A Guide To Keeping Chinese Algae Eater Tank Mates - Algae Web (2023)

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Chinese algenetersare not the smartest or liveliest or lively species of fish yet they are quite popular among aquarists. The main reason so many people prefer to keep this fish is because of their diet. These fish species like to feed on algae and are extremely useful in keeping your aquarium nice and clear.

It's wise to do some research on this species before heading to the pet store. Chinese algae eaters can be quite challenging to care for and their behavior or temperament towards other fish species can vary over time.

In this guide, we take a closer look at Chinese algae eater tank mates, their preferred living conditions, and the best ways to keep this species happy and healthy.

Summary of Chinese algae eater species

Chinese algae eaters are native to Southeast Asia and are also known as Siamese algae eaters, honey suckers or suction loch. They are benthic fish that range from yellowish to dull brown with darker spots and have long slender bodies with small fins. Their dorsal fin on its elongated body has several stout rays that give it a spiny appearance.

The most striking feature of this species of fish is their mouth. The Chinese algae eater has a large mouth with hefty lips that are useful for creating a vacuum near smooth surfaces, allowing the fish to adhere to glass or suck up algae and scrape it off surfaces.

Contrary to what the name suggests, they are not common in China, but are more commonly found outside of this country and are often seen in large rivers or flooded fields. Here is a brief look at a summary of this species of fish.

A Guide To Keeping Chinese Algae Eater Tank Mates - Algae Web (1)


Scientific name: Gyrinocheilus aymonieri

Food sources: Algae, vegetable matter such as vegetables, brine shrimp and small insects

Avg. Fish Size: 10 – 11 inch

(Video) Chinese Algae Eater Care & Information

Life expectancy: 10 years

Pond size: Minimum 30 gallon tank capacity

Watercondities: 72 - 82 degrees F, 6.0 - 8.0 pH value

Temperament:Half aggressive

What should the tank size be for Chinese algae eaters?

The recommended tank size differs depending on the size of the fish. A minimum 30 gallon tank is recommended, but a larger aquarium is more preferable as these fish grow. They can grow quite large and small tanks often do not provide the necessary nutrition or space, which can make the species aggressive towards its own and other fish species.

How big do Chinese algae eaters get?

This species of fish usually reaches 10 - 11 inches in length when fully grown. In captivity or in small tanks, they tend to be smaller at around six inches in length. In larger tanks or ponds, this species can grow over 10 inches (25 cm) in length, but it is rare for them to exceed 10 inches (25 cm).

How to care for a Chinese algae eater

This species of fish is often described as hardy and they are easy to care for as they do not require much maintenance. But for optimal health and to maintain the temperament of the species, you must provide them with the right care. Here's a quick look at the main fish care requirements for the honey sucker.

Create a good living environment

All fish species need sufficient exercise to stay healthy. If the tank is too small, your fish may not grow well or become overweight. It is best to keep this fish in a tank of about 50 gallons, but a larger tank is preferable.

You can add aquarium features such as smooth rocks, stumps, or other accessories to help your species find a good place to hide or rest. These tank accessories can also increase their food supply, as algae like to grow on aquarium decor.

Your tank should also have enough oxygen to support your fish species and some algae growth.

Keep track of water conditions

Algae eaters are generally hardy, but they still need proper water conditions or they may suffer. They will not stay healthy in a dirty tank. The fish species need a controlled environment with clean water and enough food or snacks to feed them.

The hardy fish species prefer a water temperature of 72 - 80 degrees F. This temperature creates a good appetite and promotes healthy algae growth in your tank. A pH level of 6 – 8 is ideal and aquarium owners find a pH level of 7.5 perfect for keeping fish healthy and controlling algae growth. You can also keep the water hardness at a level of 8 – 10 KH.

(Video) Siamese Algae Eater Ultimate Care Guide | One of the Kings of the Algae Eaters

A healthy diet

It's important to control the algae in your tank, but you shouldn't eliminate all algae growth. Chinese algae eaters like to feed on these green growths. They also remove some waste from the tank bottom.

