19 Small & Big Hair Algae Eaters for Freshwater or Saltwater Aquariums

CRUSH The Aquarium Invader: 19 FINEST Algae Eaters in The Hobby

Algae come in many varieties and forms and more often than not it’s an uninvited intruder rather than a beautiful aquascape addition. The good news is that there are also diverse types of algae eaters that you can employ to battle the nuisance.

These are not only fish but also shrimp and even snails.

Each of the 19 cleaners has developed an appetite towards different algal types, so you’d want a particular eater if you’re mainly dealing with, say, green or brown hair algae.

The cleaning algivorous crew is not strictly freshwater species. Algal spores can outbreak in a saltwater environment as well, so nature has taken care of that too. No matter your fish tank setup of choice – freshwater planted, saltwater FOWLR, etc. – there’s probably an algae-eating critter that will work best for your problem.

Remember that the gallon count of your aquarium plays a role in your choice. Some algae eaters will remain small where others will grow quite large. I made sure to recommend both big and tiny species in this list.

So what are the fish or other aquatic inhabitants that will definitely eat algae in an aquarium?

Let Aquanswers show and help you with picking the right one for your set up.

Before I move on to my top selections I need to make sure that you understand the nature of algae.

Usually, algal growth is a sign of a healthy, nutrient-rich environment.

Often times the nutrient imbalance occurs in new aquariums, which is when algal spores explode and take over.

Research shows that in excessive amounts it can actually be harmful to aquatic life.

It has also been documented that microalgal blooms are not safe for your skin and us aquarists often put our hands in the aquarium water.

In some cases, you end up with hair algae or Black beard algae. These are the toughest to remove, be it with the aid of algae-eating fish or not.

There are plenty of factors that you have control over and that you should get familiar with to make sure you’re on the right side of the battlefield.

I’ve described them all in a detailed guide that concerns black beard algae removal, which is the most difficult one to get rid of (visit the link to learn more).

There I go really deep and share some unpopular gems that might be worth checking before you proceed to choose an algae-grazing species.

For example, if the pH levels in your planted tank have risen since the algae’s appearance, this is a sign that there’s a lack of CO2 in there. This, in turn, will make the hair algae hard and unappetizing for fish.

You should also know that most of the so-called algae grazers’ diet is not exclusively made of algae-consumption.

Other food should be supplemented such as algae wafers and vegetables, but we’ll get to that later.

Some of these species are classified as omnivores so the occasional frozen worm should be thrown in, as well. Do your research on your choice, before introducing an algae-focused eater to the aquarium.

Clean your fish tank for good with these TOP-performing hair algae eaters

The presence an algae eater is considered a fundamental building block of a healthy ecosystem, be it in an aquarium or an outdoors body of water.

Many categories of algae exist, which increases the chance of one of them adapting to your particular freshwater or saltwater fish tank and invading it. To achieve the best results it’s crucial to pick the right type of hair algae grazer.

Listed below you’ll only find species that have been actually documented to consume this invader at very impressive rates.

Here are the best algae eaters for a freshwater and saltwater aquariums:

1. True Siamese algae eater (Crossocheilus siamensis)

Siamese Algae Eater

Image by Emilia Murray

Max. size: 6 Inches (15 centimeters)
Suggested tank size: 20 gallon long and above
Tank mates: tetras, danios, barbs (if in school of 4 or more), gouramis, angelfish, corydoras, guppies
Ph: 6.5 to 8
Fish tank type: Freshwater

A true Siamese Algae Eater will reach around 6 inches in maximum size or just about 15 cm. This implies the need for a medium-sized tank.

This species is the epitome of the good guy in the aquarium. Not only will they get you rid of algae, but they have a super peaceful and friendly temper as well. Anyway…

When I say “true” I mean an Actual Siamese Algae eater and not a Chinese one, or a flying foxfish.

Fish stores may sometimes falsely advertise one as the other so do your research on their appearance before purchasing one (hint: The black line on the side of a true SAE ends at the back of its tail fin and not the beginning). Visit the link for more info on identification and care.

