7 Best Freshwater Aquarium Algae Eaters 94

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Algae eaters are a great addition in a freshwater tank to help control and reduce unsightly and potentially damaging algae prorogation. They come in a variety of species, including shrimps, snails and algae-consuming fish. Certain algae-eaters prefer certain types of algae, so with a mix of species you can ensure that all or most of the algae presence can be controlled.

Capability with the other fishes and creatures is an issue, though. You need to know how the introduction of a algae eating species will impact the other animals in your tank. This means keeping the aggression and competition down by keeping incompatible species out of the tank environment.

Algae-eaters can be kept in their own separate tanks for long-term survival and then temporarily moved to another tank where they are needed. It is also important to realize that just like any other pet, you should make sure your algae help-mates have enough commercial food to sustain them for a healthy existence.

1. Amano Shrimp

Amano Shrimp

The Amano shrimp is a very popular and active algae-eating species. They are ravenous eaters, consuming not only most algae, but eat dead plant castoff material (detritus) and clean the tank of leftover food.

They are quite small, averaging between 3.5 to 5 centimeters, making them ideal for a smaller tank. They only resist eating blue-green and green spot algae. Excessive amounts of commercial food will slow their appetites and it is best to introduce three or more individuals per tank.

Caution must be exercised when adding fertilizer to planted tanks since the copper in the fertilizer can be harmful to these shrimps. This requires scheduled water changes of 30 to 50 percent to dilute the fertilizer toxicity. Adding a dechlorinator will keep the chloramine and chlorine down to safe levels.

Amano shrimp are most compatible with smaller, docile fish that will not prey on them.

Picture source: Swordw (Flickr)

2. Ramshorn Snails

Ramshorn Snail

Ramshorn snails reach sizes up to 2 centimeters and have a brown or red coloring. Ordinarily, they do not consume freshwater aquarium plants unless they are taxed for algae, which could put Hygrophila and similar plants on their menu.

They concentrate on algae-covered plants, tank rocks, aquarium glass and other decorations. They will not pass up detritus, fish eggs and leftover food.

The Colombian Ramshorn, a larger species, does well in non-planted tank environments which are completely overrun with algae. You should monitor your pH levels and keep the water on a favorable hard alkaline level (above pH7) to ensure that the snails have enough calcium for shell maintenance and growth.

Be mindful that most Cichlids and Loaches will eat Ramshorn snails, but these types of freshwater fish can be temporarily removed from the tank.

Picture Source: Wikipedia

3. Nerite Snails

Nerite Snail

The Nerite snail is known for its attractive, colorful shell patterns. They measure 3 centimeters when fully grown.

Consummate algae eaters, the Zebra Nertinas will also seek out the green spot algae as well as the moss-like green beard variety. Keep your pH level above 7 for healthy shell growth.

Keep Cichlids and Loaches separated from them due to predatory behavior. You should keep the tank lid firmly sealed over the top since these snails can climb out.

Also Read: Freshwater Aquarium Snails: Pests or Pets?

Picture source: Ghostsword (Flickr)

4. Twig Catfish

Twig Cat Fish

The Twig Catfish is a delicate, suckermouth algae-eating catfish, also known as the Whiptail Catfish. They average 10 to 20 centimeters in length with a brownish, slender body.

It consumes most species of algae but its diet should be supplemented with spirulina algae tablets a couple times a week.

Twig Catfish thrive in aged water of at least 70 liters that has lots of plants and bogwood. They are compatible with docile fish like Rashoras, Pencil fish, Hatchets and Tetras.

However, they are vulnerable to attacks from Cichlids and Barbs which can injure or kill them. They do not respond well to heavy water changes, so lesser change-outs per week are recommended.

Picture source: Adrian Afonso (Flickr)

5. Bristlenose Plecos

Bristlenose Pleco

You will find the Bristlenose Plecos one of the most popular and readily available algae eaters on the market. They often look comical, with a distorted growth about the head and nose. They have blunt, stout bodies that grow from 10 to 15 centimeters in length.

They require a lot of green foods, including bottom-lying algae tablets and blanched vegetables. If deprived of green foods they will resort to the softer leaved plants like Amazon swords.

You will need to provide these fish with dark substrate material and rock shelters on the bottom of the tank since they feed at night and retreat to safety. Keep the water agitated with a slight current and plenty of oxygen.

