30 Best Algae Eaters For Freshwater Aquarium

There’s no doubt that fishes are fascinating creatures. Not only are they wonderful to have around, but they also add to the beauty of your home and workspace. However, it can be a hassle when it comes to maintaining a suitable environment for them to thrive. Among other problems, taking care of algae can be quite a handful. Hence, we need algae eaters in our freshwater aquarium!

The presence of algae shows that the aquarium’s ecosystem is balanced, but the algae bloom can disrupt the ecosystem of the tank. Moreover, it harms the fish and makes the tank look filthy.

However, there are ways to clean them up but they can be very costly, like getting new and expensive filters. Also, cleaning by hand can be very difficult and time-consuming.

Algae eaters are a better and easier solution. Siamese algae eater and Red cherry shrimp are among the wide varieties of fishes that can help you take care of the algae problem in your setup. But before you get them, you must make sure that your tank has a suitable condition to house them without any inconveniences.

Things To Consider

Before you pick up your new friends from the pet store, you should be mindful of a few things.

Types Of Algae

Algae are eukaryotic organisms that thrive in the presence of light, water, and nutrients such as phosphates and nitrates. They can alter the balanced ecosystem and not in a good way. These are the types that can grow in your aquarium:

Hair algae: As the name suggests, these algae look like strands of hair. They attach themselves to plants and other structures and form a carpet-like layer. Besides, they are also known to be very difficult to remove.

Brown algae: These are not algae but a colony of diatoms. They form brown clumpy patches that are soft to the touch and attach themselves to the surfaces of the tank and other plants or decorations in the aquarium.

Blue-green algae: The blue-green algae are a type of bacteria known as cyanobacteria. You can distinguish by their blue-green color and forms on the surface of the water or the glass.

Black beard algae: The black beard algae get their name from their soft, slippery, and furry nature. They are also known as brush algae and are found to thrive on the edges of leaves of the plants in the tank.

Related article: How to grow Black Beard Algae?

Green spot algae: These appear as small, thin, green dots on the surface of the tank and mostly on other immobile objects in the tank. They can be notorious, covering almost all surfaces if allowed to grow. Also, they can destroy the plants in the tank but are relatively easier to get under control.

Green algae: The greenish coloration of the water determines the presence of the green algae as they form a layer on the water surface.

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Why Do We Need Algae Eaters?

Getting rid of the algae manually from your aquarium is very strenuous and time-consuming. Of course, there are several filters available to clean the water. However, good quality filters can be quite expensive.

Algae eaters, on the other hand, can take care of it without you having to worry too much about it while also adding to the charm of your aquarium.

Aquarium Environment

Another thing you should be very mindful of is your setup. You wouldn’t want to get a fish and only later find out that its ecosystem was not suitable for them.

You need to get the fish that can survive in the conditions that are being maintained in the tank or adjust it accordingly. Here are the things you should consider:

Water temperature: The temperature should be within the range in which the fish thrive.

Water acidity: The pH level is the measure of how acidic or basic something is and should be well maintained.

Related article: How to maintain the hardness of the water in the aquarium?

Tank size: The aquarium should be big enough to accommodate them without causing any hindrances in factors such as their growth

Related article: The concept of aquarium size and weight

20 Best Algae Eating Fish for Freshwater Aquarium

Fish are the first things that come to mind when considering an addition to the tank. They are also the most obvious choice. I have mentioned 20 fish that you can get to help you with your algae issue.

Here are the algae eaters that you can get for your aquarium.

Siamese Algae Eater

Siamese algae eaters are the most popular among all the algae eaters. These fish are easily recognizable due to the black lateral line across their body. They are very hardy but are also known to be picky eaters; especially after reaching maturity.

They grow up to around 6 inches and can live up to 10 years. Besides, they are community fish and you should keep them in groups of 4 or 6, at least. These Siamese algae eaters are known to be very active. They make suitable tank mates with other peaceful fish like the Corydoras.

You should maintain the water temperature at around 24-26°C, along with a pH of 6-8. They require a minimum tank size of 20 gallons.

Bristlenose Pleco

Bristlenose Pleco belongs to a small variety of catfish. They have an unusual appearance: bright, spotted patterns all over their body and fleshy tentacles and whiskers that look like bristles (hence the name). These fish are relatively docile but territorial creatures.

They can grow up to be around 5 inches in length and have a life of fewer than 5 years. Moreover, Bristlenose Pleco can consume almost all types of algae.

The favorable temperature for their ideal habitat is 23-27°C. The pH level of water should be maintained within 5.8-7.8. They should be kept in tanks of a minimum size of 40 gallons.

