A tiny amount of algae can add a beautifying look to your aquarium, but it turns into a mess if it gets out of control. Adding algae eaters to your freshwater aquarium helps. This, along with setting up a sound filtration system, can help prevent algae from taking over your fish tank.
Algae-eating freshwater animals help control the growth of algae in an aquarium. You can choose from algae-eating animals like algae-eating snails, algae-eating fish, and even algae-eating shrimp.
Algae eaters are the safest option if you have an algae outbreak or want to stop an outbreak. Here are 19 of the most common algae eaters to help keep algae in your fish tank under control.
Most Common Freshwater Fish That Eat Algae
Freshwater Fish that eat algae:
Siamese Algae Eater
The Siamese algae eater is the perfect fish to keep your aquarium algae free. It’s the most recommend type of algae eater in the fishkeeping community.
These fish feed on several different types of algae and eat algae that other species won’t.
You can place Siamese algae eaters in community tanks with other peaceful tank mates.
The Bushymouth catfish eat algae as well as plants and roots. They also eat other dead fish that sink to the bottom of the fish tank (see references below).
The Bristlenose catfish or pleco grows up to 5 inches. It is as peaceful as the Bushymouth catfish (both belong to the same family).
Chinese Algae Eater
Chinese algae eaters are easy to care for, but they become a bit aggressive toward other fish as they grow. They can grow to lengths of up to 10 inches, and you shouldn’t keep them with docile fish.
The Oto cat or otocinclus catfish is a small algae eater that grows up to 2 inches in length. They look like Chinese algae eaters but smaller and more peaceful. So, keep them in community tanks with other types of bottom feeders and friendly fish. Oto fish are similar in appearance to the larger Chinese algae eater, but they are much more peaceful.
The American Flagfish feed on algae in a fish tank but need other food if enough algae are not present. They also eat live foods such as brine shrimp, white worms, tubifex, but algae flake food or algae tablets will suffice.
Whiptail catfish are a type of armored catfish. They are peaceful fish and easy to care for. Whiptail catfish are usually black or tan and grow up to about 6 inches in length. They are omnivorous and will eat leftover fish food besides algae.
Twig catfish have long, thin bodies and grow to about 4 inches in length. They are peaceful fish and are good tank mates for livebearers like guppies. But, larger fish can and will bully twig catfish, so it’s best not to keep them with aggressive fish.
Dwarf Sucking Catfish
The Dwarf sucking catfish or Dwarf Oto is a bottom-feeder only grows to around 1.5 inches. They are peaceful fish and graze on some soft algae. But, they do not eat hair algae or green spot algae.
The Zebra oto feeds on algae in the wild. In an aquarium, it should have enough of green and brown soft algae to graze on. These form a biofilm on plant decor and the tank glass. The Zebra oto then scrapes it off and eats it.
- How to get rid of algae in a planted tank! – Video – YouTube – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nz4zNUZDBuk
- Algae eater – Wikipedia – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Algae_eater
- The Algae Eater Debate – INJAF – http://injaf.org/the-think-tank/the-algae-eater-debate/
- Aquarium Fish Bushymouth catfish (Ancistrus dolichopterus) is eating another fish – Shutterstock – https://www.shutterstock.com/video/clip-12727265-aquarium-fish-bushymouth-catfish-ancistrus-dolichopterus-eating
Hey! Here’s a bonus tip! Did you know that you can get rid of algal bloom with a UV Sterilizer? Much like a regular filter, you submerge a UV sterilizer in the fish tank, and it helps remove algae and clear up cloudy water.
A UV sterilization system removes algae, bacteria, and other pathogens in the fish tank. Best of all, these systems are harmless to fish and plants.
You can read more about UV Sterilizers or check out the most recommended UV sterilizer here.
Most Common Algae Eater Shrimp
Freshwater shrimps love eating algae that grow in your tank. They also eat leftover fish food and decaying plants. These are the most common algae eating shrimp:
Amano Shrimp are small and easy to care for. They grow up to 2 inches in length and are great additions to small aquariums. They are also known as the Algae Eating shrimp. That alone tells you that they are the best algae-eating shrimp.
It’s best to keep them in groups of three or more and tanks with small to medium-sized peaceful fish. Because of their size, large or aggressive fish will attack and eat them. So, I don’t recommend fish like goldfish and cichlids.
