8 Best Algae Eaters For Your Planted Tank

Otocinclus Fish

Types of Algae Eaters

If you are getting started in the aquarium keeping hobby, you’ll definitely need to purchase a few algae eaters for your tank to significantly reduce algae growth in your tank. Different algae eaters consume different forms of algae. The types of algae eaters vary from fish to shrimp to snails.

Here are 8 popular choices of algae eaters for your planted tank, each with their pros and cons described:  

1. Siamese Algae Eaters (SAE)

Siamese Algae Eaters (Crossocheilus siamensis) are small when young, but get much larger in time; to a full size of more than 5 inches (14cm). When young, they voraciously eat various forms of filamentous algae, including Black brush algae (BBA). However, adult Siamese Algae Eaters tend to want to feed on fish food instead.

A Siamese Algae Eater is a great purchase to keep your tank healthy.

Black Mollies
Mollies (Poecilia sphenops)

2. Molly

Mollies (Poecilia sphenops), eat filamentous algae including BBA occasionally.

However, they pick at delicate aquarium plants and poop a lot (i.e. generate a lot of waste).

After some time, as with Siamese Algae Eaters (SAE), they might develop a preference for fish food and will only feed on algae if kept hungry.

3. Amano / Yamato Shrimp

The Amano / Yamato shrimp (Caridina japonica) is popular among planted hobbyists. The Amano shrimp is named after ADA’s founder and famed aquascaper Takashi Amano.

They are great algae eaters, consuming various kinds of algae. They will also quickly devour leftover fish food and even deceased tank mates.

However, I find that they get slightly large (6cm+) and escape open top tanks easily. They will also attack delicate/unhealthy plant leaves when hungry.

Amano Shrimp
Amano (Caridina japonica)

4. Red Cherry Shrimp

Neocaridina shrimp (Red Cherry Shrimp (RCS) comes in other color variations as well) These stay much smaller compared to Amano shrimp, and seldom attempt to escape open top tanks if water parameters are favorable.

However, you will need a small horde of them to see significant impact. They breed very easily and I find that they add aesthetic value to the tank. The Red Cherry Shrimp does not have a significant impact on tough types of algae such as BBA & cladophora.

5. Farlowella Catfish

The Farlowella/Twig/Whiptail catfish (Farlowella vittata) look exotic and grow up to 20cm in length. They are shy and like to have hiding places, so a planted tank with areas of bog wood works well.

These algae eaters can be sensitive to fluctuations in water parameters. Avoid changing tank parameters quickly, such as doing large water changes with tap water that is significantly different.

Otocinclus Fish
Oto catfish (Otocinclus affinis)

6. Oto Catfish

Oto catfish/Dwarf suckermouth (Otocinclus affinis) are small in size and harmless to shrimp and other smaller fish, making them ideal for community tanks as long as there are no aggressive fish such as larger Cichlids and Angelfish.

Otos are most comfortable in groups and form loose shoals whenever you have more than a few. They feed on soft green algae and diatoms. The Oto catfish is quite sensitive and should only be introduced into a cycled and matured aquarium.

7. Nerite Snail

Nerite snails consume spot algae, which few other types of algae eaters eat. They prefer water with some alkalinity (5dKH +) & hardness (8 dGH+), so very acidic tanks (pH <6.5) should avoid them.

They will attempt to lay eggs but raising the young to adult will require brackish water. Sometimes they will burrow beneath the substrate line, which can disturb delicate carpets.

8. Bristle Pleco

The Bristle Pleco (Ancistrus sp.) is recommended by Tom Barr as a solution to Green Dust Algae (GDA); about a 2inch sized fish per 5 gallons of tank. These trusty algae eaters also clear up Green Spot Algae (GSA).

Bristle Plecos grow slowly, but eventually reach a full size of more than 5 inches (14cm). One can consider buying juveniles, then selling them or exchanging them off as they reach full size. The Bristle Pleco is a great algae eater to introduce to your planted tank because it is good at cleaning smooth surfaces such as tank walls.

Bristlenose Pleco
Bristle Pleco (Ancistrus sp.)

If you have questions about which algae eaters you need for your tank, please give our knowledgeable team at SevenPorts call today at 1 (626) 333-5372. We can provide recommendations for which fish or invertebrates to choose, tailored your specific aquarium setup.

Algae Eaters: Further Reading

Read more information about algae eaters here from www.2hraquarist.com

For another article on the shrimp that are worth their weight in gold eating for eating algae.