This fish will relentlessly munch on even the most stubborn types of algae without wasting any time.

Many consider the SAE the best fish for winning the battle with freshwater algae.

I agree with that statement.

Having a couple of these is a good reassurance against the emergence of uninvited vegetation as you won’t have the opportunity to even witness it growing.

On that note, mind that you should get female siamese algae eaters as the male ones get extremely territorial among each other. Females are the ones that grow larger.

This species very much dislikes the company of red-tailed sharks, so keep that in mind if you’re planning to aim for the “freshwater shark tank look”. Visit the link for more shark-like fish ideas.

Community fish are always a better choice for an SAE’s tank mates, but avoid cichlids and other aggressive species.

2. Rubber-lipped pleco (chaetostoma formosae)

rubber lip pleco

Image by Mark Smith

Max. size: 4.2 to 4.5 Inches (10.6 to 11.4 centimeters)
Suggested tank size: 20 gallon long and above
Tank mates: tetras, danios, gouramis, mollies, Swordtails, platies, barbs, endlers, goldfish with caution
Ph: 6.5 to 8
Fish tank type: Freshwater

The rubber lip pleco is a small and rather peaceful fish that is not very popular in this hobby.

And I can’t help but wonder why.

When it comes to demolishing unwanted intruders, these guys are my go-to algae eater recommendation.

For best results against the most stubborn of algae turn to a rubber-lipped pleco. This small pleco will eat all the freshwater kinds, including the nasty black algae and even brown diatom algae.

I’ve had my RL pleco for a while now. No traces of any algae intruders, as I managed to “teach” my little friend to keep his appetite for them.

I wrote a full guide on how to care for this fish, what to watch out for when getting one and other of its peculiarities, including tank mates. Visit the article here if you want to learn more.

A Rubber Lips will clean a tank at spectacular rates. Here’s video proof of a single specimen cleaning a full-blown infestation in a 10-gallon tank in just about a week.

This fish should really be more popular.

Don’t house them with other bottom-dwelling catfish and mind that, in general, they prefer colder water with a current (71 to 78 °F).

Because of their preferred temperature range the rubber lipped plecos can work as algae eaters in a goldfish tank. However, though small and peaceful, if not well-fed, on a very rare occasion they may or may not try to eat the goldfish’s slime coat.

3. Juvenile Chinese algae eater (Gyrinocheilus aymonieri)

Chinese Algae Eater

Image by Garthh

Max. size: 12 inches (30.5 centimeters)
Suggested tank size: 55 gallons for juveniles and 100+ gallons for adults
Tank mates: zebra danios, tiger barbs, crayfish
Ph: 6 to 8
Fish tank type: Freshwater

If you’ve ever owned a Chinese Algae Eater then you’d know why I put “juvenile” in the title.

As juveniles, these guys will restlessly clean your tank. They will kind of shy away when you approach the aquarium, and as soon as you turn your back they’ll get back to work.

Cute right?

Enjoy it while it lasts.

Which will be just a couple of months.

First of all the CAEs grow really fast and get just under a foot in max size.

A 10-gallon tank may seem appropriate for a juvenile, but you’ll quickly find yourself wondering where to house the evergrowing beast.

Second, upon maturity, they will lose appetite for plants (algae) and will start looking to get some protein.

Where they get that protein from will very often be their tank mates.

Chinese algae eaters will eat the protein-based slime coat off of larger thin-bodied fish, making them bleed to death.

The whole process is really creepy in nature.

You can avoid that by constantly keeping the adult CAEs fed with good, protein-rich food.

Unfortunately, not many people can be as diligent and one day they will forget to dose the so-desired meal.

Coming home to your beautiful angelfish being eaten alive is not a pleasant experience.

Chinese Algae Eaters will also get super territorial as they age, so that’s another thing to consider.

If you have a large tank that needs a cleaning employing a juvenile algae eater may be appropriate, but be prepared for what’s coming after that.