Picture source: Goldy (Flickr)

6. Siamese Algae Eater

Siamese Algae Eaters

Many aquarium owners view the Siamese Algae Eater (SAE) to be a must have fish in their tank. It is a hardy, strong swimmer and jumper, attaining lengths of up to 14 centimeters. It is a voracious eater and will consume not only algae from plants, glass and decorations, but leftover pellets, parboiled vegetables, flake food and live food.

They have an appetite for flatworms, which are considered a nuisance. They don’t mind feasting on brush and thread algae, types commonly ignored by other algae eaters. Individual SAE can exhibit territorial behavior with their own species, which should limit the number from 1 to 5 individual in a tank that holds at least 100 liters or more.

They need plenty of oxygen in water temperatures around 25 degrees Celsius. They are sensitive to pH levels that fall outside of 7. They require a large amount of living plants and plenty of room to explore and feed which makes a longer tank more desirable. Owners should keep the tank lid on since they can easily jump out.

Picture source: Vee-Vee (Flickr)

7. Malaysian Trumpet Snail

Malaysian Trump Snail

These small snails never get any larger than 2 centimeters and will eat just about anything in the organic debris department as well as most algae. They do not harm plants during feeding when they are on the surface at night, but prefer a subterranean life under the gravel or substrate during the day.

They spend a lot of time digging under the gravel and you will have to look very close to see their movement. You should keep the water slightly alkaline for shell growth, like other crustaceans. These snails are sensitive to dirty and contaminated water and will often retreat up the sides of the aquarium glass as a survival maneuver.

Be wary of the predatory fish that feed on this and all snails.

Picture source: Goldy (Flickr)

What’s Your Algae Eater Of Choice?

So, there you have it folks. The 7 above are what we think are the best freshwater aquarium algae eaters that you can choose from.

Did we miss any of your favorites in the list above? Share what we miss in the comments section below and share with us and other aquaria enthusiasts.

About Dennis Hanson

Dennis is an experienced aquarist with many years of knowledge and experience in keeping successful tanks. He also has no relations to the pop group Hanson.

94 thoughts on “7 Best Freshwater Aquarium Algae Eaters

  1. Reply fishmostly Jul 28,2013 10:08 pm

    Otocinclus! And you should see some of the MTS I have, they’re HUGE! Probably close to 4 cm.

  2. Reply Ahema Veridali Dec 24,2013 3:27 am

    I have a pleco, and let me warn you… i got him when he was about the size of my thumb LESS THAN A YEAR AGO! he is now the size of my HAND! Huge. Oh and i do like Dragon Fish *aka Violet Gobi’s* they are eel like in appearance and actually SHIFT the sand or gravel. He too is getting big, and will get to be larger than… the circle your fingers and thumbs can make put together.

    ~ forever fish friend

  3. Reply Travis Jan 25,2014 12:13 am

    I like your suggestions. Because of this article I got a couple nerite snails and was very happy. Between them and my red cherry shrimp they seem to keep the tank clean. Thanks

  4. Reply Shiloh Feb 10,2014 11:27 am

    Have two adult red-eared slider turtles in a 60 gallon fresh water tank. Had a 6″ pleco in the tank with them to eat some of the algea for a week, and then noticed one of the sliders picking on the pleco a bit. The next day the pleco was dead, with his fins and tail eaten off. It had swam into an area the turtles couldn’t get to and passed away. What algae-eater can I put in that the turtles will leave alone?

    • Reply Anne Feb 10,2014 10:30 pm

      Unfortunately, any creature you put in a turtle tank will be considered food and will be inevitably eaten. Turtles are ravenous predators and grazers. For my turtle tank, I wipe down surfaces each time I do a major water change and chalk it up to another day as a pet owner.

      • Reply tortuga Oct 8,2016 4:57 am

        I was wondering the same thing about my turtles too. I was wondering if they would eat snails or if there is a tough snail that they can’t eat? Does anyone KNOW?

        • Reply Meg Mar 13,2017 11:02 pm

          I’ve had very good luck with a Golden Loach who I got when my turtle was a hatchling. More aggressive turtle species, like Musks, will eat pretty much anything that moves. I would not put an adult loach in with a baby turtle of any type but I’ve seen a juvenile musk turtle eat a 4″ Golden Loach so it really depends on your turtle. (caution: golden loaches become very aggressive once they reach about 2″ in length and become much less effective at eating algae. Mine does very well holding his own against my Painteds, but he has systematically been killing the feeder fish I introduced for my turtle to eat.)

