Freshwater Tropical fish Algae eaters

Algae eaters & Types of algae

Green dot algaeIf you notice small or large green spots, or even some hair algae in your freshwater tropical aquarium, you usually try to remove them manually. After careful removal or cutting sick plants for weeks you’ll find that it’s almost impossible to displace all the algae which grow, grow and grow all the time. An ordinary aquarist may consider introducing algae eaters into the tank at this point. Fish shops like this kind of customer since it’s easy to persuade a hopeless fishkeeper that some fish will fix the problem in a short time. Moreover, a skillful merchant recommends more than 1 or 2 fish in order to remove algae from your fish tank as soon as possible. This way people buy from 5 to 10 fish no matter that they don’t know anything about their demands, habits, etc. In order to avoid weedy aquariums you need to understand what algae is, what helps it’s growth and what to do if it gets out of control.

What helps algae growing

1. Too little/much lighting,
2. Inappropriate feeding which leaves food to decompose,
3. Bad filtration and aeration,
4. A lot of sunlight,
5. Frequent temperature changes,
6. Dead fish or plants in the tank.

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What helps to prevent algae

1. Stable water conditions,
2. Good filtration and aeration,
3. Stable temperature,
4. Algae eaters,
5. Water changes (not necessary),
6. Planting new plants (planted tanks host less algae than aquariums with few plants only),
7. Snails; They usually eat algae. Their help is significant when there are many snails in the tank. Ramshorn snails are very helpful for this purpose.

Generally speaking, algae isn’t bad in all cases. If it doesn’t allow you to see through the glass you should do something about it. Otherwise you don’t have to worry about it, since Ancistrus newborns appreciate it a lot. Of course, you should let your Ancistrus breed first.

Ancistrus species
Otocinclus affinis
Hypostomus punctatus
Crossocheilus siamensis
Gyrinocheilus aymonieri

Tools used for removing algae in freshwater aquariums can’t replace algae eaters since they completely depend on their usage and usability. Everyone should understand that a brush can’t be used in an overplanted tank, behind rocks, inside caves, etc. Unlike plastic or metal tools, algae eaters can reach any place at any time; It all depends on their appetite and size. That’s why Ancistrus’ and other species’ newborns are the best solution for eating and removing the algae.

Generally, algae as a whole can be divided into groups depending on their colouration, size, and conditions when they develop.

The green dots

First, algae is a natural part of every tank which probably exists in every aquarium except new ones. In my experience, the most seen and the most common is the ’green dots’ algae which grows on glass, rocks, plants, driftwood and various decorations. This algae can be found in tanks with high levels of light. You will probably not need to buy algae eaters for removing it since green dots usually don’t take over the entire tank and grow sporadically in sizes of about 0.1mm up to 2-3mm. In addition, algae eaters don’t eat it. If using a brush or other tools, you will spend a lot of time on it, because it’s very difficult to remove, especially from glass.

The hair algaeThe hair algae

I have had trouble with this algae ever since I bought another 25W light. It develops in tanks with a high ammonia level and plant cutting helps it to grow. Hair algae grows well, especially on Vallisneria species. One way to fight against hairs in aquarium is to cut it from time to time as well as plants which are sick. You don’t need to remove the whole plant, just the part where the hair grows. Sellers like to sell Ancistrus species as the first solution. I wouldn’t recommend them since only small specimens (up to 1cm in length) eat this algae. Adult fish are too lazy to climb the plants to eat it. They like granules, vegetables, beef heart much more than the hair algae and will rather wait until you feed them. Common pleco (Hypostomus punctatus) is considered to be an outstanding solution, however as they grow up their feeding habits change.

The brown algae

The brown algae can be found in new aquariums, especially because of lack of water chemistry stability. Subdued lighting supports the growth of this algae. As time goes by it usually disappears. Common algae eaters tend to eat it, however old fish will rather wait for granules. Bear in mind that 4 or 5 algae eaters will not solve this problem in a week. This algae likes Java moss. When I had my first tank with Java moss, this plant became brown instead of nice green colours known from pictures. As a greenhorn I though the Java moss was dead; I was wrong is all I can say now. It was taken over by brown algae.

The Blue-green algae

This algae could be potentialy harmful, and not only for your fish. Blue-green algae are bacteria which grow in warm, shallow, slow moving or still, freshwater. There are known as cyanobacteria too, but they are more commonly known as pond scum. They need light for life. That is why they are photosynthetic bacteria. The first known species were blue-green. Now we know of algae from olive-green to red in color.

Red/Brush algae

I don’t have any experience with this algae, however sources say it prefers high pH and water hardness levels. The Siamese algae eater (Crossocheilus siamensis) eat it pretty well.The Green dots algae

Additional tips

Don’t use chemicals for removing the algae. Use algae eaters instead. Otherwise chemicals could cause serious damage to fish or plants. Chemical use is recommended if only there is no fish in the tank. Wait some time before introducing fish into a tank which was treated by chemicals previously. Besides waiting, use a powerful filter and aerate the tank as much as possible. The delay between treating and introducing fish shouldn’t be less than 1 week.

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Due to merging with related articles we listed the following question&answer here on March 24th 2011.
  • What do algae eaters eat?
    Answer: As their name suggests, they eat algae. But they usually accept other foods too; Depending on the fact if they're omnivores, carnivores, or herbivores. Usually Algae eaters (such as Bristlenose Catfish) eat bloodworms and vegetable-based food too. The same applies to Chinese Algae Eaters and many others.
  • Which fish are compatible with algae eaters?
    Answer: Algae eaters tend to mind their own business in the tank, add species that are not aggressive and will leave them alone. Dwarf cichlids, tetras, there are many choices.
  • What is the best algae eater for a small tank?
    Answer: If your aquarium's size is at least 30 litres, then you can buy Bristlenose catfish. Actually they're suitable for all aquariums which are bigger than 30 litres. It is not recommended to keep them in smaller tanks. If you're facing this problem, rather buy Apple snails for this purpose. Bear in mind that Bristlenose catfish or any other "algae eater" needs normal food too.

sponsored links has been viewed 31554 times since May 26th, 2011. Algae usually appears when there's ammonia spike in the tank, so I'd firstly double-check filtration. An algae eater may reduce the amount of algae, however more excrements could lead to greater problems. Moreover your tanks seem to be too small, so I'd avoid adding another fish to them.

Regarding your second question: I'd like to see a picture because it sounds as bubble nest - Bettas produce nests when they feel happy, also they do it when they're about to breed. It isn't necessary to remove bubble nests, they're harmless.

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Fresh water fish are different and

by wolfstardobe

Gold fish are even more so. One inch of Goldfish per 2 gallon. Tropical freshwater fish it's one inch per gallon...
Goldfish can grow 4 to 5 inches in less then a year. So a bigger tank right away is critical.
They are built to survive very cold temps in lakes and ponds. They are very similar to Koi fish.
They need cleaning often. 25% water change every two to three days and a 75% water change every two weeks.

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