Siamese algae eater species confusion? - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 18 (permalink) Old 06-11-2019, 01:16 AM Thread Starter
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Siamese algae eater species confusion?

Interestingly, it appears several different related species are known as the Siamese algae eater, all belonging to the genus Crossocheilus. (This does not include the Siamese flying fox, which belongs to genus Epalzeorhynchos.) Seriously Fish lists Crossocheilus atrilimes, langei, and nigriloba; Wikipedia calls it Crossocheilus oblongus, and many other places call it Crossocheilus siamensis.

According to Seriously Fish, "This species is among a handful of near-identical congeners that are traded as ‘Siamese algae-eater’ (often abbreviated to ‘SAE’), ‘Siamese flying fox’ and ‘Crossocheilus siamensis’. The latter name is not valid, however, and is a synonym of Epalzeorhynchos siamensis which is itself a synonym of Crossocheilus oblongus, a species described from Java."

That leaves atrilimes, langei, nigriloba, and oblongus.

Since most fish stores list the SAE as siamensis, which is really oblongus (and Wikipedia calls it oblongus as well), I suspect most of the fish seen in the aquarium trade are oblongus. That said, the other species very closely resemble oblongus.

It seems there are a lot of conflicting reports of the Siamese algae eater's behavior (re: aggression, algae eating, etc.). While it's common knowledge that confusion with the Siamese flying fox is to blame some of the time, I wonder if confusion between various Crossocheilus species could also contribute.
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post #2 of 18 (permalink) Old 06-11-2019, 01:36 AM
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post #3 of 18 (permalink) Old 06-11-2019, 01:43 AM
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Maybe..... but as hard as it is to actually get true SAE much less various types of the species would have to look more at what the concern is.

I will say I wish I could get ahold of the really small SAE, the ones that I think only get to like 2" adult or somewhere along those lines. Only have one LFS around that gets SAE and even then its rare he gets them in. He has one that takes care of one of his tanks (not for sale).
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post #4 of 18 (permalink) Old 06-11-2019, 10:14 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Streetwise View Post
Sidebar: I am only recently back in the hobby, but I have learned the correction of Galaxy Rasbora to Celestial Pearl Danio.
Isn't it interesting when species get reclassified like that? In the reef aquarium world, one of the more popular corals was changed from Acanthastrea lordhowensis to Micromussa lordhowensis. It's colloquially known as an "acan", and there's another Micromussa species already known as a "micro", so no one is quite sure what to call it.

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Maybe..... but as hard as it is to actually get true SAE much less various types of the species would have to look more at what the concern is.

I will say I wish I could get ahold of the really small SAE, the ones that I think only get to like 2" adult or somewhere along those lines. Only have one LFS around that gets SAE and even then its rare he gets them in. He has one that takes care of one of his tanks (not for sale).
The large variation in size is one of the things I keyed in on. Atrilimes stays under 3", whereas langei and nigriloba can both reach 6", and oblongus gets even a little larger than that. Since most seem to report problems only once the SAE gets larger, I'm curious whether atrilimes would maintain its peaceful disposition and its algae eating habits once it matured.


Does anyone know of a source for this smaller species?

Edit: Whether this classification is correct I don't know, but aquariumfish.ecwid.com purports to sell atrilimes here for $4.49. Maybe I'll give one of those a shot in my upcoming 40 breeder.
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post #5 of 18 (permalink) Old 06-14-2019, 01:32 AM Thread Starter
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I've been looking into this a bit more, and it does not get any less confusing. Fortunately, I've found a few people who seem to have made the discovery of these various similar species before me, and it seems they've done a much more thorough job tracking down information.

Source 1 - Aquatic Quotient
Source 2 - Archived copy of dead link in Aquatic Quotient post #2
Source 3 - Aquatic Community

In a nutshell, Crossocheilus langei is the one you want. It has a pointy snout with barbels and a dark blotch between its anus and ventral fin. Its fins are transparent, and it has a black stripe running from the tip of its nose to the back of its tail. It will allegedly eat algae and remain peaceful until the end of its days.