          Snails will also work, especially the fast reproducing ones like Malaysian Trumpet Snails- if the turtle snacks on a few it won’t hurt the overall population, and they mostly burrow down into the gravel during the day and come out to feed at night.

  5. Reply Jason Feb 18,2014 2:47 am

    Anyone have ideas what to do in an African Clawed Frog tank? I’m afraid thise glutons will eat anything I put into the tank, but boy do they need a maid!

    • Reply Rita May 16,2015 7:23 pm

      get good size goldfish, that’s what I have in my Frog tank.

      • Reply Lisa May 25,2015 3:25 am

        As algae control?? Uh, no, goldfish are extremely messy fish and do nothing to help the cleanliness of a tank. (Not to mention they belong in very large aquariums or ponds).

  6. Reply gywerd Apr 2,2014 1:11 pm

    Personally I prefer gyrinochrilus, which comes in golden, stribed and spotted varieties. They aren’t suited for small fish like guppy, platy, molly and tetra, which they might eat or wound. They can be aggressive, but they keep my tank clean. To make them breed, they need the aquarist nightmare: unclear water and little light. It doesn’t look nice and is seldom suited for other fish.

  7. Reply Valkyrie Apr 20,2014 7:07 am

    American Flagfish. They even eat hair algae. And they are pretty 🙂

  8. Reply Emanuel May 29,2014 8:25 am

    this is just like the major kinds of species of algae eater… i have 2 golden chinese algae eater they really look alike the siamese except for the color … but well i was going to buy shrimps but they were too small when i saw them i was like … my comet would eat that in a split second and he didnt even knew what it was… or is it ok to put tiny shrimps whit big fishes?

    • Reply Giv Dec 30,2014 8:31 pm

      It’s important to note here that the Siamese Algae Eater does not look like the Chinese Algae Eater. Take a good look at the head shape on each animal. The CAE (aka Sucking Loach) has a pronounced sloping forehead and flattened underside to the skull, and its jaws form a large Pleco-like sucking disc – this is easily visible when it sucks against the front glass of the aquarium. The SAE (aka Siamese Flying Fox) has smoother, more pointed & ‘shark-like’ head shape and its mouth visibly consists of two separate thick browsing lips. This highlights the very different feeding methods of the two species; the CAE latches onto a surface and rasps at soft growths or biofilms, whilst the SAE hovers over a surface and nibbles at filamentous algae in a manner which the CAE will not and cannot, for one major reason. What is this reason? The CAE has an ineffective swim bladder and sinks when not actively (and powerfully) swimming, unlike the graceful SAE which can float gracefully even when not actively swimming forwards. There are numerous other differences, all borne of the unique & very dissimilar environmental circumstances under which these two species evolved. There need never be any confusion between the elegant & shark-like SAE and the hunchbacked, ungainly CAE!

  9. Reply Ryan Jun 4,2014 2:57 am

    I have two Chinese algae eaters. Approx once per week, I lose a fish for unknown reasons. I’ve recently learned that Chinese algae eaters also eat the protective slime coat of other fish. Looks like it’s the porcelain express as this who dun it mystery is solved!

    • Reply Dennis H. Jun 4,2014 11:17 pm

      Great share Ryan, Thanks!

      • Reply Jim Nov 2,2014 12:30 pm

        No, it’s not a great share at all. It’s not the fish at fault here, this is why it’s important to do your research before adding fish to your tank. Flushing fish down the toilet is just not acceptable.

        • Reply Pete Dec 18,2014 5:53 pm

          Ha. Fish flushing activist. What about feeder fish. “It’s not their fault”

        • Reply Logan Apr 8,2016 5:56 pm

          I totally agree, Jim.

        • Reply Allyson L. Aug 31,2017 6:30 pm

          I understand Jim but calm down. I’ve been in the aquarium hobby for almost 8 years now and I clearly remember the mistakes I once made when I first started. However, no matter how long people have been in the hobby, (obviously a lot of people have been doing this longer than me which I’m aware of) we are going to make mistakes and fish are going to die. It happens.

      • Reply KAREN Jul 29,2016 1:25 pm

        If you have an unwanted fish take it to Petco. They will adopt it out.

        • Reply Allyson L. Aug 31,2017 6:35 pm

          To add on to that, I always take a good look at the health of their life stock first before I give them my fish. If I see a lot of sick or dead fish, I won’t give mine to that specific store.

