The 15 Best Clean Up Crew For Freshwater Tank In 2024

Taking care of an aquarium can be a fun and fulfilling experience. Once you’ve set up your tank and have introduced appropriate fish species, there’s always a question that What kind of fish cleans the tank?

One important aspect of maintaining optimal water quality is having fish that clean tanks. While the best freshwater aquarium clean up crew aren’t magical creatures that require no effort on your part, these organisms play a crucial role in keeping your aquarium ecosystem healthy.

In this article, we’ll take a look at the best freshwater aquarium clean up crew members that contribute to creating a well-balanced and thriving underwater environment.

How to Keep Freshwater Fish Tank Clean?

The ideal answer to “how to keep freshwater fish tank clean” is – add best freshwater aquarium clean up crew!

Imagine your aquarium’s clean-up crew as its trusty janitors, diligently maintaining its beauty. These essential helpers, including snails, crabs, shrimps, and starfish, offer valuable services. Their main functions include;

  • Swiftly clear away debris
  • Sift through sand
  • Effectively manage algae growth,

Not only this, the best thing about best freshwater aquarium clean up crew is that they reduce your need for tasks like glass scraping and algae removal. Establishing a thoughtfully assembled crew of fish that clean tanks ensures a stunning and hassle-free aquarium.

Nevertheless, the question arises what kind of fish cleans the tank? And for that, you don’t have to go anywhere because below we have mentioned fishes that clean tanks!

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Best Freshwater Aquarium Clean up Crew

Now, coming to the core of the article, which is what kind of fish cleans the tanks. We have divided this section into 3 easy parts for you to have better understanding of how to keep freshwater tank clean and what kind of fish cleans the tank. Have a look!


Snails play a crucial role in maintaining the cleanliness of aquariums. It’s quite astonishing how they swiftly move around in tanks, effortlessly feeding on algae and remnants of food.

They are skilled members of best freshwater aquarium clean up crew who even delicately get rid of algae from live corals.

  • Turbo Snails
    The Turbo Snails are also herbivores, as they primarily feed on hair and green algae. Among the different types of Turbo Snails, the Mexican Turbo Snail and Zebra Turbo Snails are popular choices.
    In particular, the Zebra Turbo snails have gained a reputation for being highly effective in combating hair algae growth. However, it’s worth noting that their larger size can sometimes lead to disturbances among coral and rocks.Turbo Snails
  • Astraea snails
    These herbivorous Astraea snails prey on diatoms and, sporadically, cyanobacteria, which are film algae. Additionally, they consume hair and green algae, which helps keep the tank clean.Astraea snails
  • Nassarius snails
    The Nassarius snails are meat-eating creatures that have a diet consisting of leftover food, organic waste, and fish waste.
    They are highly beneficial for sand bed aquariums as they tend to bury themselves in the sand during sleep but come out to feed when they sense the presence of food.Nassarius snails


Stop wondering what kind of fish cleans the tank, when you have shrimps around! Shrimp are really great at being part of the cleaning crew.
They have a knack for finding and getting rid of all that hard-to-reach dirt and leftovers in the tank. Their ability to do this works well with the rest of the crew, making sure the tank stays clean without any hassle. Plus, they are an ideal member for the best freshwater aquarium clean up crew.

  • Skunk Cleaner Shrimp
    The Skunk Cleaner Shrimp offers a unique cleaning service as it feeds on ectoparasites and dead tissue, which makes them quite popular among fish.
    Additionally, these fish that clean tanks have been known to consume leftover flakes and pellets from the tank, although this can sometimes lead to minor issues when they snatch food from LPS corals in reef tanks.Skunk Cleaner Shrimp
  • Coral banded prawns
    Coral prawns are naturally carnivorous explorers and will scurry around in search of leftover food.
    So, if you are seeking what kind of fish clean aquariums, coral banded prawns is what you need to have!
    In most aquariums, they will accept frozen, flakes or pellets.  They are lively, showy prawns that typically coexist peacefully in most saltwater aquariums. It’s best to keep just one because they can be hostile towards other prawns kept in the same aquarium.Coral banded prawns
  • Peppermint Shrimp
    These shrimp share similar carnivorous traits with their cleaner shrimp counterparts but are primarily recognized for their appetite for aiptasia anemones.
    In addition to that specialty diet item, they also scavenge for food scraps effectively. The species called Lysmata boggessi, one of the best freshwater aquarium clean up crew is particularly sought after due to its ability to target aiptasia anemones.Peppermint Shrimp

Hermit Crabs

There is an ongoing debate in the world about hermit crabs when it comes to what kind of fish cleans the tank.
On one hand, they are great at scavenging and cleaning, but on the other hand, there are concerns about how they interact with corals and fish. Being omnivores, these crabs search for algae and sometimes get mistaken when trying to go after meaty foods.