4. American flagfish (Jordanella floridae)

American Flagfish

Image by CheepShot

Max. size: 2.2 inches (5.5 centimeters)
Suggested tank size: 10 gallons and above
Tank mates: guppies, danios, platies, corydoras, otociculus, school of tetras or barbs
Ph: 6.8 to 8.1
Fish tank type: Freshwater

I am kind of baffled at the fact that whenever algae-demolishing fish are the topic of discussion these fish never come up as a suggestion.

The American Flagfish is a Killifish who’s so good at consuming algae that encouraging algal growth is actually recommended with these guys.

They don’t grow large (around 2 inches maximum) and have a great personality as long as you know what you’re doing.

The males are very beautiful, showing off nice colors, but they may get a little territorial.

The females, however, are not as aggressive while they can still be a good centerpiece fish in smaller aquarium setups.

I would encourage anyone with a 10 to 20-gallon tank to get at least 3 female flagfish, to keep freshwater algae at bay.

This fish prefers colder water, but can gradually acclimate to warmer water temperatures.

They demand a plant-based menu. Algae wafers are a good choice, along with the occasional cucumber or spinach piece.

Mind that these fish feel best in heavily planted tanks with plenty of hiding spaces such as caves and driftwood.

The flagfish may or may not munch on your aquatic plants.

5. Bristlenose pleco (Ancistrus cirrhosus)

Bristlenose Pleco

Image by Kurisu Mills

Max. size: 6 inches (15.2 centimeters)
Suggested tank size: 30 gallons and above
Tank mates: danios, platies, school of tetras or barbs, mollies, guppies, swordtails, goldfish
Ph: 6.5 to 7.8
Fish tank type: Freshwater

A bristlenose plecostomus will spend its time as every other plecostomus: they will glue themselves on the glass, scavenge the aquarium for algae and happily hang out on driftwood.

Except they will remain smallish and won’t outgrow 6 inches.

Because of its size, care level, and the ability to clean a tank up, this fish is super popular in the hobby.

In fact, the whole family this fish comes from is so effective at consuming huge amounts of algae that on some occasions releasing them in the wild is known to wreak havoc on local ecosystems.

So don’t ever do that.

Not only that, the bristlenose pleco has a rather stunning appearance – with age they will develop mustache-like tentacles, which gives them a unique look.

There are also different varieties like a long-finned bristlenose or an albino one.

It’s an aesthetically-pleasing fish species that will keep an aesthetically-pleasing clean look to your aquarium.

Don’t house it with similar-looking bottom-dwellers as there will be territory disputes.

Bristlenose plecos are known to collaborate well with goldfish in an algae-infested aquarium. Along with the rubber-lipped pleco and the rosy barb, these are the only 3 species of fish that make sense as algae-eating tank mates for goldfishes.

6. True black molly (Poecilia sphenops)

True Black Molly

Image by Marrabbio

Max. size: 5 inches (12.5 centimeters)
Suggested tank size: 20 gallons and above
Tank mates: guppy, danios, female betta, platies, tetras, guppies, swordtails, gouramis, endlers, angelfish
Ph: 7.6 to 8.4
Fish tank type: Freshwater

Wait, a black molly is an algae eater?

You bet.

Performing a simple Youtube search would reveal video proof for the skeptics. Here’s a 25 seconds long video where it feasts on the notorious black beard algae.

Now, generally, mollies come in plenty of colors.

However, my experience shows that the True Black Mollies are really best at snacking on algae.

They don’t grow large and are a great tropical fish pet.

They’ll be constantly active roaming the aquarium in search of something to snack on.

A cool thing, not many people new to the hobby know, is that mollies can survive in both freshwater and saltwater tanks.

They’re also livebearers and breeding them is not rocket science.

If you want to get these fish for your tropical community tank, make sure that the females outnumber the males or you will witness aggression among their kind.

Peaceful community fish go best as tankmates for the Black Molly.