  10. Reply curious Jul 15,2014 12:45 pm

    How feasible is it to introduce certain snails and algae eaters to a small lake in order to control the algae?

  11. Reply not a happy camper Jul 17,2014 11:30 pm

    I purchased a chinese algae eater to help with an overgrowth of algae I was having a problem getting rid of. Unfortunately, the pet store employee did not warn me of their aggressive nature and I never googled the fish. I had guppies, I know easy fish, but they would have baby guppies. My kids loved watching the babies and the colors they would turn as they grew. Well, I have no guppies now. NONE, ZILCH. Pretty sure that chinese algae eater tormented all my fish except my clown pleco and my loach. Surprisingly I was just about to flush this fish after weeks of wondering what was happening to my fish when the CAE disappeared, which I am totally fine with. I just wanted to post this so people are aware of CAE and also do research on any fish you are going to buy, unlike I did at the cost of our fun hobby. 🙁

  12. Reply John Paul Busuttil Aug 11,2014 12:32 pm

    I have a small pond of abut 50 galls and i am at present using the easyclear 3000 as pump and uv filter. The water is very clear but i notice that algae is gathering at the bottom of the pond and also on the sides. I have no fish or water plants and the pond is exposed to at least 4 hours Mediterranean direct sunshine. What can i do or add to make sure that no algae keeps accumulation and also get rid of the present algae.Thank you

  13. Reply Matt Sep 24,2014 7:36 am

    To the two people who commented on here about wanting to (or have already) flush a CAE down the toilet, that’s despicable. You are in no way a caring hobbyist. Educate yourself before you buy a fish.

    • Reply Drake Feb 24,2017 7:39 pm

      Seriously. What the heck! It takes very little research to find out what is compatible. If you’re not going to thoroughly do your homework regarding the basic needs of your fish beforehand, you should definitely not take this on as a hobby. These people are outrageous! If your fish aren’t working out together, return the fish, craigslist it to a hobbyist who will know the particular needs of the fish, or move it and start another tank.

  14. Reply Jim Nov 2,2014 12:33 pm

    Agreed Matt, thanks.

  15. Reply chad Dec 8,2014 3:44 am

    I buy fish just to watch them swirl down the toilet

  16. Reply ian Dec 28,2014 8:03 pm

    The Chinese Algae eater should be removed from this list.I had 6 tiger barbs. bought a CAE because that is what the store recommended. He did a great job of eating algae for a while, then my tiger barbs started dying. I lost four Barbs before I finally saw the CAE kill one. It swam right up to my tiger barb, sucked on the side of it, and that was the end him. DO NOT GET A CHINESE ALGAE EATER!! THEY ARE EXTREMELY PREDATORY!!

    • Reply TS Jun 27,2015 6:38 am

      I don’t mean to be a smart alec (I am one, but I’m really not trying to be one here), but the Chinese Algae Eater isn’t on the list above. It’s a Siamese Algae Eater that is on the list.

      This is of more than passing interest to me, because I’m new to the hobby and have a 29 gallon freshwater that I really want to do a good job with. I’d much rather plant live plants or get a few algae eaters than scrub my butt off.

  17. Reply Giv Dec 30,2014 8:43 pm

    In my opinion, one of the greatest new algae-eater additions to the hobby in recent years has been the amazing Panda Garra (Garra flavatra). This striking fish has a stockier body than the Siamese Algae Eater, with a much broader and bluffer head shape, but shares the thick, underslung browsing lips and penchant for stubborn fluffy algae. It will also eat soft green filamentous algae and even graze away the green haze which clouds the front glass. The only algae which it will not attempt to tackle is the blue-green velvety slime of cyanobacteria growths. It’s a friendly, active and gregarious fish which will live alongside other loaches and catfish without making trouble, and can be kept singly or preferably in groups. The body colour is chocolate brown and buttery yellow bands and the fins are a reddish colour, making it very attractive. It will adapt to many different fresh water parameters (soft or hard) and grows to a little more than three or four inches. If it has any drawbacks, it is a requirement for high dissolved oxygen levels, so an aerator is recommended. Otherwise, a fish with absolutely no drawbacks at all!

  18. Reply Meagan Rogers Jan 3,2015 8:15 pm

    I see a lot of people are confusing the Chinese Alge eater with the Simese Alge eater. I can see the problem because their markings are the same, but their body and temperament are totally different, please understand that they are not the same. The Chinese Alge Eater is more aggressive and territorial as an adult,it has a more bulky body, and chaotic movements . The Smiese Alge Eater is not aggressive, and great for community tanks 30+ gallons they are calm and only try to suck the slim off other fish if you are a bad owner and do not feed them Alge wafers twice a week.