You do not want:
  • Epalzeorhynchos kalopterus (Flying Fox): Not even the right family. It has unmistakable dark patches on its fins.
  • Garra cambodgiensis (False SAE): I wasn't aware of this one, but it's a little trickier to spot than the Flying Fox. Look out for a lateral stripe (the dark line down the side) that ends at the base of the tail, rather than continuing through to the rear of the fish.
  • Crossocheilus oblongus, aka Crossocheilus siamensis: These appear to have a flat snout, where the mouth is on the bottom instead of the front. They do not have the anal blotch.
  • Crossocheilus atrilimes: This one is bad news. Not only does it not eat hair algae, it'll chow down on mosses and fine-leaved plants. Source 1 claims it grows large, but Seriously Fish reported it to be the smallest in the Crossocheilus genus. At any rate, avoid any SAE lookalike lacking barbels on its snout. Source 1 also reports atrilimes to have a fatter midsection with a curved lateral line.
  • Crossocheilus citripinnis: There's not a lot of info on this guy. I can't even find any info on it outside of forums (and Source 2). Source 1 describes it as "The closest looking to the Langei as it also has barbells. Algae eating abilities unknown. Behavior unknown. The absence of a black ventral (anal) blotch, slightly curved lateral black line and a “fatter” tummy (which makes the bottom of the fish less “flat” looking) is the only way to
    tell this apart."

These impostors are likely behind any negative experiences with the SAE. Just make sure to check for that dark ventral blotch before you buy!

Last edited by GeorgeTheGuppy; 06-19-2019 at 05:12 AM. Reason: Added oblongus info, oops.
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post #6 of 18 (permalink) Old 06-14-2019, 01:50 AM
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I have 2 SAE that I purchased when had an outbreak of BBA- I bought them as Crossocheilus oblongus from Wetspot that is better than most at properly identifying their fish. Within a few months they grew quickly ( they get very large) and one killed the other one.

They both ate flake and pelleted foods from the beginning and Ive never seen them have the slightest interest in eating anything else. certainly nothing green. The one I have left can be very aggressive and chases my corydoras on occasion during feeding. I keep threatening him to take to the LFS where he will be sold to someone who gives him less than ideal conditions- but, Im sure I never will.
That is, he will get a reprieve unless he actually kills another fish. But, his aggression towards the corydoras is a short chase- nothing like my cichlids that will chase each other clear across the tank.
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post #7 of 18 (permalink) Old 06-14-2019, 02:20 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GeorgeTheGuppy View Post
I've been looking into this a bit more, and it does not get any less confusing. Fortunately, I've found a few people who seem to have made the discovery of these various similar species before me, and it seems they've done a much more thorough job tracking down information.

Source 1 - Aquatic Quotient
Source 2 - Archived copy of dead link in Aquatic Quotient post #2
Source 3 - Aquatic Community

In a nutshell, Crossocheilus langei is the one you want. It has a pointy snout with barbels and a dark blotch between its anus and ventral fin. Its fins are transparent, and it has a black stripe running from the tip of its nose to the back of its tail. It will allegedly eat algae and remain peaceful until the end of its days.

You do not want:
  • Epalzeorhynchos kalopterus (Flying Fox): Not even the right family. It has unmistakable dark patches on its fins.
  • Garra cambodgiensis (False SAE): I wasn't aware of this one, but it's a little trickier to spot than the Flying Fox. Look out for a lateral stripe (the dark line down the side) that ends at the base of the tail, rather than continuing through to the rear of the fish.
  • Crossocheilus oblongus, aka Crossocheilus siamensis:
  • Crossocheilus atrilimes: This one is bad news. Not only does it not eat hair algae, it'll chow down on mosses and fine-leaved plants. Source 1 claims it grows large, but Seriously Fish reported it to be the smallest in the Crossocheilus genus. At any rate, avoid any SAE lookalike lacking barbels on its snout. Source 1 also reports atrilimes to have a fatter midsection with a curved lateral line.
  • Crossocheilus citripinnis: There's not a lot of info on this guy. I can't even find any info on it outside of forums (and Source 2). Source 1 describes it as "The closest looking to the Langei as it also has barbells. Algae eating abilities unknown. Behavior unknown. The absence of a black ventral (anal) blotch, slightly curved lateral black line and a “fatter” tummy (which makes the bottom of the fish less “flat” looking) is the only way to
    tell this apart."

