Algae Eaters

Algae Eaters
When you have an aquarium or a fish tank in your house, you have to make it a point to introduce some algae eaters in it.
Aquariums and fish tanks generally have the kind of environment in which algae thrive, so algal growth in these ecosystems is not quite surprising. At times, however, this unwanted growth of algae can become a nuisance, and this is where algae eaters come to your rescue. These are nothing, but some species of fish and snails, which feed on algae. They look very presentable and thus, can be kept as aquarium species in your home. They will not just add to the grace of your aquarium, but will also help you get rid of algae from it.

With the exception of a few saltwater species, algae eaters are mostly freshwater dwellers. Some of these are small and thus, are not even visible. Some are fairly visible, but they are presentable. Most of these species refrain from eating the food meant for your aquarium fish, and even if they eat it, they will still make sure, your aquarium is algae free.

Freshwater Species
  • Chinese algae eaters: Fish of the Gyrinocheilus genus are commonly used in aquariums. The Chinese algae eater (Gyrinocheilus aymonieri) is the most preferred species in this genus.
  • Siamese algae eaters: Measuring almost 15 cm in length, Siamese algae eaters (Crossocheilus siamensis) are known to be gregarious and tolerant. They boast of being the only species that grazes on the 'black brush algae'.
  • The American-flag fish and many loricariid, such as genera Ancistrus, Otocinclus, and Plecostomus, are known to feed on a variety of algae.
  • Certain species of freshwater shrimp are also known for their ability to clean the aquarium. The Amano shrimp is one of the best examples of the same.
  • Some species of freshwater snails belonging to the family Ampullariidae are also excellent at this task.
Saltwater Species
  • The most common are the Rabbitfish, which eat most algae, like cyanobacteria, diatoms, and hair algae. These algae are not found in aquariums very often, but a few do turn up occasionally.
  • Sea urchins are also used to clean aquariums of algae, which isn't surprising as that is their staple food. Of the various algae-eating urchins, tuxedo urchins and long spine urchins seem to be the most popular.
  • A few species of snail, like the Astraea, Turbo, Nerite, and Turban, do a great job of cleaning the tanks. However, they reproduce very fast and sometimes, feed on your plants as well.
  • Surgeonfish or tangs are also known for their appetite for algae. They too, are voracious feeders who can do an excellent cleaning job for you.
With such a variety, there is little questioning the fact that you are spoiled for choice. You can choose any of these species depending on the size and content of your aquarium. Having said that, you need to take care of these species as well. Though they are introduced in the aquarium for a specific purpose, even they require some maintenance.
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