  19. Reply Elisa Jan 21,2015 4:41 am

    So I’m looking to get an algae eater for my daughters tank only a 10 gallon with 8 guppies no heater. I need a low maintice algea eater that won’t kill the guppies

    • Reply Gabe Feb 10,2015 1:24 am

      You should definitely consider getting a heater, but if low maintenance is what you want, you could go for a few Nerite snails

  20. Reply Tracy Mar 23,2015 12:09 am

    Can I put an algae eater in the same tank with my tetras?

    • Reply fish expert Jul 2,2015 11:58 pm

      Yes, they are non predatory fish.

    • Reply Annie Jul 19,2015 8:30 am

      Simply put, it depends. It depends on the type of algae eater and (to a lesser extent) the types of tetras.
      It also would depend on the size of your tank as some species can get more aggressive and/or territorial if they feel overcrowded.

  21. Reply Nick Apr 6,2015 8:44 pm

    I have a pool that is pretty big and ai was wondering if any algae fish could live with chlorine?

    • Reply James Dec 28,2016 8:40 pm

      chlorine is a all out fish killing chemical, if you have any fish keeping guides/aka aquarium books they will cover that in water replacement!

  22. Reply scoot Apr 7,2015 4:59 am

    I have a 16 gallon tank with live plants and have 14 tiger barbs in it. I have lost two catfish and now a 2.25 in pleco one after another. they seem to only last about 3 weeks.

    • Reply Sarah Apr 16,2015 3:30 am

      I have 5 goldfish, a coy, an algae eater, and 2 water snails. They all get along. I wonder if a bristlenose plecos would get along with another one of its kind.

      • Reply fish expert Jul 2,2015 11:59 pm

        Yes, they are non predatory fish.

      • Reply Annie Jul 19,2015 8:37 am

        Bristlenose plecos do get along with others of their species, but they should absolutely not be added to a goldfish tank. Goldfish and koi are cold water fish whereas plecos are tropical fish. Plecos need a heater to keep their water warm and goldfish do not do well in warm water.

        Also, as an aside, how big is your aquarium? I’ve never kept them myself, but it is my understanding that koi absolutely should not be kept in an aquarium. The only exception would be for housing koi while they’re young. But that should only be a temporary measure to keep them safe until they are big enough to be transferred to a pond or similar.

      • Reply DEAN Jul 27,2015 3:49 am

        Just remember that gold fish and coy are child water shorebirds and a bristle noise is tropical.

        • Reply Rhiannon Oct 23,2016 10:38 pm

          Interesting autocorrect here… I presume you mean “cold water species” not “child water shorebirds”…

  23. Reply giant Jeff May 11,2015 3:56 am

    I love my nerite snails I have 3 with mts and a bristle noise(albino) in my 55 gal algae is a thing of the past only down side to the nerite it’s that although eggs don’t hatch they are leaving hundreds of little white spots aka eggs on EVERYTHING if you can’t deal with that don’t get nerite snails

  24. Reply Rachel May 15,2015 11:05 pm

    I think chinese algae eaters are cool! They need filters. Al, m chinese algae eater will get these weird spoty things, so then i turn my filter on, and he is better! So get a filter, and they are nice!

  25. Reply Aaron May 17,2015 9:50 pm

    Stiphodon gobies are uncommon algae eaters. Some species such as Blue Neon Goby are the prettiest algae eaters ever. They are active algae eaters, but needs a tank with high oxygen levels. They are hardy and are good for beginners.

  26. Reply Quetzalcoatl Jun 14,2015 6:04 am

    I agree that Chinese Algae Eaters are aggressive. I went to several fish stores today and every tank that had them, I noticed they were picking on other fish. One notable exception, though. “Golden” Chinese Algae Eaters (pale/albino) seemed to be dutifully doing their job, and not bothering Anyone.

  27. Reply Judy Jul 17,2015 2:31 pm

    What algae eater is acceptable to put in a tank with a single Beta?

    • Reply Annie Jul 19,2015 8:43 am

      It depends on the temperament of the betta, actually. I’ve had some bettas that would attack anything in his tank that moved, even shrimp and snails. I’ve had other bettas that couldn’t have cared any less that there was anything else in the tank with him.
      Something to consider is that if your betta is the laid-back type, you’ll want to avoid fish that might pick on him rather than the other way around. Those bright, frilly, flowy fins are hard to resist for some fish.

