A common problem for any aquarium is algae growth. In just a matter of days, it can take over the entire tank and, in doing so, sucks out all of the oxygen. This makes the environment for the existing fish extremely toxic. Luckily there are fish that excel at removing algae. Let’s talk about five of the best algae eaters for freshwater aquariums.
1) Bristle Nose Plecos
If you are just starting out, this is a perfect fish to add to your collection, as it will keep algae growth at bay. Found in South America, this fish was first classified in the 1800’s. A big reason people love the Bristle nose so much is that it has an extremely long lifespan. Not only that, but it is a very unique looking fish as it has tiny bushy appendages that sprout from its snout. Their mouth is located underneath their head, which makes it easier for them to eat up algae. Due to the bony plates that cover its body, other fish tend to leave it alone. Because of this, it can cohabitate with a wide range of other fish. The common bristle nose has a dark base color with speckles of lighter shades that help it blend in, but various colors are available. This breed of fish thrives in warm water with plenty of oxygen. If you plan to purchase a Bristle nose, you will need at least a 25-gallon tank for them to roam around in. Bristlenose hang out mainly along the bottom of the tank and especially around decorations, so include plenty. They love a good hiding place, so things they can dwell in are an excellent addition.
2) Otocinclus Catfish
The Otocinclus is a very peaceful fish and will do very well with its tank mates. They are also super cute and very low maintenance. In its home waters of South America, it can be found in small rivers and streams. If their habitat is kept in good condition, they will live roughly between three to five years. When it comes to choosing an Otocinclus you want to make sure to choose one that is plump. Like other algae eaters it has armor plating along its body to protect it from predators. It needs it, as it only grows to be two inches in length. They also prefer to be kept in schools of at least three or more. The more you have in your aquarium, the safer they will feel. This leads to better overall health and more interesting behavior out of them. They should be kept in at least a 10 Gallon Aquarium.
3) Amano Shrimp
Amano shrimp are a wonderful addition to your tank and are very fun to watch as they are always up to something. Native to Taiwan and Japan, they grow up to two inches in length. Many aquarists will keep a few of these in many of their tanks due to their unrivaled ability to clean hair algae. It is important to include lots of plants in their environment as they love to explore and climb. They are completely peaceful invertebrates. Their lifespan ranges from two to three years if taken care of properly. If your tank already has algae present, they will settle right in and begin snacking on it. They need at least a 5 gallon aquarium.
4) Hill Stream Loach
Found in Asia, this breed of fish loves fast moving water. This contributes to its unique look, which helps them navigate strong currents where other fish would struggle. They will usually either camp out on a rock or make their way across the bottom of the aquarium, looking for algae to consume. If properly taken care of, its lifespan ranges from eight to ten years. Due to the environment they are native to, they prefer current, sand, and live plants in their aquariums. They are also peaceful, social fish who does better in a school of three or more. They reach 2-3 inches in size, and the recommended tank size for this fish is around fifty gallons.
5) Florida Flag Fish
A native Floridian, the Flagfish brings stunning colors along with its ability to help control algae. They are voracious eaters of hair algae and the scourge of many aquarium owners, black beard algae. This is why it is popular in outdoor ponds and is also a great addition to any aquarium. The Florida Flag Fish is a hardy fish that can adapt to a wide range of water parameters and appreciates more of its own kind. Make sure to have a good lid on your tank if you are interested in keeping these fish because they are jumpers. They will appreciate a planted aquarium with floating plants as well. Reaching 2.5 inches, this breed only requires a ten-gallon tank.