The dreaded algae that grows inside of your freshwater tank is ugly and hard to get rid of. The good news is that there is a wide variety of algae eater fish, shrimp, and snails that will help you get rid and control your algae problem and be more than happy to help. Which ones you get is a matter of what is available and preference on the tank owner. It is imperative to make sure your tanks are well established before adding any algae eaters to your tank to ensure enough food is readily available for them at all times. Here is a list of 10 different algae eaters in no particular order to help you decide what you would like to get.
Also known as the busy nose pleco, this particular species is usually just as common in fish stores as the common pleco. The Bristlenose Pleco is widely sought after and for good reasons. Unlike the common pleco who can grow towards a foot long in length, the bristlenose pleco grows to around 6 inches and best suited for 30 gallon fish tanks and larger. They have a huge appetite and will consume large amounts of algae growing in your tank, and they are super fun to look at if you get lucky to see it out of hiding. This fish is one of the most popular algae eater fish.
Siamese Algae Eater Fish (SAE)
The Siamese Algae Eater Fish is often mistaken for an Otocinclus Catfish, Chinese Algae Eater Fish and Siamese Algae Eater Fish. A true Siamese Algae Eater Fish will have a long body with a ragged looking black horizontal stripe on the sides of the fish. If it has a gold stripe on top of the black stripe it is not a Siamese Algae Eater.
The Siamese Algae Eater Fish will grow to about 4 or 5 inches in length and are best suited for tanks 20 gallon fish tanks and larger. This is a fish that will eat the dreaded black algae that some tank owners happen to be unlucky to have. The Siamese Algae Eater will also eat most other algae, spirulina, and fresh veggies.
Yes, you read that correctly, a catfish as an algae eater fish and a very attractive catfish at that. The Otocinclus Catfish is most commonly called an Otto Cat and can be found in most fish stores. The Otto Cat is confused with Chinese Algae Eater, Siamese Algae Eater, and Siamese Flying Fox. While they do look a lot alike at first glance, the Otto Cat will have a shorter body than the others listed maxing out at 2 inches long in most cases. This catfish is non aggressive and has no way of protecting itself and should be kept with peaceful tank mates. You can supplement their diet with algae wafers to ensure they have plenty to eat.
Yes, two different Catfish species in this list and this particular one is pretty amazing addition to your tank. The Twig Catfish gets it’s name because it looks and acts like a twig in your tank even while cleaning it of unsightly algae. The Twig Catfish is a long, brownish colored fish and grows up to 6 inches long. Even when attached to surfaces in your tank, you will see little movement from this fish as its survival mechanism is to be a twig in the water as not to be eaten by other fish. The Twig Catfish will eat most algae in your tank and will need to be feed Spirulina Algae Wafers a few times a week to supplement their diet and ensure the best possible health for these gorgeous fish.
These fascinating shrimp are an amazing addition to any tank. They will eat algae off of your hard surfaces in your tank and as a bonus will help clean up uneaten food lying on the bottom of the tank. They service a dual purpose with an appealing look. These Shrimp are called ghost shrimp because of their translucent bodies. These particular shrimp stand out best with a black substrate and black backing of the tank. Max size for these jewels of the shrimp world is 1.5 inches long.
Picture your heavily planted green tank. Now imagine how awesome it would be to see red in your tank dashing around from here to there. Pretty awesome picture in your head right? The Cherry Shrimp and its brilliant red color will brighten up any tank and help add color on the bottom of the tank. The Cherry Shrimp will eat algae growing in your tank, along with uneaten food from other fish, algae wafers, and plant matter fallen from live plants in your tank and as an added bonus will bring life and color to the bottom of your tank.
The Amano Shrimp is a transparent light gray shrimp. While not as attractive or eye catching as the Ghost Shrimp or Cherry Shrimp, they are still neat to look at and have in your tank. These are smaller shrimp growing to around 2 inches and better in groups of 3 of more. They will eat most algae growing on the hard surfaces of your tank as well as dead parts of plants and leftover food. Multipurpose cleaner.
While snails will not consume as much algae as the others previously listed, they are a fun addition to any tank. The Nerite Snail comes in so many different colors making it hard to decide which one to add to the tank. Unlike other snails, the Nerite Snail does not breed in freshwater saving your tank from being overrun by snails. As a precaution with the snail and most other snails, a secure lid with very little openings is advised as they can possibly crawl out of the tank. Before adding this snail or any snail to your tank, make sure that the fish you currently have in your tank does not feed on snails such of Cichlids and Loaches.
These snails shell looks like the horn on a ram, hence how they got their name. The Ramshorn snails will be fascinating to watch moving through your tank eating algae off of hard surface and possibly some leftover food lying on the bottom of the tank. If you have fish that lay eggs, be careful as these snails may possibly eat the eggs. The good news is that they do not normally eat live plants in the tank unless they are covered in algae.
While most other snails stay on hard surfaces to eat and you will see them throughout the day, the Malaysian Trumpet Snail tends to dig under the gravel or sand in your tank and hide during the day. After lights out these snails will come out of hiding and eat the algae growing on hard surfaces of the tank and just about any other organic matter it may come across while searching for food. If you see these snails on your live plants, rest easy that they normally do not harm the plants, they just clean them off.
Now that you have been given 10 pretty impressive choices for algae control in your tank, the hard part is choosing which is right for you and your tank. Please make sure to do more extensive research on the one or ones you choose to add to your tank to ensure that they are compatible with the size tank you have and with the species of fish you are keeping in the tanks.