      I would start with either a few shrimp or a couple of snails and see how he reacts to them. They’re the least likely to upset a betta.

  28. Reply Bob Sep 18,2015 6:39 pm

    I have found garra rufa’s to be excellent algae eaters…

  29. Reply Kim Sep 23,2015 1:16 am

    I had a Chinese algae eater almost kill everyone in my tank. They are great at eating algae but not so much as tank mates. I could never kill a healthy fish. I bought a critter aquarium container with a flip shut lid. I baited the container with blood worms. It took two days and diligence but he fell for the bait and I caught him! My aquarium store said he would take him. He is happily swimming with new tank mates

  30. Reply burt Oct 15,2015 9:15 pm

    I have an outdoor pond (aluminum trough) in San Francisco with guppies and goldfish. What algae eater could I get that tolerates the temperatures and won’t eat the goldfish eggs? Burt.

  31. Reply Scott Nov 14,2015 6:12 pm

    Good article!

    I have 10 and 20 gallon tanks with a single green sunfish (wisconsin/midwest) in each. They are very aggressive and territorial — the largest is around 4″ long. I’ve been struggling to find any living thing that will assist with algae with the exception of some smaller snails which also get eaten regularly.

    Based on this article I’m guessing that sticking with snails is my best bet, but do you have any specific recommendations for my situation? Thanks!

  32. Reply Giovanni Carlo Nov 24,2015 3:28 pm

    I remember my nerite snails that were eaten by my kois, because they crawl in the pond nearby with lots and lots of kois.

  33. Reply britt Dec 16,2015 1:06 am

    I have a 10 or 15 gallon freshwater fish tank with only 3 Molly’s and a pocosomous algae eater I have not cleaned the tank in 5 months but change the filter frequently have never put a snail or anything else in the tank but as I look closer it looks like hundreds of baby snails are in the tank and one Molly was dead tonight so I dnt know of there a parasite or what or where they even came from and of there dangerous to humans if I were to clean the tank or stick my hand in there so I really need some advice.

  34. Reply Elmomutt Dec 27,2015 7:01 pm

    I have an aweful white string algea infestation. I tried vacuuming it out but it’s attacked to the gravel. I’ve tried everything but get an algea eater. What kinds of algea eater will eat this dreaded algea?

    • Reply James Dec 28,2016 8:52 pm

      Otto cinclus /aka otos, dwarf sucker mouth catfish, what you are describing sounds like first growth green algae!

  35. Reply Amy Jan 3,2016 7:54 am

    We have 20 liter tank with one betta male fish. We clean his tank every 4 weeks. But I would love a algae eater. This is just fresh water and we have no pumps or anything like that. What kind of algae eater do you suggest.


  36. Reply Nikki Jan 5,2016 11:32 pm

    I have a 22 ltre nano tank with two male guppies in as I had to remove them from my big tank at penguin tetras were picking on them. Is a tank this small suitable for the shrimps?

  37. Reply Heather Jan 8,2016 5:51 am

    I have an amazon pufferfish (freshwater 20 gallon) that’s growing a lot of algae, had an albino Cory, that I think puff ended up killing, puff is about 2 inches long now, looking for someone familiar with these guys for thoughts on an algae eater

  38. Reply Heather Jan 10,2016 7:11 am

    In response to Giant Jeff’s post on nerite snails, please make sure your snails are actually laying eggs. I thought mine were at first but then I found out that they’re just pooping. They ARE little feces machines – they’re almost as bad as the goldfish. But do keep an eye on them, they like to climb. I caught one outside the tank before and she did NOT want to go back in. I got her of the filter box and back in the water. She’s quite happy now in my split 20g tank with my betta, Achilles.

  39. Reply Alex Jan 19,2016 1:02 pm

    Honestly I’ve tried many of the fish species suggested in this article and I came to this conclusion:

    Although some fish do contribute to algae removal, they always add a significant amount of nitrates (through their poo). As a result, you end up having slightly less algae, but you will always have more waste, meaning your filtration needs to be top notch, or might even need to be improved.