You can provide the fish species with healthy vegetables about twice a week or when you notice that there may be very little algae in your tank. Vegetables such as leafy greens are a wonderful food to offer your fish.

Fish owners regularly treat this species with a little protein such as insect larvae, frozen bloodworms, frozen shrimp or other frozen food. By offering some protein once a week, the fish species stay healthy and cannot lash out at aquarium mates.


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Standard lighting and a cover

Chinese algae eaters are notorious escape artists and can sometimes jump out of aquariums. It is best to keep your tank closed with a tight fitting lid with adequate ventilation.

(Video) Top 5 Algae Eaters to Clean Your Aquarium

You can also add standard lighting or keep your tank near natural light without direct sun exposure. Standard lighting promotes healthy algae growth so your fish have enough to eat.

Will Chinese algae eaters eat other fish?

One of the drawbacks of Chinese algae eaters is that they can be semi-aggressive towards other fish. Aggression towards smaller fish is typical, especially if your fish are malnourished or do not have a good habitat.

There are no records of Chinese algae eaters eating other fish. But they can be aggressive towards others or even their own species and can lash out and harm the other fish in your tank.

Chinese algae eaters prefer to live on their own and are not part of a school. They don't even like their own fish species and can lash out if they are too close together. It is recommended to have only one of these species of fish in your tank at a time or it could lead to fighting or injury.

Breeding with Chinese algae eatersis quite a challenge as they tend to lash out at their own kind. It is very difficult to distinguish between males and females and the water temperature must rise above 80 degrees for successful breeding.

You should also pay attention to the type of tank mates you include in your tank. Some species of fish just don't get along well with honey suckers, even if the aquarium provides enough space, food, and good conditions.

However, under the right circumstances, there are quite a few compatible roommates who can put up with it.

Suitable Chinese Algae Eater Tank Mates

With Chinese algae eaters you can not just include any fish species. As young fish they can appear peaceful and will mind their own business while eating algae and foraging for snacks at the bottom of the tank. But as they grow up, they can become territorial. Their territorial tendencies can lead them to harass and endanger other residents.

This aggressive fish species is best combined with fast-swimming species. Fast swimmers can quickly and easily get out of the way when your algae eater feels threatened or becomes aggressive. Let's take a look at some of the most suitable fast-swimming tank mates for Chinese algae eaters.


Characidaeor characids are tropical fish belonging to the order Characiformes. This peaceful species of fish can vary in length, but usually only reaches 3 cm in length. There are over 1300 fish species in the family Characidae. These species are usually small, swim fast and feed on plant matter, detritus, microbes, algae and small aquatic organisms.


Cyprinidaeis a family of freshwater fish commonly referred to as carp or minnows. There are about 1270 species of Cyprinidae found on Earth and they can range from 12 mm to 3 meters in size. Common aquarium species include rainbow sharks, blue danios, bitterlings, silver carp, and many others.

African cichlids

Africancichlidsare part of the cichlid family that includes more than 1200 species of fish. The community fish are usually less than 2 inches in length and can vary greatly in color and pattern. Common species include the African butterfly, the yellow African, the African peacock cichlid and the orange zebra cichlid. This species of fish can be aggressive at times, but they prefer the top water of tanks and are unlikely to interact with your Chinese algae eater.

(Video) Don’t Buy a Chinese Algae Eater Fish

Mollie Vis

Molly visare often referred to as mollies or common molly. This freshwater fish is usually dull silver in color but there are some other species like black moly, white molly, golden molly, lyretail, dalmatian mollies and others. They are very social fish and have a dolce temperament, making them perfect for fish keepers who want to fill their community tank with lots of aquatic life.


Platy visor platies are freshwater fish in the Xiphophorus family. Subspecies of this small but bright fish include rainbow plates, 24-karat gold plates, Mickey Mouse plates, and blue wagtail plates. This fish species is also quite dolce and very social. It is a good species to combine with Chinese Algae Eaters as they are fast swimmers and they prefer the top area to the tank.

