Fish are some of the most popular pets in the world. They take up little space, and some require less care than other common pets. Even so, it still requires a lot of work to care for fish properly.
Siamese Algae Eaters, or SAEs, are a great option for beginning fish keepers. These fish are peaceful and will eat nearly anything you feed them. They can also keep your tank clean by eating algae.
Still, Siamese Algae Eaters are often confused for other types of fish. This guide will help you identify your Siamese Algae Eater and teach you how to care for it.
What Are Siamese Algae Eaters?
Siamese Algae Eaters are also known by their scientific name, Crossocheilus siamensis. They belong to the Cyprinidae family and are closely related to carps.
These fish are native to freshwater streams and rivers in Southeast Asia. Today, they are bred worldwide because of how popular they’ve become as pets.
SAEs are common pets because of their peaceful, active nature. They do not get into fights with other fish.
However, these fish are also popular because they eat the algae that can harm your tank. Not very many fish can do so without also coming with extensive care requirements.
SAEs are omnivores that will eat almost anything. With proper care, they can live to be up to 10 years old.
Appearance and Similarities to Flying Fox Fish
Siamese Algae Eaters can be gold or gray with a thin black stripe that runs from head to tail. They are long and narrow, with the largest SAEs reaching six inches long.
Male and female SAEs can’t be told apart until they are about three or four years old. Female Siamese Algae Eaters are about 30% larger than males.
SAEs are often confused with Flying Fox fish. These species look similar to each other, and it can be difficult to tell the two apart.
One way to distinguish between the two types of fish is to look at the length of the black stripe. Flying Foxes’ stripes end when the tail fins begin. Siamese Algae Eaters’ stripes reach the ends of the tail fin.
Another way to tell these two species apart is to look for the swim bladder. SAEs must move constantly, otherwise they will fall to the bottom of the tank. Flying Foxes are able to stay still without sinking.
Siamese Algae Eater Habitat and Tank Conditions
In the wild, Siamese Algae Eaters live in rivers and streams. These areas are heavy with plants for the fish to eat.
Your aquarium should mimic the conditions SAEs are used to in nature. However, these fish can adapt to many different tank environments.
How Big Should My Tank Be?
SAEs are active and need room to swim. This is because they do not have a swim bladder to keep them afloat when they stay still. So, you need a fairly large tank.
Siamese Algae Eaters are also fairly large fish. They grow to be around 6 inches long, with some reaching 7 or 8 inches.
Because of this, your tank should be able to hold at least 20 gallons of water. If you want to hold any additional SAEs, add another 10 gallons of space for each fish you plan to keep in your tank.
How Do I Take Care of My Tank’s Water?
Siamese Algae Eaters can tolerate a large range of water conditions. However, there are specific conditions that SAEs prefer. You should maintain these parameters for your SAEs to be as healthy as possible.
SAEs are tropical freshwater fish and need to be kept in warm water. They need to be kept in warm water between 75° and 89° Fahrenheit.
These fish also need to live in water with a neutral pH balance. Somewhere between 6.5 and 7 is best. However, SAEs can tolerate a range of roughly 6.0-8.0 if necessary.
You should measure your tank’s temperature and pH levels regularly. Invest in a thermometer and take measurements on a daily or weekly basis.
Siamese Algae Eaters need to be kept in a running water tank. This creates a steady water flow that helps them stay active.
Your tank doesn’t need to have a fast flow. A soft stream will be enough to help your SAEs move around.
How Should I Set Up My Tank?
Siamese Algae Eaters thrive in tanks with plenty of places to hide and claim as their own. They also need to be kept with plenty of live plants to recreate the riverbeds they are native to.
Use a fine or sandy substrate in your tank. This will make sure that your SAEs don’t scratch themselves when swimming at the bottom of the tank.
Keep a variety of plants in your tank. These will provide cover for your fish and give them different areas to hide where they are most comfortable.
However, SAEs can nibble at plants if they aren’t being fed enough. Planting fast-growing freshwater varieties like hornwort can solve this problem.
Use other decorations to create caves so your fish have more places to hide and explore. Rocks, driftwood, and other tank decorations are good ways to do this.
You should also keep a lid on your tank. Siamese Algae Eaters spend a lot of time at the surface of the water looking for food and could jump out. A lid will prevent any fatalities from fish jumping out of the tank.
Siamese Algae Eater Behavior
Siamese Algae Eaters are peaceful, active fish. They need to be moving almost constantly to avoid sinking because they do not have swim bladders. SAEs spend most of their time at the bottom of the tank.
These fish can get along with a lot of varieties of fish. However, there are some species that should be housed separately to keep your Siamese Algae Eater safe.
Can Siamese Algae Eaters Be Kept with Other Fish?
There’s a long list of fish that can be kept with Siamese Algae Eaters. SAEs will not attack or bother other fish, so there are a lot of tank mate options.
Small, peaceful fish are a great fit for Siamese Algae Eaters. Tetras and guppies thrive in the tropical freshwater SAEs need to live in, and these species will leave each other alone.
Other smaller animals can also live in the same tank as a Siamese Algae Eater. Snails and shrimp add more interest to your tank, and your SAE will leave them alone.
