Top 5 Algae Eaters For Your Aquarium

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Top 5 Algae Eaters For Your Aquarium

Top 5 Algae Eaters

Many newbies in the fishkeeping community have problems dealing with algae. An outbreak of algae can be a scary ordeal to face. Algae can appear for a multitude of reasons: offset of nutrients, water quality issues, light exposure to name a few. While there are many ways to fight back the spread of algae, one effective way to combat an outbreak would be to enlist the help of an algae eater or two. For the most part, these animals come in many sizes and shapes. Some of them being more effective than others. While it might be nice to have some of these algae eaters in every tank, I think it would be wise to check on the requirements of the species in question before making any sudden purchases. After all, you wouldn’t want that small pleco you purchased to grow up to be a 12-inch monster in your ten-gallon aquarium. Here are my 5 Top Algae Eaters for your aquarium.

#5 Plecos (Many Species Available)

Quick Stats
  • Large Peaceful Fish (Sizes Vary)
  • Extra Research Needed Depending On The Species
  • Most Species Only Suited For Large Aquariums
  • Consumes Most Algae Types
  • Loves other Greens Such As Zucchini, Cucumber, Algae Pellets

Plecos are very common these days. You can find them readily in most chain pet stores. Plecos are a group of catfish known for consuming vast amounts of algae. The more common variety that you might see falls under the name of the common pleco. This fish might seem like a good answer to your algae problems. However, this species can grow over 12” inches in length. These fish would be best suited for larger aquariums. Not all Pleco species get big as a foot. Bristlenose Plecos, for example, make a good alternative staying at 6 inches. So, smaller tanks are out of the question when housing these guys. All and all, these suckers will make quick work of any algae problems you might face in your larger aquariums.


#4 Otocinclus

Quick Stats
  • Small Peaceful Fish (Under 2 Inches)
  • Prefers Groups of 6 Or More
  • Consumes Green Algae and Brown Diatoms Algae
  • Needs Another Food Source When Algae Is Gone Try Zucchini or Algae Pellets
  • Sensitive To Water Quality (Needs Mature Tank)

Otocinclus, also known as Otto cats are tiny catfish that love grazing on algae. These peaceful catfish stay at a small size under 2 inches and make for a good community fish. Due to their small size, these fish make for great candidates for smaller fish tanks and aquariums. However, these fish are shoaling fish and prefer to be in groups of 6 or more. Without this safety in numbers, they can often be shy and can become stressed out. So, what makes these guys so great at eating algae? First off, they won’t feed on your live plants. Along with this, they love eating brown algae and eat softer green algae. These two types of algae are common in newly started fish tanks. Some things you might want to watch out for when caring for these guys is that when you run out of algae to feed them you are going to have to supplement their diet somehow. Most aquarists use a mixture of zucchini and algae pellets. Other than that, it's a good idea to make sure your tank meets the requirements for these neat little catfish. Just sit back and watch as your tank will soon be free from the more common types of algae. 

Dwarf Cherry Shrimp

#3 Dwarf Cherry Shrimp

Quick Stats
  • Small Peaceful Shrimp (Under 1 Inch)
  • Consumes Bits Of Different Algae (More Of A Grazer)
  • Breeds Readily In Freshwater
  • Omnivore Will Eat Fish Food and Detritus, Loves Zucchini, Cucumber, Algae Pellets
  • Sensitive To Water Quality (Needs Mature Tank & Copper Is Deadly)

Dwarf Cherry shrimp are becoming one of the more popular shrimps in the aquarium trade. And it’s easy to see why! These shrimp come in all different color morphs and are a peaceful species as well. Compared to other species on this list I find that these guys are pickier and tend to feed on the softer algae. Along, with this, if there is another source of food in your tank they might ignore the algae and eat the other food source instead. Dwarf Cherry shrimp breed readily in an aquarium. While the adults won’t prey on the young most fish will find babies as a nice snack. If you want them to be prolific in their breeding I recommend a separate tank or make sure there are plenty of hiding spaces for the babies to hide. Overall, they make a nice addition to any aquarium that doesn't house larger fish that might consider them a snack.

Amano Shrimp

#2 Amano Shrimp

Quick Stats
  • Small Peaceful Shrimp (2 Inches)
  • 10 Gallons and Up (Planted Tanks)
  • Consumes Softer Algae
  • Omnivore Will Eat Fish Food and Other Detritus Also (Zucchini, Cucumber, Algae Pellets)
  • Sensitive To Water Quality (Needs Mature Tank & Copper Is Deadly)
  • Hard To Impossible To Breed In Freshwater (Babies Need Brackish Conditions)

Amano shrimps are becoming more popular these days with the use of more natural aquarium style aquascapes. Compared to other shrimp species these shrimp tend to eat algae non-stop. Unlike Dwarf Cherry Shrimp these guys tend to get a bit bigger making them available for a community fish tank. Just make sure that you don’t have any fish that are known for eating shrimp and you should be good to go. Also, just as a reminder, shrimps, and other invertebrates are extremely sensitive to copper. This isn’t so much of an issue until your fish get sick and you find out the medication needed uses copper.

Nerite Snails
Quick Stats
  • Small Peaceful Snail (Under 2 Inches)
  • Come In Many Color Morphs And Size
  • Consumes Green Spotted Algae and Brown Diatoms Algae
  • Needs Another Food Source When Algae Is Gone (Zucchini, Cucumber, Algae Pellets)
  • Can’t Breed In Freshwater (Lays Eggs)
  • Might Leave Eggs On Hard Surfaces

Out of all the algae eaters on the list, Nerite snails would be my number one go-to for people looking for a cheap and easy to care for algae eater. These snails come in different color morphs and sizes. The typical nerite snails that most people are familiar with tend to be just shy of an inch when fully grown. However, there are other morphs that stay even smaller. Nereites snails spend day and night moving around the tank eating most types of algae. Unlike other snails that might quickly reproduce in your tank, nerite snails require brackish to saltwater to successfully reproduce. This can be a blessing and a curse depending on how you look at it. Along with this, nerite snails can cover your aquarium with small sesame seed looking eggs. While the eggs won’t hatch they might look unsightly to some aquarists. I’ve noticed that some nerites are pickier than others when deciding to drop eggs so you might only get a sprinkling of eggs. Other than that, these little snails will work tirelessly to get rid of any hard algae you might have in your tank.

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