7. Royal Whiptail Catfish (Sturisoma panamense)

Royal Whiptail Catfish

Max. size: 8 inches (20.3 centimeters)
Suggested tank size: 30 gallons and above
Tank mates: gouramis, danios, rasboras, corydoras, neon tetras, school of kuhli loaches
Ph: 6.0 to 7.2
Fish tank type: Freshwater

The diet of the Royal Whiptail Catfish (sometimes called Twig Catfish) is mainly vegetable matter.

It will actively graze on algae and occasionally on the biofilm of your driftwood.

Speaking of which, this fish is nocturnal and will need plenty of hiding places where it can hang out during the daytime.

You won’t see it very often, true, but you won’t see algae as well.

The whiptail has a unique appearance (as you can see in the photo) that kind of puts it on the exotic side of freshwater fishkeeping. I’ve actually included it in my article about the most cool-looking aquarium fish that one can own.

Note that you should still supplement its diet, even if your tank is blooming with algae, as this species needs diverse sources of food.

I wouldn’t exactly say that it’s a beginner level fish as well.

The twig catfish are very sensitive to water parameters, needs a well-oxygenated tank water with a current and doesn’t do well in communities with non-friendly tank mates.

A full-grown Royal Whiptail Catfish reaches nearly 8 inches, placing it among the largest freshwater fish that will be interested in eating algae.

8. Pygmy suckermouth (Otocinclus affinis)

Pygmy Suckerfish

Max. size: 2 inches (5 centimeters)
Suggested tank size: 20 gallons and above
Tank mates: rasboras, dwarf gouramis, corydoras, neon tetras, danios, female betta
Ph: 6.8 to 7.6
Fish tank type: Freshwater

The Pygmy Suckermouth (also popular as Otocinculus) will mainly snack on softer blue and green hair algae.

It will roam the tank non-stop, looking for its delicious treat.

The Otocinculus won’t harm any aquatic plants, it will literally only eat algae.

That being said, you should still provide some sinking wafers, other vegetables, and the occasional frozen bloodworm.

The Pigmy Suckermouth is as peaceful as it gets.

Perhaps, that’s because of its relatively small size – no more than 2 inches for an adult Oto.

With a maximum size of 2 inches, the Otocinculus is classified as one of the smallest fish species that eat algae in the aquarium trade.

It seems like the perfect algae destroyer, right?

Not so fast.

This fish is quite fragile and requires pristine water quality and parameters.

Beginner fishkeepers often have difficulties to keep one alive for longer periods of time.

I remember my first Pygmy Sucker – it lasted 2 days in my tank. Lesson learned – I had to step up my game and educate myself more on how to keep stable aquarium water, before getting another one.

9. Rosy & Cherry Barbs (Pethia conchonius & Puntius titteya)

Rosy and Cherry Barb

Images by Brian Gratwicke and Kkonstan

Max. size: 2 inches (5 centimeters) for Cherry barbs and 6 inches (15.2 cm) for Rosy bars
Suggested tank size: 10 gallons (Cherry barbs) and 30 gallons (Rosy barbs)
Tank mates: rasboras, corydoras, small plecos, neon tetras, danios, otocinculus, clown loaches, platies, mollies, goldfish
Ph: 6.2 to 8
Fish tank type: Freshwater

Both fish will snack on algae.

The rosy barb and cherry barb are known to mainly graze on the hair-type algae (staghorn or other). If your freshwater aquarium has a serious hair algae problem, these two fish are considered among the best options as a solution.

Both are really beautiful community tank fish with cherries being the friendlier of the two.

Rosies may nip the fins of long-finned fish, but that’s about it. If they are in a school of 3 to 5 there will be no aggression.

They will also swim together, but only if there are many of them in a larger tank (think 55 gallons).

Cherry barbs are peace lovers. They will avoid conflict and will go about their thing, which is often eating things from around the aquarium.

They will be more than happy in a group of 3 (1 male with 2 females).

