Best Algae Eaters For Freshwater and Saltwater Aquarium

best freshwater algae eaters

In our efforts to keep the algae away from our aquariums, the best algae eaters can be great allies. Which fish species really eat algae? Not all fish can eat algae just several species of fish as algae-eaters. One of the common freshwater fish as a good algae eater is the Common Pleco.

Here is a short list of some of the most common freshwater and saltwater algae eaters I know.

The Best Freshwater Algae Eaters

Adding algae-eaters into your freshwater tank can help to reduce algae production from your aquariums. There are several different freshwater algae eaters to choose from, including shrimps, snails, and some algae-consuming fish. So, what is the best algae eater in freshwater aquarium?

1. Ramshorn Snail

ramshorn snail-algae eaterRamshorn Snails (Planorbis Rubrum) is a common freshwater aquarium snail available. They reach sizes up to 2 centimeters and usually have red or brown coloring. Ramshorn Snails need to be kept in high alkaline waters with a pH level above 7. Ramshorn Snails are perfect as algae eater for cleaning your tank, plants, rocks, and the decorations.

Pros: Will rid the tank of algae.
Cons: Reproduces rapidly (chances of snail outbreaks). Can eat your plants.

2. Butterfly Goodeid (Ameca splendens)

butterfly goodeid fish

Pros: Eat green hair algae
Cons: can be aggressive to other tank inhabitants.

3. American Flag-fish – Jordanella floridae

american algae fish eater

Pros: Peaceful and easy fish. will consume hair algae as well as any Siamese algae
Cons: NA eater

4. Otocinclus catfish – Otocinclus Affinis

catfish fresheater algae eaterAlso known as Otocinclus catfish or simply Oto Cat is a small South American fish native to Brazil where it can be found in heavily vegetated streams and rivers. Otocinclus catfish is the perfect algae eater, and this is probably one of the reasons why it became so popular over the years. The Otocinclus catfish makes a great addition to the community aquarium. During the day, these fish usually rest on a leaf or stick to the glass of the tank. They become more active during night time. As said before, the Otocinclus catfish is herbivorous which makes it a good algae eater. Unfortunately, they don’t eat all kinds of algae; only eat soft green and brown algae, nothing else.

Pros: Won’t damage plants. Peaceful fish. Eats green and brown algae. Ideal for small tanks.
Cons: Acclimation can be difficult.

5. Common pleco – Glyptoperichthys multiradiatus and Hypostomus punctatus

common plecoHypostomus Plecostomus, also known as Pleco is native to South America where it can be found in many environments from rifles, river banks, and driftwood snags. They tend to be nocturnal and prefer hiding places such as plants, rocks, and bogwood in their environment. Pleco fish is very attractive and hardy. I think they and makes an excellent addition to larger tanks. Can keep a tank spotless and are often used to maintain the glass clean. This fish is well-known to clean the aquarium. This hardy fish will adapt to most aquarium conditions but avoid keeping it in extreme pH levels or temperatures.

Pros: Eats green, brush algae.
Cons: Will grow really large. May cause havoc in planted tanks. Older specimens don’t eat much algae.

6. Bristlenose Catfish – Ancistrus sp.

Bristlenose catfish

Pros: Good algae eater. Ideal for small tanks. Hardy fish.
Cons: NA

7. Siamese Algae Eater – Crossocheilus Siamesis.

siamese algae eaterCrossocheilus siamensis, also known as Siamese Algae Eater or simply SAE is a freshwater fish in the Cibrinidae family (carp family). Native to the Malayan peninsula, the Siamese Algae Eater is a bottom-dwelling fish that lives in streams and rivers as well as the flooded forest where it feeds on algae, periphyton, and phytoplankton. This peaceful fish, but make sure there are algae for it to eat. The Siamese Algae Eater became famous for its appetite for algae. It is true that is a great algae eater, but there is a limit to its appetite. They love driftwood/rocks and some plants that can support their weight to rest on. Amazon Sword plants are perfect for this fish. This fish can be shy so make sure to provide some hiding places.

Pros: Eats green, brush and brown algae.
Cons: They will also eat fine leaved plants including mosses, hairgrass, and mayaca.

8. Amano Shrimp – Caridina japonica

amano shrimpCaridina Japonica, also known as Amano shrimp or Algae Eating Shrimp is native to Japan, Korea, and Taiwan where it can be found in swamps and marshlands. It was named Amano shrimp after the aquarist Takashi Amano, who noticed their appetite for algae and introduced them to the hobby in the early 1980’s. This shrimp is very useful in eliminating all types of algae, but they are not a solution against algae proliferation unless you have a large group (one or two per gallon). They will do well in a well-established aquarium. They are shy animals and prefer to be housed in large groups in tanks with plenty of plants, hiding places and peaceful fish that will not try to eat them.

