Best Aquarium Algae Eaters

10 Best Aquarium Algae Eaters For Freshwater Tank

Keeping a freshwater aquarium clean and algae-free can challenge many aquarium enthusiasts. The growth of algae not only detracts from the tank’s appearance but can also negatively impact the overall health of the aquatic ecosystem. Fortunately, several species of fish and invertebrates are highly effective at controlling and eliminating algae in a freshwater tank. This article will explore the 15 best aquarium algae eaters that can help keep your tank clean and vibrant.

Why Do You Need Algae Eaters?

Algae growth can be a persistent issue in home aquariums, causing aesthetic concerns and potentially harming the overall health of the aquatic environment. That’s where the best algae eaters come into play. These specialized species, such as the Malaysian trumpet snail, mystery snails, bristlenose plecostomus, and Otocinclus catfish, have a voracious appetite for various types of algae, including green spot algae, brown algae, and filamentous algae. Introducing these algae-eating fish and invertebrates into your tank can combat algae problems and create a thriving aquatic ecosystem.

Factors to Consider When Choosing Algae Eaters for Your Tank

When selecting algae eaters for your fish tank, it’s crucial to consider several factors. These include the size of your tank, compatibility with other inhabitants, feeding habits, and reproductive tendencies.

Tank Size: Different algae eaters have different spatial requirements. Ensuring your tank is spacious enough to accommodate your chosen species is essential. This is particularly important for larger fish like common plecos or whiptail catfish, which need a larger tank to thrive.

Compatibility: The peaceful temperament of algae eaters is vital for maintaining harmony in your tank’s community. Some species, such as ghost shrimp or rabbit snails, are more peaceful and can coexist with many fish. However, aggressive fish may not be suitable tankmates for more docile algae-eating species.

Feeding Habits: While algae serve as the primary food source for many algae eaters, some species may require additional supplementation. For example, apple snails and bristlenose plecos benefit from algae wafers or even small quantities of uneaten fish food. Understanding the dietary needs of your chosen algae eaters ensures their optimal health and algae control in your tank.

Reproduction Rate: Consider the reproductive tendencies of the algae eaters you select, as rapid reproduction can lead to overpopulation and potential disruptions in your tank’s balance. Freshwater snails, such as Malaysian trumpet or rabbit snails, are known for their ability to reproduce in small groups, while mystery snails and bristlenose plecos have a slower reproduction rate.

Creating an Optimal Environment for Algae Eaters

In addition to selecting the most effective algae eaters for your tank, creating suitable water conditions and providing appropriate hiding places and hiding places for the algae-eating species are crucial. Maintain proper water parameters, such as temperature, pH, and hardness, to ensure the well-being of your algae eaters. Avoiding direct sunlight exposure is also important, as excessive light can contribute to increased algae growth.

Furthermore, incorporating live plants into your tank enhances its aesthetic appeal and provides additional grazing surfaces for the algae eaters. Certain species, such as Florida flagfish or emerald crabs, are particularly adept at controlling filamentous algae and can be a good choice for planted tanks.

15 Best Algae Eaters For Freshwater Aquarium

Now let’s explore the 15 best aquarium algae eaters for a freshwater tank:

1. Siamese Algae Eater

Siamese Algae Eater

Species: Crossocheilus oblongus
Size: 4-5 inches
Behavior: Peaceful, active
Diet: Algae, plant matter
Tank Size: 20 gallons or larger
Unique Trait: Effective at controlling black beard algae

The Siamese Algae Eater, scientifically known as Crossocheilus oblongus, is one of the best algae eaters for freshwater tanks. This species has an impressive ability to consume different types of algae, making it a popular choice among aquarium enthusiasts. It is particularly effective at controlling the growth of black beard algae, a notorious challenge for many aquarists. The Siamese Algae Eater is well-suited for many tank mates with its peaceful nature and active behavior. If you’re looking for an efficient algae eater to keep your aquarium clean and vibrant, the Siamese Algae Eater should be on your list.

2. Otocinclus Catfish

Otocinclus Catfish

Species: Otocinclus spp.
Size: 1-2 inches
Behavior: Peaceful, social
Diet: Algae, biofilm
Tank Size: 10 gallons or larger
Unique Trait: Small size, ideal for small tanks

The Otocinclus catfish, often called “otos,” is a popular choice for smaller tanks due to its small size and remarkable algae-eating capabilities. With an average size of 1 to 2 inches, these tiny catfish have a unique sucker-like mouth to scrape algae off various surfaces. Otos are peaceful and social fish that thrive in groups of three or more, making them an excellent addition to community tanks. Their ability to keep glass and plant leaves clean by feasting on algae and biofilm is a valuable asset for any aquarium enthusiast. If you have a smaller tank and want a reliable algae eater, the Otocinclus catfish is the perfect choice.