The rosy barbs can grow up to 6 inches where the cherry barbs will not outgrow 2.

The tiny maximum size of the cherry barb fish makes it a perfect choice as an algae eater in a 10 gallon freshwater aquarium. This fish will rarely reach 2 inches (5 centimeters) of length, which suits most smaller tanks best.

The diet of both species should not only be consisted of algae – a softened vegetable such as zucchini or cucumber will be appreciated.

If I were to pick from the two species I’d definitely go for the Cherry barb as they remain smaller, more peaceful and I like their unusual pink coloration.

Rosy barbs are among the very few algae eating fish that are compatible with a goldfish, along with the rubber lipped and the bristlenose pleco.

10. Common goldfish (Carassius auratus)

Common Goldfish

Image by Bigsmile20

Max. size: depends on the size of your tank, but usually around 4 to 5 inches ( 10 to 12.7 cm)
Suggested tank size: 30 gallons and above
Tank mates: topminnows, loaches, rosy barbs, zebra danios, smaller plecos
Ph: 7.1 to 7.6
Fish tank type: Freshwater

Though classified as omnivores these fish are notorious for eating all kinds of aquatic plants.

And this includes consuming algae.

Goldfish do eat and will sooner or later develop an appetite for algae among other aquatic vegetation. However, they prefer colder temperatures and are not a good addition to tropical community tanks, in general.

In fact, the goldfish is actually recommended as means of biological algae control for ponds and stock watering tanks.

The appetite of Carassius auratus is related to the fact that they have no stomach.

This forces them to constantly look for food and if they don’t find protein – they’ll snack on plants and algal growth.

When keeping goldfish know that they make copious amounts of waste and are a lot “dirtier” than other fish of their size.

You should also know that whatever plants you may have in your aquarium will not be safe from this devourer.

It’s recommended to get a goldfish for algae control only if you have a decent filtration, the right tank mates for it and no other plant matter in your fish tank.

11. Kole tang (Ctenochaetus strigosus)

Bristletooth Tang

Image by Emőke Dénes

Max. size: 7 inches (17.8 centimeters)
Suggested tank size: 75 gallons and above
Tank mates: Other peaceful community fish, but don’t house with other tangs
Ph: 8 to 8.4
Fish tank type: Saltwater

We all know that algae is not a freshwater-only problem.

When it comes to saltwater or reef tanks one of the best algae grazers is the Kole tang fish.

On top of having a stunning appearance this fish (Bristletooth is another name for it), will clean up all unnecessary algal growth in your reef tank.

Be it on walls, rockwork or substrate the Kole tang (also known as Yellow eye tang in some fish stores) will inevitably find the uninvited organisms and eat them!

The Kole tang prioritizes munching on hair algae when it has a choice. For this reason, this fish is generally considered to be among the best algae eaters for a saltwater aquarium that’s housing green or other types of reef hair algae.

These guys are generally friendly so they will do well with other community fish.

Beware when housing it with other tangs as aggression may arise.

They appreciate their swimming space, so a larger aquarium should be provided.

Also, they produce a lot of waste, so filtration should be top-notch.

12. Blue tang (Paracanthurus hepatus)

Blue Tang fish

Image by Tewy

Max. size: 12 inches (30.5 centimeters)
Suggested tank size: 100 gallons and above
Tank mates: Other peaceful community fish, but don’t house with other tangs
Ph: 8 to 8.4
Fish tank type: Saltwater

An adult Regal Blue Tang’s diet will mainly consist of plankton and saltwater algae.

This fish is considered an important addition to a reef by many hobbyists and that’s not because they want to “find Dory”.

The blue tang will be super active in its search of algae and it will keep a reef in check.

Another reason why this fish is so popular is that it gets along pretty well with other community fish, as long as they don’t come from the same family (“surgeon” fish).

It has been documented that the Surgeonfish family supports the health of a reef and are actually known as the “lawnmowers of the sea”.

