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10 Best Algae Loving Freshwater Fish Species

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As you continue to maintain and learn from your fish you should discover that too much algae can become a real nightmare.

More than anything this is why many people introduce plant eating species in their aquariums.

Wait!!! Not all plant eating species will help control your algae; some species can love live plants so much they could end up destroying the beautiful aquarium scenery.

To avert this you want to introduce nothing but the safest species as far as live plant consumption is concerned.

However, you want to be sure you have the right fit prior to introduction. The reason being, some very good algae eaters can grow gigantic. Pacu is one of the most affordable algae eaters and loves to live at the bottom of the fish tank; it’s also very peaceful. While pacu get along great with other species, their ability to grow long as 2 feet will be a problem if you have a small fish tank.

Aggression is another issue that could affect anyone looking to keep algae eating species. If you already have aggressive or territorial species your best option maybe to keep separate tanks; only introducing the algae eaters to clean up now and then.

If still unsure and algae is your only problem you may also want to consider high quality artificial plants and the more agreeable plant eating species. If artificial plants are not your thing or require too much effort, then snails or shrimp will better suit your needs.

Some of the safest freshwater aquarium algae consuming fresh water fish and snails species include:

1.Nerite Snailsnerite-snails

Many fish keepers love snails and use them to tidy up, keeping tanks free from algae. They have beautiful zebra stripped shell and are the perfect addition for your aquarium.

The Nerite snail is the favorite of many aquarium owners and is capable of consuming most types of algae that abound in fish tanks.

Often you will find them hanging around on plants or at the bottom of your fish tank busy working through algae. Growing only about an inch makes them ideal for small fish tanks and their only bad trait is they leave tiny eggs all over.

2.Mystery Apple Snail


The Apple snail is another of the beautiful options you have to manage the spread of algae within your fish tank. This snail often has bright yellow, brown, purple, or red shells.

Though sold as babies in pet stores this species can grow to the size of a baseball. You will often see these beauties majestically gliding across the bottom of the aquarium eating up algae. They are easy to spot due to their prominent antennas.

Far as algae is concerned the snail consumes all types of algae including; glass algae, plant algae and substrate algae. They have a large appetite and it is recommended you feed them or leave leftovers to keep them from damaging avoid the eating live plants.

3.Malaysian Trumpet Snail


The Malaysian Trumpet snail only reaches 2cm when fully grown and is one of the best solutions for algae removal.

They do a brilliant job of keeping the aquarium clean through eating, leftovers, algae and dead vegetation. Their strength is unlike any other snail is they do not eat live plants. They seem to do better though in alkaline waters which keeps their shells hard; acidic water dissolves their shells.

They hide under gravel during the day and feed mostly at night. They are prone to becoming snacks though and as such do not fit in well with predatory fish.

4.Amano Shrimp


Just like snails, this species of shrimp is also quite popular and widely used to maintain algae from over growing.

The amano shrimp have a very good appetite and are constantly feeding not just on algae but dead castoff material from live plants. They also make short work of leftovers at the bottom of the tank.

Their small size of 3-5 centimeters makes them ideal for even small fish tanks. Surprisingly the amano shrimp does not consume blue-green and green spot algae.

It is also advisable to keep them off junk food leftovers as this slows their appetite. It is advisable to introduce two or three into the fish tank.

Amano shrimp pair well with small docile fish and can be badly affected by copper in fertilizer. Hence when adding fertilizer, it would be best to change 30-50% of the water to dilute toxic substances in the fertilizer.

5.Cherry Shrimp


Cherry shrimp are often favored for cleaning algae because of specific advantages. This shrimp is often sold pet stores specifically to reduce algae in aquariums. The species are mostly red in color and are considered by many a great addition for clean aquariums.

Their strength lies in their small size and good appetite – they can remove algae from hidden corners that would be difficult for you and fish to reach.

6.Twig / Whiptail Catfish


Twig Catfish generally like the bottom of an aquarium probably owing to natural disposition to crawl at the bottom of ponds and streams.

Twig catfish have a big appetite and are very good algae eating species, capable of growing long as 20 cm. They are slender and brown and could be difficult to spot in a busy aquarium.

These catfish pair well with a number of species including tetras, rasboras, hatchets and pencil fish. They love to remain concealed and introducing bog or driftwood and plenty of plants should make them comfortable.

The catfish can survive in confined spaces and any tank over 70 liters is more than adequate. They enjoy a stable ecosystem and as such heavy water changes could harm them. Cichlids and Barbs do not bond very well with this fish.

Though they have a good appetite it is advisable to feed them spirulina algae tablets quite often (2-3 times per week).



Black Mollies are considered among the best exotic fresh water fish by many and are not your typical algae eaters.

However given their uniqueness and love for most algae they are often on the list of species used for algae removal. While they are not as passionate about algae as ANY of the other fish on this list, they consume a lot of algae.

However, if you want to add beautiful fish to help clean algae mollies are just right for you; they may not consume glass algae. As a result you may have to scrap away some of the algae.

8.Otos / Otocinclus Catfish or Dwarf Suckers


Otos are also considered very good for management of algae and are preferred by keepers owing to their small size (often below 2 inches).

These fish have a huge appetite and with their small size can fit in tiny spaces while they work the algae. They are known to consume all types of algae and vegetation. Though they prefer brown and soft green algae; Otos will eat anything. They also enjoy the occasional veggie treat such as zucchini.

Unlike the twig catfish, Otos enjoy schooling and will thrive in small groups (5 or so). They do not require a lot of space and will survive and remain healthy in 30 Gallon tanks.

Otos cope with most fish though have been known to undergo the occasional attack by cichlids and angelfish.

9.Siamese Algae Eater


This is a must have fish for any aquarium that requires management and cleaning of algae. They are the perfect size for even small aquariums – growing to about 2 inches.

Their optimum environment is densely planted with lots of broad leaves and rocks. They rest on the leaves and comfortably feed almost entirely on algae. The fish has a huge appetite though and in addition to algae you should feed them finely chopped vegetables, dried bloodworms or flaked / pelleted fish feed.


10.Bristelnose Pleco


This relatively large species (> 15 cm) is ideal for larger aquariums. Bristlenose have a good appetite and using their vacuum like sucker mouth can eat quite a lot of algae.

Though they perform an excellent job with the algae it is advisable to feed them pellets often to supplement their diet and ensure they remain healthy.

They are among the few species that consume green spot algae; the trait that makes them so popular.

They mix with almost all fish owing to their size and passive nature. They are nocturnal and this allows them share space with even larger species.


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