Aquariums are pleasing to look at especially when filled with different colorful species of fishes but aquarist always faces algae problems which can be quite stressful to deal with.
What if I tell you that there are some fishes you can add to your freshwater tank that will help to control and reduce the damage caused by algae – these great addition is known as algae eaters.
Algae eaters come in varieties of species that include algae-consuming fishes, snails, and shrimps. However, there are some algae eaters that only consume certain types of algae, so when you get a mix of these algae eaters, you will see better results.
Below, we have carefully selected and reviewed the best algae eater you can find in order to give your algae problems a lasting solution.
The Amano Shrimp is a very active and entertaining eater that is common among aquarists – no wonder it is referred to as the happiest eater. They are ravenous and very effective by clearing up the tank of leftover food, dead plant materials, and algae.
Despite the fact that they resist blue-green and green spot algae, they still serve their purpose by consuming other forms of algae.
The downside of this algae is that it can’t be mixed with larger fishes as they can prey on them, so they should be kept with a smaller and more docile fish. Also, do not add fertilizer to the tank filled with this shrimp as it can be harmful, and if you must, dilute it to reduce toxicity.
- Eats almost all kinds of algae
- Resists blue-green and green spot algae
- Prone to prey from larger fish
The Malaysian Trumpet snails are small in size but they can eat almost everything organic debris and also algae! These snails prefer the subterranean life under the gravel and you will have to look closely before you see their movement. They don’t cause harm to plants while feeding at night on the water surface.
Just like most crustaceans, they need alkaline in their water to enable their shell to grow. They are highly sensitive to dirt and contaminated water, and as a method of survival tactic, they retrieve to the sides of the tank in order to be safe.
- Very effective in getting rid of algae
- Needs monitoring
3. Cherry Shrimps Aquarium Algae Eater
This is a very common algae eater that is easy to breed and can be easily found in local stores. It is a small crustacean with bright colors that also allows decorative purposes and is very good in cleaning up tanks filled with algae, especially in places that other algae eaters can’t reach. With their small size, it makes it easy for them to hide from predators.
The Cherry shrimp can eat dead plant and most types of algae. They do not eat plant so you should be assured that your plants are safe, and you wouldn’t need to be redecorating. However, they are sensitive to water conditions especially copper, so be mindful of the environment you keep it.
- Do not eat plant
- Sensitive to copper
- Quite expensive
Another great addition to your aquarium is the White Mystery snail which is bright yellow in color and quite a beauty to see. These snails can also come in other colors like red, purple, and brown to make your water tank bright and colorful.
They can consume most types of algae but even with their hunger for algae, it is required that you give them an aquarium safe vegetation with an alternative food source.
The White Mystery snails are usually sold as babies and can grow to the size as big as a baseball, so you will need to create space for them.
- Consumes most types of algae
- Requires larger aquarium space
This features a zebra-like shell and a huge appetite for algae and has grown to become one of the most popular among algae eaters. They can feed on all algae types that grow in a freshwater tank, and even the Green Beard Algae and Green Spot Algae can even come close.
The Nerite snails spend most of their time at the bottom of the tank cleaning the substrate. It measures about 3 cm and is an easy target for bigger fishes like Cichlids and Loaches. They need the calcium in hard water in order to survive and keep their shells hard. You will need to keep the tank close since they tend to climb out.
- Can get rid of stubborn algae
- Easy target for bigger fishes
- They tend to climb out if the tank is open
The Clown Pleco freshwater fish algae eater is a scavenger that thrives heavily in tanks filled with soft, green algae. Getting rid of those stubborn algae is made easy with this fish by darting around the water tank fast and cleaning the algae by reaching those places that can be hard to reach. For them to survive, their diet needs to be supplemented with algae wafers and fresh veggies.
For your algae eater to be healthy enough to always get rid of algae, the water in the tank should be filtered and move steadily. You should also avoid a sudden shift in pH level or temperature.
- Eats algae fast
- Prone to predators
This is a 2 centimeters Colombian Ramshorn snail that normally does not consume freshwater aquarium plants but once they are loaded with algae, they are available to do the needful. Their main concentration is on algae-covered plants, aquarium glass, tank rocks and other aquarium decorations. They also do not spare detritus, fish eggs, and leftover foods.
