Algae eating fish are a great addition to any aquarium but choose wisely or you may regret your decision to introduce them to your freshwater aquarium. Algae is a normal side product of fish keeping caused typically by a build up of nitrates in the water.
To stop algae build up you need a strategy to prevent rather than treat algae. You are undoubtedly to ever be without algae completely, what you are aiming to do is keep it at an acceptable level. Plants within your aquarium will use up nitrates leaving less for algae to feed on. Regular partial water changes and vacuuming the substrate will also go some way towards decreasing nitrates and keeping algae levels low.
Algae eating fish will help to deal with the rest. So which ones are best and which ones come with a health warning.
Depending on the size of your tank, the planting and the fish that you already have some algae eating fish will be better suited to your aquarium than others. It is also worth considering adding a selection of other algae eaters to deal with the different types of algae. So once you have decided on your algae eating fish think about adding some snails or shrimp to deal with other types of algae.
The Siamese Algae eater grows up to about five inches in length and ideally needs to be kept in pairs which need to be kept in a tank that is a minimum of around twenty five gallons. They will fit with most community tanks and eat both thread and brush algae off of plants and decorations without eating the plants. They have a healthy appetite and are not fussy eaters, cleaning up the tank of any food that finds its way to the bottom.
American Flag fish will grow up to about two inches in size and are a great algae eating fish. They are easy to care for but need a heavily planted aquarium . They deal with hair algae very well but can also feed on finer plants if not kept well fed.
The Midget Suckermouth Catfish is one of the smallest catfish only growing to about two inches in length. They need to be kept in small shoals of five or so and will eat all new algae off of plants without damaging the plants at all.
If you are tempted to get a Plecostomus then choose carefully. Some of the larger species will grow up to eighteen inches and although they will have done a good job of keeping your glass and decorations clean when small, they become very destructive as they grow larger and will soon strip your tank of most if not all the vegetation.
The key with algae eating fish is to choose carefully and research. Remember that the assistant in the shop wanted a sale today. You need a fish that will fit with your aquarium for years to come.
Source by Nick North