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I've read mixed things. Some say they only uproot plants, other say they devour them. I would like an algae eater that is big enough it doesn't get eaten be my 9 inch bullhead catfish. The only other one I could come up with was Chinese algae eater, but they only sell super small ones around here. The plants in the 45g tank the pleco would be in are various swords, vals and floating hornwort and elodea. Thanks!
 

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From my experience, yes they do. Not every plant, but they love to rasp holes in sword leaves and chew the new growth of moss off of the driftwood. They will also uproot plants and leave a huge amount of poo in your tank. They are just too big and too messy, IMO. Ancistrus sp. (bristlenose) cats tend to do a little better, though they did rasp quite a bit on the sword leaves. Other than that, they left the plants completely alone and they don't get nearly as big as the common plecos.

So you have a 9" bullhead catfish in your planted tank? Wow... The Ancistrus sp. might be big enough to avoid getting eaten, but maybe not. Stear clear of the chinease algae eaters - once they get big enough to avoid being eaten by your catfish they will develop a taste for fish. Big Chinese algae eaters LOVE to scrape the slime coating off of other fish, causing disease and infections.

If you just need someone to be a good bottom dweller and clean up uneaten food, have you considered Synodontis sp? Those are good catfish, and spikey enough that they generally do not get picked on.
 

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They eat plants in my experience too. Not all plants, but enough to be not worth the hassle. They also get too big to be comfy in a 45 gallon tank. I've actually had good luck with Chinese algae eaters not attacking other fish, but they have a bad enough reputation to not be worth the risk (they seem to do well in larger tanks with lots of things to do and eat).
 
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