9 algae eaters for your aquarium

Algae eaters in a tank at home isn’t just a tribute to fashion, it’s a necessity. They help fight unwanted inhabitants on tank plants, glass, decorations and substrate – yes, I’m talking about excessive algae amount in a tank. In any, even the best managed tank, there are always some algae, but usually their amount is small and they are noteless against the other higher tank plants background.

In an ordinary tank we have at home sometimes algae grow too fast and their amount becomes numerous, so because of that all the tank beauty is missing. One of the ways to solve this issue is to get some algae eaters and put them into the tank. At that it’s not necessary to be a fish (however, the majority of algae eaters are fishes), but it can also be some kind of snail or shrimp, since there are lots of types of algae eaters.

In this article we’ll tell you about 8 the most popular and efficient tank algae fighters. These are algae eater fish and spineless species which are rather available on the market, cheap and easygoing towards their tank mates.

These are the best algae eaters, which will be an ideal solution for any aquarist, for those who love tank plants and clean, transparent tank glass.

Best types of algae eaters

Amano Shrimp

Amano Shrimp

Amano Shrimp is quite popular, it can be bought in a pet shop, and it’s not a demanding shrimp. It’s quite active and gluttonous, it cleans a tank not only from algae, but also from garbage, dead tank plants remnants and feed leftovers.

These shrimps are small algae eaters, from 1 to 3 inches long, which makes them an ideal option for small tanks. They eat hair algae and its species.

However, the shrimp doesn’t eat brush algae, spot algae and blue-green algae. And one more thing, amano won’t feed on algae if there is lots of other more tasty and nutrient feed in a tank.

Amano shrimps efficiency against hair algae is inversely proportional to the shrimp size. i.e. the lager the shrimp is, the more thick algae it can swallow. That’s why the most efficient fmano shrimps are considered to be the species 1.25 or better 1.5 inches long.

If you have extra large fmano shrimps, than 5 of them will be enough to clean 45 gallons tank. If the shrimps are smaller, you’ll need more of them – there’ll be 1 shrimp for 2 gallons of a tank capacity. Also, you shouldn’t expect any help from the shrimps 1-2 cm large.

Bristlenose Pleco

Bristlenose Pleco

This is the most popular and spread fish among all freshwater algae eaters. The fish is rather not demanding in care and it’s quite good-looking as well, especially male fish, which has some gorgeous outgrowth on its head. It must be said, that ancistrus fish is a rather large one and it may be 15 cm long and even more.

This algae eater food should be numerous and plant one, additionally the fish should be fed with special tablets for cat fish and some vegetables (cucumbers or marrow squash). If the fish doesn’t get enough of food, it may start eating fresh shoots of tank plants.

This cat fish is rather peaceful towards other tank fishes, though the fish is rather aggressive to each other, especially male fish, who guard their territory.


Siamese algae eater

This aquarium algae eater was just made for feeding on algae, since its mouth is fittest for this. If we talk about Green Spot Algae on a tank glass, sadly Siamese algae eater isn’t able to do anything about it.

To keep 100 liters tank without black beard algae, it’s quite enough to have 2 Siamese algae eaters in it. At that even small (3-4 cm long) Siamese algae eaters can manage this tank volume. When they grow and become longer than 4 cm, they can start eating small moss.

That’s why Siamese algae eaters are totally not compatible with Java moss in a tank – they love eating it more, than algae.

Nerite Snail

Nerite Snail

First of all, this snail is famous for its bright, attractive coloring and small size – about 1.25 inch large. But besides this it also fights algae, including those, that other fish and snails algae eaters don’t eat.

We should mention nerite snail short life span, as a drawback and the fact that it doesn’t breed in freshwater.


Oto Catfish

Otocinclus is a small, peaceful and active fish. Its size made it popular among the aquarists – it’s maximum 5 cm long. For small and not very big tanks it’s an ideal option to manage algae, since these tanks quite often suffer from uncontrolled algae growth.

However, this is a quite timid and schooling fish. It’s also rather demanding as for the tank water quality and parameters, thus we can’t recommend it to the beginners.

Chinese algae eater

Chinese algae eater

Chinese algae eater is a typical representative of algae eaters fish, it inhabits in fast rivers and it’s got used to scrape off hard fouling from stones. It’s a large fish and, unfortunately, it is quite a quarrelsome one.

It fights not only with fish of its kind, but also with other tank mates, especially if they are alike in appearance. Old chinese algae eaters stop eating algae and start eating live feed or they attack large fishes and eat their scales.

Molly fish


They are not as demanding, as the types of algae eaters mentioned above. The fish eats all types of Hair algae and even a thin crust on a tank glass. However, their efficiency isn’t very high if compared to siamese, slbino algae eaters and large amano shrimps. Nevertheless, mollies are kept in tanks with plants, because they are always on sale, which is important if it is urgent (algae outbreak in a tank).

Ramshorn snail

Ramshorn Snail

Ramshorn snail is one of the most spread, simple in care and fruitful aquarium snails. Sometimes some aquarists say that is also eats tank plants, but it’s not true. It’s jaws are rather weak to bite hard leaves of higher plants. However, as for microalgae they are very efficient, although it’s not very obvious objectively.

At least, my observation is, that in a tank with juveniles there’s less algae if there are some Ramshorm snails in it. Besides, they feed quite well on food leftovers and this way keep the tank clean.

Cherry shrimp

Cherry shrimp

Cherry shrimp is the most spread one among aquarists, since it breeds easily. Small shrimps, 0.5-1 inch long are efficient towards algae mainly due to their large number in a tank (one or more shrimps for 1 liter of tank capacity).

As well as Amano shrimps, cherrry shrimp prefers hair algae.

Considering their small size they can eat only some kinds of soft filamentous algae, such as Rhizoclonium, for example. These shrimps are irreplaceable when starting a planted tank.

The shrimp actively feeds on rotten leaves of newly planted greenery and fights Rhizoclonium, which almost always appears during the 1st month of planted tank existence and it can sufficiently slow down the growth of tank pants by covering them completely.

Usually cherry srimp plays the main part in processing of feed leftovers in a settled tank, thereby it keeps the tank balance and prevents snails excessive breeding.