Aquarium Algae Eaters

Aquarium algae eaters are the best edition to a planted tank. They do keep algae at bay and are very interesting to watch. They play a big roll in the Eco system and will lead to a perfectly balanced nature aquarium.


Introduction to algae-eaters

Algae eaters are a great addition to any aquarium really, but it is important to regard them with the same status you give to all your other watery pets, making sure that you choose compatible species for your aquarium, and that you're providing them with what they need to live well in the long term. An exception is the case where you have several tanks and then you can move algae eaters temporarily into one tank to help with algae combat, and then bring them back to their home tank when you're satisfied with the results. Always keep in mind though, that they are helpers - algae combat is a daily concern that will always be your responsibility. Avoid making the very common mistake of thinking that just by adding an algae eater to your tank you can now forget about the issue!

The most effective way of using algae eaters to help you keep algae low in your tank is to add different types of algae eaters, because not all eat the same algae, nor from the same type of surface. A combination of snails, shrimps and algae-eating fish is a good way to go. But again, always check for compatibility and fish/invertebrate requirements, please. It is much better to keep them in planted aquariums, since the food sources are wider. NOTE: in general algae-eaters will eat less algae if overfed with commercial food, so try to find just the right amount of feeding so they will be healthy while still scavenging for algae and leftover food.

Siamese Algae Eater

Crossocheilus siamensis
This fish is a useful algae eater, eating thread algae and the brush algae ignored by other fish. They also eat planarians ( flatworms ) which can become a nuisance in the aquarium.
SAE can be slightly territorial with their own species so they are probably best kept either single or as a group of 5 or more in large tanks.
Unlike the Chinese Algae Eaters the Siamese Algae Eaters will eat lots of algae. The more common Chinese Algae Eater stops eating algae as it grows larger, becomes aggressive, and annoys other fish.
Minimum tank size for a pair of adult Siamese Algae Eaters is 100 liters (25 gallons). The aquarium should be long and have lots of living plants.
As they are not aggressive, they can be kept in any community tank big enough. Their active behavior might stress some sensitive species like dwarf cichlids and prevent them from spawning. They should not be kept with Red-tailed Sharks (Epalzeorhynchus bicolor) unless the aquarium is large and well planted, because that species is very aggressive towards all its relatives.
A very hardy fish, it is easy to keep and feed, eating both algae and just about anything else put into the tank, such as flake food, pellets, live foods, parboiled vegetables, etc. It does a diligent job of removing algae from plants without harming them, as well as from decorations and aquarium glass. Considered by many aquarists as a necessity in any well-planted aquarium. Cover the tank carefully however, as these fish are strong jumpers.
SAE grows up to 14cm needs a well filtered oxygenated water with a pH around 7 and temperature 25'C. To see SAE video click here.

Photo by Dusko Bojic

Caridina multidentata (the new name)

Caridina japonica (new name Caridina multidentata) also known as Amano Shrimp and Yamato numa-ebi, is one of the best algae eater shrimps available these days. Except eating algae it consumes also dead plant detritus and cleans the left-over food. They are very busy eaters. Their size doesn't go over 5 cm (males are a bit smaller 3.5cm) which makes it suitable for smaller aquariums. Appetite for algae will decrease if commercial food is given on regular bases. It is good to keep this shrimp in groups of 3 and up. Note: If not given something to cling onto in side the bag (a plant branch), during the transport, Caridina japonica will suffer ectodermic shock. In planted tanks, one should be careful with dosing fertilisers. Low light tanks do not need as much as the high light tanks. All fertilisers contain a small amount of copper that is very dangerous for shrimps. To ensure that this element doesn't accumulate over time, it is essential to do weekly water change 30-50%. Aquarium water should be treated with dechlorinators, because chlorine and chloramine are dangerous for shrimps. Bigger fish and most Cichlid spp. will eat these shrimps, it is advised to house them with smaller placid fish species. To see Caridina japonica video click here. More info about Caridina japonica.

Otocinclus sp.

OTO, Midget Sucker-mouth Catfish. Part of a large family of Loricariidae, the Otocinclus is one of the smallest. It is usually tan with a black peppered body. Found in rapidly moving rivers.
Oto catfish grows up to 5cm, which makes it suitable for smaller aquariums. Otos should be kept in planted tanks only! They do much better if kept as a smaller shoal. Oto is the best plant leaf cleaner and will remove almost all algae from it without damaging the leaf. It will ignore the grown algae but will eat young algal growth and by doing that will keep the algae very low. Like all catfish, even this one likes the presence of bog-wood, so adding one piece to the aquarium would be a good idea. If there is no sufficient algae in aquarium Otos should be fed with blanched zucchini once a week. Boiled for 2 minutes and cooled down before feeding. Place the zucchini on the bottom or even better on the piece of bog-wood where the Oto will come readily and notice the vegetable. Do not leave the zucchini for longer then two days inside the tank and not shorter then a day. Its been known that Otos will ignore sinking catfish tablets and algae wafers, and will ignore most of other vegetables like lettuce, spinach, cucumber, etc. Zucchini is the best proven feeding choice. Some aquarists farm algae and than introduce them as Oto food. Its been known that Otos relish Brown algae (diatoms). One of the best ways to insure that Otos will have sufficient algae is to keep one Oto per approximately 60-70 liters. After observing the algae in your tank for a week you will get the answer for, do you need to add more Otos? How to know does my Oto have sufficient algae? Keep close eye on their stomachs. Round bellies are a good sign of algae sufficiency. It is good not to clean all your aquarium glass at once since they will eat the algae off the glass. Otos should be kept with smaller/calmer fish. They like to rest on broad plant leaves and bog-wood rather than gravel.

The Otos can be difficult to acclimate to the home aquarium, but if provided with correct water conditions and there is some green food they will be fine. The set up should be well established with a sand or gravel substrate. Densely planted with live plants. An established algal growth is essential. While they will take flake food and sinking pellets the natural greens are needed to provide proper health. If no algae is available they will eat the softer bodied plants. Provide good water circulation and filtering. Best keep in groups. The actual number will vary upon the tank size. Compatible with most fish except the larger predatory species. Otos live up to 5 years. They need a pH around 7. Water temperature should be around 25 'C.