How many hate algae blooms in their aquariums? Although algae can look great in your aquarium, they only look good in small amounts. It’s easy for algae to spread out of control, which is why you need to keep its growth in check.
The go-to method of keeping algae in check is getting algae-eaters. There are various freshwater algae-eaters to choose from, such as snails, shrimps, and algae-eating fish. They are cheap and will help increase the variety of aquatic wildlife in your tank, and at the same time, they keep your freshwater fish tank clean.
The main issue that algae eater fish have is compatibility with other fishes. Their main job is to eat the algae and keep the tank clean, but not to be eaten themselves. You must know which algae-eating fish can live harmoniously with the rest of the fish in your tank.
You will need to have a good knowledge of the fish that eat algae that you already have. Additionally, you can ask your dealer which freshwater algae-eaters will get along well with the rest of the fish.
In this article, we will mention some of the algae-eaters that you can get for your tank. Listed below are the best freshwater algae eater fish that you can introduce straight away.
Siamese Algae Eater
The first in our list of algae-eaters in terms of effectiveness is Siamese Algae Eater. Siamese algae eater tops the list because they are not only low maintenance but they are also beautiful. They also have persistent cleaning abilities. Along with the algae that grow in your tank, the Siamese algae eater will also feed on leftover fish food pellets, vegetables, flake food, and live food like bloodworms.
The Siamese algae eater fish grows up to 2 inches lengthwise. These persistent algae predators are perfect for tanks of all sizes, and they are non-aggressive, which means that they will live harmoniously with other fish species. However, they can get territorial if species of their kind surround them.
When it comes to the living conditions, Siamese algae eater is usually easy to care for. As mentioned before, they are low maintenance. They need a lot of oxygen, and the water temperature should ideally be 25 degrees Celsius. They prefer to have ample space for swimming and plenty of living plants. Larger tanks are good, but a 10-gallon fish tank should be good enough since they are small.
Siamese algae eaters are excellent jumpers. So to ensure that they don’t jump out of the tank, make sure that the tank is covered at all times. Also, they have a large appetite which means that they seldom leave any leftovers behind.
Another excellent addition to the list of algae-eaters is the twig catfish, also known as Whiptail catfish. This small freshwater algae eater fish can grow up to 20 centimeters in length, and their slender brown stick-like bodies make for excellent camouflage in a busy aquarium.
Suitable tankmates for the twig catfish include tetras, rasboras, hatchets, and pencil fish. If you keep Cichlids and Barbs, then it’s advised not to keep the catfish as they are very vulnerable to be attacked by the larger fish.
These algae-eating tropical fish (Twig Catfish) like to hide, so try to set up the tank in such a way that they have a lot of places to hide.
The catfish species, in general, are okay with small spaces, the twig catfish is no different, and if your water capacity is over 70 liters, you will be fine. They like their environment to be consistent such that any drastic water change can affect them big time.
When it comes to the feeding habits of these fish, they consume all types of algae, and if you want them to survive and grow well, you can supplement them with algae tablets 2 to 3 times a week.
The next addition in our list of algae eats the Otocinclus Catfish, also known as the Dwarf sucker and Otos. It’s similar to the fish that eats bacteria in the ocean.
The most significant advantage of having these algae-eating fish in your tank is their size. You can easily incorporate them without having to worry about overcrowding your tank. Also, they can get into the nooks and crannies of the aquarium and eliminate any hard-to-reach algae.
They grow up to be two inches, but don’t get fooled by their small size as they have a very hearty appetite. The “dwarf suckers” will live on all types of algae and aquatic vegetation, but their favorite is brown and soft green algae.
Otos usually live in harmony with other fish that eat algae. However, because of their small size, they are known to be attacked by angelfish and cichlids, so keep that fact in mind before purchasing them.
Another addition to this list of freshwater algae eaters is the Bristlenose Plecos. They grow up to 15 centimeters in length. These aquarium sucker fish can cover a lot of space in the tank when they consume algae.
The main advantage of choosing this aquarium sucker fish is that they eat green algae, which most algae-eaters refuse to eat. Combine their love for green algae with their voracious appetite, and they make an excellent addition to your tank.