Zebra Danios

Zebra danios ofzebravisbelong to the minnow family. This active species of fish is easily identified by their black and white stripes, and they can sometimes appear neon. The omnivorous species are social and dolce making them good companions for other fast-swimming fish species in your tank.

Keizer Tetra

Keizer tetra'sor Nematobrycon Palmeri have a purple hue and may appear neon in subdued light, but may appear yellow in bright tanks. The popular fish species are casual and they are omnivores making them easy to keep in tanks. Their vibrant colors and color-changing effects in light can make your tank look much more interesting and bright.

Tiger barbs

Tiger barbsare tropical fish of the cyprinid family. They are fast swimmers and have a distinct tiger stripe pattern on their bodies. This species of fish can be good companions for Chinese algae eaters, but you should be careful when adding other companions. Tiger hooks are known to attack other species such as koi fish or goldfish.

These fish species make good companions as they prefer the upper water columns of the tank which can minimize contact with your algae eater.

Bottom fish often don't get along. Other benthic fish are best avoided if you have a Chinese algae eater. Other bottom dwellers such as snails, sucker fish, Japanese algae eaters, shrimp and corydoras catfish are very likely to be pecked or even become victims of Chinese algae eaters who may feel threatened by their presence.

Final thoughts

With the right Chinese algae eater tank mates you can keep a peaceful and beautiful aquarium. But if you are having a hard time finding the right species to include in your tank, then it may be better to invest in more social algae-eating fish such as Siamese Algae Eaters, Twig Catfish, Otocinclus Catfish, Mollies, Florida Flagfish or aquarium snails. We hope this guide has helped you find suitable tank mates for your algae eater so that you can maintain a peaceful aquarium while keeping the algae under control. If you're still struggling to control algae growth despite your algae eater, check out some of our other guides. OnAlgae Web, we strive to help you find the best green algae control solutions that will help you keep your aquarium fresh and clear without completely eliminating these needed nutrients.

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A Guide to Keeping Chinese Algae Eater Tankmates


What are the best tank mates for Chinese Algae Eater? ›

Possible tank mates for the Chinese Algae Eater include Mollies, Minnows, Dwarf Gouramis, Swordtails, as well as Tiger, Tinfoil, and Cherry Barbs. Platies, Zebra Danios, Clown Loaches, Bala Sharks, and Tetras are also suitable choices.

Can two Chinese algae eaters live together? ›

Yes, two algae eaters can live together in an aquarium as long as their living conditions are kept stable and their tank is large enough to accommodate them both. Algae eaters are quite peaceful and social, so they generally do well in groups.

What size tank does a Chinese Algae Eater need? ›

Tank Size. So how big should your tank size be for a Chinese Algae Eater? At the very least, these fish need 30 gallons. That number is assuming you only have one Chinese Algae Eater in your aquarium.

Are Chinese algae eaters easy to take care of? ›

Chinese algae eaters are fairly easy to keep and quite hardy. But they are not suitable for community tanks because they are pretty large in size and aggressive which causes a lot of stress in the tank.

Will a Chinese Algae Eater eat baby fish? ›

The Chinese Algae Eater is, by far, the most notorious of algae eaters when it comes to attacking and eating other fish. Although they're relatively peaceful and herbivorous when young, they soon grow to a large size and can easily acquire the taste for small fish, and even the slime coats of larger fish too!

What is the most peaceful algae eater? ›

Bristlenose Plecostomus (Bristlenose plecos)

Not unlike the Siamese Algae Eater, the Bristlenose Plecos is known for its ability to chomp its way through algae while peacefully living alongside a range of other species.

How often should algae eaters be fed? ›

Feeding Guide

Feed twice a day. To accommodate the slower feeding habits of most algae eaters, feed the amount of food your fish will consume within two hours.

