21 Algae Eaters for Your Aquarium

Any healthy fish tank often has a little bit of algae in it – a little bit of algae in a tank is a great indicator that your aquarium is sustaining a healthy living environment for your fish.

Too much algae can sometimes become a problem in a fish tank. The best way to manage algae is by moderating the nitrate levels in your tank, regularly changing the water, and limiting the direct light on your tank.

One way to manage algae in your tank is to invest in some fish that like to eat algae. There are many varieties of algae eaters. Buying these fish won’t solve your entire algae problem, but they will certainly help manage the algae in your tank in small amounts.

In this post, we will list some of our favorite algae eaters, as well as some fun facts about them. These include fish, snails, and other aquatic critters.

Twig Catfish

  • Twig Catfish are long, narrow, and greenish-brown with a variety of dark markings down the side of their bodies. If you don’t look carefully, you may mistake them for a twig!
  • These fish require beginner-intermediate care.
  • Twig Catfish need a fish tank with at least 12 gallons of water.
  • They do well with a water pH of 6.0-8.0. They need moderately soft water.
  • Twig catfish, also known as whiptail catfish, can grow up to four inches long.
  • Twig catfish are compatible with other gentle fish, such as hatchets, tetras, and pencil fish. Don’t put them in the same tank as aggressive fish such as Bards and Cichlids.
  • Twig Catfish will eat lots of different kinds of Algae, but you will need to supplement their diet with other food sources.

Bristlenose Plecos

  • Bristlenose Plecos can either be dark brown with light yellow markings or completely yellow-orange in color.
  • These fish are easy to care for.
  • Bristlenose Pleco needs a fish tank with at least 25 gallons of water.
  • These fish need a water pH of 6.5-7.5. They prefer slightly soft-slightly hard water.
  • Bristlenose Plecos grow up to 5 inches long.
  • You can put Bristlenose Plecos with most other kinds of fish in a community fish tank.

Sailfin Plecos

  • Sailfin Plecos have large ins and are spotted similarly to a giraffe.
  • These fish are fairly easy to care for.
  • These fish are very large – they can grow as long as two feet. Hence, adult sailfin plecos need tanks with at least 75 gallons of water. They need water with a pH between 6.5 and 7.5.
  • Sailfin Plecos are incredible algae eaters, but their diet needs to be supplemented with other fish food as well.

Rubber Lipped Plecos

  • Rubber Lipped Plecos are long, with muted colors and markings that vary between thick stripes and spots.
  • These fish require basic to moderate care.
  • These fish need a tank with at least 20 gallons. The pH of the tank should be between 6.5 and 8. The water in their tank shouldn’t get hotter than 78 degrees.
  • Rubber Lipped Plecos grow 3.4 inches long.
  • Rubber Lipped Plecos are always hungry and will eat lots of algae, but the algae won’t be enough. Their diet should be supplemented with occasional sinking wafers and vegetables.

Common Plecos

  • Common Plecos are dark grey with large fins and spots.
  • These fish are easy to care for as long as you have a large enough tank.
  • Common plecos, like sailfin plecos, are incredibly large and need a tank with at least 75 gallons of water. Their pH should be between 6.5 and 7.5.

American Flagfish

  • American Flagfish comes in a variety of colors, but can often appear to be checkered red, white and blue. These colors will come out with a dark substrate.
  • These fish are easy to care for.
  • American Flagfish can be hard to find in pet stores.
  • These fish are small, coming in at 2 inches long, and need at least 10 gallons of water, and need a pH between 6.7-8.2.
  • They are rowdy, so don’t pair them with slower community fish. They do well with quick schooling fish like tetras and danios and do fine with slightly aggressive (and smaller) fish like dwarf cichlids.

