Algae growth is a real pain for every fish keeper. Having an Algae Eating Fish in your Aquarium would control this problem. But you need to choose carefully. There are so many algae eating fish out there but not all of them are suitable for the job. This usually depends on the fish you have in tank, Tank size etc. There are some Algae eaters who outgrow the tank pretty fast and some develop a taste for meat after certain age. So it’s very important picking the right one for your aquarium. You don’t want to regret later because it could become a huge headache plus a very costly mistake.
Using Algae Control Water Treatments meds are another alternative for Algae eating Fish. But most of us prefer to keep chemical usage for minimum. This is why we prefer to have a more biological solution. But they add something unique to your tank. A live algae eating machine. Plus chemicals usually nuke everything out there not just algae but also tiny aquarium friendly beings. But If your tank is having a massive algae spread then you might have to use one of these meds. These are safe for fish as well as for Aquarium plants. Specially it’s hard to control it in outdoor ponds just with couple of Algae eating fish.
Now lets take a look at what choices do we have, both good and bad,
Common Pleco is the most popular Algae Eating Fish out there.Also known as Suckermouth catfish. But sadly this guy is a very bad news. Buying one of them is just buying another big headache. First problem is they grow really fast. You buy a 2 inch Pleco and in 6 months you would find it has become a 12 inch monster. Second problem is they start eating only fish pellets sooner or later. They beat Goldfish handsdown when it comes to pooping. Some might try to eat slime coat of big fish too. But there are smaller , rare and very beautiful Pleco types like Zebra Pleco. But these guys are too expensive than those common Plecos. So Just stay-out of these guys. They are not suitable for Algae cleaner job.
Chinese algae eater is another big NO NO. Almost all big pet stores sell them as Algae Eating Fish. What they don’t tell you is once Chinese algae eater becomes mature it becomes a pest. This guy then develops a taste for meat. Attach to fish and eat literally.
Twig Catfish is a really good algae eating fish for a Aquarium from 12 gallons to upward. Specially for community fish tanks with small fish like Live bearers, Tetras etc. Don’t do well with Cichlid types. Also they don’t like frequent water changes. Grow only about 10cm. Also known as Whiptail Catfish.
Bristlenose Pleco is a perfect Algae Eating Fish. Related to those common Plecos but not aggressive as them to grow big like them. Good for all sizes of tanks. Easy to recognize them because those jungle of whiskers around mouth.
Otocinclus Catfish aka Dwarf Suckers are another perfect Algae Eating Fish for a small aquarium. They are well behaved except when you have Amazon sword plants in tank.Otocinclus Catfish love eating that type.
Ramshorn Snails are another popular choice. Now Why they are better than other types of Snails ? They usually leave plants alone as long as they have plenty of algae and other things to eat like dead leaves etc. But problem with snails is they do breed quite fast. Also soo many big fish try them as snacks. Specially Plecos are good at suck meat out of shells. Cichlid types don’t mind adding them to their menu either.
Shrimps can be amazing Algae Eaters but you need to be careful where to put them. Big fish usually take them as snacks so they are not suitable for Cichlid or other big fish. But they are great with Betta or with Guppies. They will be happy with small aquarium sizes like 5 gallons or 10. These guys are very good Scavengers.