Algae eaters are a great way to keep freshwater tanks clean and healthy. They come in many varieties, but the best are hardy, voracious eaters that get along well with other tank inhabitants. Our favorite algae eaters are delightful to watch and easy to care for.
1. Amano Shrimp
This active and entertaining creature is a very popular choice. Amano shrimp are ravenous eaters and will clear the tank of dead plant material and leftover food as well as algae. The only foods they resist are blue-green and green spot algae.
Take care when adding fertilizer to a planted tank, as it can be harmful to shrimp. Change water frequently to dilute the toxicity. A dechlorinator may be needed to keep chlorine and chloramine at safe levels.
Amano shrimp are happiest in a group of at least three members of the same species. Larger fish may prey on amanos, so they should be kept with smaller, more docile fish.
2. Bristlenose Plecos
Many aquarium owners enjoy the comical appearance of the bristlenose plecos. Its distorted head and nose are coupled with a blunt, stout body that can grow to be 10 to 15 centimeters long. These fish consume a lot of green foods, including blanched vegetables and bottom-lying algae tablets.
Bristlenose plecos feed at night and need a safe place to hide during the day. Be sure to include dark substrate material and rocky shelter along the bottom of your tank.
3. Nerite Snails
Nerite snails have a colorful patterned shell that makes them an attractive addition to an aquarium. They can clean algae from almost anywhere. They particularly enjoy green spot and green beard algae.
Take measures to keep your nerites safe. Cichlids and loaches may prey upon tiny nerites, and they should not be tanked together. Keep a lid securely fastened on the tank to prevent your nerites from climbing out. Maintain a pH level above seven to keep snail shells healthy and strong.
4. Oto Catfish
This freshwater scavenger thrives in heavily planted tanks with soft, filmy green algae growth. They can dart around the tank quickly, cleaning algae from many hard-to-reach places. Their diet should be supplemented with algae wafers and fresh vegetables.
To keep otos healthy, water should be filtered and moving steadily. Avoid sudden shifts in temperature or pH levels. Otos are peaceful and should be kept away from larger, more predatory fish. However, they do well in most community tanks.
5. Siamese Algae Eaters
This popular fish will consume most types of algae, as well as leftover bits of food, vegetables, flakes, pellets and live food. It enjoys flatworms and can keep this nuisance in check. Its voracious appetite makes it a great addition to your aquatic ecosystem.
Siamese algae eaters can be territorial, and a tank of 100 liters can house no more than five of this species. They also need plenty of oxygen and are sensitive to variations in pH levels. They can jump up to 14 centimeters, so keep a secure lid on your tank to keep these fish from jumping out.
Remember that algae eaters cannot survive on algae alone. Be sure to supplement their diets with commercial food so they can live long lives contributing to the health and ambiance of your aquarium.