These impostors are likely behind any negative experiences with the SAE. Just make sure to check for that dark ventral blotch before you buy!
I didn't have much luck at all with the one I got, didn't eat anything and my tank was too small. Get the right pleco and it will eat much more algae than Otos and it eats GSA as well.


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post #8 of 18 (permalink) Old 06-14-2019, 07:08 PM
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I have avoided buying an SAE because it doesn't seem like anyone really knows how to differentiate the correct species, and now I see why - it's not just one species it's being confused with, but five!

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post #9 of 18 (permalink) Old 06-15-2019, 06:54 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Discusluv View Post
I have 2 SAE that I purchased when had an outbreak of BBA- I bought them as Crossocheilus oblongus from Wetspot that is better than most at properly identifying their fish. Within a few months they grew quickly ( they get very large) and one killed the other one.

They both ate flake and pelleted foods from the beginning and Ive never seen them have the slightest interest in eating anything else. certainly nothing green.

It is very interesting that yours have not touched algae. It seems, based on reports I have received, that everyone seems to have different results with these fish. Take, for example, Dr. Loiselle's write-up about Crossocheilus oblongus, C. reticulatus, and others (Here). He says it took a single SAE only one week to clear a 29 gallon of black beard algae...the same fish that won't touch your algae! It is certainly frustrating, but I wonder if slightly different strains of algae, availability of other options, or other external factors like water quality are somehow affecting the dietary choices of these fish.
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post #10 of 18 (permalink) Old 06-15-2019, 07:19 PM
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It is very interesting that yours have not touched algae. It seems, based on reports I have received, that everyone seems to have different results with these fish. Take, for example, Dr. Loiselle's write-up about Crossocheilus oblongus, C. reticulatus, and others (Here). He says it took a single SAE only one week to clear a 29 gallon of black beard algae...the same fish that won't touch your algae! It is certainly frustrating, but I wonder if slightly different strains of algae, availability of other options, or other external factors like water quality are somehow affecting the dietary choices of these fish.
Maybe, in my case, the availability of prepared food made it choose that over the algae? I imagine if I hadn't had to feed juvenile cichlids and tetras daily they may have eaten more algae. Looking back, also, I have geophagus that need a high percentage of green in diet, I was feeding New Life Spectrum Algaemax ( still do)- this may have contributed as well to their lack of interest in Algae growing in tank.
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post #11 of 18 (permalink) Old 06-17-2019, 06:41 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Discusluv View Post
I have 2 SAE that I purchased when had an outbreak of BBA- I bought them as Crossocheilus oblongus from Wetspot that is better than most at properly identifying their fish. Within a few months they grew quickly ( they get very large) and one killed the other one.

They both ate flake and pelleted foods from the beginning and Ive never seen them have the slightest interest in eating anything else. certainly nothing green. The one I have left can be very aggressive and chases my corydoras on occasion during feeding. I keep threatening him to take to the LFS where he will be sold to someone who gives him less than ideal conditions- but, Im sure I never will.
That is, he will get a reprieve unless he actually kills another fish. But, his aggression towards the corydoras is a short chase- nothing like my cichlids that will chase each other clear across the tank.
Interesting anecdote. Mine, which I've recently noticed doesn't seem to have the anal spot, takes great interest in flake food. However, I've been taking care to feed only when he is preoccupied across the tank, and he is maintaining his constant grazing on algae. Whenever I have someone else feed the aquarium for a while, he seems to have no interest in eating algae for a while after that.

Mine shows similar aggression. He'll almost just twitch at another fish, and when they dart away he'll keep swimming as before.

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Originally Posted by cl3537 View Post
I didn't have much luck at all with the one I got, didn't eat anything and my tank was too small. Get the right pleco and it will eat much more algae than Otos and it eats GSA as well.
If your tank is too small for an SAE, would it not be too small for a pleco?

