Algae eaters are a must in any freshwater aquarium. There are many types of algae eaters: fish, shrimp, and snails. Pick one based on the size of your tank and the type of fish your are keeping. The last thing you want, is for your algae eater to be eaten.
A commercial food diet should still be fed, along with the available algae in the tank.
Algae Eating Fish
When choosing an algae eating fish, you should always check to see which fish you already have and which fish you want to get, to make sure they are compatible fish tank mates. Failure to do so will result in fighting, and sometimes death.
Bristlenose plecos are probably one of my favorite types of fish to keep as algae eating fish. On average, they will grow about 12 – 15 centimeters in length, so they are well suited for larger aquariums. You should offer sinking algae pellets and vegetables for their diet as well. They are great for tropical fish tanks. They are quite calm and friendly so they will rarely have any problems being put into a fish tank with other fish.
Siamese Algae Eater
Siamese algae eaters are a must-have fish in any fish tank. They grow to be around 2 inches in length making them the perfect size for any size aquarium. They prefer an environment with lots of broad-leaved plants and rocks. They will use the leaves to rest on and eat algae off of. Along with eating algae from the plants and rocks, they will be needing a regular diet consisting of a high quality flake or pelleted food, freeze-dried bloodworms, and finely chopped fish-safe vegetables.
The black molly is a fish that a lot of people rarely think about when thinking about algae solutions. The truth is that mollies do in fact help with cleaning up the algae in your tank. They might not be as good as the previously mentioned fish, but they will add a little bit of help. All mollies will will eat algae, but out of all of them, the true black molly (Poecilia Sphenops) is the best of the group. They will usually help with the algae growing on rocks and plants.
The otocinclus is another great small algae eating fish that will do well in fish tanks. Otocinclus reach sizes of about 4 cm in length which will do well in 30 gallon tanks or larger. Don’t let the size full you, this fish can consume more algae than you think. Their diet relies heavily on vegetation and algae. If there isn’t any algae in the tank, add some fish safe vegetation to be eaten. They do well in schools of 5 or more, so make sure to get a few.
Algae Eating Shrimp
What’s a fish tank without shrimp? Shrimp are great for fish tanks, especially ones with ornaments, caves, and other hard to reach places. Below are a few algae eating shrimp that I enjoy using in our fish tanks. Make sure to add a few ornaments and hides in the aquarium so your shrimp can hide and be safe from your shrimp eating fish.
Amano shrimp are by far the best algae eating shrimp available. Unfortunately, most pet stores do not have these types of shrimp available often. If your pet store has a few, grab 3 of them, because they do thrive in numbers of 3 or bigger. They will eat most algae, dead pant matter, and any left over food in the aquarium.
Cherry shrimp are sold often in many pet stores and are really good at cleaning algae from places most algae eating fish can’t reach. Their bright red color adds color variety to any environment, so if your tank is dull, these may be a good fit for your aquarium.
Most people may recommend the ghost shrimp, but in my opinion, they do not do as well as cherry shrimp or amano shrimp. Ghost shrimp are great for eating hair algae though, so if you have a lot of hair algae, you may want to get a few. They also serve as snacks for bigger fish, so make sure to get a lot, because some will go missing (eaten).
Algae Eating Snails
The reason why I love snails is because of their uniqueness, size, and variety that they can add to a fish tank. Snails are quite fun to watch and own. Although snails do not do much in regards to eating algae, they will help out a little bit by grazing the aquarium glass and some live/fake plants. The amount of waste that snails produce is quite little as well, so you won’t have to worry about nitrates/nitrites/ammonia. Below are some of the algae eating snails that are available regularly in pet stores.
Mystery (Apple) Snail
Most apple snails are sold as small babies in pet stores, but you should know that they can reach the size of a large softball, so make sure you have the room for one if you are planning to buy one. The types of algae that they attack are: aquarium glass algae, plant algae, and substrate algae. They will normally spend most of their time on the bottom of the fish tank grazing the surface of the substrate eating any left over food and algae. Although they eat algae and left over food, they should still be fed a diet consisting fish-safe vegetation. It is also possible that your apple snail may start to eat live plants.
Fish-keepers have voted this snail number one as an algae eating snail, eating most types of algae in fish tanks. Nerite snails are great for small fish tanks, reaching only about an inch in size. They will usually hang out at the bottom of the fish tank (like apple snails) and help clean the substrate. You will also notice that they will hangout on plants often eating algae off of the leaves. The only downfall they might have is that they do leave unsightly little eggs everywhere. Other than that, they are an awesome algae eating snail specie.
What’s Your Favorite Algae Eater?
What do you think is the best freshwater aquarium algae eater? Do you know of another type of algae eating fish, snail, or shrimp that does well in your fish tank at home? Share with us your thoughts and recommendations below in the comments section.