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The Siamese Algae Eater is a tropical freshwater fish that belongs to the family of cyprinid. It is scientifically known as Crossocheilus Oblongs. This fish originates from South East Asia, which includes Malaysia and Thailand. As an equalist, when you look for a fish to keep in your aquarium, you choose them based on likin or purely for entertainment. There are certain fish that have a particular role in the aquarium, and one o such is the Siamese Algae Eater. Just as the name suggests, this fish is purely kept for the purpose of cleaning the tank. The growth of algae in the tank is one of the biggest challenges that most aquarists face. The algae is a menace, especially in a planted tank, and it can even outgrow the plants if not taken care of early. In this situation, Algae eaters are the ideal solution.

They are mainly preferred because they rapidly move around, and they are able to cover the whole tank quickly. While the movement helps with the algae, it also helps to keep your tank active ad lively. Note that other algae eaters do not move as such.

The Siamese Algae Eaters are peaceful a calm fish. They are bottom dwellers mainly because that is where the plants are located, and they are sometimes confused with the flying fox as they resemble each other. This article is a complete guide to anyone willing t get this fish, and it has everything regarding their care, growth, and ideal living conditions. 


Scientific NameCrossocheilus Oblongs
Care LevelEasy
ColorGold/Grey with Black stripe
LifespanUp to 10 years
Tank Size20 gallons
Tank setupFreshwater, heavily planted
CompatibilityPeaceful community fish


On matters to do with the company, the Siamese Algae Eaters are friendly and peaceful. They get along with most species of small fish. This friendly nature makes them ideal for a community tank. Since the Algae Eaters are bottom dwellers, they should not be kept with any other bottom-dwelling aggressive fish such as the shark since they will easily get stressed by the bulling they constantly get from them. You should keep them away from any large territorial fish. Avoid some species such as Angelfish and cichlids since these monsters will always try to attack small fish such as Algae eaters. Some of the ideal tank mates that are recommended include;

  • Danios
  • Tetras
  • Barbs
  • Guppies
  • Gourami

Other than these fish species, there are some other creatures that can also be kept together with the Algae eaters, and they include;

  • Ghost shrimps
  • Cherry shrimps
  • Snails

By stocking the above animals, such as snails, inside the tank can add a lot of activity, entertainment, and interest to your aquarium.


Levi76, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The general appearance of a Siamese Algae Eater is a long and slender body that is brownish beige. The fish has a back stripe along each side that extends to the edge of the caudal fin. The caudal fin is almost clear apart from this. Likewise, the fins and rostral barbels are transparent. The difference between the male and female is slight, with the male being slightly slender than the females. As stated earlier, The Algae Eaters are mostly confused with Flying Foz, but there are ways to tell the difference between the two.

The black stripe between the species has two main differences. First, the Flying fox has a gold strip above the black one, and the black stripe does not extend to the tail fin; it stops t the base of the tail. The brown coloring of the flying fox is darker than that on the Siamese Algae Eater. In addition to the gold banding, the flying fox has a trace of yellow-orange on its fin, while the Siamese Algae Eater has clear fins. Additionally, the algae eaters do not have a swim bladder, and this means that they must be in constant motion; else, they will sink to the bottom of the tank, and they may end up dying. It is, therefore, crucial to have the right condition and water circulation in the tank.


The Algae Eaters were first discovered in Southeast Asia that is in Malaysia and Thailand. They are relatives to the carps. They are natural inhabitants of the bottom of rivers and streams. They move so quickly, and they cover lots of areas within a short period. Thye is the best for keeping your tank clean and tiny based on their activity and speed.


The average length of the algae eaters is 6 inches. The make and females are similar in size until the age of 3 to 4 years when they are ready for maturity. During the breeding period, the females are usually larger by around 30 to 40 percent.


The Siamese Algae Eaters are hardy fish, and they can survive changes in the parameters of water. Since they feed on the age, it means that starvation and malnutrition are not a big deal. They can easily live for 8 to 10 years under proper conditions. This is a good lifespan for a fish of its kind.


The Algae Eaters are great creatures, and they thrive best when schooling together. Keeping them in a group together will not only keep your tank clean, but you will also enjoy the numerous activities at the bottom of the tank. However, you should not forget that they are still fish and they produce some waste and therefore overcrowding the might create more mess instead of cleaning. Despite being great schooling fish, the algae eaters can also thrive alone or in pairs.


The SAEs are active fish that are always in motion. Young fish prefer hanging out in the middle of the tank, while the mature ones spend most of their time at the bottom of the tank. They do not have the swim bladder and thus cannot maintain buoyancy in water when they stop moving, which leads to some of the interesting behaviors;

  • They use their mouths to attach themselves to the decor and aquarium as they feed on the algae and emit the waste which is the bio load.
  • Resting fish will use their pectoral fins to propel themselves up on the wide leaves of plants like Amazon swords, driftwoods, or small rocks on the bottom of the tank.
  • They sink to the bottom of the tank immediately the stop moving.

