Algae Eater

Algae eater is a common name for many bottom-dwelling fish that feed on algae. Algae eaters are important for the fishkeeping hobby and many are commonly kept by hobbyists. Some of the common and most popular freshwater algae eaters in aquariums include:

  • Fishes of the genus Gyrinocheilus, family Gyrinocheilidae. There are three species in this genus with the Chinese algae eater, Gyrinocheilus aymonieri, the most common. Small specimens make good community fish but may become territorial when older.
  • The Siamese algae eater, Crossocheilus siamensis, is a more gregarious and tolerant cyprinid that ranges up to 15 cm. It is the only fish that will graze on “black brush algae” (freshwater Rhodophyta, or red algae), but even so will eat anything else in preference.
  • American-flag fish, Jordanella floridae, are also dependable algae eating fish.
  • Many loricariid catfish of South America, such as genera Otocinclus, Ancistrus, and Plecostomus, constantly graze algae and biofilm, although many species of “plecos”, which attain an adult length of over 10 inches, eat much less frequently as they near adulthood.
  • Some freshwater shrimp are also excellent algae eaters. One shrimp well known for its ability to clean an aquarium is the Amano Shrimp.
  • Most species of freshwater snails, discounting most adult specimens of species belonging to the family Ampullariidae, which primarily subsist on aquatic plants as adults.

Some of the common and most popular saltwater aquarium algae eaters include:

  • Surgeon fish or tangs are also known for their appetite for algae.
  • Rabbitfish which eat most algae, including cyanobacteria, diatoms, and hair algae.
  • Fishes in the suborder blennioidei are blennies.
  • Crabs of the genera Mithraculus and Mithrax.
  • Sea urchins.
  • Some snail species such as the Turbo, Astraea, Turban and Nerite snails.

Several of the well known algae eaters in wild nature in salty water include:

  • Krill
  • Brine shrimp