They are herbivores and algae are a main part of their diet. Whenever you run out of yours, feed with algae wafers and flake food. Don’t feed lettuce though.

13. Ramshorn snail (Planorbidae)

Ramshorn Snail

Image by Robert Howie

Max. size: 0.7 inches (2 centimeters)
Suggested tank size: Any
Tank mates: Otociculus, Corydoras and other peaceful fish, Ghost shirm, Cherry shrimp, Bamboo shrimp, nerite snail, mystery snail, trumpet snail, DON’T house with pond snails and loaches
Ph: 6.6 to 7.6
Fish tank type: Freshwater

Want to get a snail that rivals the even the best algae-grazing fish in terms of efficiency?

Enter: the Ramshorn snail.

These guys are phenomenal at eating algae. They can clean up a decently-sized aquarium in a matter of DAYS.

They have a plain look to them and they multiply like crazy, but you’ll have your tank polished from top to bottom.

The Ramshorn snail is the go-to solution for combating algae growth in a heavily planted tank. Besides eating algae, this snail won’t ever touch other aquatic plants unless they have decaying or dead vegetation matter.

Seriously consider getting a couple of these if that’s your situation.

14. Nerite snail (Neritina natalensis)

Nerite Snail

Image by TheJammingYam

Max. size: 1 inch (2.5 centimeters)
Suggested tank size: 5 gallons and above
Tank mates: smaller peaceful community fish, shrimp and other snails, NO cichlids, goldfish, loaches or crayfish
Ph: 7 to 8.4
Fish tank type: Freshwater & Saltwater

Did you know that there’s this elite club of aquatic cleaners?

If yes then you probably know that the Nerite snail is an honorable member of the Aquarium Clean-up Crew when it comes to freshwater tanks.

These snails do an outstanding job when it comes to microalgae control.

The Nerite snail will actively eat brown algae (also known as diatoms). A single Nerite snail can take care of the brown microalgae in a 10 gallon fish tank alone.

If you’re skeptical then do take a look at this video.

This snail species is as peaceful as it gets and gets along with almost any aquarium occupant.

They will roam around your tank with their super slow snail speed, looking for algae and other uninvited organic matter to snack on.

Don’t add too many of these guys, as later on, they won’t have enough algae to munch on.

A single Nerite snail per 5 to 10 gallons will be more than enough, so you don’t need to go for all the members of the Algae Clean Up Crew here.

15. Malaysian Trumpet snail (Melanoides tuberculata)

Trumpet Snail

Image by Dennis L.

Max. size: 1 inch (2.5 centimeters)
Suggested tank size: 5 gallons and above
Tank mates: smaller peaceful community fish, shrimp and other snails, NO cichlids, goldfish, loaches or crayfish
Ph: 7 to 7.7
Fish tank type: Freshwater & Brackish

Having Malaysian trumpet snails is not for everyone.

They are sometimes considered pests because they multiply at astonishing rates.

They only like to eat soft algae that are growing on hard surfaces. Only get them if that’s the case for you.

Some hobbyists avoid them and some love them.

It’s a controversial pick really, so if snails are your weapon of choice consider the others mentioned on this list as well.

16. Turbo snail (Turbo fluctuosa)

Turbo Snail

Image by Jen Hammock

Max. size: 2 inches (5 centimeters)
Suggested tank size: 20 gallons and above
Tank mates: most any reef-safe fish, but don’t house with other algae-grazers as the Turbo snail won’t be able to compete for food
Ph: 8 to 8.4
Fish tank type: Saltwater

Turbos are the heavy artillery when it comes to battling algae in marine tanks.

They get big and they eat big.

Unlike other marine snails in the trade, the Turbo snail doesn’t prefer a specific type of algae. It will eat anything from microalgae to hair algae nonselectively.

These guys grow large and heavy. Your live rock should be well positioned and secured because it’s not unseen that a fat turbo knocks a piece of rockwork here and there.

Mind that these guys are so effective at cleaning unwanted algal growth that you won’t need more than 2 or 3 for a large aquarium.

