Treating Algae

Algae are the green growth that invariably covers the glass of most of the tanks. Algae can be avoided by any one or more of the following ways:

  1. You can keep cleaning it off the glass week after week, by using a dedicated sponge or scraper. Most of these are readily available at any pet supplier.
  2. You can move your tank away from too much natural lighting, reducing the light will help control this obnoxious stuff.
  3. You can even add chemicals to your tank, available and often times recommended at fish outlets. However, we do not recommend using this method of algae control as adding chemicals is never 100% beneficial. There can be some side effects to the health of certain types of aquarium plants and fishes.
  4. The most effective, and by far the with the least amount of work and expense, is to have an algae eating species of fish or snail within the tank.


There are several different types and kinds of snails. Perhaps the most commonly seen are the Maylan Snails, small burrows that are rather effective at getting rid of algae and other debris. However these breed very fast and requires the owner to thin down their number often.

Apple snails are another commonly found snail. These are rather large and move about constantly.

Always ensure before purchasing that all the snails have been aquarium raised, as this well help ensuring them to be disease free. Snails brought in from the wild can often decimate an aquarium by bringing in diseases.

Algae eating fishes

There are several different types of algae eating fishes as well. One of the most popular one is Hypostomus Plecostomus or commonly referred as Plecostomus. These are pretty good at keeping a tank free of algae and can grow quite large. Some have been seen at well over 18 inches. They eat live foods as well and can pose a threat to small fishes and eels. They love to claim a particular area of a tank as theirs and can be seen with their large mouths climbing over your decorations and up the sides of your tank.

Another type of algae eating fish is the Chinese Catfish or Chinese Algae Eater. These are very cheap yet very active fishes. They are always found swimming, clinging to your glass and cleaning your tank at the same time. For tanks larger than 20 gallons two of these are recommended.

They seem to do better in pairs. They are quite aggressive towards algae and don't bother any other fishes. Chinese Algae Eaters can grow up to about 8 inches in length. As they age, and grow longer, their capacity to rid your tank of algae decreases. It is recommended to buy new ones every 3 years or so.

It is important to note that there is another fish called a Siamese Flying Fox (Epalzeorhynchus siamensis), which looks and acts very similar to the peaceful Chinese Catfish/Algae eater. At maturity this fish however, can become very territorial and aggressive. If this fish does start attacking or attaching itself to other fishes, get rid of it and buy a new one.

Another of the algae eating fishes is called the Oto Cat. These are very similar to the Chinese Cat fishes described above but are much smaller. At maturity they will only be a little over an inch in length. Suited perfectly for tanks smaller than 20 gallons. Oto cats do well in pairs or by themselves. They love to hang around on the glass or undersides of broad leaves, even under driftwood if you have it in your tank. Oto Cats are distinguished by their sharply angled heads (triangular).