Freshwater Aquarium

What Does Algae Eat: Best Algae Eaters for Your Home Aquarium

It’s easy for algae to spread out of control and this is why you need to keep its growth in check

Did you ever think what does algae eat to gain more strength? Although algae can look great in your aquarium, they only look good in small amounts; it’s easy for algae to spread out of control and this is why you need to keep its growth in check. In this article, we will discuss the algae eating fish in the home aquarium for beginners and what do algae eat or what do algae eat to survive.

When you introduce freshwater algae eater fishes into your aquarium setup, ensure that your aquarium filtration is up to the mark which can prevent your tank from having excessive algae production. There are different freshwater algae eaters to choose from, such as snails, shrimps, and algae eating fish. They are cheap and will help increase the variety of aquatic wildlife in your tank, and at the same time, they keep your freshwater fish tank clean.

A freshwater algae eater food consists of excessive algae growth within the tank, the main issue that algae eater fish have is the compatibility with other fishes. Their main job is to eat the algae and keep the tank clean, but not to be eaten themselves. It’s vital that you know which algae are eating fish can live harmoniously with the rest of the fish in your tank, for this, you will need to have a good knowledge of the fish that eat algae which you have already. Accordingly, you can ask your dealer which freshwater algae eaters will get along well with the rest of the fish.

If you don’t have the time or patience to read up and learn about your fish, then it is suggested that you keep your algae eating fish in a separate tank and only move them to the main freshwater fish tank when their algae eating services are required. If you are currently facing an excessive outbreak of algae or want to avoid the problem in the future then opting for freshwater algae eaters is the best option.

Listed below are the best freshwater algae eater fishes that you can introduce straight away.

What does algae eat: Siamese Algae Eater:

what does algae eat
Siamese Algae Eater

The first edition in our list of what does algae eat (or what do algae eat), regarding effectiveness is Siamese Algae Eater. Siamese algae eater tops the list; not only are they low maintenance but they are also beautiful in appearance. They also have persistent cleaning abilities. Along with the algae that grow in your tank, the Siamese algae eater will also feed on fish food pellets, vegetables, flake food and live food like bloodworms.

The Siamese algae eater fish grows up to two inches lengthwise, these persistent algae predators are perfect for tanks of all sizes and they are non-aggressive which means that they will live harmoniously with other fish species. However, they can get territorial if species of their kind surround them. So, it’s suggested to keep the school to a minimum of five fish.

When it comes to the living conditions, Siamese algae eater is usually easy to care for. As mentioned before, they are easy to care for and low maintenance. They need a lot of oxygen, and the temperature of the water should ideally be 25 degrees Celsius. They prefer to have a large space for swimming and plenty of living plants. Larger tanks are good, but since they are small in size, a 10-gallon fish tank should be good enough.

Siamese algae eaters are excellent jumpers. So to ensure that they don’t jump out of the tank, make sure that the tank is covered at all times. Also, they have a large appetite which means that they almost never leave any leftovers behind. You will have to keep an eye on them to make sure that they are getting their fair share of food. All you have to do is make sure that the best algae eaters have enough space to swim and plenty of algae to eat and they will make an excellent addition to your aquarium. Siamese flying fox tropical fish is one of the best algae eaters for 20-gallon tank.

Twig Catfish:

Another excellent addition to the list of what do algae eat is the best aquarium catfish – twig catfish, also known as whiptail catfish. This small freshwater algae eater fish can grow up to 20 centimeters in length, and their slender brown stick-like bodies make for excellent camouflage in a busy aquarium.

what does algae eat
Cat fish

Suitable tankmates for the twig catfish include tetras, rasboras, hatchets, and the pencil fish. These algae eating tropical fish (Twig catfish) like to hide, so try to set up the tank in such a way that they have a lot of places to hide. The catfish species, in general, are okay with small spaces, the twig catfish is no different, and if your water capacity is over 70 liters, then you will be fine. They like their environment to be consistent so that any drastic water change can affect them big time. If you keep Cichlids and Barbs, then it’s advised not keeping the catfish as they are very vulnerable to be attacked by the larger fish.

When it comes to the feeding habit of this fish, they consume all types of algae, and if you want them to survive and grow for a long-term, then you can supplement them with algae tablets for two to three times in a week. It’s also the solution for what eats blue-green algae.

Otocinclus Catfish:

what does algae eat
Otocinclus Catfish

The next addition in our list of what does algae eat is the Otocinclus Catfish, also known as the dwarf sucker and otos. It’s similar to the fish what eats bacteria in the ocean. The most significant advantage of having these algae eating fish in your tank is their size. You can easily incorporate them without having to worry about overcrowding your tank and also they can get into the nooks and crannies of the aquarium and eliminate any hard to reach algae.

They grow up to be two inches, but don’t get fooled by their small algae eating fish size as they have a very hearty appetite. The “dwarf suckers” will live on all types of algae and aquatic vegetation, but their favorite is brown and soft green algae. You should know that they have a very hearty appetite and if you want to keep them in the tank even if you don’t have much algae, then you can grow some vegetation in your aquarium that they can feed on, like zucchini, now and then.