In terms of compatibility with other fish, they live pretty peacefully with their tank mates. They come out of their hiding places at night, and even then, their size and passive behavior keep them out of trouble for a long time.
Mollies are not specifically algae-eating tropical fish, but they have earned a spot on our list since they are willing to eat any algae. They, especially black mollies, will eat their fair share of algae, and they tend to do so from rocks and live plants.
However, don’t rely on Mollies to completely eradicate the algae. If you want fish that look pretty and eat some algae, the Mollies are the perfect fish.
Best Algae Eating Snails
While snails may not eat algae as fast as the fishes do, that doesn’t mean that the popularity of snails has diminished over time. Previously snails were the only creatures that fish keepers could use as algae eater snails to control algae growth. So their popularity grew out of necessity.
Recently, the demand for freshwater snails has increased, and people have become more open to the idea of keeping some algae eater snails in their fish tanks.
Below are some of the top snails that double as fish tank algae cleaners and aquarium pets:
This little fella takes the top spot on our list of popular algae eater snails. With their zebra shell and their massive appetite for algae, it’s no surprise as to why they are so popular.
Nerite snails don’t have a specific preference of what algae they like to eat. As long as the algae are in freshwater, it will suit them just fine; they even take care of the harder to eradicate algae, like Green spot algae and green beard algae. They are also bottom dwellers, so they will help clean your substrate.
They grow up to 3 centimeters, but they are very easy targets for fish like Cichlids and Loaches. Therefore, it’s best not to pair these fish and snails together.
For Nerite to grow and survive for the long term, they require water with a pH level of 7 or above, and hard water is usually preferred because the calcium in hard water keeps their shells healthy.
The only problem with these snails is that they breed like crazy, so you are better off with just one snail unless you plan on breeding them. Other than that, they make for great algae eaters.
If you have an aquarium bustling with plants, these algae eater snails would be the best choice for you. Other snails attack the plants and algae matter, but the Ramshorn snails only attack algae and dead leaves.
The ramshorn name was given to the snail because its shell resembled the horn of a ram and the shell color is brownish-red. An adult ramshorn snail can grow up to 2 cms in length, and they need to be kept in waters with a high alkaline level.
These snails are great for cleaning your plants, walls of your aquarium, rocks, decoration, and any of the nooks and crannies in your fish tank. Combine these snails with nerite snails, and you will have a clean and algae-free aquarium.
Large fish like cichlids and loaches will eat the snails, so you can either place the snails in a separate tank or not get fishes that will eat the snails.
Mystery Apple Snail
This algae eater snail is quite the algae muncher; the next addition on our list of algae eat is the Mystery apple snail. Although they are purchased when they are babies, when they grow up, they can be the size of a baseball, so you need to make sure that you have enough space in your tank to house them.
These snails are easy to identify, not only because of their size but also because of their long antennas that sweep across the aquarium floor. Their shells are bright yellow and are also found in shades of brown, purple, and red.
Mystery Apple Snails will eat any algae, but they primarily feast on plant algae, substrate algae, and aquarium glass algae. They are bottom feeders and like to remain at the bottom of the aquarium, cropping the substrate for algae and picking up leftover food. Although they eat any algae, we still suggest you feed Mystery Snails a wide range of aquarium vegetation.
Adult Mystery Snails are mostly safe and will keep to themselves, but the younger, tinier ones may become a target for larger, voracious fish. They also tend to eat live plants if they have an insufficient amount of algae and vegetation to munch on. Thus, make sure they are always well fed.
Overall, the Mystery Apple Snail is a great addition to any aquarium, that is, if you can get your hands on them, for they are getting increasingly harder to find.
Hopefully, this list of algae eater will lighten the burden of searching for the right one for your fish tank. There are numerous aquarium algae eaters out there. Finding one that works for you will make your cleaning days shorter!
Jesse is the principal author of this blog. He is an avid fishkeeper with rich experience spanning several years. He is here to share his knowledge and ensure you also have a guiding compass, as he did with his father.