These red or brown colored snails do well in a non-planted tank environment that is completely overrun by algae but it is important to know that other species like Loaches and Cichlids will eat the snails up if mixed together, so you can temporarily remove them from the water. Also, monitor their pH levels to ensure they have enough calcium for shell growth.
- Consumes almost everything loaded with algae
- A bit stressful to maintain
When listing the most popular algae eaters, the Rubbernose Pleco is definitely one to reckon with. They are readily available in the market and kind of look funny with their distorted growth but who cares about looks when it gets the work done? Their stunt bodies are blunt and grow from 10 to 15 centimeters in length.
The Rubbernose Plecos eat lots of green foods covered in algae but once it’s not available, they will switch to eating softer leaved plants like Amazon swords. They feed at night and hide during the day, so you should include dark substrate materials and another rocky shelter along the bottom of your water tank.
- Big-time algae consumer
- Plenty of oxygen is required for them to survive
The Neocaridina Shrimp is a good algae eater that should be in your water tank and also features a beautiful color. They are mainly brown and clear, and also peaceful, which makes them an excellent addition to any peaceful aquarium. They are more comfortable in a tank with lots of hiding places.
For their safety, they should be housed with other small and peaceful fish that wouldn’t pose a threat to them by eating them up. Although they can be housed with other large fishes, they might go into hiding and end up being eaten there.
- Beautify your tank and serve its purpose
With a long, narrow body of about 6 inches, the True Siamese algae eater is another effective fish to place in your aquarium water tank. They come in gold or grey color with a black stripe that spans from their head to tail.
They spend their time either hiding in the bottom for shelter or searching the surface of the water for food that is well contaminated with algae. You need to pay attention to the stripe when it starts to fade; it can be a way to camouflage itself from predators, mating display or stress.
- They depend majorly on algae, making them a good choice
- They are not the best explorers
The complete buying guide for algae eaters
Building an aquarium is fast becoming a popular hobby for people and as humans, we all try to balance our natural ecosystem. In an effort to replicate the environment we have imagined, involving algae eaters can actually make it happen by helping to clean up your freshwater tank.
With the way the algae eaters act, it’s as if they have a personal goal to achieve because when it comes to cleaning up your aquarium, they are actively involved to get rid of it. Apart from the primary function of the algae eaters, their appealing looks and quirky habits makes them a great addition to your aquarium.
In order to save money and spend less on maintenance, you will need to buy the best algae eaters, but the question now is- how do you choose them? We know that an algae eater is the right choice to make to get your tank all cleaned up, but what you don’t know is how to select the one that is right for you.
The fact that you don’t have prior knowledge about it doesn’t mean you should dismiss getting them in your tank, we do hope that this buying guide will guide you on how to select the best algae eater for your tank without having to use harsh chemicals.
Why do you have algae in your tank?
If you have that colored slimy or furry things in your tank or if the water in your tank has turned to an ugly shade of green, then you just have an algae issue at hand. Having algae issues can be very unpleasant as they form in different colors and shapes.
It can be caused due to different reasons; like poor water conditions, lack of carbon dioxide in the water, inadequate light in the tank, too much-dissolved waste or there is too much light in the aquarium.
There is the green surface that grows on the glass, the brown/diatomic that often occurs in new aquariums, the tufted algae with an appearance of a string or beards, and the red/black algae that are reddish in color and can quickly overtake plants that are slow in growing.
If in any case, you come across any of this, you will need to look for a way to solve the issue as soon as it appears. As a preventive measure, algae eaters can be placed in your freshwater tanks in order to avoid having algae that will become a problem.
Finding the best algae eaters
Some species of snails, fish, and shrimps make a good algae eater as they thrive on algae found in the aquarium and hence the name algae eater. Algae often do no good for your water but only cause harm for your water and plants excluding the algae eaters though. The algae eaters primarily feed on all that colored slimy and furry stuff.
You should know that not all algae eaters eat all types of algae and it will be important to know the type of algae you have in your tank in order to know just the right algae eater for it.
Are algae eaters for any type of aquarium?
Most times, algae eaters become a necessity and something your aquarium can’t do without. Most of them like to live on the surface of fast-flowing waters and will do better there.
Just the way you take your time before purchasing a home product, research is needed before you head to the store to purchase algae eaters. Before buying algae eaters, you will need to know the compatibility between the species you are buying before you make your decision. If this is not done, you might be left with unhealthy fish, and some bigger fish will end up eating up the algae eaters.
