What are Bottom Feeder Fish

Naturally occurring bottom-dwelling fish can help maintain freshwater or saltwater waters by absorbing carbon dioxide, improving the water quality by constantly stirring up bottom sediment, eating aquatic organisms, and some kinds of algae that populate the water’s floor, and are considered bottom-feeder aquatic species themselves. What are bottom-feeder fish?

Bottom Feeder Fish are Fresh or Saltwater fish that feed mostly at the bottom taking their food from the silt and mud and are considered detritivore species which means that they are opportunists eating algae, plants & dead organic material from the bottom floor of a lake or sea floor.

Bottom Feeders usually have a differently shaped body and a mouth that is positioned very low or even facing downward towards the water’s bottom like on a Sucker or Carp in freshwater or a stingray in saltwater. If you are fishing on the bottom then it’s most likely you’ll be meeting one of these fish in this article even though you may have had no intention of doing so.


Ocean Bottom Feeder Fish


In the deep ocean waters, bottom fishing projects the image of saltwater fish that live on the sea floor sucking prey from the silt and mud. The truth is that plenty of clean great-tasting fish lives close to the ocean bottom. Some of the bottom-feeder fish species are detritivores, which means that they eat dead organic material from the bottom.

In the ocean, deep-sea bottom feeders eat jellyfish and squid, and in doing so, they absorb carbon dioxide keeping it from going back into the atmosphere helping the ecosystem. One ocean Bottom fish that many people consider a bottom feeder is the Tilapia fish.

In the wild, Tilapia and other types of Bottom dwellers can usually eat around the mid-level of the water column, although they will go to the bottom for food if they can’t find suitable food anywhere else. When they can find it, they opt for a diet of algae and plants that are found on the bottom. Flounders actually lie flat on their side on the sea bottom perfectly symmetric to the environment.

Many scientists have assumed that bottom feeders get most of their energy from tiny particles of organic matter that settle on the seafloor. But ocean researchers found, instead, that at least half or more of all the fish living on the seafloor might get their food source from animals that migrate through the water column at different depths each day between the surface and deep water, like jellyfish, cephalopods, and small fish.

Many types of seafood that are found in the supermarket are considered Bottom Fish like Cod or Lobster is considered healthy and clean. These types of ocean life just like the Bottom Feeders in freshwater don’t stay on the ocean floor but will move in search of food at different levels of the water column. If the seafood is farmed then they are normally fed from the surface at the tops of tanks so it wouldn’t ever even have been to the bottom of the ocean.

Fish & Shellfish that are considered Ocean Bottom Feeder Fish:

  • Flounder
  • Sea Bass
  • Cod
  • Lobster
  • Crab
  • Halibut.
  • Shrimp.
  • Sole
  • Scallops
  • Grouper
  • Snapper
  • Skate

Farmed fish and seafood are raised in a clean and healthy environment, fed a balanced diet, and are Certified by Best Seafood Practices worldwide.


Freshwater Bottom Feeder Fish


Bottom feeders fish by definition are those fish species that feed on the bottom of a body of water. If you are any sort of freshwater fisherman then you know the drill stays off the bottom of the water so you won’t hook any trash fish like Carp, Catfish, or eels that live on the bottom of rivers and lakes around the country. But what other types of freshwater fish are considered Bottom dwellers that you may want to catch?

In deep lakes like Lake, Michigan Lake Trout, and even King Salmon can be found all the way down at the bottom to feed particularly on Alewives their food of choice but they are moving through the water column to find food and cooler temperatures. They are visiting this part of a lake or river, not staying like the giant Bottom Feeder Sturgeon Fish that lays in the depths of freshwater ponds and rivers and waits for dinner.


Why Do Fish Have Scales?

Fish scales act like armor protecting fish from scrapes on rocks & branches protecting the fish from injury, & shielding fish from predators. Scales provide defense against parasites. They make fish more aerodynamic & help them move through the water faster up, down, or sideways without changing .………………………………………………………………… Read more



What is a Blobfish?

Blobfish (Psychrolutes-marcidus) also known as a Flathead Sculpin is a foot-long pink fish found in deep H2O (2-4,000 ft) off Australia & New Zealand discovered in 2003. It lacks a skeleton & swim bladder & the surface’s lower pressure becomes distorted giving it the World’s Ugliest Animal Title ……………………………………………………………….. Read more


Bottom Feeding Fish are usually built differently than other fish and have a flat body type and a mouth that is positioned very low or even facing downward towards the water’s bottom like on a Sucker or Carp in freshwater or a stingray in saltwater. If you are fishing on the bottom then it’s most likely you’ll be meeting one of these fish and trying to pull them off your hook.

Mouth shape enables them to collect any kind of materials and even live organisms from the bottom like a vacuum cleaner. Some bottom feeders are herbivores while others can be predators or omnivores.

There are different Carp species like silver, common, grass, bighead, crucian, and black carp. All of them get a part of their food from the bottom and they frequent bottom feeder fish for ponds, rivers, and lakes alongside the different species of Catfish.

The most popular freshwater Bottom Feeders, the Catfish come in many different species like flathead, wels, channel, and blue. Catfish are opportunist eaters and will come up if there is some food available.

Believe it or not, the Bass is also a partial bottom feeder, although it is a predatory fish. There are different species of bass, including striped, largemouth, smallmouth, and spotted that will come down to the bottom of a river or lake looking for mussels, perch, frogs, or minnows that live in the grassy bottoms making them a candidate for a Freshwater Bottom Feeder Fish.


What’s the Difference Between Fluke and Flounder?

Flounder(Winter Flounder)
have eyes on the right side
smaller in size
darker- reddish/olive green color
smaller mouth & flatter teeth

Fluke (Summer Flounder)
have eyes on the left side of their body
much lighter/brown color
have three-ringed, eye-like spots on their back & tail
bigger mouth & sharper teeth .…………………………………………………………………………………………….. Read more


JimGalloway Author/Editor


Slo-Fishing-Bottom Feeder Fish

NOAA– Fisheries 



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