They are social fish who love swimming in a group, but they do well on their own also. To avoid bullying, it is advisable to keep groups of 5 in your shoal since they create a social hierarchy among themselves. Thye is a great option for a planted community tank together with other fish that are active, but they may be nippy with slow swimmers or fish with long fins. You should ensure that you keep them away from semi or aggressive fish or any species that is territorials, such as Red-tailed sharks and cichlids. They may cause fellow bottom-dwellers some stress from their vigorous activity.


While they are in the wild, you will find them residing in the stream and rivers of southeast Asian that are densely planted. These waters are a bit acidic but they tend to have a fast current. Under the surface of the water, you will find a lot of plants, rocks, and logs that provide shelter. Therefore the tank should have conditions that imitate the natural habitat.

Due to the average size of an adult algae eater, which is around 6 inches and they require a rank of at lea 5 gallons. This gives them enough space that will encourage their activeness and enhance comfortability. The ideal size for an adult Siamese is 55 gallons. The tank should be rectangular in shape, and they should not be tanked in a spherical aquarium. This affects how they see the outside world, and it will deter them from cleaning the glass. Most bowls are too small to house an algae eater appropriately. They make poor tank fish, and they suffer in cramped conditions.


You will need to set up the tank with substrate combinations of pebbles and larger stones to resemble small boulders and some driftwoods as the algae eaters love to live in roots and woods. This will be very important to them as they get a place to explore and live without threat from the other fish. Algae eaters also thrive best with live plants. They look great, but they also provide the perfect feeding stations for your little algae eaters. The surface of the aquarium plants provides these fish with bacteria, worms and zooplankton, and other organisms that keep them healthy and happy. Despite the fact that they love to eat algae the other food are also important for them to thrive. It is also important to use a tightly fitting lid on your tank where the fish are living because they are known jumpers, and they can easily escape if the lid is not properly fitted.


It is crucial for your tank to have some live plants that resemble those that are found in its natural habitat. The first tip is you should go for fast-growing plants just in case your fish gets hungry and wants to eat something and will feed on this plant. If they do so, the plant will be able to handle it and cannot die, and will be back to its original form within a short period. Remember to [provide enough shade and hiding place to keep stress and swimming fatigue levels lowered too. Small tunnels, swim-in hideouts, and hollowed-out logs all make the perfect addition to the tank.


The aquarium should be tropical with a present heater. The average water temperature should be maintained at between 24 to 28 degrees Celsius. The activity level depends on the water temperature. The Ph level should be between 6.5 to 7.5. The overall water hardness should be between 5 to 20 Dh.


The Siamese Algae Eaters are bottom dwellers and require a substrate that will not scrap up their underside. The ideal material for this is aquarium sand and smooth pebbles. It is possible to do a bare tank, but it is advisable to use the substrate since it hosts the beneficial bacteria that are important for the health of the aquarium.


As said earlier, the algae eaters thrive in a tank that is heavily planted. Thye appreciates the plants like Anubias, amazon swords, and hornworts. Adding some other natural decorations like logs and aquarium stones and rocks provide the coverage they need to feel sheltered.


The Siamese Algae Eaters are easily destructed by the bright light that comes from windows or some artificial light sources. If your tank is brightly lit, you may notice some decrease in the activities, and you will find them hiding underneath the leaves and decorations. The tank should therefore be moderately lit.


The Aage eaters produce a lot of bioloads, and it is for this reason that the tank needs to be strongly filtered. They need a filter that can intake five times the amount of water volume in a minute. They do not do well with strong currents, and therefore the filter should produce more aeration than current.


As an aquarist, you do not need to put a lot of effort into trying to clean the tank since this fish is a natural cleaner that ends up eating all the algae in the tank and leaving the tank algae free. All you need to do is scrub out the object and the tanks wall using soft brush and a mild liquid soap, after cleaning wipe out the wall and corners of the tank with a cotton cloth.


You need to replace the tank water once a week or in a month. If you are replacing it on a weekly basis, then you need to replace just 10 percent of it, but if you are doing it monthly, just change 20 percent. That will be enough to maintain the quality of water in the tank.


The algae eaters do not have a specific maintenance requirement. It just depends on the needs of your plant and the type of filtration system that you are using. Use high-quality filter media and ensure that you perform regular water changes and gravel vacuuming to limit the buildup of toxins in your tank. This can affect the bottom-dwelling of the algae eaters.