Quote:
Originally Posted by D.Farci View Post
It is very interesting that yours have not touched algae. It seems, based on reports I have received, that everyone seems to have different results with these fish. Take, for example, Dr. Loiselle's write-up about Crossocheilus oblongus, C. reticulatus, and others (Here). He says it took a single SAE only one week to clear a 29 gallon of black beard algae...the same fish that won't touch your algae! It is certainly frustrating, but I wonder if slightly different strains of algae, availability of other options, or other external factors like water quality are somehow affecting the dietary choices of these fish.
That's an interesting link. I haven't even heard of many species reference therein; I'll give that another read-through before I stock my new tank.

That seems very plausible that varying environmental factors can drive algae-eating behavior. And some of it might just come down to fish individuality - we all know of those certain species where some are a disaster (e.g. eating shrimp or plants) and others a dream.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Discusluv View Post
Maybe, in my case, the availability of prepared food made it choose that over the algae? I imagine if I hadn't had to feed juvenile cichlids and tetras daily they may have eaten more algae. Looking back, also, I have geophagus that need a high percentage of green in diet, I was feeding New Life Spectrum Algaemax ( still do)- this may have contributed as well to their lack of interest in Algae growing in tank.
That's consistent with my experience. You might try feeding floating food instead, as I've found mine is a little slow to realize it's on the surface.
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post #12 of 18 (permalink) Old 06-17-2019, 06:57 PM
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If your tank is too small for an SAE, would it not be too small for a pleco?
A common pleco yes, the nano pleco I have is less than 2 inches long and not growing that fast. He has more activity than the Otos.



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post #13 of 18 (permalink) Old 06-19-2019, 03:29 AM Thread Starter
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A common pleco yes, the nano pleco I have is less than 2 inches long and not growing that fast. He has more activity than the Otos.

Wow, that's a killer pleco! What kind is it? All I can find is L471, which is $40 and mostly a carnivore.
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post #14 of 18 (permalink) Old 06-19-2019, 04:57 AM
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Thanks for sharing this. Seems there's no easy way to be sure of what algae eater you're really getting at a fish store. I faced this dilemma when I had an algae bloom after cycling my tank. I settled on some otos, and they ate their way through a hair algae outbreak, thrived through the pea soup, and are now happily eating all the green dust algae while my tank matures and the plants get settled and really take off. I have yet to feed them, and they're fat & happy, and entertaining as they chase each other though the tank.

I was tempted by the golden Chinese algae eater, but was worried about what they'd grow up into. I'm happy with my otos, snails & ghost shrimp as cleanup crew. And if you're willing to drop some money, there are lots of pretty plecos, and fascinating whiptail catfish. Almost makes you wanna give up aquascaping & just grow algae to feed these fascinating critter. Almost.
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post #15 of 18 (permalink) Old 06-19-2019, 05:10 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks for sharing this. Seems there's no easy way to be sure of what algae eater you're really getting at a fish store. I faced this dilemma when I had an algae bloom after cycling my tank. I settled on some otos, and they ate their way through a hair algae outbreak, thrived through the pea soup, and are now happily eating all the green dust algae while my tank matures and the plants get settled and really take off. I have yet to feed them, and they're fat & happy, and entertaining as they chase each other though the tank.

I was tempted by the golden Chinese algae eater, but was worried about what they'd grow up into. I'm happy with my otos, snails & ghost shrimp as cleanup crew. And if you're willing to drop some money, there are lots of pretty plecos, and fascinating whiptail catfish. Almost makes you wanna give up aquascaping & just grow algae to feed these fascinating critter. Almost.
We've all had our share of misadvertised algae eaters. I remember getting one of those golden "algae eaters" only to have him mercilessly harass my fish attempting to eat their slime. I wasn't too broken up when he found his way out of a tiny gap in my lid.

True SAEs are great for eating algae, but it's such a roll of the dice to find the right kind. As I posted in another thread, I suspect mine is hunting down and eating my adult cherry shrimp. He's constantly buzzing around the tank eating algae though, and he's very friendly when I put my hand in the tank! If it weren't for the shrimp-eating, he'd be my favorite fish. He doesn't have the anal spot though, so I think he's possibly citripinnis instead of langei.

Otos are the best, though. You really can't ask for more in an algae eater - they constantly eat algae, don't look twice at shrimp, never bother other fish, don't eat your plants, and they're a blast to watch. In my upcoming 64gal tank, I plan to have 5-7 of them.
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