Do Chinese algae eaters get lonely? ›

Chinese Algae Eaters need quite a lot of space and will get stressed if they are crammed into a small space with too many fish as they prefer to be alone. They require a minimum 50 gallons per fish. It's best to give them extra space if possible as they can sometimes grow larger than expected.

How many algae eaters can be in one tank? ›

Add no more than 3 algae eaters at a time to make sure the filter can handle all the new action in the neighborhood. The chemical balance in your aquarium will change with every new fish you introduce, so check the tank's pH, ammonia, nitrite and nitrate levels regularly.

Do Chinese Algae Eaters need driftwood? ›

I've used this food with great success for many years, and algae eaters love them. Also, to keep these fish healthy, you absolutely must provide them with driftwood to rasp on in their aquarium. Driftwood provides much needed fiber in their diet, and they can sicken and even die if there isn't any driftwood available.

How long do Chinese Algae Eaters live? ›

The Golden Chinese Algae Eater is semi-aggressive towards other fish of its own kind but tends to get along with other fish species. They are however not overly aggressive and only squabble over territory. With proper care, they can live for up to 10 years.

How long do algae eaters live for? ›

Image of How long do algae eaters live for?
Paracanthurus hepatus is a species of Indo-Pacific surgeonfish. A popular fish in marine aquaria, it is the only member of the genus Paracanthurus.

Do algae eaters need special food? ›

Algae eaters (plecostomus) require ample amounts of vitamins and minerals in their diet in addition to algae and vegetable matter. Many of these vitamins and minerals are not present in algae grown in an aquarium.

Can algae eaters live in dirty water? ›

Many so called algae eaters live in water that is quite fast flowing. This means they need reasonably high flow in the aquarium that we make their home. Low oxygen levels and dirty water are very likely to kill these fish.

Do algae eaters clean fish tanks? ›

There are a few different algae eaters to choose from including snails, shrimps and certain algae-consuming fish. They are cheap, they can help to increase the diversification of wildlife in your tank, and they keep your tank clean.

Does overfeeding fish cause algae? ›

Algae bloom – Algae growth is one of the most common problems seen in aquariums. The number one cause is overfeeding. Unsightly blue-green and red algae multiply when there are large quantities of dissolved organic material, nitrates and phosphates in the water. Which is common when fish are overfed.

Will algae eaters eat snails? ›

Will Algae Eaters Eat Snails? It is possible for algae eaters to eat snails. Plecostomus are bottom-dwelling scavengers that tend to eat a variety of foods, including snail eggs and meat. However, not all types of algae eaters will consume snails, as some prefer fresh vegetation or prey of a smaller size.

How fast do algae eaters grow? ›

Siamese algae-eaters can grow up to 15 centimetres (6 inches) within two years, and live for over 10 years in optimal conditions. They are valued in the aquarium trade for being the only known fish species to consume red algae, including 'black brush' or 'beard' algae.

Do algae eaters not like light? ›

There are many different types of algae out there, but they all have the same basic requirements. First and foremost, algae need water in order to thrive. Next, algae need plenty of light.

What fish cleans the tank? ›

Suckermouthed catfish like Common and Sailfin Plecos, Bristlenose and Otocinclus all graze algae and will “clean” the tank of it, but they do also need food in their own right if they are to grow, stay healthy and thrive.

What is the biggest algae eater? ›

Gyrinocheilus aymonieri
Species:G. aymonieri
12 more rows

Do algae eaters need algae wafers? ›

If plan to keep bottom feeders or algae eaters in your tank you may need to supplement their diet with algae wafers. It is common practice for freshwater aquarium hobbyists to add bottom feeders and algae eaters like corydoras catfish and plecostomus to their tanks to help control algae build-up.

How long can an algae eater live without a filter? ›

How Long Can Plecos Live Without a Filter? Plecos can live for up to 2 hours without a filter. These guys produce a lot of waste, so it's important to make sure their tank is well-aerated, and they have access to clean water.

