Otos don't touch. The tank stays very clean except for green spot algae (GSA) on the glass that requires the use of a sponge cleaner.
 

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otts and corys. Also got a bushynose pleco Ancistrus spp. that stays small and works hard day and night.

Along these lines, what fish will not bother shrimp? Thinking of getting a few, but got swordtails, Betta, Angels, Barbs, in various tanks. What about using them in a baby swordtail tank?
 

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I have 7 Otos in my 29 gal along with 6 Nerite Snails. These little guys are great for not only eating certain algae, but also taking care of other waste material. :)
 

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Ottos and Cories are "hot" clean-up crews in terms of fish. Amanos and Cherries work well if you're looking for shrimp. Nerites do well against algae.

Personally, I'd go for inverts (like nerites and shrimp) over fish. Unless you really like the fish, then by all means, go for it. By I find inverts more interesting and usually less bio-load. :) Which in turn, means I can add more fish that I'd like.
 

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I have a rubber-nosed plec, two bushy-nosed plecs, two SAEs, two ottos, 4 kuhlis, 6 corys, a 3 BIG Apple Snails, a bunch of baby apple snails, and a few ghost shrimp that I can never find in my 75 gallon.
 
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