Otocinclus Catfish

Otocinclus catfish are also commonly known as “dwarf suckers” or “Otos”. They are quite tiny and grow up to 2 inches. The fish has a resemblance to the Siamese algae eaters.

They have a lifespan of about 3 to 5 years and prefer to stay in groups. The Otos are good-natured and very good for community tanks.

The temperature should be maintained at about 24-26°C and a water pH of 6.8 to 7.5. They are well suited for aquariums of any size.

Also Read:

  1. How many Otocinclus Catfish can you keep in a 10-gallon tank?
  2. Can Otocinclus catfish live alone?

Twig Catfish

The twig catfish have a long snout and body. They look like small twigs which helps them in camouflage. Similarly, these algae eaters grow up to be around 4 to 7 inches long and live up to 10 years.

They are sedentary creatures and are non-aggressive. However, you should avoid keeping them in crowded tanks. They can be paired with Tetras and Corys.

They require a temperature of about 22-26°C and the water acidity should be in the range of 6 to 7. The minimum aquarium size requirement for them is 20gallons.

Chinese Algae Eater

These algae eaters are often found as having muted colors but are also observed as golden yellow. They are bottom dwellers. Much like the Siamese algae eaters, their appetite for algae decreases as they mature.

They can grow up to around 10 to 11 inches long and live up to 10 years. Besides, they are quite aggressive so you should be careful about the fish you want to pair them with. You should also avoid keeping them in overcrowded tanks. You can house them with fish such as Mollies and Tiger Barbs.

Similarly, you should maintain the water at a temperature of 24-27°C with the pH in the range of 5.8 to 8. I recommend a minimum of 30 gallons capacity of the aquarium.

Reticulated Hillstream Loach

The Hillstream Loaches have beautiful and intricate patterns on them. They are grazers and are very effective cleaners. You might need to cultivate algae just to keep up their food supply.

Related article: How to feed aquarium fish?

They grow up to 2-3inches and have a lifespan of around 10 years. You can keep them in groups of 3 or more.

You should maintain the water temperature at around 18.3-42°C and the pH should be in the range of 6.5 to 7.5. A tank size of 30 gallons or above is suitable for them.

Corydoras

The corydoras are small, colorful active feeders. They are school fish and you should keep them in groups of at least six. It is very interesting to watch them move as a single unit. They enjoy tanks that have lots of vegetation and hiding places.

They have a lifespan of about 5 years and grow up to be around 1 to 2 inches. You can pair them with bamboo shrimps and mystery snails.

Besides, you should maintain the water at a temperature of 22 to 25°C with the pH at around 7-7.8. Also, you can keep the corydoras in an aquarium of any size.

Siamese Flying Fox

The flying fox can be easily confused with the Siamese algae eater. But unlike the Siamese algae eater, the flying fox has golden stripes on both sides of the black line and also has a red tinge on its tail.

They grow up to about 4-6inches long. Moreover, they are modest creatures and live up to around 8 to 10 years. Additionally, these fish can be nice tank mates for the tetras, danios, and guppies.

You should maintain the water temperature at around 24-26°C. The pH should be in the range of 6-8. And, you can keep them in a tank of 40 gallons or above.

American Flagfish

The American flagfish come in a variety of colors and patterns. They are temperamental and are either voracious algae eaters or do not eat at all.

They can live up to 5 years in optimal conditions and grow up to around 2 inches. These fish do well in community tanks.

You should maintain the water at a temperature of 18.9 to 22°C. Moreover, the pH should be in the range of 6.7 to 8.2 for their habitation. You can keep them in tanks of the size of 20 gallons or above.

Related article: How to set up a 20-gallon water tank?

Molly Fish

The Molly fish come in wide ranges of types, colors, and patterns. They are livebearers and enjoy aquariums with lots of hiding spaces. They do well in groups of at least 4. These fish are rarely aggressive and do well in community tanks.

They grow up to 3 inches long and live up to 5 years. Moreover, they only eat the algae when underfed but you can coax them to eat the blue-green algae.

You should maintain the water temperature at around 22 to 25.5°C and the pH at 6.7 to 8.5. They can be kept in aquariums of size 10 gallons and above.

Related article: How many Mollies can you keep in tanks of different sizes?

Garra

The Garra, also known as the doctor fish, can be pretty good cleaners as they eat away the dead or decaying plants in the tank. They do not eat living plants and so it is a good idea to keep them.

Garra is school fish and so you need to keep them in at least a group of 4. Also, they have a lifespan of around 4 years and can be quite the prominent figures in the setup.

You should maintain the water temperature at 16-24°C with the pH at 6.2 to 8. Moreover, you can house them in a tank of at least 10 gallons.