How much algae is too much? ›

The EPA recommends people should stay away from water where concentrations of microcystins exceed 8 micrograms per liter and those of cylindrospermopsin that exceed 15 micrograms per liter.

Do algae eaters eat waste? ›

Plecos: Plecos are known for their algae-eating abilities. In addition to eating algae, they will consume uneaten food and fish waste.

Do Chinese algae eaters eat hair algae? ›

They are known to eat most types of string and hair algae, such as the commonly found green hair algae. Some hobbyists claim they can even tackle the dreaded black beard algae, making them perfect additions to planted tanks.

What colors are Chinese algae eaters? ›

In the aquarium hobby, the Chinese Algae Eater is available in a wide variety of color morphes, including the olive and black wild type, gold, albino, and marbled forms.

How many algae wafers should I put in my tank? ›

We would recommend one of the wafers every couple of days. You could even break it in half and feed one half per day, if you prefer. As to the other fish, feed once or twice a day, and 1 pieces of food (flake, pellets, whatever) per INCH of fish.

What happens if you put too much algae remover in a fish tank? ›

Remember that overuse of algaecide can cause future outbreaks of algae — worse than the original problem and it can damage plants and fish. If it is necessary to get control of algae, follow all directions to the letter and make sure to get the pond into balance after its use.

What causes too much algae in fish tank? ›

Causes of Algae in Aquariums

Too much light or too many nutrients in the water will cause algae to grow rapidly. If you experience algae overgrowth, it could be caused by: Leaving house lights on too long. The tank receiving too much direct sunlight.

How do you feed a Chinese Algae Eater? ›

These fish will appreciate the addition of live or frozen foods as well, and they can be fed bloodworms, blackworms, daphnia and brine shrimp. Chinese algae eaters tend to only take their food from the bottom or midsection of their tank, so it's important to offer them sinking foods.

Do Chinese algae eaters clean glass? ›

As for perfect cleaning of tank glasses and plants from algae fouling – things are a bit different, it's more likely that if there is no other food, the fish will clean them, but if there is something tastier it can eat, it will ask for food together with all tank dwellers.

Do algae eaters eat dead plants? ›

In the following we'd like to present you some algae-eating aquarium inhabitants, mostly invertebrates like snails and shrimp. Using them has several advantages: besides algae, these animals also eat muck, food rests, dead plant parts and sometimes even dead animals.

Do algae eaters bury themselves? ›

Plecos are known to bury themselves on occasion. Especially common plecos do this, and they are known to dig their own breeding holes in the mud.

Do algae fish sleep? ›

The simple answer is, yes, most fishes sleep, as evidenced by their behavior.

Why is my algae eater always hiding? ›

Plecos often hide behind the filter or heater, because it's a safe place with less light and away from potential danger. This is most likely because it's stressed and there's a lack of other hiding places.

How long can algae live without sunlight? ›

Since Algae is like most plants that thrive off sunshine, depriving them of light will prevent and/or eliminate its growth. The key is to completely shade the tank or aquarium from light for several days (A minimum of 4 day and a maximum of 7 days).

Can algae eaters live in cold water? ›

The Siamese Algae Eater is an extremely popular choice when it comes to selecting cleanup crew members for a cold water tank. These attractive fish are peaceful and relatively easy to look after, making them ideal community fish for a beginner's tank.

Do algae eaters eat flakes? ›

They will also eat leftover food from feeding their tank mates such as flakes, blood worms and brine shrimp.

What else can algae eaters eat? ›

The Siamese algae eater (Crossocheilus oblongus) is a more gregarious and tolerant cyprinid that ranges up to 15 cm (5.9 in). It is one of the only fish that will graze on "black brush algae" (freshwater Rhodophyta, or red algae), but even so will eat anything else in preference.

Do algae eaters eat bloodworms? ›

You'll need to feed plecos algae wafers too. Plecos are omnivores, so you can also feed them meat, like shrimp and bloodworms, as well as vegetables including zucchini and kale.