    I think snails, in their many forms, remain the best option to keep algal growth at bay…

  40. Reply Hayley Jan 20,2016 9:31 am

    Thanks for the very helpful article. Definitely agree with the ancistrus (Bristlenose Pleco), they’re awesome tank cleaners, very peaceful and especially the spotted variety and males with bristles become quite striking fish. The other bonus with them is that you can keep them peacefully with others of their species, which usually brings out aggression in Chinese Algae Eaters and the Plecostomus.

  41. Reply Youcantseeme Feb 2,2016 5:18 am

    Wow. So much talk about fish.

  42. Reply Taylor S Feb 9,2016 2:45 am

    I have a 6,000 gallon freshwater tank with a spectacled caiman. What algae eater could I get that won’t be eaten by the caiman? I’ve tried everything, from plecos, 100 oto catfish, 100 chinese algae eaters, and even a small phillipino boy. Sadly, none of them were able to clean the algae in the tank without being eaten! What should I doooooooo????

  43. Reply GoldfishLover Mar 21,2016 10:54 pm

    I have a 10 gallon tank with 6 white clouds and a cherry shrimp which makes me have to clean the tank way less, plus they are closley related to amanos. I usually see him on my rocks doing what seems to be cleaning them.

  44. Reply Josep 78 Mar 23,2016 12:08 pm

    Brisell-nosed plecos (max size 6″), come in shades of brown & albino, WILL eliminate your brown algea problems accompanied w/ modest feedings (cut back to 1 feed per day/much as they will eat in a few minutes) and your tank becoming fully cycled once nitrate levels stabilize from prev excess feeds.
    Green hair/strand-like algea you wanna go w/ Florida Flag Fish (max 3-4″). Will eat every last strand.

  45. Reply Jen Apr 4,2016 5:05 pm

    Have 3 angels in 75 g tank , sounds sad , but always something comes around , and just saw a stunning angel I want but have to make sure water is ok . Not a cheap angel. Want to know if snails are good route to go have a lot of algae on sides and back or something else , don’t care for plecos to messy with poo. Had a common Pleco , ps freshwater tank

  46. Reply Jesse M. May 3,2016 1:59 am

    I definitely believe Otocinclus catfish should be added to the list. They seriously put diatoms in their place as well as keeping the green spotted algae off the tops of plants like anubias/ferns. Only downside to them is they are very difficult to breed out, so almost 99% of oto’s are wild caught and have a 50/50 chance* to survive the first few weeks. This is due to the overloaded stress of transit, which causes them not to eat and kills off the active bacteria in their stomach and that means they can’t digest and process the food.

    *not actual percent

    • Reply James Dec 28,2016 9:06 pm

      please check your facts, Otocinclus catfish are very adaptable to many conditions as as the water clean& not polluted by fish waste, they do require a school of at least 4 or more instead of just 1-3/ since they will pine away quickly without!

  47. Reply Paulette May 13,2016 11:52 pm

    I have 3 spotted Cory catfish in my 10 gal tank and they keep it spotless, I love the Cory catfish.

  48. Reply ann leatherwood Jun 12,2016 11:59 pm

    We have five twig catfish and are fascinated by them. Someone comes by twice a month to clean the tank. We give these fascinating fish algae wafers and,sometimes, shrimp pellets.They like to hang on the glass of the tank.

  49. Reply Chris Jun 24,2016 8:45 pm

    Hi, would love some advice in SW FL turning my 17000 gallon pool into a fish tank, want to keep local species no invasives, have someone to help w/plants, but thoughts on fish would be appreciated, crawfish a must, and algae eater,not sure of a suckerhead or snails, know we’re putting in a couple of types of panfish, dual stage pump w/filter

  50. Reply Adri Aug 6,2016 4:57 am

    What kind of algae eater can I get to go with my son’s goldfish

  51. Reply M80 Sep 10,2016 8:13 am

    Can anybody else give an opinion on otos? I have 4 1.5″ cory cats in a 20g sand substrate aq with 8 red eye tetras. Photoperiod is 5hrs and no real plants. Hypothetically would otos be able to coexist with cory cats and also take care of green haze algae?

    • Reply James Dec 28,2016 9:17 pm

      yes, on the topic of coexisting with corydora catfish! sadly though it takes a school of 8-15 otos for algae control in a 20 gallon tank,unless you get the zebra /aka panda garras variation of the species, then you can get away w/4!

  52. Reply nikki walker Sep 24,2016 4:46 pm

    i have a 180L i have goldfish and 3 pleco and they have lived happily for years,I do have a heater in siting at 22 so everyone happy.

