Aquarium fish tanks can be a beautiful addition to any home. They can also be a great way to teach children about the responsibilities of taking care of another living creature.
One of the most important aspects of keeping an aquarium is making sure that the algae levels are kept in check, as an overgrowth of algae can quickly turn your tank into an unsightly mess.
Algae can be a real nuisance, and it can be tough to get rid of it. There are many different aquarium fish, snails, and shrimps that are well known for their ability to eat algae.
If you’re looking for a natural way to remove algae from your freshwater aquarium, you should consider adding one of these creatures to your tank! These can help keep your aquarium clean and free of unwanted algae growth.
In this article, I will discuss some of the best algae eaters for freshwater aquariums and why you should consider adding them to your tank. So, without further ado, let’s get started!
What Are The Best Algae Eaters?
Otocinclus Catfish (Oto)
Another popular choice, these small bottom feeders can be kept with other fish species that won’t eat them. They live on the substrate itself, non-aggressive and one of the best algae eaters.
They rarely exceed the size of 2 inches in their mature state, which makes them suitable for nano tanks. Their lifespan in captivity is approximately 5 years.
Otocinclus are herbivorous and feed on algae in the wild, making them a great algae cleaner in the aquarium. However, you may need to provide external food for their proper nutrition.
To feed Otocinclus, you can buy algae wafers on the market. You can also provide them with chopped-up fresh vegetables.
In general, these fish are hardy and not susceptible to disease. However, they can suffer from parasitic and fungal problems. The most common of which is Ich, caused by poor tank conditions and improper nutrition.
They can, however, be protected from suffering through a healthy diet and aquarium.
Siamese Algae Eaters (SAE)
This bottom-dwelling fish comes from the mainland of Southeast Asia and is widely regarded as one of the best and most effective algae eaters in the aquarium. It can be kept in groups or alone, and nothing can stop them from their cleaning duties.
For their rapidly moving sporadic movements, they received the name, Flying Fox. Their sporadic movements can often scare other calmer fish, but they will not attack anyone. They are very peaceful fish.
Siamese Algae Eaters grow to an adult size of 6 inches, requiring a tank of at least 20 gallons. They live in captivity for a relatively long time, lasting up to 10 years.
While they love algae, they are omnivorous and eat many kinds of food. They certainly prefer algae and plant matter because they are used to in the wild.
However, in aquariums, they are excellent scavengers. They will eat anything left at the bottom of the tank, including dead fish and insects.
Fortunately, they’re not particularly susceptible to disease. However, like most bottom-dwellers, they can be infected by fungal diseases such as Ich.
To keep Siamese Algae Eaters as healthy and energetic as they naturally are, they require proper nutrition and a healthy tank environment.
Freshwater aquarium owners can keep Nerite Snails in their aquariums. They are among the most popular freshwater snails today and also make excellent tank cleaners. These tiny snails rarely reach the size of 3/4 inch.
Regardless of the type of algae that grows on your plants or rocks, they will eat it. They make a massive difference in tanks with persistent algae.
Several species of nerite snails are popular as pet snails, all of which eat algae. Zebra Nerite Snail, Tiger Nerite Snail, Olive Nerite Snail, Black Racer Nerite Snail, Horned Nerite Snail, etc., are popular names.
One important characteristic of nerite snails is that they do not breed in freshwater. Instead, they require brackish water to reproduce successfully. So they won’t take over your aquarium.
As a hardy species, nerite snails are easy to care for. They do well in most water conditions, though they prefer slightly alkaline water (pH 7.5).
In addition, don’t forget to feed your snails some calcium-rich foods! Their shells need calcium to grow, so make sure you’re giving them enough of that.
Bristlenose Plecos come from the Amazon River and are a favorite among aquarists for their algae-eating abilities. They can grow quite large, reaching lengths up to 06 inches, so they require a tank of at least 25 gallons, and larger is better.
Bristlenose Plecos get their name from the whiskers around their mouths, which help them find algae on rocks and plants near or on the substrate!
Their diet consists primarily of algae, but they are omnivorous. Therefore, they should be fed various foods to ensure proper nutrition in captivity. Spirulina wafers, sinking fish pellets, and occasionally bloodworms are used to supplement their diets.
They can also feed on vegetables, particularly soft leafy greens like lettuce or spinach leaves. They are best fed at night, as they are nocturnal and will be more active when it is dark.
Driftwood works as a good substrate for them, where algae grow continuously. Bristlenose catfish require little maintenance, and they are peaceful in temperament, making them compatible with other aquarium fish of the same kind.
They do not have any particular susceptibility to disease. Still, they can suffer from parasitic problems like Ich if kept in poor conditions. Therefore, to keep Bristlenose Plecos healthy and happy, they require proper nutrition and a healthy tank environment.
These shrimp are best known for their algae-eating abilities and are among the most popular invertebrates in the aquarium hobby. They come from Japan and can be found in both freshwater and saltwater tanks.
They are a great addition to any tank because they keep the glass clean by eating all types of algae, including green hair algae and black beard algae. They can grow to an adult size of two inches, so they require a tank of at least 10 gallons.
Amano Shrimp are best kept in groups and do best when there are plenty of algae for them to eat. However, Amanos will also eat excess food that falls to the bottom and help keep your water cleaner than before!
They are relatively hardy and disease-resistant, but they can be affected by bacterial infections like Velvet and Whitespot. They can tolerate a wide range of water conditions. However, temperatures between 72 and 78 degrees and a pH between 6.5 and 7.5 are optimal for them.
To keep your Amano Shrimp healthy and stress-free, provide them with a diet of fresh algae and supplement their diet with sinking pellets or algae wafers.
An excellent snail to have in a freshwater aquarium is the Ramshorn snail. They are great for beginners because they are hardy and can tolerate many different conditions.
They can grow up to an adult size of one inch, so you will need at least a five-gallon aquarium for them. As one of the most colorful snails, they make an attractive addition to any aquarium.
Ramshorn snails can survive on algae, uneaten fish food, and decaying plant matter. However, if they are not well fed, Ramshorn snails will consume live plants in aquariums. For this reason, it is not recommended to keep them in an aquarium with live plants.
A varied diet, including sinking fish flakes or pellets, as well as fresh vegetables like lettuce, will keep your Ramshorn Snail healthy and stress-free.
Ramshorn snails reproduce quickly if overfed, which can negatively impact other aquarium species. So keep an eye on the population, and keep the numbers in check.
Malaysian Trumpet Snails
Malaysian trumpet snails add variety to any freshwater tank. They feed on aquatic detritus (dead plant matter, fish feces, and leftover food), algae, and leftover food, but they don’t eat plants, so they’re safe for planted tanks as well.
This snail is not only unique in appearance, but it is also very calm, which makes it a good choice for new aquarium owners. In addition, it is not an aggressive species and will not harm fish or snails sharing its tank.
The unique burrowing capability of these invertebrates makes them so fascinating. They can grow up to 1 inch in length and have a conical shape to easily maneuver through the soil when digging. Be careful with plants that have roots.
Malaysian Trumpet Snails enjoy exploring their surroundings. An aquarium with slow-moving water, plenty of live plants, and a soft substrate are ideal for them.
Getting to know their surroundings is fun for Malaysian Trumpet Snails. A slow-moving aquarium with lots of live plants and a soft substrate make perfect habitats for this species.
They are a good choice for beginners since they require little upkeep. As long as your water conditions are good, you will see success with Malaysian trumpet snails.
They have the disadvantage of multiplying too quickly. As a result, you may face an overwhelming snail population if you don’t keep an eye on its growth.
Japanese Trapdoor Snails
Aquarium hobbyists also love the Japanese trapdoor snails for their attractive color and shape. They come in a variety of colors, including green, dark brown, white, golden, and others.
They are not only attractive but also beneficial to the aquarium. These snails will eat algae, leftover fish foods, and they will even consume decaying plants.
Their slow pace will not disturb any of your fish, and they can grow up to two inches in size and live for up to five years.
If they sense danger, Japanese trapdoor snails with a functional trapdoor will retreat into their shells or burrow themselves into the substrate for protection.