Cherry shrimp are bright red and do best in groups of 2 to 4. They are easy to care for and will happily graze on algae and uneaten fish food. Try to keep them in aquariums with smaller fish and avoid placing them with carnivorous or big aggressive fish. For instance, you can keep cherry shrimp and guppies in the same tank.
Bamboo shrimp have reddish-brown bodies with white stripes. They grow between 2 and 3 inches in length, making them bigger than other algae-eating shrimp.
These shrimps are easy to maintain so long as they have access to lots of algae and leftover fish food to eat. You can also supplement their nutrition with algae wafers.
Bamboo shrimp, like other algae eater shrimp, are peaceful and can live in aquariums that do not have big or predatory fish. These shrimp are peaceful by nature, so they do well in the community tank, though they may become prey to larger and predatory species.
Ghost shrimp are shrimp that have see-through bodies. They are not as effective at cleaning up algae in an aquarium as the Amano shrimp or cherry shrimp, but they can help. They grow to about 2 inches in length and are peaceful. They thrive best in tanks with other small and non-aggressive tank mates.
- Do cherry shrimp eat algae? – Red Cherry Shrimp | Details | Articles | TFH MagazineÂ® – http://www.tfhmagazine.com/details/articles/red-cherry-shrimp.htm
- How long do algae eating shrimp live? – Algae Eating Shrimp: Which Is The Best? | Aquascape Addiction – https://www.aquascapeaddiction.com/articles/algae-eating-shrimp
- What types of algae do Amano shrimp eat? – A Solution to Algaeâ€”Amano Shrimp – Aquarium Co-Op – https://www.aquariumcoop.com/blogs/aquarium/a-solution-to-algae-amano-shrimp
- Amano Shrimp Care, Feeding, Algae Eating, Size, Lifespan – Aquarium Care Basics For Freshwater Tanks – https://www.aquariumcarebasics.com/freshwater-shrimp/amano-shrimp/
- Amano Shrimp Care Guide – Best Algae-Eating Shrimp – Video – YouTube – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zc1O3W9HGJE
- Fighting ALGAE In A New Aquarium! Algae Eater Shrimp! – Video – YouTube – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E0cTP7HtDqM
Most Common Algae Eating Snails
Some people consider freshwater snails to be pests in freshwater tanks, but there are some types of snails that make good algae eaters. These are the most common algae eating snails for freshwater aquariums:
Nerite snails have a zebra-like pattern on their shell and are the most common species of algae-eating snails. This is because Nerites eat all types of algae, and they can rid a tank of algae relatively fast. They grow to about an inch in length, so do not keep them with large fish that may eat or attack them.
Apple snails prefer to chow down on plants, so they are not a good fit for a planted tank. But, they will eat algae if there is no other food source around. So, apple snails can help control algae in aquariums with little vegetation, though it is not their preferred food. Give them additional sources of food like cucumbers. Apple snails also make great goldfish tank mates.
Rabbit snails are giant algae-eating snails that can grow up to 5 inches. They have long and pointed shells and are usually brown or yellow. Rabbit snails do not usually feed on live aquarium plants; instead, they prefer decaying plant matter and other debris.
Ramshorn snails feed on several algae types, leftover fish food, and decaying plants. These snails do not eat live plants and are best suited for tanks that house peaceful fish. Large or aggressive fish like loaches and cichlids will attack and harass them.
Malaysian Trumpet Snail
The Malaysian trumpet snail grows less than 1 inch in length. The shells are long and can be of a variety of colors. These algae-eating snails feed on most algae in fish tanks and are not known to feed on plants.
- How do you control algae? – Causes and Cures for Filmy Residue on Tank Glass, Rocks – The Spruce Pets – https://www.thesprucepets.com/aquarium-algae-1379979
- Do snails eat beard algae? – They eat Black beard algae!!!!! – https://www.aquariacentral.com/forums/threads/they-eat-black-beard-algae.155024/
- Algae eaters in the aquarium – controlling algae the natural way – Aquasabi – https://www.aquasabi.com/aquascaping-wiki_algae_algae-eaters-in-the-aquarium
- HOW DO SNAILS KEEP A TANK CLEAN? – https://animals.mom.me/snails-keep-tank-clean-4912.html
- This snail is the PERFECT algae eater! – Video – YouTube – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0cTe08VJ_4E
The Bottom Line
These are only a few of the different algae-eating fish, shrimp, and snails available. We chose these because they are easy to care for in a home aquarium. Do you know of any more freshwater algae eaters that are easy to care for? Thanks for reading on Fish Tank Basics!