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Freshwater Algae Eater Fishes That You Can Have In Your Fish Tank

Having a fish tank in your bedroom or living room greatly enhances the overall look of the room. This is why many people keep planning to have an aquarium in their home. However, since it looks like signing up for extra efforts and a big responsibility, most people cop out. Freshwater algae eater fishes are a blessing for everyone who would think having an aquarium is a tacky business. These amazing creatures are very helpful in keeping the fish tank clean.

For many reasons, it is highly likely that algae would become an uninvited guest in your fish tank. Algae grow in a fish tank for various reasons, which are majorly natural biological processes. If left unchecked and if you let them grow, they might eat up other plants in your fish tank and multiply. One of the best preventive measures that you can take is having freshwater algae eater fishes in your fish tank. With that being said, here’s a list of fishes and invertebrates that eat algae and are good to be kept in a fish tank.

Freshwater Algae Eater Fishes

Fishes That Eat Algae

1 Twig Catfish

Twig Catfish
Photo by Barry Rowland

Twig catfishes, also called whiptail catfishes are algae eating tropical fishes. These slender looking fishes grow from 10 centimeters up to 20 centimeters. They are brown in color and easily camouflage in an aquarium that has many fishes in it. They also have a natural tendency to look for hideouts. This is why if you keep twig catfish in your fish tank, you can have many stones and plants. They eat most species of algae.


Generally, twig catfishes are good for even small fish tank, just above 70 liters. Along with twig catfishes, you can keep Tetras, Pencil fishes, Hatchet, and Rasboras. However, keeping bigger fishes, like Barbs would be a bad idea since the bigger ones would attack twig catfishes.

2 Black Mollies

Black Mollies
Photo by Wahyu Prasetyo

Black mollies are cute looking tiny fishes that are a really great choice for being placed in small fish tanks. Black mollies don’t actually have a great appetite. However, since they readily eat up all kinds of algae, they are good enough for a small fish tank. If the stones and live plants in your fish tank have algae, count on those tiny black mollies to do their job. However, you should not solely depend on these little ones to eat all the algae.


Black mollies get along well with Guppies, Swordtails, Platys, Endlers, Minnows, Gourami fishes, and other kinds of mollies.

3 Siamese Algae Eater

Siamese Algae Eater
Photo by Fishlady_UK

Siamese algae eater is the best kind of freshwater algae eater fishes. These are both beautiful and efficient at eating algae. The reason why most people like keeping Siamese Algae Eater is because these fishes have an amazing appetite. Besides cleaning your fish tank by eating algae, they also eat up any leftover food, pellets, vegetables, etc. They grow up to 2 inches in length. While they get along well with other breeds and live in peace, they have a tendency to become territorial if there are many more Siamese algae eater fishes in the same fish tank.


Siamese algae eaters are really compatible with most fishes. However, fishes, like red tailed sharks, dwarf cichlids should not be kept with Siamese algae eaters since they both have territorial tendencies. A lot of people also have witnessed that Siamese algae eaters have a tendency to chase fishes that are of the same color as them. Since these fishes are highly territorial, just make sure your fish tank has enough space for them to be. Given they have needed space, they work well cleaning your fish tank off algae.

4 Siamese Flying Fox

Siamese Flying Fox
Photo by Fish Fanatic

Siamese flying fox is very similar to Siamese algae eater, another breed of aquarium algae eaters. However, as you take a closer look, you’d be able to address differences. A Siamese flying fox has a fleshy flap around its mouth. Also, the pattern on its body is smoother compared to Siamese algae eaters. They need a tank that is of at least 20 gallons. They are easy to care for. These fishes can eat off algae from glass, decorations, plants, and also can eat leftover foods and live foods.


Pretty much like Siamese algae eaters, they are territorial to great extent. This is why you should not be keeping them with a number of other Siamese flying foxes and red tailed sharks. Other than these, they are not harmful for other specie of fishes.

5 Common Pleco

Common Pleco
Photo by Erica Marshall

The best thing about Common Pleco, pretty much as the name suggests is that it is pretty common. They are very reasonable and you would readily be able to find these freshwater algae eater fishes. They grow up to 60 centimeters and can be accommodated in a fish tank that is 60 gallons. Since a common Pleco eats a lot of algae, you would find that it grows very quickly. This is why even though these are common kind of algae eating fishes; they are limited to larger tanks.


Common Plecos are compatible with fishes of the same size. These are peace-loving species that don’t generally get aggressive. However, they might show an aggressive behavior towards other fishes of the same specie.

6 Otocinclus Catfish

Otocinclus Catfish
Photo by Romeo coloma

Otocinclus Catfishes, also known as Dwarf Suckers or Otos are really good to be accommodated in small fish tanks as fish tank algae eater (even as small as 30 gallons) for their small size. Quite contradictory to how small they look, they have amazing algae eating capacity. They are about 2 inches in length and eat a lot of algae. While they can eat each kind of algae, they prefer eating soft green and brown algae more. In case your fish tank doesn’t have enough algae, don’t forget to add extra food for your dwarf suckers.