Siamese Flying Fox

  • Siamese Flying Foxes are small and narrow, and appear almost translucent, with a dark stripe down the side of their body.
  • These fish are easy to care for.
  • Siamese Flying Foxes need fish tanks with at least 20 gallons of water.
  • Their water pH needs to be between 5.5-7.5, and the water hardness should be slightly hard.
  • Siamese Flying Foxes grow up to 6.3 inches.
  • These fish are compatible with most fish. However, don’t keep Siamese Flying Foxes with red-tailed sharks, or too many fish of its own species – limit 1-5 in a 20-gallon tank.
  • Siamese Flying Foxes eat leftover vegetables and flake food, as well as algae from plants and on glass and decorations.

Siamese Algae Eater

  • Siamese Algae Eaters have dark stripes down the side of their body.
  • These fish require intermediate care.
  • Siamese Algae Eaters need a tank with at least 30 gallons of water.
  • Their water pH needs to be between 6.5 and 7.0, and the water temperature should be 75-79F.
  • Siamese is a great community aquarium fish and does well with other docile fish such as tetras, barbs, plecos, and Corydoras.
  • These fish do best in an aquarium with lots of greenery. They rest on broad-leaved plants.
  • They eat all kinds of algae, especially algae that live on plants. Their diet should be supplemented with a mixture of vegetable-based food and protein.

Chinese Algae Eater

  • Chinese Algae Eaters come in grey, silver, and yellow.
  • These fish require intermediate care.
  • Keep Chinese Algae Eaters in tanks with at least 30 gallons of water, and a pH between 6.8 and 7.4.
  • These fish can grow quite large, up to 10 inches long!
  • These algae eaters are some of the few fish that can be kept with larger and more aggressive fish like cichlids.
  • They eat lots of algae as younger fish, but they get lazier as they get older and larger.

Mollies

  • Mollies can be black, white, orange, yellow, or any combination of those colors.
  • These fish are easy to care for.
  • Mollies need a tank with at least 20 gallons of water. They do best in a small group.
  • Mollies like water with a pH of 7.5-8.5.
  • Mollies are tiny fish and grow to 2-4 inches in length.
  • These fish are compatible with a wide range of fish, including tetras, catfish, Corydoras, platies, angelfish, and swordtails.
  • Mollies don’t eat as many algae as the other fish on this list. However, they will snack on the algae which grow on plants and rocks.

Otocinclus Catfish

  • Otocinclus Catfish are small black and white catfish.
  • These fish are somewhat difficult to care for.
  • Otocinclus Catfish need a tank with at least 20 gallons of water and like water with a pH between 6.5 and 7.5.
  • Otocinclus are quite small, coming in at 2 inches long.
  • These fish are great with other peaceful and docile community fish.
  • They are great small algae eating fish. Keep them in small groups.

Guppies

  • Guppies come in a dazzling variety of colors and are stunners in a fish tank.
  • These fish are very easy to care for.
  • Guppies need a tank with at least 5 gallons of water. However, they reproduce quickly, and it might be a good idea to put them in a tank with at least 15 gallons or more. They will tolerate a pH between 5.5-8.5, but the best pH range is 7.0-7.2.
  • Guppies usually do not grow longer than 2 inches long.
  • They do great with other community fish.
  • They will eat algae, but they are not hungry eaters, and shouldn’t be your only source of maintaining algae.

Whiptail Catfish

  • Whiptail Catfish can be black, white, and orange. They have interesting fins and body shapes.
  • These catfish are easier to care for than other catfish varieties but still require moderate care.
  • Whiptail catfish grow up to 6 inches in length and do best in a larger fish tank with at least 50 gallons of water. They need the pH level to be between 6.5 and 7.0, and water temperatures between 73 and 79°F.
  • These fish are omnivores. They’ll feed on algae, as well as uneaten fish food.

