But, the more i thought about it, everyone has their own things to geek out about.
I don’t stay up to date on music, I don’t read up on comic book character lore, and well, when it comes to video games-i just play them.
So, instead i’m going to be focusing on what i geek out about.
Which, is mostly aquatics.
So, here, for your reading pleasure is my top 10 freshwater algae eaters.
1. Otocinclus CatfishCommonly referred to as Otto cats. You can find these guys in most chain pet stores, and if you’re anything like me and watch aquascaping videos-you’ll see them used quite often in them. They can grow to about 2 inches, but in my experience they’ve stayed smaller than that. The recommended aquarium to keep them in is 30 gallons, as they do prefer to be kept in schools. (5+) As with most algae eaters, if enough algae is not present, Flake or wafers are a good substitute. Price: $2.09
2. American Flagfish
Also known as the florida flagfish. This little killifish is not only beautiful to look at, but they are fantastic for algae management. This guy is so high on my list because not everyone can have snails and shrimp in their tanks, seeing as they are quite common fish that love to snack on those little guys. This guy is Semi-aggressive, especially towards smaller fish. They get to about 2 inches, and the recommended tank size is 10 gallons. As a note, they are omnivores, so just algae isn’t going to be enough for them. in my experience, feeding brine works great with just about everything, including these guys. Price: $7.99
3. Ramshorn snails.
as a note, these are snails you won’t really find at chain pet stores. to find them in my area, i actually had to go to a freshwater specific store way out of my way. These guys repopulate SO fast, which can be good and bad at the same time. Before you know it, your tank will be overrun by these guys, so it’s best to have something that will eat them, I would recommend that bring in a different tank. In the past i fed these snails to Figure 8 puffers, but my clown loaches also really enjoy them. they get to be about 2 centimeters. They eat algae, detritus, and leftover food. They will keep your tank super clean. Since they’re quite small, they’ll do well in just about any tank. To give you an idea, i “grow” them in a 4 gallon betta tank, and when it becomes overcrowded, i grab a handful and put them into my 55 gallon for my loaches. Price not listed
3.5. Malaysian Trumpet Snails
I'll mention these in a sub-category. They’re another great “pest” snail that repopulates quickly. For them, chain pet stores often want to get rid of them, so chances are you may be able to get them for free. If the aquatic specialist knows their stuff, they will make sure that you are 100% certain you want those guys. Because once you put them in your tank, you won’t be able to get rid of them. With these guys, be sure that you have a fish on the sidelines that will eat these little buggers. Price not listed
4. Nerite snail. (Nerita snails)
Not only are these guys fantastic algae eaters, they also have beautiful coloration. The two variations i’ve seen in chain pet stores are the Zebra stripe, and tigers blood variations. They get to about 3 centimeters when fully grown. As these are not “Pest” snails, keep them far away from loaches and other fish that will call them a midnight snack. As a small warning, these guys are kinda known for being suicidal snails. they will Climb out of your tank, so i would make sure you have a lid on-just in case. Price: $3.99
5. Mystery snail.
I love these guys. They can get quite large, but most pet stores will sell them as small little babies. these guys come in a variety of colors. While most pet stores will sell the yellow, white and black colors, you can also find them in blue, green, red, purple, and even mixed colors. As smaller snails, they do great with even the grumpiest of bettas. As far as larger ones go, i have 4 in my 55 gallon at the moment. I needed something to help with the algae growth on the glass, but something big enough that my loaches wouldn’t eat. So long as my loaches get fed regularly, and get treats of ramshorn snails, and cucumber-they’re 100% fine living with these guys. However, it is always a risk putting any snail into a tank with their predators. As a warning it is possible that they may eat some live plants, or while crawling on the plants, may rip out a few pieces. I learned this the hard way when i put some beautiful Cabomba into my 55g. they don’t look so pretty anymore. Price: $3.99
6. Ghost shrimp
While these aren’t the BEST algae eating shrimp for the job, they’re listed higher because their much cheaper than other shrimp. I can usually snag 10 for about 60 cents. These guys love hair algae, and will eat leftover food. If there isn’t enough algae, flake or wafers are a great substitute. They can get to be about 2 inches. Price: $ 1.59
7. Amano shrimp
These guys are my favorite algae eating shrimp. They can grow to about 5 centimeters. They eat most algae, detritus, and leftover food. These guys do great in small, and large tanks. Just be sure there aren’t any predators around. Price: 3.99
