Algae eaters have long been a valuable part of keeping the natural ecosystem inside the aquarium balanced. They are expert algae removers and also make wonderful additions to your aquarium family.
So if you’re considering getting a new cleanup crew for your tank, then there are quite a few options available. The bonus is that these fish can naturally clean up your system, which means you will limit the number of harsh chemicals you are using in your tank.
From snails to fish and shrimp, take a closer look at some of the best algae eating critters for your tank.
1. Amano Shrimp
The Amano shrimp are active and entertaining eaters that are common among aquarists. In fact, they are the happiest eaters. They are extremely effective and help by ridding the tank of leftover food, dead plant materials, and of course, algae.
Although they resist blue-greens and green algae, they are still useful by consuming other forms of algae.
One of the only disadvantages of keeping Amano Shrimp is that they can’t be mixed with larger fish that can prey on them, so they should be Kept with smaller and more docile fish species.
2. Clown Pleco freshwater fish
The Clown Pleco freshwater fish are also natural scavengers that thrive heavily in tanks filled with green and soft algae. With these fish in your aquarium, getting rid of algae is made easy.
These fish basically dart around the water tank faster and are able to get to those places that other fish cannot reach. In order for them to survive, though, their diet needs to be supplemented with algae wafers and fresh veggies.
The water should also be filtered and move steadily to avoid a sudden shift in pH temperature, thereby keeping these fish happy and healthy.
3. True Siamese fish algae eater
These fish have a long metal body of about 6 inches. And they are one of the most effective species to place in your water tank. The colors that they come in are grey and gold with a black stripe that spans from their head to their tail.
They often hide in the bottom of the tank for shelter or move to the surface of the water in search of food that is highly contaminated with algae.
However, you need to pay attention to the stripe, and if it starts to fade, this can be a way to camouflage themselves from predators, or it could be a sign of stress or a mating display.
The fact that they depend hugely on algae makes them a great choice to clean up the tank; however, they are not the best explorers.
4. Otocinclus Catfish
These fish are referred to as Otos or Dwarf suckermouths since they typically stay around 2 inches in length. Due to their small and slender bodies, they can fit into tighter spaces than many other algae eating fish cannot.
Their mouths are ideal for eating diatom algae from flat surfaces, much like the Hillstream loach.
And you can usually find them hanging out on the aquarium glass or plant leaves. They are, however, prone to being underfed, so make sure you get them plenty of algae and vegetables like canned green beans and blanched zucchini slices.
5. Cherry shrimp
The Cherry shrimp are a particular species and the most popular ornamental shrimp species that are widely available. They so also make beautiful tank mates if kept with smaller fish that won’t eat them.
If water conditions are stable and food is abundant, they can also breed quickly. They feed on different types of hair algae and leftover fish food. These fish are also available in beautiful colors, such as red, and will help to brighten up your tank.
6. Malaysian Trumpet snail
The Malaysian trumpet snail is a particular species of snail required for any planted aquarium.
They have a tendency to scavenge for food underneath the aquarium substrate and are also detrivores who feed on plant and protein matter underneath the substrate and also come to the surface to eat soft algae.
They have a tenacious drive to look for food underneath the substrate, and this makes them plow the soil. The bonus is that they also aerate the soil for plants. The only disadvantage is that they tend to breed quickly when food is abundant.
7. Twig Catfish
The Twig Catfish is one of the best catfish algae eaters and is slowly becoming more and more available. They feed on green algae and readily accept a variety of foods. They do, however, require more care than other algae eaters.
So they need to be in an aquarium that has high oxygen levels, more current, as well as pristine water quality. They must also be kept with accommodating species due to their shy nature.
So be sure to keep them away from fish that will compete with them for food. So if your aquarium does meet the requirements, then these fish make an interesting and useful addition to your tank.
8. Ramshorn snails
These snails grow up to 2 cm and do not consume freshwater tank plants. However, once the plants are loaded with algae, these snails will do the necessary. They focus primarily on algae-covered plants, tank rocks, aquarium glass, and other decorations inside the tank.
They also consume leftover fish foods, fish eggs as well as detritus. The best environment for these red and brown colored snails are non-planted tanks that are completely overpopulated with algae.
However, the species also should not be kept with Loaches and Cichlids, who will eat them. So if you’re placing your snails in tanks that have these species, remove them from the water temporarily. Also, monitor pH levels to ensure that they have enough calcium for optimal shell growth.
9. Molly fish
Molly fish are popular livebearers that thrive in fully fresh to fully salty water in the Americas. Due to their bottomless stomachs and flat, grasping jaws, they are constantly cleaning up hardscape, plants, and even flat surfaces.
They are also selectively bred into many colors, patterns, fin types, and body shapes. These fish are always ready to reproduce, given plenty of food and hiding spots for the fry.
But you also need to note if you’re planning on getting these species is that they are raised in brackish water fish farms, so if you sense any health problems with them, it is suggested that you add aquarium salt and extra minerals in order for them to thrive.
10. Rosy Barb
Certain types of Barbs like these have an acquired taste for fuzzy algae-like Staghorn, hair, and thread algae. This peaceful species grows up to 3 inches long and comes in neon, normal, and long-finned varieties.
Rosy Barbs, similar to the flagfish, can be kept in unheated aquariums with other speedy tank mates. However, be sure to keep them in groups of at least 6 to 10 to lessen aggression, and they should ideally be kept with more females than males in a tank that is at least 29 gallons or larger.
5 Best Freshwater Algae Eaters
In addition to the above-mentioned algae eaters for your aquarium, the following are more freshwater algae eaters:
- Reticulated Hillstream Loach
- Nerite snail
- Florida flagfish
- Bristlenose Plecostomus
- Rosy Bard
5 Best Saltwater Algae Eaters
When it comes to the best algae eaters for saltwater tanks, then take note of the following species:
- Nassarius snail
- Mexican turbo snail
- TailSpot Blenny
- Kole Tang
In order to keep the ecosystem inside your fish tank happy and healthy, you need to create a balance. If your aquarium is covered with lots of algae, then some hungry helpers can keep things under control.
Always ensure that the species you are placing in the tank are safe for your aquatic plants and can work together for increased effectiveness.
The good news is that there are literally hundreds of species of algae eaters for both freshwater and saltwater tanks that can help keep your tank’s ecosystem well-balanced.