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Demon Knifefish 01-17-2013 05:06 AM

Best algae eaters
Hello everyone!

I'm a newcomer here with a question. Are there any fish that can effectively eat algae that exceed 3 inches in length?

Demon Knifefish

NoUniqueSnowflake 01-17-2013 07:21 AM

The true Siamese Algae Eater (Crossocheilus siamensis) can get up to 6" long, and is an excellent eater of many different kinds of algae. Bristlenose plecos grow to around 4-5" and are effective at eating algae on flat surfaces, such as the aquarium glass.

danielt 01-17-2013 10:08 AM

I've never heard of a creature to eat algae as long as the next best thing is available. Even snails will eat fish food before algae. Besides Nerite snails and Otos there' no other creature that eats algae exclusively.

Be weary of this! SAE become lazy bastards once they grow, Amano shrimp will eat algae as a last resort.

All algae eating creatures prefer dying algae or dead plant matter. Don't be surprised if you don't see any activity or the creatures don't put a visible dent in the algal population.

In my shrimp tank I put a floating magnet that was covered with dried BBA and the shrimps went nuts over it. The live algae is fine otherwise.

roadmaster 01-17-2013 11:14 AM

Herotilapia multispinosa love algae, but also enjoy nibbling plant's and need other food's.
One of only a few fish that will eat filamentous algae

CrypticLifeStyle 01-17-2013 12:00 PM

+1 for nerite snails. They are fast movers too.

micheljq 01-17-2013 01:36 PM


I did have otos, snails, amano shrimps. They are all algae eater they were eating algae. But I always had to clean the tank myself regularly despite this. If there is an algae outbreak, they will not clean the mess, snails may reproduce in response to algae outbreak, but it takes them too long to adjust, so anyway the tank keeper will have to do something himself.

I never saw anyone of them eating filamentous algae, maybe some snails on the filamentous, eating some, but at best it is only reducing filamentous algae growth a little.

I never saw any of those touching cyanobacteria.

They are quite selective on what they eat, one day they may feed on flakes fallen on the bottom, one day they may clean a glass of it's algae, for example cleaning the left glass, leaving the algae on the other 3 glasses, and then don't touch them for 2 weeks, and go cleaing a root or some echinodorus leaves instead. Even so, they had to habit to leave a lot of algae on the echinodorus leaves, the algae continues growing and the otos can go regularly snacking on those. It's like they do it on purpose to have some algae reserves to snack.

I had to share my little experience with them, they help, they do not do miracles. One day I purchase 4 otos and they clean almost completely my 20 gallons of diatoms, then filamentous algae arrived and they were not touching that algae at all, and then the otos must have been starving in the pet shop, they ate like pigs the first week and after that only little algae.

Maybe algae eaters should be acquired because we love them. Not to have them as mess cleaners, which they do only if they want and when they want and what they want, one maybe grazing on a diatom algae for example and ignore completely and other kind of algae. Then you may want to stock different kind of algae eaters hoping that the mix will attack all of kind of algae but there will always be some kind of algae left untouched.


MiniFishRoom 01-17-2013 01:47 PM

Flag fish (Jordanella floridae) does great job eating hair algae.
Don't feed them anything and they will clean your tank of all hair algae.

If it's algae on the glass... Nerit snails does an awesome job too.

CrypticLifeStyle 01-17-2013 02:52 PM

Just a quick note on nerite snails. From what i know, and what i've seen with mine is they dont reproduce like most tank snails, unless they are in brackish water which i doubt you have. Maybe be mistaken but if thats a concern that would be my 2 cents to add. Mine the zebra snail version of nerite snails do the glass, driftwood, sand, and any algae on plants. But no matter what, like micheljq said, there is always going to be manual involvement of removal at some level. Pleco's i would say are less efficient then snails. Though they are called algae eaters, they mostly scavenge the bottom for uneaten food, eat the driftwood, and at times at least with the 5 kinds i have MAYBE eat any algae off the rocks.

Calmia22 01-17-2013 03:03 PM

I have a bristlenose pleco and some ottos in my 75. The tank is very clean. I do have a little issue with green spot algae which I have to scrub off myself, but anything else they take care of. I also have 1 nerite snail in my nano tank. It was covered in algae when I put him in there. A month later and now I just have nerite snail eggs everywhere.

Demon Knifefish 01-18-2013 04:30 AM

Alright, so I've narrowed it down to TSAE or Bristlenose Plecos. Nerite Snails seem too sensitive to my conditions and ottos will get eaten by a variety of fish in my tank (African Knife, Black Ghost Knife, Ropefish, Leopard Ctenopoma, yeah you get the point). My main purpose to get some of these guys is to remove algae off of plant leaves. I have some problems with this and some of my plants just break their leaves off when I rub them :(. Also, cleaning the tank is hard because of the sheer size and the algae always refuses to leave my plant's leaves. The tank is 40 in. by 12 in. by 18 in.

smiller 01-19-2013 12:04 PM

It all comes down of course to what kind of algae you have. For me my bristlenose plecos are my best algae eaters for what pops up in my tank. The other day I noticed that one of my anunbia leaves was semi-covered with some sort of algae. I planned to cut it off. The next day it was spotless.

Borikuan 01-19-2013 12:28 PM


Originally Posted by danielt (Post 2266186)

Be weary of this! SAE become lazy bastards once they grow...

And the SOB wont die either, the one fish purchase I regret :mad:

Koro-chan 02-15-2013 03:19 AM

SAE are the worst when full grown; they don't eat algae. They become predators from my experience. Not a fan.

Rich Guano 02-15-2013 04:12 AM

Let me offer a different approach,

Have you considered floating plants? Like Salvinia or duckweed...

They offer shade to the tank to minimize algae growth.
They suck up excess nutrients to minimize algae growth.
They are very attractive.
There Aeriel advantage helps support the rest of the tanks inhabitants.

Also I would recommend trumpet snails
They eat algae
Stir the substrate
Hide under the substrate during the day
Blah, blah, blah

VAtanks 02-15-2013 02:24 PM

If you have an SAE that doesn't eat algea as an adult then more than likely you have a flying fox and not a true SAE. I have one in a 20gallon and I feed him algae waffers because its all he eats. Many LFS sell Flying foxes as SAE, which as adults do not eat anything. anything as in Algea

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