I haven't had any problems with plecos-or-algae eaters. I have seen them actively eating any algae they can find and at other times just laying around-catching a few rays and taking it easy... :lol: ...no trouble stirring up more debris/muck..than any of my other cichids etc.
I've got several plecos; rhino, common, bristlenose and I also have a flying fox (not in the same tank). All of these fish do a very nice job of keeping their respective tanks algae free- big bonus is that I like them too!
The best cleanup crew I've ever had is an army of Cardinia japonica, Parotocinclus jumbo and Crossocheilus siamensis. I also found Stiphodan elegans to be a help but they are pretty delicate and not for the average community.
My Adonis plec is a beautiful fish, not only that but put it into a tank covered in algae and within a matter of days the tank will be absolutely spotless, he's a one fish cleanup crew, with attitude... Not too bad on the poop front either.
As for what CAE's, well the name in itself is an annoyance due to the incorrect notion it presents which is that these are good algae eaters, when in fact they are far happier to latch on to the side of one of your fish and chow down (seen it, several times). Mind you if they called it "increasingly vicious unsuspecting fish killer" they'd probably lose a lot of sales to the unknowing aquarist.
I wouldn't ever waste my money on one, I don't see why they are even for sale when the true Siamensis looks just as good, stays a bit smaller, isn't as vicious and actually eats algae....
Regarding plecos the only plec's I've ever gone for are Golden Nuggets, which I've found to be as unobtrusive as they get, the Parotocinclus which are excellent in a planted tank, and the Adonis pleco, which is a straight up algae munching machine. None of the ones I've listed have ever pooped in massive amounts, in fact I can't see any poop anywhere in any of my tanks....
There are so many varieties out there that you can, within reason, pretty much find any fish for any task. As has been said, keeping one does not foretell the behaviour of others, even of the same species/variant. These are creatures that have diversified so massively to encompass the ability to survive in equally diverse habitats, with time, patience, and research, you can find the right fish for the task, without going through mountains of pleco poop to get there.
I think corydoras are better for cleaning, hands down.
We have one form of Asian algae eater in the 29g tiger barb tank. Not great at algae eating. Can't say I like him much... and he's just a spaz when I clean the tank.
As for plecos, depends on what you want them for.
Our bristlenose plecos work pretty hard, but you don't see them much. Our sailfin pleco has reached the "huge and useless" phase of 12+ inches. Largest pleco that I have yet to see. Simply a pooping machine. So not much use as a "cleaner" fish.... but, just a darn impressive fish to watch... which is why we keep fish in the first place, isn't it? Though, I'll concede that our NW cichlids have the bonus of personality which is why I really enjoy our tanks.
Still, the best was to limit algae is to keep the nitrates and phosphates down with regular water changes.
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