They are reef-safe.

Avoid the Mexican Turbo snail as it won’t tolerate tropical water temperatures.

17. Amano shrimp (Caridina multidentata)

Amano Shrimp

Image by Dack9

Max. size: 2 inches (5 centimeters)
Suggested tank size: 10 gallons and above
Tank mates: neon tetras, tiger barbs, guppies, discus, otocinculus, corydoras, smaller plecos, cherry shrimp, bamboo shrimp, peaceful snails
Ph: 6.2 to 7.2
Fish tank type: Freshwater

The Amano shrimp generally became popular after Takashi Amano introduced it to the aquarium trade.

Takashi Amano is an iconic figure in the hobby, and I recommend reading his stuff, but that’s a topic for another discussion.

Anyway, this shrimp has been known to absolutely love and even depend on algae. For this reason, it should only be added to an already-established aquarium.

Amano shrimps will definitely eat and even prefer grazing on hair aquarium algae. Having some green or another type of hair-like freshwater algae is actually recommended for this shrimp species.

Be careful not to end up with another species of Caridina, (as they are hundreds) because they will not be as good as the Amano shrimp in battling algae.

A true Amano will be larger and very active in the tank.

18. Red cherry shrimp (Neocaridina davidi)

Red Cherry Shrimp

Image by Stevencaller

Max. size: 1.5 inches (3.8 centimeters)
Suggested tank size: 5 gallons and above
Tank mates: neon tetras, otocinculus, corydoras, smaller plecos, bamboo shrimp, amano shrimp, peaceful snails
Ph: 6.5 to 8
Fish tank type: Freshwater

The Red Cherries have exploded in popularity these past years and for a reason.

They’ll munch on most all soft green algae and on some occasions on hair algae, but are not a good choice when exclusively battling that.

The cherry shrimps will multiply fast, as long as there are none of their natural predators in their tank.

It’s noteworthy that being small, bright red and a fast multiplier signals that you’re probably on the bottom of the food chain.

If you resort to these algae grazers, you should carefully pick their tank mates if you want them to sustain a stable colony.

Usually, an aquarist will add these to their heavily planted tank that has dwarf community fish in it.

19. Sulawesi shrimp (Caridina dennerli)

Cardinal Shrimp

Image by DirkBlankenhaus

Max. size: 1 inch (2.5 centimeters)
Suggested tank size: 5 gallons and above
Tank mates: Sulawesi biotope snails such as the Sulawesi Rabbit snail, other Sulawesi shrimp
Ph: 7.5 to 8.5
Fish tank type: Freshwater

The Cardinal Sulawesi shrimp has earned the respect of fishkeepers for both its appearance and algae-devouring abilities.

Leafless aquatic plants are the main part of this shrimp’s diet, so algal growth is actually encouraged while housing it in your aquarium.

Mind that the cardinal shrimps are quite sensitive to fish tank conditions.

They will appreciate very clean water.

Another thing to consider if you want these colorful creatures to clean your tank is that they are rarely found in fish stores.

You’ll have a better chance of getting one if you contact someone who’s breeding them.

Since this shrimp species is hard to find and more on the expensive side aquarists are often keeping them in Sulawesi biotope tanks to reduce the risk of loss.

Microalgae and biofilm are their favorite snacks.

Which algae eaters are compatible with aggressive cichlids?

If you’re looking after the particularly aggressive African cichlids then there are not many options for a healthy coexistence with an algae-grazer. Have a look at the algae eating fish compatible with cichlids:

In some occasions, bristlenose plecos will be able to keep the algae in check in a cichlid tank. However, you should introduce the pleco earlier, when your cichlids are young. This gives both species time to get used to cohabit with one another.

Another condition for this setup to work is that the pleco should already be decently-sized so that it can protect itself in case of aggression.

The third condition to be met is that you provide the Bristlenose with plenty of hiding spaces, enough to keep it safe during the daytime.