Just as the name suggests, the Siamese algae eaters primarily feed on different types of Algae. Naturally, they are omnivores, but it is in captivity that they lean towards being omnivores since they feed on processed foods that contain a higher amount of protein than they will eat in the wild. These fish will rarely feed on dead fish or insects but will mainly live on algae and live or rotting plant matter. These fish are scavengers, and they will feed on anything they find at the bottom of the tank. When it comes to food in captivity, they are not choosy, and they will feed on the processed food bought in pet stores. Some of the food they feed on includes; pellets, sinking flakes, or algae wafers. It is advisable to leave a few patches of algae to grow within the tank so as to leave them with a constant food source to graze on. In order to encourage their natural foraging behavior and keep them preoccupied throughout the day, it is encouraged that you sprinkle the food around the tank.

These fish will also feed on live foods such as brine shrimps, daphnia, tubifex worms, and bloodworms willingly. Overfeeding is one common problem among algae eaters because they have access to the food in the aquarium, that is, the algae and plants. Always ensure that you monitor the stomach of your fish so as to ensure it is not abnormally swollen.


Despite the fact that the Algae Eaters mate just like any other fish, you will find it very difficult to breed them in your home aquarium. In the algae eaters’ farms, the hormones are used to encourage breeding, something that the aquarist is not able to do. Sexing them is also difficult and therefore getting a compatible breeding pair is a nightmare. In the wild, spawning is triggered by a change in Ph. or temperatures. In captivity, there is little known about the successful breeding of this species and should not be messed with by an inexperienced aquarist. The [process of changing the ph. and temperature of the water is not an easy task and can easily upset the fish if not done diligently. Sudden changes in the water temperatures will upset even the hardy fish.

However, there are those few who succeed in breeding them in captivity, and the first step should be you separate the male and female and put them in another tank. They do not have a specific breeding season. Once they have hatched the eggs, you need to feed the young fish with small worms and insects. The male will burrow through the substrate in an effort to entice the female during the mating process. This [process is known as tail-standing or shimmying.


There is no specific list of diseases that the Algae Eaters are prone to, but there are the common diseases that are known to affect them seriously.


This disease is caused by a parasite called Ichthyophthirius multifiliis. This disease begins with the formation of small white spots all over the body. The spots later become papules, and they progressively form blisters.


This disease can be controlled in the beginning by a simple home remedy. The first step is to separate the fish from the rest of the tank mates. Then take a 5 gallons bucket with water and add two teas spoons of salt per gallon. Put the fish inside the water for about 24 hours. If you find that this remedy is not working, then you can consult a vet. Once the fish has reached the blisters stage, do not use this remedy but consult an expert.


You can follow the following tips in order to ensure the health and safety of your fish;

  • Clean water with suitable water conditions is the key to healthy living
  • Do not use any chemicals or detergents for cleaning the tank
  • Use high-quality food, but you should avoid overfeeding them
  • Whenever you add any plant or decoration, ensure you clean it well.
  • Cycling the tank is of great importance.


These fish are mainly found in most physical stores since they are very common and useful fish. You should be sure to look out for the black stripes and clear fins, and you should have no problem with getting the right species. Don’t always trust what is; labeled but use the knowledge to identify the real Siamese algae eater. Most of these fish are fairly priced at around 5 dollars though some of the larger species may cost higher if it is from a reputable breeder. You can also choose to buy it from an online store.


Are Siamese algae eaters freshwater or not?

The Algae eaters are freshwater fish that are found in densely planted streams and rivers of South East Asia. The water is slightly acidic with no fast currents.

Can I keep one Algae Eater?

Yes, you can keep one algae eater. They do not necessarily need to be in a group to thrive. However, it is advisable to keep them in a group.

Do Siamese Algae Eaters eat other fish?

The Algae Eaters are not aggressive but are scavengers, and therefore if a fish sinks at the bottom after dying, they will eat it.

How do I know my Siamese Algae Eater is real?

This fish can be confused with the flying fox, which looks similar. Siamese algae eater that contains a stripe that is black in color and it runs all the way to the tip of the tail while that of the flying fox usually stop before the tail fin starts.


Siamese Algae Eaters are not the most colorful; fish, but they are active, and they help to keep the tank clean. They also make great fish for beginners since they require low effort to maintain. They need a fair bit of space, and therefore you need to be careful when deciding how many you are keeping together. The first’s algae eater will need a 20 gallons tank, but for each you add thereafter, you need to add 10 gallons. Although they breed just like the rest of the fish, they do not breed in the tank. They are commonly known to breed in fish farms with the addition of certain hormones. With the extensive information we have given in this guide, and we hope that you have gathered a better understanding of Siamese Algae Eaters as a species and how to help them thrive.

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