Sailfin Pleco

The Sailfin Pleco is a freshwater catfish. They have beautiful leopard prints on their bodies and are also known as Leopard Pleco. They are very prominent and grow up to about 13 to 19 inches making them suitable only for large aquariums.

The Sailfin Pleco is neither aggressive nor territorial and does well with other large tank mates such as the Oscars and Pacus. Besides, they have a lifespan of around 15-20 years in captivity.

You should maintain the water temperature at around 22 to 29°C with the pH in the range of 6.5 to 7.4. They should be kept in tanks of 75 gallons or higher.

Rubber Lipped Pleco

The Rubber Lipped Pleco catfish are well known for being hardy. They are very good algae eaters and are adept bottom feeders. They enjoy hiding so you need to keep them in a tank with plenty of vegetation.

These fish are mostly nocturnal. They can grow up to around 7inches long and have a lifespan of around 12 years. Lastly, they are very peaceful and you should not pair them with aggressive tank mates.

You should maintain the water temperature at around 22 to 27°C. The pH should be in the range of 6.5 to 7.5 and the minimum aquarium size required is 25 gallons.

Common Pleco

The common pleco is one of the popular and easy to care for fish. They have beautiful brown and grey patterns all over their body. They are also nocturnal and enjoy hiding under vegetations during the day.

These fish are also excellent algae eaters and are very prominent. Moreover, they grow up to 24 inches long and can live up to 15 years. In addition, you can team up these fish with guppies and mollies including other large tank mates.

The water temperature should be in the range of 23 to 30°C and the pH should be in the range of 7-8. The tank required to house them should be 75 gallons or above.

Whiptail Catfish

The whiptails are not such good algae eaters and so are not as common as other plecos. They are bottom dwellers and can grow up to be 6 inches long. They are good tankmates with almost every fish as long as they are not bothered.

You should maintain the water temperature in the range of 22 to 26°C and the pH at 6 to 7.5. They should be kept in tanks of a minimum size of 20 gallons.

Guppies

Guppies are very popular for their beautiful and vibrant colors. In addition to that, they are also very good algae eaters. It is very easy to care for them. Since they are peaceful, they are good for community tanks.

They grow up to 2.4inches and have a lifespan of about 2 years. You can pair them up with other peaceful fish and are a great addition to the aquarium.

You can keep these fish in a tank with a water temperature of 22-28°C with the pH in the range of 6.8-7.8. Moreover, you will require a 10 gallons minimum aquarium size to house them.

Neon Tetras

The Neon fish are small beautiful fish with a grey, red, and bright neon blue stripe along its body. They are also very easy to care for. They are very peaceful. In contrast, you should not keep them with aggressive tank mates.

Similarly, they are around 1.5 inches long and live up to around 8 years. They are school fish and you can keep them in groups of 15-20.

You should maintain the water temperature within 22.2-24.4°C. The pH should be within the range of 6 to 7. The minimum tank size required to house them is 10 gallons.

Zebra Danio

The Zebra Danio is known to be playful and curious. They have a beautiful silver or gold-colored body with blue stripes. You should keep them in groups of at least 5.

In addition, they can grow up to be around 2.5 inches long and can live up to 3 to 4 years. You can pair them with other peaceful fish such as tetras, guppies, and mollies.

The water should be at around 18 to 25°C. The pH should be from 6.5 to 7.2. You can keep them in aquariums of the size of at least 10 gallons.

Platy

You can find the Platy fish in bright colors, in different shades of red, orange, and yellow. They are quite small and grow up to be around 1.5 to 2.5 inches. They have a lifespan of about 3 years.

The platyfish are easy to care for. So, you can pair them with other small peaceful fish such as the mollies and guppies.

The temperature should be in the range of 20-26°C. The pH should be within the range of 7 to 8.5. The minimum tank size required to house them is 10 gallons.

Related article: How to breed platy fish? Everything you need to know

Pearl Gourami

The Pearl Gourami is also among the easiest fish to care for. They have white spots with a black stripe on them. They are very hardy but you should not keep them in crowded tanks.

Moreover, they grow up to about 5 inches long and can live up to 5 years. You should not pair them with aggressive fish as they are very peaceful and timid.

The water temperature should be within the range of 24-28°C. The pH level should be within the range of 5.5-7.5. The minimum tank size required is 20 gallons.

5 Algae Eating Shrimps

Shrimps are just as good at keeping the algae problem in check. Many consider them to be adept algae gobblers and will help keep the tank clean. Here are 5 shrimps that’ll be a nice addition to your aquarium.

Red Cherry Shrimp

The Red Cherry shrimps are small and brightly colored. You can find them in various shades of red. They are known to be excellent algae eaters and prefer to live in a colony making them excellent cleanup crews.