  53. Reply Anil Nanda Oct 13,2016 8:25 pm

    Shrimp are definitely at the top of my list of algae eaters too! They’re just so versatile. Very well put together list. Check out our top algae eaters for freshwater tanks: https://nualgiaquarium.com/best-algae-eaters-freshwater-aquarium/

  54. Reply Went Brown Dec 30,2016 5:33 am

    My favorite Algae eaters are the plecos.

  55. Reply Ryan M. Jan 3,2017 12:19 am

    I didn’t read through all comments, but wanted to share something from my own aquarium days (long since past), which so far no one has addressed. I could be wrong, but when I was aquariuming, I was told not to let my tank be in direct sunlight, as this would increase algae growth. So…just throwing that out there. I also had algae eaters (no idea what kind), and didn’t seem to have any of the problems many here have listed.

  56. Reply Jennifer Apr 12,2017 7:34 pm

    It’s all about tanks…. How about a 240 gallon pond with just regular alge eaters and maybe some snails? I have 14 goldfish that are 4 to 5 inches long and 2 big cray fish and their youngster. And my pond is heated to 71*. So what alge eaters…. please.

  57. Reply Retired sailor Jul 6,2017 4:37 pm

    I have a 70 gallon tank with 2 large tinfoil barbs and 5 large jaguar cichlids. All between 4″ and 5″. No live plants. Algae covers the glass within a week of cleaning. What can I put in there that my big aggressive fish won’t kill/eat? I’m leaning towards a bristlenose or similar dwarf pleco, but is there something else I should be considering?

  58. Reply Theresa Jul 17,2017 8:36 pm

    I have a Plecos which is very large (he’s about 3 or 4 inches long), he/she was given to me a few months ago. I haven’t had the best luck with Plecos surviving for very long so I want to try to my best with this one. Is there any suggestions you can give me to help keep this guy alive. He/she is in a 20 gallon tank with one other fish (a Barb). I have been feeding my Plecos algae tabs since there isn’t much algae in the tank.

  59. Reply Kevin Jul 23,2017 9:35 pm

    The combination of Nerite Snails and Amano Shrimp is the perfect setup when dealing with a smaller tank in my opinion. Not only do the 2 species combined take care of almost all different forms of algae, they add very little to the bio load on your tank. I wouldn’t really recommend the algae eating fish on this list like the SAE until you are set in a larger tank like 50G +.

  60. Reply Vanessa Sep 14,2017 12:17 pm

    My daughters wanted fish ( 4 years ago) so they bought with their own money two goldfish ( fan tail and Molly’s) We ended up putting all the fish together in a 10 gal. tank until about a year ago we were gifted a bigger tank I am guessing 35gal. In this one year we have lost one molly, one fan tail, 4 snails, 3 little cheap goldfish ( they lasted longer than anticipated ) and recently one Algae eater . I have algae growing on the walls of my tank I have tried to scrub off and I have emptied this tank and scrubbed it by hand twice to get it gone. Should I empty it again and scrub it? I noticed after I clean it real good all the fish are happier. Since June’s cleaning I did we lost the little fish and an algae eater ( all in August) I have two filters , the water is being air rated should I buy live plants? I honestly was not expecting these fish to live 4 years lol… the one fan tail and molly we have left are 4 years old and the algae eater is 3 years old and he is not growing very fast should I be worried?

  61. Reply Clint Nov 8,2017 3:12 pm

    Good day to you all. I know these are all old posts and my question is off topica bit but wondered if you could please point me in the right direction. I have a 15000 litre pool which has been left over winter with no pump running at all. no chemicals have been added for around 8 months now. the pool as you can imagine has lots of algae and wondered which fish I could use to clean it up and then maybe keep them in there and create a kind of natural pool.

    Any ideas would be appreciated.

  62. Reply Scarlet Mex Mar 3,2018 11:09 pm

    How many algae eaters should I have on a 75 gallon tank with 2 red eared slider.

  63. Reply Leah Boylan Sep 6,2018 6:10 pm

    I have a large water tank that 5 Percheron horses drink out of, but we expect fish that live in the tank to live solely off of algae. There are no plants or any objects in the tank. Cheap feeder fish last a month at the very most, but we need fish that will last year(the water trough is outside, and we live in alaska). During the winter, there is a water heater to keep the tank from freezing over.We need a algae-eating fish that requires nothing more to eat than said algae, who is fine in very cold water.

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