Consider adding a small piece of driftwood with the pleco, as it will graze on it because it helps with its digestion.

Driftwood will lower the pH of the water by a tiny bit, so bear that in mind if your cichlids demand a slightly more alkaline tank environment.

Which algae eaters are compatible with turtles?

With turtles things can get a little more complicated:

Most any fish that is not large enough to become dinner will eventually get eaten, no matter how fast or smart it is. If you get a fish, big enough to fend for itself you won’t have much progress with your algae problem. Larger plecos don’t really eat that much of it. SAEs and Otos get eaten.

A turtle’s temperament may vary but they are all killers.

Older red ear sliders (RES) tend to lean on the herbivorous side more, which gives its fish tankmates higher chances for survival.

Here’s what animal eat algae and survive in a turtle aquarium:

My best suggestion here would be… ghost shrimp.

I know what you’re thinking and you’re right.

A ghost shrimp will be eaten by the turtle at some point. But they will also do an outstanding job at cleaning the walls and hard surfaces of your tank from algae.

The reason I’m suggesting this exact species of shrimp is that they are super cheap and you can buy tons of them.

By the time your turtle eats a couple, the others may as well learn how to avoid and escape the predator.

Red cherry shrimps are faster and more agile than ghost shrimp but they are also significantly more expensive. It’s up to you.

Which algae eaters are compatible with African dwarf frogs?

African dwarf frogs are violent little creatures. They won’t be compatible with some smaller docile fish. If the frog hasn’t been fed it can even try to eat a larger fish.

Here’s a video of an ADF trying to eat a pygmy suckermouth. For this reason, they should be housed with faster and larger fish or ones that are inhabiting the upper space in the aquarium. Here’s what algae eating creatures will work with an African Dwarf Frog:

Algae consumers such as mollies, a bristlenose pleco or a rubber lipped pleco will be appropriate for a tank with an African Dwarf frog. Nerite snails could also work, as their shell makes them immune to the frog. Red cherry shrimps are agile enough to escape the frog, but it’s not uncommon for them to lose a limb when the frog’s around.

Do you need to supply these guys with food other than algae?

After your tank is free of algae and even during the cleaning process, the aforementioned aquatic species will still need to feed on something else. Listed below are options that will generally fit the healthy diet profile of an algivorous aquarium inhabitant. Do keep in mind that every fish, crustacean or snail has its own personal preferences as with algal consumption. Here’s a list of supplemental food that an algae eater will need:

  • spirulina flakes
  • sinking algae wafers
  • fresh lettuce
  • fresh zucchini
  • fresh kale
  • fresh cucumbers
  • green peas
  • frozen bloodworm for the omnivorous fish

Following this list will guarantee that your pet will be provided with important vitamins, nutrients, and fiber from diverse food sources.

Over to you

Picking algae eaters for your aquarium will work if you provide them with a healthy habitat while choosing the right type for your problem. They should feel comfortable in their tank so that they can fully indulge in what they do best.

Know that these creatures are not problem solvers, but rather an aid. To fully eradicate the issue you need to dig deeper and find the cause.

In a freshwater tank, the nutrients responsible for the hair algae outbreak may be entirely different than in a reef tank.

Anyway, which one did you choose?

Let me know your experience in the comments so I can update this article and help more fishkeepers out.

91.11% of the readers found this article helpful.

Tap a star to leave your vote:

1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (9 votes, average: 4.56 out of 5)

Loading...

I think you'll also like

4
Leave a Reply

avatar
2 Comment threads
2 Thread replies
0 Followers
 
Most reacted comment
Hottest comment thread
3 Comment authors
aquadminMichaelRobert Kanlon Recent comment authors

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

  Subscribe  
Notify of
Robert Kanlon
Guest

You can put sucker fish in with goldfish, you just have to keep your tank clean. I have two aquariums set up right now both with goldfish and both have plecos in them and they are all very happy. You just have to make sure your tank is clean and all will be good

Michael
Guest
Michael

Water temps would be a good idea to mention .