You might have problems when housing SAEs with other bottom-dwellers. A lot of fish that spend time at the bottom of the tank are territorial and get aggressive. Still, peaceful bottom dwellers like Corydoras can get along with Siamese Algae Eaters.
SAEs should not live in the same tank as aggressive, carnivorous fish. For example, cichlids will get aggressive and attack Siamese Algae Eaters if they enter their territory.
Can Siamese Algae Eaters Be Kept Together?
One of the most interesting things about Siamese Algae Eaters is that they can be kept in any number and still live happily. The number of SAEs you keep in the same tank depends on the size of your tank.
If you want to keep multiple SAEs together, you will need at least 10 gallons of space for each fish. This is in addition to the 20-gallon minimum for one Siamese Algae Eater.
Siamese Algae Eaters show their best behaviors when they’re kept in schools of 4-6. If you keep this many fish, you will need a tank that holds 50-70 gallons.
However, SAEs can also be kept individually or in pairs. They require less space, and your tank will still get the benefits of having a Siamese Algae Eater.
Can I Breed Siamese Algae Eaters?
In the wild, Siamese Algae Eaters breed in the way many other tropical freshwater fish do. It’s been difficult to replicate this for aquarium fish, though.
Most SAEs are bred in farms with the help of hormones. At-home fish keepers will not be able to breed them.
We know that there are certain temperatures and pH levels that can trigger mating. More research needs to happen about how to breed Siamese Algae Eaters at home.
Feeding Your Siamese Algae Eater
Siamese Algae Eaters get their name from the fact that they will eat the algae from your tank and keep it clean. However, there is more to know about SAE’s diet, as they cannot live on just algae.
Siamese Algae Eaters are omnivores. They will eat plant matter like algae and plant-based fish food. They will also eat meaty dried foods and live, fresh, and frozen animal matter.
One of the reasons SAEs are so popular is because they are not picky eaters. They will eat nearly anything you add to your tank.
Any food you give your Siamese Algae Eaters should be able to sink to the bottom of the tank. SAEs are bottom dwellers and will not swim to the top of the tank to eat.
Pellets are the best dried option for plant-based and meaty food. You can also feed your SAEs live or fresh foods like bloodworms and brine shrimp.
There are many options you can feed Siamese Algae Eaters. Still, you need to pay attention to how often you feed them and how much they eat.
Feed your Siamese Algae Eater once a day. Only add food to the tank that your fish will eat within a couple of minutes.
Overfeeding can already lead to health problems for your fish. It can also lead to your SAE refusing to eat your tank’s algae.
Using Siamese Algae Eaters to Clean Your Tank
The biggest appeal of Siamese Algae Eaters is that they will eat the algae in your tank. They do this naturally, but there are ways to increase how much algae they eat.
You should also avoid doing a couple of things to make sure they clean your tank. Here are some tips and tricks for using SAEs to get rid of your tank’s algae.
First, make sure that you are not overfeeding your Siamese Algae Eater. If your fish is eating too much, they will not be interested in eating the plants in your tank.
However, you should also feed your fish in addition to letting it eat your algae. SAEs need nutrition from plant-based and meaty foods to stay healthy.
You can also give your Siamese Algae Eater algae wafers and other algae to feed them. This is probably not a practical way to feed them, though.
Something to note is that younger SAEs are more likely to eat the algae in your tank than older fish. As Siamese Algae Eaters get older, they begin to eat more of the food you add to your tank and can steal food from other fish.
Your Siamese Algae Eater will not eat every kind of algae that can appear in your tank. They will mostly eat the red algae in your tank and ignore green spot and blue algae.
Don’t purchase a Siamese Algae Eater just to clear your tank of algae. You should have other methods of removing algae in your tank.
Common Siamese Algae Eater Care Problems
Even if you’re well prepared to care for your fish, you can still run into problem. Here are a few common questions fish keepers have about their Siamese Algae Eaters.
Is My Siamese Algae Eater Sick?
Siamese Algae Eaters get sick just like any other fish. Some common signs that your fish might be sick include damaged fins, discoloration, spots, and discoloration.
Your SAE may have gotten sick from some of the algae in your tank, or it might be infected by another illness in the water. Try raising the temperature of your water by a degree or two and checking your pH levels.
If you’re concerned about your fish, take it to the vet. A professional will be able to diagnose your fish and recommend treatment.
My Siamese Algae Eater Isn’t Eating Any Algae
Siamese Algae Eaters will refuse to eat your tank’s algae for any number of reasons. It could be a sign that your fish is ill, but it’s more likely that something else is happening.
SAEs will only eat red algae. If you have green spot or blue algae in your tank, your Siamese Algae Eater probably won’t eat it.
You could also be overfeeding your fish. Add less food to your tank next time you feed them and see if they begin eating algae after that.
Is A Siamese Algae Eater Right for You?
Siamese Algae Eaters are great fish for beginners because they are peaceful and active. They aren’t picky eaters, and they get along with a lot of different tank mates.
The only major SAE care concern is to make sure that you are feeding it in addition to letting it eat algae. If you’re looking to add a bottom-dweller to your tropical freshwater tank, a Siamese Algae Eater is a great fit for you.