3. Amano Shrimp

Amano Shrimp

Species: Caridina multidentata
Size: 1-2 inches
Behavior: Peaceful, active
Diet: Algae, organic matter
Tank Size: 10 gallons or larger
Unique Trait: Efficient at consuming hair algae

Amano shrimp, scientifically known as Caridina multidentata, are highly regarded for their exceptional appetite for hair algae. These shrimp are proficient cleaners, swiftly devouring algae that accumulate on rocks, driftwood, and aquarium equipment. With their peaceful temperament, they make excellent tank mates for various fish species, enhancing the overall cleanliness and appearance of the aquarium. Whether you’re dealing with hair algae or other algae, the Amano shrimp’s efficient algae-eating abilities make it an invaluable addition to any freshwater tank.

4. Bristlenose Pleco

Bristlenose Pleco

Species: Ancistrus spp.
Size: 4-6 inches
Behavior: Peaceful, nocturnal
Diet: Algae, sinking pellets
Tank Size: 30 gallons or larger
Unique Trait: Distinctive bristles on the head

The Bristlenose Pleco, belonging to the Ancistrus genus, is a well-known and highly effective algae eater. This species boasts a unique appearance, characterized by the bristles that adorn its head, giving it a distinct charm. With their algae-consuming prowess, Bristlenose Plecos not only help keep the tank clean but also assist in tidying up leftover food. They are peaceful fish that can coexist harmoniously with various other fish species. If you have a larger tank, preferably 30 gallons or more, and want an algae-eating companion with a touch of personality, the Bristlenose Pleco is an excellent choice.

5. Cherry Barb

Cherry Barb

Species: Puntius titteya
Size: 2-2.5 inches
Behavior: Peaceful, active
Diet: Algae, small invertebrates
Tank Size: 20 gallons or larger
Unique Trait: Vibrant red coloration

The Cherry Barb, scientifically known as Puntius titteya, is renowned for its vibrant red coloration and its ability to consume algae. These active and peaceful fish exhibit a voracious appetite for different types of algae, including hair algae, which can be a nuisance in freshwater tanks. Their attractive appearance adds a splash of color to the aquarium, creating an eye-catching display. With their algae-eating capabilities and peaceful temperament, Cherry Barbs make an excellent addition to community tanks. If you’re seeking both an aesthetically pleasing and efficient algae eater, the Cherry Barb is a perfect choice.

6. Nerite Snail

Nerite Snails

Species: Neritina spp.
Size: 1 inch
Behavior: Peaceful, algae grazers
Diet: Algae, biofilm
Tank Size: 5 gallons or larger
Unique Trait: Decorative shells, won’t reproduce in freshwater

Nerite snails, belonging to the Neritina genus, are popular algae-eating invertebrates cherished for their decorative shells and excellent grazing abilities. These snails are highly efficient in cleaning up algae from various surfaces in the tank, including glass, rocks, and plants. Their small size makes them suitable for tanks as small as 5 gallons. One unique advantage of Nerite snails is that they won’t reproduce in freshwater, alleviating concerns about snail overpopulation. With their peaceful nature and knack for controlling algae, Nerite snails are a sought-after choice for novice and experienced aquarists.

7. Chinese Algae Eater

Chinese Algae Eater

Species: Gyrinocheilus aymonieri
Size: 6-10 inches
Behavior: Semi-aggressive, territorial
Diet: Algae, sinking pellets
Tank Size: 50 gallons or larger
Unique Trait: Long, slender body shape

The Chinese Algae Eater, scientifically known as Gyrinocheilus aymonieri, is a larger fish species renowned for its ability to consume significant amounts of algae. Its long and slender body shape sets it apart from other algae eaters. However, it’s important to note that this species can become semi-aggressive and territorial, particularly as it matures. Therefore, keeping Chinese Algae Eaters in larger tanks, preferably 50 gallons or more, with suitable tank mates that can handle their territorial tendencies is recommended. With proper planning and consideration, the Chinese Algae Eater can be an effective algae-control solution for larger aquariums.