You should keep them in groups of 2 to 5 per gallon. Besides, you can pair them with other fish such as the Otocinclus catfish and freshwater snails.

To house them, You should maintain the water temperature in the range of 16-27°C, the pH between 6.5 and 7 and the tank size must be at least 5 gallons.

Amani Shrimp

The Amani shrimps are the second most popular freshwater shrimps. They have beautiful translucent bodies and have a green tinge to them due to the algae they eat.

An interesting fact about these shrimp is they are almost invisible and grow up to be around 2 inches long. They live up to 3 years and are easy to care for.

You should maintain the water temperature at 15-16°C. The pH should be between 6.5-7.5. You can keep them in tanks of at least 10 gallons.

Ghost Shrimp

The Ghost Shrimps get their name from their very translucent body. They prefer to be in tanks with plenty of vegetation and are known to burrow themselves to search for algae. This behavior of the ghost shrimp helps essential nutrients reach the roots of the plants.

They can grow up to 2 inches long and have a lifespan of about a year.

You should maintain the water temperature in the range of 18.3 to 28°C. The pH should be in the range of 7-8. You can keep them in tanks of at least 10 gallons.

Bamboo Shrimp

The bamboo shrimps have woody patterns on their body allowing them to camouflage as driftwood. Their body has a fan-like structure and they eat algae and other edible debris.

They can get up to 3 inches long and live up to 2 years.

You should maintain the water temperature within 18.3 to 28°C. The pH should be in the range of 7-7.5. The aquarium housing should be at least 20 gallons.

Cardinal Sulawesi Shrimp

The Cardinal shrimps are more vividly colored than the red cherry shrimps. They are also very easy to care for.

They are quite small and grow up to around 1inch in size. Moreover, they have a lifespan of 2 years.

You should maintain the water temperature at 26 to 31°C. The pH should be in the range of 7-8.4. The minimum tank size required to house them is 5 gallons.

Algae Eating Snails

Snails are also very effective in taking care of the algae. Here are 5 snails that you should check out!

Nerite Snail

The Nerite snails are very popular among all the other freshwater snails. They cannot reproduce in freshwater but can still produce white eggs that should be scratched off of the surface of the glass.

They grow around 1 inch long and have a lifespan of about a year.

You should maintain the water temperature at 22 to 25°C. The pH should be in the range of 7-8.2. You can house them in aquariums of any size.

Malaysian Trumpet Snail

These Malaysian Trumpet snails can be quite notorious due to their rapid asexual reproduction. They are small and have light brown, cone-shaped shells from which they get their name. They are nocturnal and bury themselves in the substrate during the day.

Besides, they grow up to a maximum size of 1inch and have a lifespan of around a year.

You can keep them in tanks with water temperature maintained in the range of 22-25°C. You should keep the pH within the range of 7-8.2. Any tank size will be suitable for housing them.

Ramshorn Snail

Compared to the other snails, the Ramshorn snails are quite prominent. They mostly eat soft algae and other dead or dying plants. They also reproduce very rapidly.

You can enjoy having these snails in your tank for about a year.

The water temperature should be in the range of 21-25.6°C. You should maintain a pH between 7-7.5. You can also keep them in aquariums of any size.

Also read:

  1. All about Ramshorn Snail
  2. How to breed a Ramshorn Snail?
  3. How to care for Ramshorn Snail’s eggs and babies?

Mystery Apple Snail

The Mystery Apple snails are quite colorful and attractive. They have long eye stalks that can regrow if they get severed. They are known to eat the most problematic algae such as the blue-green algae.

Moreover, the Mystery Apple Snail grow up to about 2 inches long and can live for 3 years in lower temperatures.

You should maintain the water temperature at around 20 to 28.9°C. The pH of the water should be within the range of 7.6 to 8.4. You can keep them in aquariums of any size.

Rabbit Snails

The Rabbit snails have long, cone-shaped shells with beautiful spiral patterns on it. They are very docile and are known to eat soft algae.

They grow up to be around 2 inches in size. Also, they have a lifespan of around 3 years.

You should maintain the water temperature at around 24.4 to 28.9°C. The pH should be within the range of 7.2-7.5. An aquarium of any size is suitable to house them.

Last Words

Aquarium adds beauty to your room and the fishes increase its charm. You can get the algae eaters to keep the setup clean and free from algae infestation.

If you want to effectively keep the algae at bay, we suggest you get a combination of the fish, shrimps, and snails. Also, make sure that your setup is compatible with the fish you are adding to the aquarium so that they can thrive without any difficulty.

Related article:

  1. Why do fishtanks get dirty so fast? How to clean and maintain tanks?
  2. Easiest fish to breed