The tank must be tightly covered since these snails like to wander. Otherwise, they may get out!
Most of the time, they don’t eat plants, but if they are hungry, they may eat plants. You can keep them occupied by giving them algae pellets.
Lastly, when you get both a male and a female Japanese Trapdoor Snail, your aquarium will explode with incredible numbers. Therefore, I recommend buying just one.
Cherry shrimp are not only an ornamental addition to your freshwater ecosystem but also an excellent cleaner. They are roughly 1.5 inches (four cm) long and come in bright red color.
They will work best in a tank with plenty of algae for them to eat and live plants on which they can hide. They are best kept in groups of three or more.
Their tiny limbs make it easy for them to pick through the substrate, plant roots, and other small crevices, and they’re happy to eat anything that can be digested.
Cherry shrimp are very hardy and disease-resistant. They can tolerate a pH range from six to eight and water temperatures between 60 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit.
They like to eat algae but will also consume other food such as flakes, freeze-dried foods, almond leaves, and blanched vegetables.
To keep your Cherry Shrimp healthy, provide them with a variety of foods to eat and make sure they have plenty of space in which they can swim around.
Keep them with smaller fish to minimize the risk of becoming prey to larger fish like puffers and loaches.
Ghost shrimp, named for their translucent bodies, are not as powerful in eating algae like cherry shrimp or Amano shrimp. However, if you have an algae problem, you can count on them to help.
They have an orange or yellow spot in the middle of their tails that enables them to be identified even when their bodies are transparent.
They will work best in a tank where there are plenty of algae for them to eat and live plants on which they can hide. Ghost shrimp grow up to two inches long and require a tank with at least 10 gallons of space.
They do best in water with a pH of between six and eight, with a temperature range of 68 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit.
Ghost shrimp breed quite easily, so you could be faced with an infestation if your tank is not too heavily populated by other species.
Ghost shrimp are best for tanks with no large fish because they will be eaten. They can live as long as two years and are best kept in groups of at least six.
Chinese Algae Eaters (CAE)
The fish can grow up to 10 inches long, so you’ll need tanks with a minimum of 30 gallons. Their aggressive nature will become apparent as they grow, so do not mix them with delicate fish.
However, their aggression can have a positive side, too. They are one of the only algae eaters that can be kept with large, semi-aggressive fish like cichlids.
Chinese algae eaters are one of the best algae eaters for tanks with a lot of green algae. They will also feed on other types of algae, including brown and red algae. However, they will not touch cyanobacteria.
Because they tend to become lazy as they grow bigger, they do not have the greatest ability to eat algae. But they may eat different kinds of algae while young.
The Chinese Algae Eater prefers a pH level of 6.5 to 7.5 and temperatures between 74 and 80 degrees.
In general, Chinese algae eaters spend their time at the bottom of the aquarium eating algae. As a result, you should decorate the bottom of your tank with fine sand, various plants, and other decorations.
Mollies are a popular livebearing fish and often snack on algae, but they are not exclusively algae eaters. As a result, you’ll need to supplement their diets with standard flakes and pellets.
Mollies are best in tanks of at least 20 gallons, and they will grow to be about 4.5 inches long. They can tolerate a wide range of water temperatures. Still, you’ll need to provide them with a heater if the tank gets colder than 72 degrees Fahrenheit.
Mollies prefer water on the hard side, so you’ll need to test your pH and hardness levels when adding them. Mollies are peaceful fish that do well with other livebearing species and community fish of similar size or larger.
They can be kept with other mollies, but they will breed and produce fry very quickly, which might not always be best for your tank. In addition, male mollies may become aggressive towards each other and fight over females, so keep an eye out!
A little salt added to your tank will benefit your mollies because they thrive well in slightly brackish water. But, remember to consider the others in your tank before introducing any salt.
Florida Flag Fish
This stunning small nano fish has green, red, blue, and gold iridescent spots and is a type of killifish named after the resemblance to the stars and stripes on the US flag. They only grow to be 2.4 inches long.