Species: Carassius auratus
Size: Varies (can range from small to large, depending on the specific breed)
Behavior: Social, active
Diet: Algae, plant matter, small invertebrates
Tank Size: Large tank size required, depending on the breed (common goldfish and comet goldfish can reach lengths of up to 12-14 inches)
Unique Trait: Versatile algae eaters

Goldfish, belonging to the species Carassius auratus, are not only popular aquarium fish but also versatile algae eaters. While they are known for their beauty and vibrant colors, goldfish also have a hearty appetite for algae. They actively consume various types of algae, including filamentous algae, green algae, and diatoms, helping to maintain a cleaner and healthier tank environment. Additionally, goldfish are omnivorous and will also consume plant matter and small invertebrates. Due to their size and potential growth, goldfish require larger tank sizes to accommodate their needs. It is essential to provide them with ample space and filtration to thrive.

9. Hillstream Loach

Hillstream Loach

Species: Sewellia spp.
Size: 2-3 inches
Behavior: Peaceful, active
Diet: Algae, biofilm, small invertebrates
Tank Size: 20 gallons or larger
Unique Trait: Adapts well to fast-flowing water

Hillstream Loaches, scientifically known as Sewellia spp., are unique algae eaters that have evolved to thrive in fast-flowing streams. These loaches have fascinating body shapes, perfectly adapted for grazing on algae-covered surfaces. Hillstream Loaches prefer well-oxygenated water and can be captivating additions to aquariums with strong water currents. Their peaceful nature and compatibility with various tank mates make them suitable for community tanks. If you have a tank with adequate water flow and want an intriguing algae-eating species, the Hillstream Loach is an excellent choice.

10. American Flagfish

American Flagfish

Species: Jordanella floridae
Size: 2-3 inches
Behavior: Peaceful, territorial males
Diet: Algae, small invertebrates
Tank Size: 20 gallons or larger
Unique Trait: Vibrant colors, native to North America

The American Flagfish, scientifically known as Jordanella floridae, is a stunning fish species highly regarded for its vibrant colors and distinctive patterns. Apart from being visually appealing, these fish are excellent algae eaters. They actively consume various types of algae, including filamentous algae, which can be a persistent problem in freshwater tanks. While the males can display territorial behavior, especially during breeding, they generally coexist peacefully with other tank mates. If you’re seeking an algae-eating fish that adds a touch of vibrancy to your aquarium, the American Flagfish is a fantastic choice.

11. Ramshorn Snail

Ramshorn Snails

Species: Planorbidae family
Size: Varies (small to large)
Behavior: Peaceful algae grazers
Diet: Algae, decaying plant matter
Tank Size: 5 gallons or larger
Unique Trait: Unique spiral-shaped shells

Ramshorn Snails, belonging to the Planorbidae family, are popular algae-eating invertebrates known for their unique spiral-shaped shells. They come in various sizes, from small to large, and have a peaceful temperament. Ramshorn Snails are efficient grazers, consuming algae and decaying plant matter, which helps keep the tank clean and balanced. These snails are compatible with many tank mates and well-suited for planted aquariums. Ramshorn Snails are an excellent choice if you’re looking for an effective algae eater with a distinctive appearance.

12. Rosy Barb

Rosy Barb

Species: Puntius conchonius
Size: 3-4 inches
Behavior: Semi-aggressive, active
Diet: Algae, small invertebrates
Tank Size: 30 gallons or larger
Unique Trait: Brilliant pink coloration

The Rosy Barb, scientifically known as Puntius conchonius, is a captivating fish species renowned for its brilliant pink coloration. While primarily feeding on small invertebrates, these active swimmers also have an appetite for algae. Rosy Barbs contribute to the overall cleanliness of the tank by consuming algae and adding liveliness to the aquarium with their energetic nature. However, it’s important to consider their semi-aggressive behavior, especially when choosing tank mates. Providing a spacious tank, preferably 30 gallons or larger, and carefully selecting compatible species will ensure a harmonious aquatic community.

13. Twig Catfish

Twig Catfish

Species: Farlowella spp.
Size: 6-8 inches
Behavior: Peaceful, docile
Diet: Algae, sinking pellets, vegetables
Tank Size: 30 gallons or larger
Unique Trait: Long, twig-like body shape

Twig Catfish, also known as Farlowella spp., are fascinating algae eaters for their unique body shape resembling twigs or branches. These catfish have adapted to consuming algae and can also be fed with sinking pellets and blanched vegetables. With their peaceful and docile nature, they make excellent additions to freshwater tanks. Twig Catfish contribute to algae control and add an interesting visual element to the aquarium with their elongated bodies. Twig Catfish is a fantastic choice if you’re looking for an algae eater with a distinctive appearance.