Garra Rufa

  • Garra rufas, also known as Doctor Fish, are used in spas in Eastern Asia to eat the dead skin off of hands and feet. They are small and dark grey.
  • Garra Rufas require basic to intermediate care.
  • Garra Rufas need to be in a group of at least 5 or more. They should have at least a 10-15 gallon tank with a pH between 6.5-7.5.
  • Garra Rufas are fairly small and don’t exceed more than 3 inches.
  • Garra Rufas will eat lots of algae, but you should supplement their diet with other fish food.

Malaysian Trumpet Snail

  • Malaysian Trumpet Snails have long curved shells that come in a variety of colors.
  • These snails are easy to care for.
  • Keep Malaysian Trumpet Snails in a fish tank with at least 10 gallons of water and a water pH between 7.0 and 7.5.
  • Malaysian Trumpet Snails are small, and won’t ever reach 1 inch long.
  • Keep Malaysian Trumpet Snails with docile community fish. Beware, these snails quickly reproduce – because of this, lots of pet owners avoid them.

Ramshorn Snail

  • Ramshorn Snails have circular curved shells. They sometimes can be stunning orange, peach, and violet.
  • These snails are very easy to care for.
  • Like Malaysian Snails, they are very small and won’t pass 2 centimeters long.
  • These snails like to live with docile community fish. They also reproduce quite quickly. If your fish tank becomes overpopulated with snails, some fish like Cichlids and Loaches will eat them.
  • These snails, unlike other snails, will leave the plants in your tank alone as long as there are algae to eat.

Nerite Snails

  • Nerite Snails are easy to care for.
  • They do well in a tank with at least 10 gallons and a pH between 7.5-8.5.
  • These snails usually are an inch long when they are fully grown.
  • Nerite Snails do well with most community fish. Don’t keep Nerite Snails in the same tank as loaches, cichlids, crayfish, and goldfish.
  • Unlike other snails, Nerite Snails breed slowly. They are great algae eaters and will usually stay at the bottom of your tank.

Rabbit Snails

  • Rabbit Snails have small shells that are usually orange or yellow with black markings.
  • These snails require intermediate care.
  • These do best in tanks with at least 20 gallons of water and a pH between 7.4-8.5.
  • These snails are quite large compared to other aquarium snails. They can grow up to 4.7 inches long.
  • These snails do well with any small and docile fish.
  • These snails breed slowly.

Amano Shrimp

  • Amano shrimps are almost translucent with black markings.
  • These shrimps are easy to care for.
  • You can keep Amano shrimps in a relatively small tank. They need at least 5 gallons of water and a water pH from 6.5-7.5. They thrive in soft to slightly hard water.
  • Amano Shrimps grow to 2 inches long.
  • Amano Shrimps can be kept with small and medium docile tank mates. Avoid medium to large aggressive fish, such as cichlids.
  • Amano shrimps are some of the best algae eating shrimp. Keep them in a group of at least 3.

Cherry Shrimp

  • Cherry Shrimps are a brilliant bright red and add a splash of color to your tank.
  • These shrimps are very easy to care for.
  • Cherry shrimps are tiny and can live in a very small tank. Keep them in a tank of at least 2 gallons for 2-4 shrimps. They need a water pH between 6.5 and 8.0.
  • Keep cherry shrimps with non-aggressive small fish. Avoid pairing them with larger fish.
  • They are very small, at 1.6 inches, and can reach algae in hard-to-reach places.

Ghost shrimp

  • Ghost Shrimps are even more translucent than Amano shrimps, hence the name “ghost shrimp.”
  • These shrimps are easy to care for.
  • Keep Ghost shrimps in a tank with at least 5 gallons of water, with a water pH between 6.5-8.
  • Ghost Shrimps are small, coming in at about 2 inches long.
  • Ghost shrimps are great with lots of community fish, including small aggressive fish. They don’t eat as many algae as Cherry Shrimp or Amano Shrimp. However, they do eat hair algae very well.

There are plenty of varieties of fish, shrimp, and snails who make great algae eaters for your aquarium! If you have an existing aquarium, be sure to find animals that will get along with your existing fish.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *