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Freshwater Algae Eaters

There are different species of freshwater algae eaters that can be purchased for your fish tank. Read more to find out which freshwater algae eating fish are best suited for you.
All bottom-dwelling fish which feed on algae are most commonly called algae eaters. People who enjoy keeping fish and aquariums in their houses need to purchase freshwater algae eaters for keeping their aquariums clean. These fish help eliminate the algae in the aquarium and work as an anti-algae arsenal because of their appetite. Now, not all of these aquatic animals have the same appetite or eat all types of algae. So you need to make sure that the ones you choose to be a part of your fish tank have the compatibility to live for long term and provide you with satisfied results. As there are various types of freshwater algae eaters, which come in different shapes and sizes, we will go through each of the algae eaters one by one.

Freshwater Algae-eating Fish

The first thing you need to look for in any algae eater is its size. There has to be a balance in these non-aggressive animals, so that they don't get too big for the tank. Which is why, smaller fish fit perfectly for any household aquarium or tank.

Siamese Algae Eater
This fish eats huge amounts of thread and brush algae, along with planarians (freshwater flatworms), which can create nuisance in an aquarium. As these fish are very territorial, keeping them in large groups can be an issue. So, keep either single or a group of 5 if you have a large fish tank (minimum tank size for 2 adult Siamese algae eaters is 100 liters). This fish is related to Red-tailed Sharks and other similar species. Due to their aggressive nature, they should not be kept together with their relatives, unless it is a long, well-planted tank. They are very easy to keep as they eat just about anything, such as pellets, live foods, flake food, parboiled vegetables, etc. They remove algae from living plants, decorations and the tank glass very easily and without harming them. But, do make sure to cover your tank, as they have the tendency to jump really high above the water.

Otocinclus Catfish
Throughout South America, Otocinclus catfish are found in rapid rivers. They only grow up to 5 cm, which is why they are well-suited for the job. A planted tank is a perfect abode for these tan and black peppered fish. Otocinclus are considered as the best leaf cleaners, as they remove the algae from them without harming the leaves. Their main concentration lies in young algae rather than the grown algae. This works out perfectly because as soon as they eat the young algal, the tank stays cleaner more often and keeps the growth very low. Similar to other catfish, Otocinclus love bogwood as well, so add a piece to the tank. If the amount of algae reduces and the Otocinclus don't have anything to eat, place blanched zucchini on a piece of bogwood once every week. Avoid feeling them sinking catfish tablets, algae wafers, lettuce, spinach, and cucumber, as they tend to ignore it.

Amano Shrimp
Amano Shrimp are also called Yamato Numa Ebi. They are one of the best algae eating shrimp available in the market. They only grow up to 5 cm, which is why they are a great addition to small tanks. As a busy algae eater, their main concentration goes to all algae except for the green spot and blue-green algae. One important aspect you should be aware of about Amono Shrimp is that if they are regularly fed with commercial food, they will decrease their algae intake altogether. Regarding water requirements for shrimp, make sure the water is treated with dechlorinators. The reason being, chlorine is dangerous for their habitat. Don't include Amano Shrimp with big fish and Cichlid species, as they tend to eat them. So house them with smaller, more tranquil fish species.

Malaysian Trumpet Snail
These snails grow up to 2 cm only and are a great addition for small, well-planted tanks. They eat algae, leftover food and only dead plant material. These snails have the ability to aerate the gravel in the fish tanks as they spend majority of their time digging themselves through the substrate. They come out of the gravel only at nights, so if you think that your snails are dead or missing, look closely on the gravel surface. You will find them digging their way through. Don't include Malaysian Trumpet Snails with Loaches and Cichlids, as they tend to eat them. Another advantage of choosing these snails is their ability to indicate poor water quality. They require alkaline water to rebuild their shells, and if they find something wrong with the water quality, they tend to come up and stick to the tank glass above the water level.

Bristlenose Plecostomus or Plecos
Bristlenose Plecostomus belong to a group of suckermouth catfish species. Their heads and noses grow up to 10 to 15 cm and they need a continuous supply of green food. Apart from the algae, they tend to feed on blanched vegetables and sinking algae tablets. If there is a shortage of green foods, they will eat Amazon sword plants and other soft-leaf plants. Plecostomus are fairly peaceful and tend to be compatible with other fish (apart from the predatory species). Well oxygenated water is a perfect habitat for these fish.

Other Freshwater Algae-eating Aquatic Animals
  • Ramshorn Snails
  • Twig Catfish
  • Nerite Snails
  • Butterfly Goodeid
  • American Flag-fish
  • Loricariid Catfish
  • Surgeon Fish
  • Sea Urchins
  • Rabbitfish
  • Cherry Shrimp
  • Japonica Shrimp
These algae eaters are wonderful fish, as they are usually peaceful and keep to themselves. Their invaluable service is what keeps your aquarium and house more attractive.
By Sheetal Mandora
Published: 6/7/2010
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