Monday 13 October 2014

Glass Lily Pipe Cleaning - By Cherry Shrimps + Otocinclus

No matter how algae free we keep our tanks... over time the pristine glass lily pipes will eventually be covered in algae. Algae eaters like shrimps, otocinclus and snails aren't able to access and clean it properly as the filter is constantly in operation.

I gradually discovered that whenever i switch off my canister filters for a few minutes while feeding the fishes, the cherry shrimps and otocinclus always try to rush into the glass lily outflow pipe and munch on the algae accumulated there.

So i ended up practicing a maintenance routine which involves simply switching off the canister filter for a longer duration of 15-20 minutes once a week (not too long to avoid starving the filter's beneficial bacteria). This allows the cherry shrimps and otocinclus time to have a nice "bonus" algae meal and at the same time help clean the glass lily pipe too. :)

Here is a video i managed to capture of the cherry shrimps and otocinclus doing some algae clearing work...

The video was originally around 7 minutes long, but i sped it up by 5x to give an accelerated view of how the glass lily pipe is cleaned. Observe how the shrimp at the top of the glass lily pipe consumes the green algae.

On an important "safety" note, if you are practicing this routine, do keep an eye on the shrimps and otocinclus while they are doing the algae cleaning work, there are times when they may get too enthusiastic and start to swim into the pipe to try to get at more algae, like this curious otocinclus at the right side of the photo...

There was once i stepped out of the room for a while and when i returned a few minutes later, one of the otocinclus actually made it past the top bend of the glass lily pipe, and it was busy eating algae all the way down the hose into the canister filter! I had to eventually disconnect the outflow hose just to rescue it.

So if you do spot any of them doing such reckless acts in pursuit of more algae, just switch on the filter momentarily for a split second to create abit of flow and nudge them back out, its much easier than having to rescue them later on. :)


  1. Nice video! Quick question - how do you end up cleaning the inflow pipe? :-)

    BTW, I'm curious what are the red-colored fishes swimming in the background?

    1. Thanks!

      Although the shrimps and otocinclus help clean the glass lily pipe, there will always still be some residual algae left on it... so i just disconnect the hoses and clean it manually with a flexible pipe brush as part of regular tank maintenance.

      The red colored fishes swimming in the background are a species called Boraras Brigittae. :)

  2. Just a suggestion: prepare a small wad of filter pad or a piece of netting from an old broken net and stuff it into the neck of the lily pipe after you turn off the filter.

  3. Hi, happy holidays first. :) I have a question for you, I also have Brigittae and they hate the filter, it's too strong for them so I only leave it on for a couple of hours then turn it off for the rest of the day and night, what kind of filter do you use? I'm guessing it's external, have you used HOB? Are they silent like internal filters? Mine is set at minimum and they still hate the filter so it's driving me crazy, I can't not use it at all because I can't clean up the tank with the hose every day cause that would stress them too, so I'm stuck, how do I filter their goddamn water?! :P Also used the airstone, they hate that too... It would be great if you could help, have a lovely holiday with your loved ones and your fab tank. :)

    1. Its best to leave the filter on 24/7 as switching it off for long periods of time will cause the beneficial bacteria inside to be starved of oxygen and die, which will in turn mess up and reset your tank cycle each time.

      I use external Eheim canister filters for most of my tanks. They are silent, don't take up tank space and don't transfer heat or vibrations into the tank (compared to internal filters). There are also taps on the filter outflows which i can adjust lower to reduce the overall current when required.

      If your fishes are having difficulty swimming due to the strong filter current, you'll need to reduce the filter flow by adjusting the output tap (if available), or redirecting the outflow towards the glass or higher towards the surface, or adding objects like wood/rocks to block and dissipate the outflow. Just have to try various methods and see which work best for your setup.

      Hope that helps! :)

  4. Your videos and photos are super duper clear and beautiful! Were those also captured by your macro lens attached to the phone? :D

    1. Interestingly, the photo and video in this post was just taken using my Samsung Note 3 phone camera on default auto settings... i didn't need to use the clip-on macro lens. :)

    2. That was amazing! Really good quality!