These algae eater fish are schooling freshwater cleaner fish and should be kept in a group of five. However, because of their small size, you don’t need a huge tank to keep them happy, and 30 gallons should be more than enough. Otos usually live in harmony with other fish that eat algae. However, because of their small size, they are known to be attacked by angelfish and cichlids, so keep that fact in mind before you purchase them.

Bristlenose Plecos:

what does algae eat
Bristlenose Plecos

Another addition to this list of freshwater algae eaters is the Bristlenose Plecos, they grow up to 15 centimeters in length, and these aquarium sucker fish can cover a lot of space in the tank when they consume algae. Because of their size, it’s advised to include sinking algae pellets in your aquarium to make sure that they’re well fed.

The main advantage of choosing this aquarium sucker fish is that they are green algae eating fish which most of the other algae eaters refuse to eat. Combine their love for green algae eating with their voracious appetite, and they make an excellent addition to your tank.

Regarding compatibility with other fish, they live pretty peacefully with their tank mates. They come out of their hiding places at night, and even then their size and passive behavior keep them out of trouble for a long time.


These are generally not specifically algae eating tropical fish, but since they are willing to eat any algae, they have earned a spot on our list. Mollies, especially black mollies, will eat their fair share of algae and they tend to do so from rocks and live plants. However, don’t rely on Mollies to completely eradicate the algae, if you want fish that look pretty and also eat some algae, then the Mollies are the perfect fish.

What does algae eat: Best Algae Eating Snails

While snails may not eat algae as fast, the fishes do, that doesn’t mean that the popularity of snails has diminished over time. Previously snails were the only creatures that fish keepers could use as algae eater snails to control the growth of algae. So their popularity grew out of necessity. Recently, the demand for freshwater snails has increased, and people have become more open to the idea of keeping some algae eater snails in their fish tank.

Below are some of the top snails that double as fish tank algae cleaners and aquarium pets:

What does algae eat: Nerite snails:

what does algae eat
Nerite snails

This little fellow takes the top spot on our list of popular algae eater snails. With their zebra shell and their huge appetite for algae, it’s no surprise as to why they are so popular. Nerite snails don’t have a specific preference of what algae they like to eat, as long as the algae are fresh water it will suit them just fine; they even take care of the algae that are harder to eradicate like Green spot algae and green beard algae. These snails are bottom dwellers so they will help clean your substrate.

They grow up to three centimeters, but they are very easy targets for fishes like Cichlids and Loaches, so it’s advised not to pair these fishes and snails together. For Nerite to grow and survive for a long-term, they require water that has a pH level of seven or above, and hard water is usually preferred because the calcium in hard water keeps their shells healthy.

The only problem with these snails is that they breed like crazy, so unless you plan on breeding them you are better off with just one snail, other than that they make for great algae eaters.

What does algae eat: Ramshorn Snails:

what does algae eat
Ramshorn Snails

If you have an aquarium that is bustling with plants, these algae eater snails would be the best choice for you. Other snails attack the plants and algae matter, but the Ramshorn only attack the algae, and dead leaves and they leave the rest of your plant life alone, but they are also known to eat fish eggs and leftover food. The ramshorn name was given to the snail because their shell resembled the horn of a ram and the shell color is brownish red. An adult ramshorn snail can grow up to 2 cms in length, and they need to be kept in waters that have a high alkaline level.

These snails are great for cleaning your plants, the walls of your aquarium, the rocks, decoration and any of the nooks and crannies. Combine these snails with nerite snails you will have clean and algae free aquarium; Cichlids and loaches are large fish that will eat the snails, so you can either place the snails in a separate tank or not get fishes that will eat the snails.

What does algae eat: Mystery Apple Snail:

what does algae eat
Mystery Apple Snail

This algae eater snail is quite the algae muncher; the next addition on our list of what does algae eat is the Mystery apple snail. Although they are purchased when they are babies, when they grow up they can be the size of a baseball; so you need to make sure that you have enough space in your tank to house them. These snails are easy to identify, not only because of their size but also because of their long antennas that sweep across the aquarium floor. Their shells are bright yellow and are also found in shades of brown, purple and red.

Mystery Apple Snails will eat any algae, but they mostly feast on plant algae, substrate algae, and aquarium glass algae. They are bottom feeders and like to remain at the bottom of the aquarium, cropping the substrate for algae, and picking up leftover food. Although their appetite is enormous, they will eat any types of algae; we still suggest you feed Mystery Snails a wide range of aquarium vegetation.

Adult Mystery Snails are mostly safe and will keep to themselves, but the younger, tinier ones may become a target for larger, voracious fish. They also have an inclination towards eating live plants that is if they have an insufficient amount of algae and vegetation to munch on, so make sure they are always well fed. Overall, the Mystery Apple Snail is an excellent addition to any aquarium that is if you can get your hands on them for they are getting to be increasingly harder to find. They are extensive species in what does algae it.

Conclusion: What does algae eat

Hopefully, the aquatic life that is listed above on what does algae eat has helped you with any fish keeping queries that you have. If you have any more suggestions on freshwater best algae eaters feel free to add them in the comment section below.

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