These fish are among the best algae eaters for freshwater aquariums, and they eat a variety of algae. The Florida flag fish is among the few on this list that eats hair/thread algae, black beard algae, and other fuzzy types.
Even if you have a big aquarium, algae alone won’t suffice as a complete diet. Luckily, these fish will happily consume fish flakes, live food, and whatever else they can get their hands on.
Florida flag fish do best in fast-moving, cool-water community aquariums (70°-85°F). However, they tend to jump, so make sure your lid is properly secured.
The twig catfish is a long, thin-bodied fish that reaches about 04 inches in length. It gets its common name from the long, thin whiskers (barbs) protruding from its mouth. These help it to find food in dark waters.
This little catfish is one of the best algae eaters for freshwater aquariums. It will also consume detritus (dead plant or animal matter). It is a scavenger that does best in pairs.
The twig catfish can be kept as a lone specimen in an established aquarium with plenty of algae to graze on. But in new tanks, it can easily starve.
They will nibble on the dead skin of other fish and eat leftover food in the tank, which helps keep your water clean and clear. They are best suited for a peaceful community aquarium with plenty of hiding places among plants or rocks.
This fish is more sensitive to water conditions than the other algae-eating fish on this list. So try to keep the temperature between 73 and 79 degrees and the pH level at 6.5 to 7.5.
The rosy barb is a classic freshwater fish that has been in the hobby for generations. Its bright pink color and peaceful demeanor make it an excellent choice for beginners or community tanks.
In addition to its beauty, the rosy barb is one of the best algae eaters for freshwater aquariums. It will consume all types of algae (hair, staghorn, and thread) that commonly grow in tanks.
Not only does this fish help keep your tank clean and clear, but it is also a peaceful community member that works well with other non-aggressive species like guppies or tetras. In fact, the best environment for rosy barbs is a planted community aquarium full of lush greenery.
This fish grows to be about 03 inches long and does best in a temperature range of 68-79 degrees Fahrenheit. It is tolerant of a wide pH range (from acidic to alkaline) and requires moderate water hardness.
The rosy barb is a hardy fish that can tolerate poor water conditions. But it will thrive best in high-quality water with regular partial water changes.
If you need a community tank algae-eater that is easy to keep and provides plenty of brightness, this fish may be the best one for you! They do best in a group of 6 or more like schooling fish.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ’s)
What Are The Best algae eaters for 10-gallon tank?
You can’t keep larger algae eaters in your 10-gallon aquarium. Instead, you should go for Otocinclus catfish, Amano shrimp, Nerite snails, and Red Cherry Shrimp for best algae eaters. Unfortunately, A 10-gallon aquarium is too small for larger algae eaters like Siamese Algae Eaters.
What Are the Best algae eaters for planted tank?
Some algae eaters also have the tendency to eat plants. Therefore, all are not suitable for your planted tank. According to the characteristics, the best algae eaters for planted tanks are Siamese Algae Eaters, Molly Fish, Amano Shrimp, Cherry Shrimp, Nerite Snail, Bristlenose Pleco, Malaysian trumpet snail & Japanese Trapdoor Snails, etc.
Which Are the Best Hair Algae Eaters?
There are a few algae eaters that are known for eating hair algae. These include Florida Flag Fishes, Siamese Algae Eaters, Amano shrimp, Rosy barbs, and Nerite snails. Livebearers, such as mollies, can also help clear hair algae. You can deploy a few of them in your aquarium to remove stubborn hair algae.
Best algae eaters saltwater
Some algae eaters can only be found in saltwater. So, if you have a saltwater tank, you should get some of those best algae eaters for saltwater tanks.
Algae eaters are a vital part of any freshwater aquarium. Not only do they help keep your tank clean and clear, but they can also be beautiful additions to your fish collection.
There are many different algae eaters to choose from, so it is important to select the one that best suits the needs of your aquarium.
In this article, I have highlighted 15 of the best algae eaters for freshwater aquariums. In addition, I have discussed the different types of algae they consume and their ideal living conditions.
So, whether you are a beginner or an experienced fish keeper, there is sure to be an algae eater that is perfect for your tank!