Pros: Will eat almost any algae including brown, and hair algae.
Cons: NA

9. Cherry Shrimp – Neocaridina denticulata sinensis

red cherry shrimpThe cherry shrimp has long been a popular choice for aquarium hobbyists. Known as the Taiwan Shrimp, is found in southern China and Taiwan These is a captive-developed morph and is not found in the wild. This hardy and fascinating shrimp now finds its home in aquariums throughout the world. Its bright red color makes it a striking addition to just about any community tank, and its gentle nature means that it will not harass or harm the other residents of the aquarium. The cherry shrimp is a great choice for algae infested tanks since algae is one of its favorite snacks. Placing this algae rock near the front of the tank will allow hobbyists to watch their colonies of cherry shrimps as they feed.

Pros: Eats most types of soft algae and won’t eat plants.
Cons: sensitive to water conditions. You might need lots of them to do the job.

The Best Saltwater Algae Eaters

On the saltwater aquarium, too much algae can suffocate marine life, and too little is not healthy for animals who need algae in their diet. To control and get rid of algae in the saltwater aquarium you need some sea animal like fish and snail who eat algae such Surgeons or Tangs and Turbo Snails. For more details please check out our list of best saltwater algae eaters below.

1. Foxface Rabbitfish – Siganus vulpinus

foxface rabbitfishThe Foxface Rabbitfish is an attractive and hardy fish making it popular with beginners and experienced aquarists. It occurs in coral-rich areas of lagoon and seaward reefs where it is usually found singly or in pairs among Acropora where they feed on algae. Peaceful but should be housed individually when older as it will fight with other related species. The Foxface Rabbitfish will eradicate most algae in the tank, including cyanobacteria, diatoms, hair algae.

Pros: Will eat most algae, including cyanobacteria, diatoms, hair algae.
Cons: Poisonous dorsal spines.

2. Surgeons or Tangs

naso surgeonfishThis member of the sergeant fish family is one of the most popular fish in the hobby. It will bring bright color to any aquarium. This beautiful fish is also known as the Surgeonfish. It can grow up to 8 inches and has a bright color body with sharp spines near the tail (the white spot) used for defense and as an anchor when sleeping. Surgeonfish will eat filamentous algae and may also nip on stony and soft corals if underfeed. Surgeonfish safe to keep in a tank with most inverts, and are good fish for reef tanks with corals. They mainly eat brown algae in the wild they are susceptible to nutritional disorders in captivity.

Pros: Good algae grazers.
Cons: Not suitable for small tanks

3. Turbo Snails

turbo snailTurbo snails coming from the Gulf of California off the coast of Mexico and one of the best saltwater algae eater. They were excellent against green hair algae. They will be active during the day to graze on algae and go hide out at night. They maximum size only 3 inches.

Pros: Excellent against green hair algae.
Cons: Will bulldoze loose rocks. They cannot right themselves if they fall and land on their back.

4. Astraea Snails

astraea snails

Pros: Eat cyanobacteria, green and brown film algae (maybe not green hair algae).
Cons: They cannot right themselves if they fall and land on their back.

5. Trochus or Turban Snails

trochus snails

Pros: Eats green hair algae, slime algae, green algae, cyanobacteria and diatoms. They leave nothing behind.
Cons: NA

6. Nerite Snails

nerite snails saltwater

Pros: Eats cyanobacteria, green algae and algae film on glass.
Cons: They are intertidal

7. Abalone

green abalone snail

Pros: Some say it is the best herbivore for the reef aquarium.
Cons: May become somewhat of a nuisance.

8. Scarlet Hermit Crab

scarlet hermit crabsScarlet reef hermit crabs, also known as red legged hermits or red reef hermits, are mostly found in sandy areas near the reef, rarely on the reef itself. They have a very colorful appearance, with red legs, red body, and yellow eyestalks. Hermit Crabs with red legs and red face are not Scarlet hermit Crabs, they are Dwarf Red Tip Hermit Crabs. They are one of the most popular reef maintenance animals – The Saltwater Clean Up Crew. They often recommended for algae control.

Pros: Will eat red, green, brown, green hair algae.
Cons: Can do significant damage if introduced in large numbers.

9. Emerald Mythrax Crab

Emerald Mythrax CrabEmerald Mythrax is a hardy crab found in the Western Atlantic Ocean. It has a flat green body with ten hairy legs. Emerald Mythrax will scavenge the tank at night for leftover food or algae and became famous to control bubble algae. You can keep more than one in your marine aquarium. Emerald Mythrax is semi-aggressive. It could attack fish but usually, do more good than harm.

Pros: Popular to control bubble algae (valonia).
Cons: May knock a few things over, so make sure to secure things down.

10. Tuxedo Urchin

Tuxedo UrchinTuxedo Urchin will hide during the day and goes out at night to graze on algae. More than one can be kept in an aquarium as long as there is enough food (algae) and shelter. If not enough algae in a tank, it’s diet should be supplemented with dried seaweed. Mespilia globulus may live up to five years. Tuxedo Urchin has five to ten broad-colored bands usually blue or black, with red, brown, or dark spines. Poor water condition will make it lose its spines. It may bulldoze coral polyps in your marine aquarium and make sure to firmly fix the rockwork so that it may not dislodge them.

Pros: Will graze on algae at night
Cons: NA

If you know any other fish or invertebrates that should be added to this list or would like to add some information to this list, please use the comment box bellow. Thanks!


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