15. Golden Apple Snail

Golden Apple Snail

Species: Pomacea bridgesii
Size: 2-3 inches
Behavior: Peaceful, herbivorous
Diet: Algae, detritus, aquatic plants
Tank Size: 10 gallons or larger
Unique Trait: Bright golden shell

The Golden Apple Snail, scientifically known as Pomacea bridgesii, is an herbivorous species that can contribute to algae control in the aquarium. These snails feed on various algae, detritus, and even aquatic plants. While they primarily consume vegetation, their feeding habits can help prevent excessive algae growth in the tank. Golden Apple Snails have a peaceful temperament and are compatible with various tank mates. Their bright golden shells also add visual interest to the aquarium. If you’re looking for an algae eater with a distinctive appearance and herbivorous tendencies, the Golden Apple Snail is a great choice.

15. Red Cherry Shrimp

Red Cherry Shrimp

Species: Neocaridina davidi
Size: 1-1.5 inches
Behavior: Peaceful, active
Diet: Algae, biofilm, detritus
Tank Size: 5 gallons or larger
Unique Trait: Vibrant red coloration

Red Cherry Shrimp, scientifically known as Neocaridina davidi, are visually appealing and efficient algae eaters. These peaceful and active shrimp contribute to algae control by consuming various types of algae, along with biofilm and detritus. Red Cherry Shrimp are excellent cleaners and help maintain a healthy environment in your tank. Their vibrant red coloration adds a splash of color to the aquarium, creating an eye-catching display. Whether you have a small nano tank or a larger aquarium, Red Cherry Shrimp are a great choice for algae control and aesthetic enhancement.


Having algae eaters in your freshwater tank is essential for maintaining a clean and balanced environment. The 15 algae-eating fish and invertebrates mentioned in this article are highly effective in controlling algae growth and enhancing the overall health of your aquarium. Consider factors such as tank size, compatibility, feeding habits, and reproduction rate when selecting algae eaters for your specific setup.

Incorporating these algae eaters into your tank allows you to enjoy a vibrant and visually appealing aquarium free from excessive algae. Happy fish keeping!


Can algae eaters eliminate all types of algae from the tank?

While algae eaters can significantly reduce algae growth, it’s unlikely that they will eliminate all types of algae. Regular maintenance, proper lighting, and balanced nutrient levels are also important in preventing excessive algae growth.

How many algae eaters should I have in my tank?

The number of algae eaters depends on the size of your tank and the type of algae you’re dealing with. As a general guideline, a small tank may require 1-2 algae eaters, while larger tanks can accommodate more.

Can algae eaters survive solely on algae, or do they need additional food?

While many algae eaters can survive solely on algae, providing them with a varied diet is beneficial. Algae alone may not provide all the necessary nutrients for optimal health. Supplement their diet with algae-based sinking pellets or other suitable food.

Are algae eaters compatible with all fish species?

Compatibility varies among different algae eaters and fish species. Some algae eaters may coexist peacefully with most fish, while others may become territorial or aggressive. Research the compatibility of specific species before adding them to your tank.

How can I prevent algae growth in my freshwater tank?

To prevent algae growth, maintain a regular cleaning schedule, avoid overfeeding, ensure proper lighting duration, and maintain balanced nutrient levels in the tank. Proper filtration and water circulation also play a crucial role in algae prevention.

What is the best algae eater for a fish tank?

The best algae eater for a fish tank depends on factors such as tank size, algae types, and compatibility with other tank mates. Some popular choices for algae eaters include Siamese Algae Eaters, Otocinclus Catfish, and Bristlenose Plecos. It is important to research and select an algae eater that suits the specific needs of your tank.

What algae eater eats the most algae?

Several algae eaters have a voracious appetite for algae. Siamese Algae Eaters, Chinese Algae Eaters, and Twig Catfish consume substantial algae. Additionally, certain snails, like Nerite Snails and Mystery Snails, are efficient grazers and can help control algae growth in the tank.

Do algae eaters keep the tank clean?

Yes, algae eaters play an important role in keeping the tank clean. They help control algae growth by consuming various types of algae, thereby promoting a healthier and more visually appealing environment. However, it’s important to note that algae eaters should not be solely relied upon to keep the tank clean. Regular maintenance, such as water changes and proper filtration, and the anti-algae solution is also necessary for maintaining optimal tank conditions.

Are shrimp or snails better for algae?

Both shrimp and snails can be effective in controlling algae in the tank. Shrimp, such as Amano Shrimp and Red Cherry Shrimp, are known for consuming algae and cleaning various tank surfaces. Snails like Nerite Snails and Ramshorn Snails are also proficient algae grazers. The choice between shrimp and snails depends on personal preference and the specific requirements of your tank. Some aquarists prefer shrimp for their active and visually appealing nature, while others opt for snails for their efficient algae-consuming abilities.

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