9 Best Freshwater Aquarium Algae Eaters

Algae eaters are a great addition in a freshwater tank to help control and reduce unsightly and potentially damaging algae. Here at Pisces Pets we offer a variety of species, including shrimps, snails and algae-consuming fish. The causes of algae in an aquarium can be widespread, e.g. too much light, too many plant nutrients, or certain deficiencies in water quality.

The most effective way of using algae eaters to help you keep algae low in your tank is to add different types of algae eaters, because not all eat the same algae, nor from the same type of surface. A combination of snails, shrimps and algae-eating fish is a good way to go. But again, always check for compatibility and fish/invertebrate requirements. Don’t be afraid to ask, we can help!

Listed below are 9 Best Freshwater Aquarium Algae Eaters:

  1. Black Molly
    Black mollies are excellent for the community tank, as they get along with most fish. They are excellent scavengers of fuzz algae, often considered a strain of beard algae, and will swim around the tank cleaning plants and decorations. The molly is an excellent “janitor”.
  2. Otocinclus Cats
    Known as otos, the Otocinclus Cats are  an excellent clean up crew, although they mostly eat algae that are in the beginning stages.  Otos prefer schools of at least 6 fish, and can be skittish and hide if kept isolated. They are an excellent community fish, and only chase other life if hungry.
  3. Siamese Algae Eaters
    Otherwise known as SAE’s, many consider these to be the best algae eaters of them all. They are a peaceful fish, although when older may become aggressive towards their own kind. 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. Also keep in mind to keep the tank lid on since they can easily jump out.
  4. Plecos
    They are the most commonly owned of the algae eating fish, although few know they can grow up to two feet in length. They do an excellent job of keeping the glass clean, as well as love any driftwood that can be provided. The pleco can be an aggressive fish, and has been known to eat small fish when hungry.
  5. Ramshorn Snails
    Ramshorn snails reach sizes up to 2 centimeters and have a brown or red coloring. They concentrate on algae-covered plants, tank rocks, aquarium glass and other decorations. They will not pass up detritus, fish eggs and leftover food. 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.
  6. Nerite Snail
    Nerite snails are great for small fish tanks, reaching only about an inch in size. They will usually hang out at the bottom of the fish tank and help clean the substrate. You will also notice that they will hangout on plants often eating algae off of the leaves. The only downfall they might have is that they do leave unsightly little eggs everywhere. Other than that, they are an awesome algae eating snail specie.
  7. Amano Shrimp
    Amano shrimp are by far the best algae eating shrimp available. They like to  thrive in numbers of 3 or bigger. They will eat most algae, dead plant matter, and any left over food in the aquarium.
  8. Cherry Shrimp
    Cherry shrimp are really good at cleaning algae from places most algae eating fish can’t reach. Their bright red color adds color variety to any environment, so if your tank is dull, these may be a good fit for your aquarium.
  9. Ghost Shrimp
    Ghost shrimp are great for eating hair algae though, so if you have a lot of hair algae, you may want to get a few. They also serve as snacks for bigger fish, so make sure to get a lot, because some will go missing (eaten).

Algae “clean up crews” are an excellent way to combat algae. But keep in mind that proper water changes, proper lighting, and proper doses of plant nutrients are the only real ways to keep algae under control.

Need some more help? Check our event schedule for upcoming seminars that will provide both beginners and expert fish owners with the knowledge to help purchase the best algae eaters for your tank.