8. Cherry shrimp
These guys do best in smaller tanks, also without predators. Since they’re so tiny, they can reach a lot of places other algae eaters can’t. I would personally recommend these for planted micro tanks. Price: $3.99
9. Farlowella Catfish
Also sometimes referred to as the Twig catfish. These guys get to be about 6 inches, and do best in larger tanks. I would recommend a 55 gallon or larger for them. They’re mostly seen at the bottom of the tank. they eat Algae, and leftover food. In my experience, they also enjoy bloodworms. Price: $11.49
There are many different types of plecos out there, so i would suggest doing a bit of research to figure out which one would do best for you. there are very few that stay relatively small, but most of them get quite large. I have an albino bristlenose pleco that has stayed around 2 inches for quite a long time. He’s moved around to different tanks in the time that i’ve had him. He started out in a 4 gallon betta tank, moved to a 10 gallon community tank, then to the 55 gallon community tank, and finally back to a 4 gallon betta tank. He would have stayed in the 55 gallon tank for good if it wasn’t for my betta in the 55 dying. He was depressed, wouldn’t eat, so i moved him in with a new betta, and a few days later he began eating again. Fish have emotions, just like you and i. Price: $8.49 - $499.99 (Depending on type of pleco)
BONUS STORY TIME:
As for a bit of a note i want to tell you a little story before you go off and buy one of these guys. This story is the reason this specific fish is not on my list. The chinese algae eater. (Price: $1.49 - $3.99)
There was a sale going on at a chain pet store, and we all (my parents and myself) needed algae eaters, so my mother snagged a bunch of them and put them into different tanks that needed help with algae upkeep. As small little guys, they did a wonderful job in all the tanks.
I had mine in my 10 gallon community tank, and after a while he stopped showing up. So, i figured he passed on. Flash forward to a few months later. I decide to set up my 55 gallon, i was originally going to no fuss with it until i moved out, but that was supposed to be a lot sooner, and i had fish that were about to grow out of the 10 gallon tank.
So, as i’m getting all of the fish out of the 10 gallon, i lift up this big house i had in there for decor. Suddenly this Giant thing flops out of it. It was the chinese algae eater. He was a good 6 inches or more. So, i did a bit of research on this guy. I had heard that they may show aggression, and some had even attacked fish once they got to 2 inches or larger. I never saw that he did any of that, so i decided to keep him, and move him into my 55 gallon with everyone else. I named him Valentine, because he looked like he was always making a little kissy face. He did well in the tank. I don’t think he ate much algae, but loved Cucumber and seemed to munch on leftover food. He mostly stayed hidden in a large hidey hole with my two clown loaches.
Flash forward a few more months. I introduced a Panda garra. (They also eat algae, and left over food. But, are omnivores and also eat the brine i feed in my tank Price: $23.99)
A few days later, he’s gone missing, can’t find him anywhere. i looked around the tank to make sure he didn’t jump out. He didn’t. Then i began searching in the tank, and i saw something that broke my heart.
I had this betta for a few months at this point. I named him Bubba gum. I got him the day i started work training as the aquatics expert at a chain pet shop. I called him my second in command. He was a beautiful half-moon plakat betta. He was pastel colored, with pinks and blues. He reminded me a lot of another half-moon plakat i had rescued from that same chain pet store years ago. But, that’s another story.
So, long story short-bubba gum meant a lot to me.
So, i look in the corner of my tank and see bubba gum breathing heavily, with what looks like a gash on his side. I quickly get him out and into a smaller tank. I Put him on top of a leaf in that tank, so he didn’t have to move much to get air. I tried to buy time so i could get a second opinion on what someone thinks happened. I thought it could be a sudden bacterial infection. But no, he had gashes in him. Scales were sucked off. I knew it was Val. I couldn’t risk him staying in that tank and killing more fish. I couldn’t risk donating him to a store, and him eating those fish, and then if he gets adopted, whatever other fish are in the tank he gets put in. So, i flushed him. I hated doing it, but, i felt i had to. While going through the tank i ended up finding my Garra, too. Same thing happened to him.
So, while these guys do well when they are smaller, there are MUCH better algae eaters than them. They should not be put into a community tank.
Some fish keepers have said that if you keep them in a group of around 5, their aggression will spread among them, rather than them taking it out on the other fish. But, i wouldn’t risk it ever again.