Otocinclus catfishes are pure schooling fishes, which means they love living in groups. This is why in case you plan to include these little ones in your fish tank, make sure you introduce at least 5 of them in the same fish tank. Since these are small fishes, certain species, like Cichlids and Angelfish might attack them. This is why make sure you don’t introduce both breeds in the same fish tank. Besides these, dwarf suckers get along well with most kinds of fishes.

7 Bristlenose Plecos

 Bristlenose Plecos
Photo by Nevin Shrom

Bristlenose Plecos are yet another kind of Plecos that you can add in your fish tank. However, these fishes are quite expensive and reach up to a size of 14 centimeters. They have an amazing appetite for algae and can clean nooks and corners of your fish tank with their sucker mouth. Younger specimens look really beautiful. But one thing that you should prepared for would be that as they age, they don’t look as attractive. Since they have a good appetite, it is suggested that you supplement an extra amount of algae in the form of algae pellets so that their hunger is satiated. One best thing about Bristlenose Plecos is that they consume green spot algae. Typically you would find other algae eating species never touching this kind of algae.


Bristlenose fishes are also friendly kinds that are compatible with most kinds of fishes. These are nocturnal beings that mostly prefer hiding in the day time and coming out in the nighttime. For any tank that is really large and currently house aggressive fishes, you can keep Bristlenose along with them as well.

Invertebrates That Eat Algae

If you are not just about fishes in your fish tank, you would also be able to find a number of invertebrate alternatives to freshwater algae eater fishes. These invertebrates are beautiful looking creatures that would enhance the looks of your fish tank and also at the same time eat up all of that nasty looking algae.

Here’s a list of algae eating invertebrates that you can keep in your fish tank.

1 Amano Shrimp

Amano Shrimp
Photo by Plants and Moss and Shrimp and Stuff

Amano shrimps are a great alternative to adding algae eating fishes in your fish tank. Except for green spot algae and blue-green algae, you can count on Amano shrimp when it comes to gorging on algae and leftover food. Since these tiny creatures grow to be only 4 centimeters, if you have a very small fish tank, you can introduce them in it.


Since these are tiny beings, most fishes would try to eat them. This is why keep them only with docile fishes. Also, since fish excreta and waste materials can prove to be toxic for them, make sure you only keep them in fish tanks with lesser number of fishes. Also, they enjoy being in groups. So, as you introduce Amano shrimps, introduce at least 3 of them in one fish tank.

2 Cherry Shrimp

Cherry Shrimp
Photo by Ailinsky

Cherry shrimps are yet another kinds of invertebrates that are quite readily available in pet stores. Just as the name suggests, these shrimps are cherry red in color, which would add an amazing color element to your fish tank. A lot of times fishes are too big to reach the corners of the tank and eat the algae. This problem can be solved with these tiny, red creatures. They swim around and clean the corners off algae. Cherry shrimps eat most species of algae, dead plant that is in the fish tank, and leftover food.


Though cherry shrimps can hide from predator fishes, it doesn’t make sense to keep them with fishes that would apparently eat them. This is why try placing these shrimps with docile fishes. Species, like Otocinclus Catfish, Killies, Neon Tetra, and Dwarf Rasbora are good fishes to have with cherry shrimps. Fishes, like Angelfishes and Cichlids are a big no-no.

3 Ramshorn Snails

Ramshorn Snails
Photo by Rick Lowe

Ramshorn snails are the kind of creatures that eat algae without disturbing the live plants in the fish tank, unlike other snails. This is why, if your fish tank has many plants, you can have Ramshorn snails to do the algae cleaning in your fish tank. Since snails have shells, they need alkaline water. If your fish tank has acidic water, it would dissolve the shell of the snail and the snail would die. A perfect pH of 7 is what you need to maintain if you want to keep these snails in your aquarium.


Aquarium creatures, like Cichlids, Nerite Snails, Loaches, and most of the big fishes would eat Ramshorn Snails. This is why keeping these snails is a good idea only if you house tiny, innocuous fishes that you are sure would not eat Ramshorn Snails.

4 Mystery Apple Snail

Mystery Apple Snail
Photo by Tess Scott

If you are looking for bigger invertebrates that are very evidently to be seen in your fish tank, it has to be a Mystery Apple Snail. These snails are as tiny as any other snails as babies. However, they grow to be as big as a baseball. This makes it obvious that these algae eating snails are for bigger fish tanks. They come in the attractive shades of yellow and brown and have long antennas. These snails would typically eat the algae on plants and the glass of the fish tank. They also eat leftover food and since they have a good appetite, make sure you give them enough food.


Mystery Apple snails are good to be kept with most fishes when they are adults. However, most small ones would be prey to larger fishes. Besides this, make sure you keep Mystery Apple Snails only if your fish tank doesn’t have too many live plants. These snails have a tendency to eat live plants if they don’t get enough food.

These are the fishes, shrimps, and snails that you can keep in your fish tank if you want to monitor the growth of algae naturally in your fish tank. It is amazing how fishes and some other creatures can take care of the environment in a fish tank by eating algae. Keeping these fishes and invertebrates would definitely save you a lot of efforts that go into cleaning the fish tank frequently. Given you take care of the combination of fishes in the tank and do your research, you would be happy with how your aquarium looks.

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