Can a dirty aquarium filter cause algae? ›

Not only could inadequate filtration result in the build-up of toxins, but it could also lead to a general decline in water quality -- without proper filtration, organic waste and debris will accumulate at the bottom of your tank and you could also experience an increase in algae growth.

How often can you use no more algae tank buddies? ›

Use one Jungle No More Algae Tank Buddy tablet for each 10 gallons (40 L) of aquarium water. For regular maintenance, use once a month or as needed. Repeat treatment when algae growth begins to appear. For best results, wipe the sides of the aquarium if algae are already present before treating.

What temperature do algae eaters live in? ›

Siamese Algae Eaters can grow up to about 6 inches (16cm) and hence require a tank of at least 30 gallons for better results. Water temperature should be between 75°F and 79°F and a pH range of between 6.5 and 7.0.

Should I scrape algae off my fish tank? ›

Clean it up: If you see algae beginning to grow on the glass, rocks, or other hard surfaces of the tank, remove it. Scrape the glass, remove rocks, and scrub them. 2 Vacuum the gravel when you perform water changes. Keep live plants: Live plants will absorb many of the nutrients that algae thrive upon.

What kills algae without killing fish? ›

Step 3: Use hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) to help clear pond water: Another thing that works great for algae control in fish ponds is hydrogen peroxide (and no, it won't kill your fish!).

Do algae eaters get along with koi fish? ›

The Chinese algae eater does well in a community of fish, both in ponds and aquariums. They are herbivores by nature and live along with both koi and goldfish in ponds. The Chinese algae eater is not a territorial fish. They only care to munch on some of the tasty algae you have in your pond.

Will my Chinese Algae Eater eat my shrimp? ›

They reach a length of up to 10 inch and they eat baby-shrimps.

What is the best fish tank filter to remove algae? ›

Chem-Pure Elite is suitable for all aquarium types, including freshwater, brackish, and reef tanks. If you're looking to finally get rid of stubborn algae (or simply want to reduce the number of water changes that you have to do), Chemi-Pure Elite is a great choice.

Why is my algae eater attacking my fish? ›

There is some evidence to suggest that poorly fed algae eaters are more likely to try to feed on the sides of other fish. Evidence suggests that they attack the slime coat as they are looking for nutrients and will attach to the sides of other fish to try to feed on this.

What fish Cannot live with koi? ›

While standard common goldfish are usually alright to keep with koi, fancy goldfish, particularly the smaller varieties, should not be kept with koi. This is because they tend to be much slower than common goldfish, and as such are easy targets for koi.

Do fish love algae? ›

Algae is actually a good thing for your aquarium's ecosystem because many fish and invertebrates like to eat it and it helps clean the water as a form of filtration. Plus, certain algae can look attractive and make an aquarium seem more natural.

Do shrimp help control algae? ›

As they grow, they'll also eat algae, dead and living plants, worms (even decaying worms), fish, snails and even other dead shrimps. Shrimp in a fish aquarium will feed on algae growing in the tank and also will clear up any leftover bits of fish food.

Do Chinese algae eaters eat string algae? ›

They are known to eat most types of string and hair algae, such as the commonly found green hair algae. Some hobbyists claim they can even tackle the dreaded black beard algae, making them perfect additions to planted tanks.

What's the lifespan of a algae eater? ›

Siamese algae-eaters will often school together, but are also content living solo. When two are kept together, they will often establish their own territory as they mature. They can be a long living fish, with reports of lifespans up to ten years.


1. Top 10 Best Algae Eaters For Your Aquarium: Something For All Tank Sizes!
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2. The Pros and Cons of Keeping Siamese Algae Eaters (crossocheilus oblongus)
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3. Hillstream Loaches – Best Oddball Algae Eater?
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4. How to Keep Siamese Algae Eater Care Guide
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5. Beyond the Clear Walls: Adhesive Enigma HD (a Gyrinocheilus (Chinese Algae Eater) Story)
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6. Otocinclus Catfish – Best Algae-Eating Nano Fish?
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