What Aquarium Fish eat Poop?

What Aquarium Fish Eat Poop?

Small Fish Swimming in AquariumWhat fish in a home aquarium eat poop? 

This is a mind-boggling and disquieting question that sounds weird to ask. But is it true that aquarium fish eat poop? And if they eat it, what types of fish are engrossed in this act??  

Before we can truly dive deep into this question, we first need to understand what fish poop is. Fish poop is nothing but the excrement of the fish. It is a solid matter that falls to the bottom of the tank. There are many debates on what the ‘normal’ colour of fish poop is; However, it is generally accepted that fish poop will be a similar colour to what the fish has eaten (e.g., green if eating algae wafers, or pink if eating shrimp).  

In contrast to humans, fish poop contains less ammonia, as it is released from their gills as inorganic waste instead. Fish poop also does not contain many nutrients that will aid in their growth and development, meaning it is less viable as a food source.  

After acquainting yourself with what fish poop is, the big question about whether there are any fish that eat poop is further explained in this article. We’ve documented all the intricacies concerning fish poop. Be rest assured that after reading this article, you’ll not only understand what fish eat poop but the best steps to clean fish poop in your tank.? 

 For more insights, let’s dive in to gain more insight into your aquarium! The following are some of the topics we’ll be discussing:  

  • Do fish eat poop? 
  • What types of fish eat poop? 
  • What will reduce fish poop in an aquarium? 
  • Quick steps for cleaning poop in your fish tank.  
  • Can the aquarium plant survive on fish poop? 
  • Why some aquariums have so much fish waste? 

Do Gold Fish Eat Poop In AquariumDo fish eat poop? 

As stated earlier, fish waste lacks any nutrients that can help another fish in its growth and complexity. While some fish might sniff through the poop of another fish and eat it because they think it is food, the poop will have no nutritional value such as that found in regular fish food.  

Without proper nutrients, your fish won’t be able to thrive in their tank and can even become sick without them. Nutrients provide fish with the energy that is needed to support their basic metabolic needs, allow them to grow, reproduce, and maintain their daily fish activities.  

Admittedly, fish like eating anything they come across in their aquariums, and that includes?poop if it has not yet been removed from the tank.?So how can we control this to ensure our fish are getting the nutrients they need?  

What types of fish eat poop? 

Some of the fish that eat fish waste include Corydoras and?Plecostomus?catfish. But even if they take in their waste as food, the poop lacks potential nutrients to help them. They must be fed a regular, healthy fish diet to nourish their body with proper ingredients from the food. The waste left at the bottom of the tank does not provide the fish with any benefits, so it needs to be removed regularly.? 

What will reduce fish poop in your fish tank??Do Tropical Fish Eat Poop?

For first time fish owners, this question may seem challenging at first. But you have to understand that no fish can feed solely on their poop. In other words, there are no species of fish in this world that will eat waste products from your sand to make your tank clean. Even cleaner crew fish can’t eat waste as a means of nutrients.  

Other organisms that live on the bottom of the tank (aka bottom feeders), that sift through the sand may grab some fish waste, causing you to believe that they feed on it. However, this is usually not the case either. In actuality, a tank that has several organisms will have more waste products. This can cause issues if you don’t regularly clean the aquarium tank because the water inside can be polluted and deter air circulation potentially leading to other health issues. 

There is no way to truly reduce the amount of fish poop in your tank, it is just something yo will have to deal with if you want to own fish. Therefore, the best way to remove fish poop from your tank and keep it clean is to stick to a regular vacuuming schedule for your tank, to provide a clean environment for your fish. 

Quick steps for cleaning poop in your tank.  

  • Before cleaning your tank, you have to choose whether you want to move your fish out of the tank or not. If you want to vacuum your tank, you can opt for either, as vacuuming can be a non-invasive to the fish.  
  • To vacuum while the fish are still in the tank, ensure you move any aquarium decorations away from the area you want to vacuum.  
  • Carefully vacuum around the fish using a gravel vacuum or aquarium siphon.  
  • If you decide to move your fish out of the tank to do a complete clean of your tank, make sure where you place them in the meantime is a space free from harmful chemicals and uses aquarium water in what they are stored in while the tank is being cleaned so the fish are at a comfortable temperature. It is also good practice to ensure you are handling your fish carefully as they generally do not like to be touched.  
  • Ensure you unplug all the tank’s equipment before moving the fish. You should clean the equipment separately.?Filters?are crucial since they help to filter out some of the other debris that accumulates in the tank. If you damage the filter, any beneficial bacteria that has grown might be lost.? 
  • Remove any aquarium decorations and give them a clean separately.  
  • Clean out any poop you find. Most fish attendants simply utilise a siphon to eliminate the fish waste along with different plant debris, dirt, and fish waste in the tank. Turkey basters are also a popular tool that fish keepers use to keep their tank clean.  
  • Before returning the fish to the tank, and you have finished cleaning it, be sure to check the water parameters and ensure they are at the levels they originally were prior to cleaning. The level of ammonia in the tank should never be above 0.0 ppm. Any higher than this can cause the fish and their tank mates to die or become sick.  
  • The level of nitrate in the aquarium can be slightly higher, usually around 5 to 10 ppm to ensure the best standard of tank health. This helps reduce algae growth, as high nitrates can cause large, unwanted algae blooms.  

Before you try to rely on fish that eat poop to clean your tank, you should consider that most freshwater fish do not eat fish poop in the first place. 

Thriving Carp In AquariumCan aquarium plants survive on fish poop? 

One question you may have about the waste a fish produces is whether it will be beneficial for aquarium plants and act as a fertiliser. Animal wastes, such as the waste produced by cows, can be turned into manure. So, can we say fish poop has the same beneficial advantage?  

If you decide to include live plants in your aquarium, fish poop can be used to help fertilise the plants. However, it can’t fully substitute as a fertiliser, and can cause other issues in the tank such as impacting the water quality as well as water flow. Aquatic plants may help with some of the waste, but overall, they won’t do a lot to take care of all the poop.  

Experts still recommend that aquarium owners still clean the fish tank regularly with a gravel vacuum or siphon hose to ensure the fishes inside are living in a clean tank to ensure they don’t get sick.  

Do Gold Fish Eat poop in AquariumWhy do aquariums have so much fish waste?  

One thing you may be surprised by is the sheer amount of fish poop that can accumulate in your tank. Fish excrete two kinds of faeces, which are solid (poop) and liquid (pee). And not only do fish produce copious amounts of these wastes but they also release toxins into the water through their gills, especially if they are in fish tanks that are not clean. This can be due to a number of reasons.  

  • Your aquarium may have a lot of organisms inside, and the more organisms there are, the more waste they will produce.  
  • Your tank might also be full of fish waste if you don’t measure the amount of food, you are feeding your fish. You can measure the food intake you give your fish by their body size, condition, and their development stage.? 
  • Some fish tend to eat much at a certain stage as they progress. Baby fish will need a lot of food to facilitate their growth.?However, if you provide too much food, it won’t be eaten. Uneaten food is then left to sink to the bottom of the tank and rot.  


We’ve only seen a few fish that eat poop to help clean up your aquarium. However, poop is on the whole considered a waste product that needs to be cleaned up in order to promote health in the tank. Waste products will pollute the ambiance of the fish and for sufficient oxygen circulation, the water in the tank must be maintained clean through pumping. Removing the fish waste in your tank is vital, and you cannot rely on clean up crew fish to do the job for you.