What Eats Fish Poop? How To Clean Poop From A Tank

Most people can agree that the most annoying part of owning a fish tank is having to keep it clean. Fish are living animals, after all, so they are constantly producing waste that we have to clean up.

Is there anything that can make this clean-up process easier? Maybe you’ve thought of adding a ‘clean-up crew’ to your tank.

But, what eats fish poop?

Is There Anything That Eats Fish Poop?

The bad news is that there aren’t any animals that will eat fish poop. That’s not what you wanted to hear, right?

Many people buy ‘clean-up crews’ for their tank hoping that they’ll take care of the fish tank. Then, they’re disappointed that the amount of poop in the tank has only grown!

‘Clean-up crews’ do help keep the tank clean. They’ll eat algae, leftover food, decaying plant matter, and even dead fish.

But, there is no nutritional benefit to them eating poop, so they won’t do it.

What’s The Best Way To Remove Fish Poop From An Aquarium?

Since no animals will eat fish poop, that means you’ll have to clean it! Don’t worry, this isn’t as bad as it sounds. With the right equipment, it can actually be effortless.

Start With A Good Filter

A filter is essential for keeping your aquarium clean. It’s going to remove large particles of waste, like poop and food. Many also have chemical filtration to remove things like ammonia from the water.

You should also use the filter to your advantage. If you have a larger tank, you can set up powerheads inside your tank. They will push out a flow of water that can direct any sinking poop directly towards your filter’s intake.

You should also use a sponge with your filter. Some filters automatically come equipped with a sponge while others don’t.

If yours doesn’t have a sponge, then try attaching one to the intake tube. As the poop gets sucked toward the filter, it will get caught on the sponge. Then, you can take the sponge out and clean it rather than having to clean a bunch of poop out of the filter.

Gravel Vacuum

A gravel vacuum is a must-have for any aquarium owner. This will be your best friend. Not only does it make doing water changes a breeze, but it effortlessly sucks any poop out of your gravel.

When a fish poops, that poop sinks to the bottom of the tank. If you have substrate, like most of us do, then the poop will get stuck between the substrate.

You will place the gravel filter in the tank, start the suction, and it will begin pulling water out. Then, you will stick the suction tube into the gravel and shake it around. This will dislodge any poop and leftover food and suck it out through the tube.

If you have a lighter substrate, like sand, you won’t want to stick the gravel vacuum into the substrate. This is likely to get sucked up. Instead, place the head of the suction tool just above the layer of substrate. Instead of sucking it up, it will stir around the substrate to dislodge the waste.

Add Plants

Plants won’t get rid of poop, but they will use it to their advantage. The roots will use any remaining nutrients left in the poop to nourish the plant. So, fish poop can be helpful for a time before you get around to cleaning it up.

A ‘Clean-Up Crew’ Can Still Help Your Aquarium!

Although ‘clean-up crews’ won’t eat poop, they’re still a great way to help your aquarium stay clean. So, they’re definitely an asset to have.

Algae eaters like plecos, otocinclus, and shrimp will help keep your tank free of algae.

Bottom feeders like corydoras, loaches, shrimp, and crabs help eat leftover fish food.

Just remember, while these animals won’t eat fish poop, they will produce more of it themselves. So, before adding a ‘clean-up crew’, make sure that you have room for them.


As we said, there are no animals that will eat fish poop so you don’t have to clean it up. There’s simply no nutritional value in that.

But, get yourself a nice filter and gravel vacuum. You’ll have no trouble keeping your aquarium clean and poop-free!

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