Algae… it’s persistent, pervasive and can blanket an aquarium in green growth. While some algal growth is normal, it’s important to reach a healthy balance in your tank’s ecosystem. One way to reach this balance is with algae-eating fish.
These freshwater fish are good algae eaters:
Plecos – A type of suckermouth catfish, plecos are among the best algae eaters. While common plecos are popular, they’re best used in very large aquariums as they can grow up to two feet. For the home aquarium, better choices include the bushynose pleco and the bristlenose pleco, which eat all types of algae and reach a maximum of four to six inches.
Pygmy Suckermouth – The pygmy suckermouth or Otocinclus resembles the pleco, but is smaller (up to two inches). They do well in aquariums with plants as their size allows them to eat algae off small leaves. “Otos” are a schooling fish however and should be kept in groups of three or more.
Siamese Algae Eater – A member of the cyprinid or carp family, Siamese algae eaters consume a lot of algae, unlike Chinese algae eaters, which eat less algae as they grow. Maximum length is four or five inches. Don’t keep two of this type as they can get territorial with their own kind.
Florida Flagfish – This native flagfish can grow to two and a half inches and can eat the brush or beard algae ignored by other algae eaters. Make sure it can get along with the other fish in your tank. Tips to keep in mind…
- Some algae-eating fish will only eat certain types of algae.
- If your fish have eaten all the algae, there’s a possibility they could starve. Use algae tablets or vegetables as supplements.
- You can’t depend on fish to clean your tank of all algae. Fish can have favorite eating spots in your tank, leaving algae growing in other areas.
These fish can help with algae, but don’t consider them a solution to combating the problem. You should still pay attention to algal growth and keep your tank clean.