In freshwater and saltwater cleanup, fish and invertebrates can be placed there. Whatever the size of your aquarium is, having an algae eater will be beneficial to it but make sure you know the adult size of the species you are getting, to give you heads-up on their potential size. Like the Plecos that can be very large as they grow.
Are algae eaters compatible with other fish in the aquarium?
In order to maintain a healthy tank, you will be needing algae eaters that cohabit well with the other living stock in your aquarium. Apart from getting your water algae-free and clean, you should make sure the inhabitants of your tank are getting along well.
Be sure that the eaters you are buying will not serve as a meal to other species, especially smaller snails and shrimps that can be eaten by larger fishes.
Factors to consider when choosing an algae eater
Before looking at the factor to consider when buying algae eaters, you should be familiar with what algae eaters are and you should know that they are not just a few common species but they constitute a large group of fish and invertebrates.
Each algae eaters possess some specific needs and requirements that need to be met with and based on the type of tank you also have.
With this, it means that there are certain factors that you need to keep in mind before you select the right algae eaters for your aquarium. This process requires you to consider the basic and essential conditions in order to make the right choice.
We don’t just look at the parameters of the water that the eaters will survive in but other factors matter a lot, especially when it involves the ecosystem of the aquarium and its inhabitants.
The speed of the Current
A lot of us do not know this but some algae eaters will prefer and thrive better in an aquarium with an excessive flow of water. However, this is not applied to all eaters since others might find it difficult to cope with, so it will be better to check the speed of your tank’s current before deciding n the algae eater that will fit it best.
Aggression and Activity Levels of the Tank Mates
Your tank’s existing inhabitants should always be something to take note of. Know if they will cooperate with the new inhabitant you will be adding or if they will end up eating them as dinner. Before you do anything else, find out their compatibility in order to not waste your effort.
Levels of Oxygenation
Always make sure you know the level of oxygenation in your aquarium before you bring in algae eaters. Some algae eaters do not have the ability to live in a particular ecosystem condition while others can, so it will be wise to pick the eaters that match the level of oxygenation in your tank.
The density of Hardscape/Foliage
Before adding algae eaters to your tank, find out the density of the hardscape/foliage of your current tank and how it can affect the algae you will be adding.
In order to keep everything going well, an aquarium should be able to process all the water in the tank 4 or 5 times an hour. Take, for instance, a 30-gallon tank should be able to push through 90-gallon of water every hour. You can check the manufacturer’s instructions in order to know how it is set up.
Heat & light
You should check the temperature your algae eaters will require before placing them in the aquarium. A large aquarium should have a heater at either end, so you should choose an aquarium heater with 5 watts for each gallon of the water.
Before turning on the heater, wait for fifteen minutes, and place it close to the filter in order to distribute warm water to the eaters. Generally, tropical fish needs to stay in the water of temperatures between 73 and 82 degrees Fahrenheit (23 to 28 Celsius).
You should know that setting up an aquarium should be done a day before keeping the algae eaters in the water.
You should consider the size of your aquarium before choosing the right algae eaters for you. Some algae eaters have the tendency to grow very big in size with time while some will still remain small. Also, the aquarium should have a near power source and eaters should be kept away from direct sunlight. Since water weighs about 8 pounds, you will be needing a sturdy and stable base for the aquarium.
Other Important Thing to Know
With the necessary precautions you are required to take before buying algae eaters, it is not important to go with them carefully and not be careless with them, in order to keep a healthy algae eater.
You should also know that the most common of all algae eaters find it easy to survive in all types of water conditions, so if your aquarium is kept clean and stable, your only focus should be on compatibility between the former inhabitants and the new ones.
Take note of where you would be placing the algae eaters because it also determines their chance at survival. If you will be placing the eaters in a tank with an under-gravel filter, then you should add it first before the algae eaters go in. make sure you rinse the gravel before putting it in the aquarium, fill the tank with dechlorinated water, add a thermometer and other important equipment.
In conclusion, a freshwater aquarium will at one-time house algae that certain types of fish, snails, and shrimp, like consuming.
But it is always important to make the right choice that will fit your tank size, and the compatibility of the existing inhabitants in your tank, because if you don’t, then you might end up losing your algae eater. We do hope this guide has been beneficial to you.