  • Scarlet Hermit Crabs
    Scarlet Hermit Crabs are omnivorous creatures that have a diverse diet that consists of seafood, algae, and detritus. Their appearance is characterized by their unique red bands and striking yellow eyes. In addition to their food preferences, they also participate in sand-sifting activities.Scarlet Hermit Crabs
  • Dwarf Zebra Hermit Crabs
    When searching for what kind of fish clean aquariums, you can never go wrong with Dwarf Zebra Hermit Crabs. They too consume a mixture of seafood, algae, and detritus as part of their diet.
    However, it’s worth noting that these hermit crabs are notably smaller compared to others within their species group.
    This size difference makes them less likely to target medium-sized to large snails when compared with other types of hermit crabs.Dwarf Zebra Hermit Crabs


How to keep freshwater fish tank clean, is not that difficult to answer if you are looking for some easy-going fish to add in your aquarium as clean up crew. We have enlisted some fish that can help you with how to keep freshwater fish tank clean.

  • Eartheaters
    One interesting thing about South American cichlids such as Geophagus and Satanoperca is that they have a unique way of feeding. They scoop substrate from the bottom of the tank, filter it through their gills, and digest any edible remains.
    This behavior helps in the absorption of waste by plants in the tank. If you have a tank larger than 55 gallons it would be beneficial to introduce eartheaters into it as peaceful bottom-dwelling fish.
    This fish that clean tanks not only contributes to maintaining a healthy ecosystem but also improves the overall health of your fish.Eartheaters
  • Aquarium Sharks
    Do not underestimate the capabilities of these fish that clean tanks, especially “sharks” when it comes to cleaning tasks.
    They are highly skilled at scavenging leftover food and devouring algae, with rainbow sharks being particularly adept in this regard. To ensure peaceful living environment, it is recommended to keep one of them in a tank that has a capacity of 30 gallons or more.
    You can also enjoy the diversity of fish that clean tanks by choosing from different options such as black, albino, and vibrant Goldfish variations.Red Tail Shark

Best Yet Dangerous Clean up Crew

Since we have familiarized you with all what kind of fish cleans the tank, have a look at the dangerous yet best freshwater aquarium clean up crew!

  • Emerald Crab: The Emerald Crab is a great scavenger that primarily feeds on leftover food and nuisance algae. However, it’s important to be cautious of their aggressive behavior when there is limited food available as they can pose a threat to small fish and corals.Emerald Crab
  • Sea Hare: If you’re dealing with green hair algae, the Sea Hare (specifically Dolabella) is an exceptional feeder for this type of algae. But keep in mind that this best freshwater aquarium clean up crew releases a purple dye when startled, which can be harmful to fish. Be cautious!Sea Hare
  • Urchins: Urchins are nocturnal best freshwater aquarium clean up crew members that specialize in eating algae like the Blue and Red Tuxedo varieties. While they do an excellent job at cleaning, you need to be careful as they tend to take away some beneficial Coralline algae.Urchins
  • Sea Stars: For effective detritus cleaning without causing harm to other organisms in your reef tank, consider using Sand Sifting Sea Stars. They are peaceful creatures and reef-friendly but may end up consuming other members of your best freshwater aquarium clean up crew. So, you need to take proper precautions before adding them!Sea Stars

What Kind of Fish Clean Aquariums – 30 Gallon Tank

  • 4 Nassarius Snail
  • 6 Bumblebee Snails
  • 6 Trochus Snail
  • 1 Peppermint Shrimp or Cleaner Shrimp
  • 1 Fighting Conch
  • 4 Blue-Legged Hermit Crab
  • 6 Cerith Snail

What Kind of Fish Clean Aquariums – 20 Gallon Tank

  • 2 Ocellaris Clownfish (Amphiprion ocellaris)
  • 4 Nassarius Snail
  • 4 Bumblebee Snails
  • 3 Trochus Snail
  • 1 Peppermint Shrimp or Cleaner Shrimp
  • 1 Fighting Conch
  • 3 Blue-Legged Hermit Crab
  • 3 Cerith Snail

What Kind of Fish Clean Aquariums – 10 Gallon Tank

  • 1 Royal Gramma (Gramma loreto)
  • 3 Nassarius Snail
  • 3 Bumblebee Snails
  • 2 Trochus Snail
  • 1 Peppermint Shrimp or Cleaner Shrimp
  • 1 Fighting Conch

When Should You Introduce Fish that Clean Tank?

Once you’ve set up your saltwater aquarium with live rock and completed its cycling process, it’s a good idea to bring in the best freshwater clean up crew before introducing any fish.

This way, you can tackle any concerns related to die-off and initial algae growth right from the start.

Start by adding hardy snails and crabs to the tank first. It’s best to wait until there is a visible buildup of algae and detritus before bringing in sand-sifting starfish as they will help keep these issues under control.

Remember that it’s important to introduce members of the cleanup crew gradually over time so that they have sufficient food available.


One answer to how to keep freshwater fish tank clean is adding a cleanup crew! These beneficial creatures, including algae-eating fish and scavenging invertebrates, are essential for reducing the amount of maintenance required while creating a healthy aquatic environment.

By introducing these helpful organisms into your tank, you can enjoy a well-balanced ecosystem with less effort and will not be thinking about how to keep freshwater fish tank clean anymore!

Scott Evans

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