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You are here: myPetSmart.com > Pet Care Library > Articles > Algae Eater

Algae Eater

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Traits & behavior

Herbivores
Instead of living creatures, these fish eat green algae and vegetable matter.

Bottom swimmers
You will see your algae eater swimming at the bottom of your aquarium. They will also hang from plants and the aquarium walls, using their suckermouths for attachment. To create a beautiful aquarium environment, be sure to add some middle and top swimmers as well. Ask a PetSmart associate to help you choose.

Aptly named
Algae eaters are often placed in large aquariums to help keep algae from overgrowing.

Unique gill opening
Algae eaters have a special opening on their gills so they can breathe without loosening their grip on a rock or other surface.
 

Things to remember

Adding fish
Whether you're just starting your aquarium or introducing new fish into your tank, don't forget to add only 1-3 at a time.

Safety & cleanliness
Please remember that all pets may bite or scratch, and may transmit disease to humans. Keep your pet's home clean and wash your hands before and after handling your pet or cleaning his home. Infants, young children, pregnant women, people with compromised immune systems, and the infirm or elderly are at greater risk of infections and should use caution when in contact with the pet or its habitat. Consult your doctor for more information.
 

Nutrition

Staple diet
These fish move along the surfaces of the aquarium scraping green algae with their suckermouths. They also accept all kinds of commercial flake and pellet foods, but must get sufficient algae and vegetable matter, such as fresh zucchini, romaine lettuce, spinach or spirulina pellets.

Frequent feedings
For optimum health, feed your algae eaters as much food as they will consume in 1-3 minutes, twice a day. You can alternate between regular staple diet feedings and 2-4 meals per week of a vegetable treat or specialty food. Remove uneaten fresh vegetables after four hours.

Health

Signs your algae eater is healthy:

  • Eating vigorously
  • Clear eyes, smooth, clean skin and fins free from any lesions or inconsistent colorations
  • Calm, steady gill movements

Things to watch for:

  • Poor growth or weight loss
  • Inflamed gills, skin or fins
  • Fins clamped to sides
  • Scraping body on rocks

If you notice any of the signs described above, check your aquarium water quality and consult a PetSmart Aquatics Specialist.
 

Environment

Aquarium
Minimum aquarium size should be 10 gallons or larger. A good rule of thumb is one gallon of water for every one inch of full-grown fish.

Décor
Decorate their aquarium with hiding places such as roots, driftwood and rockwork. Also include plants to provide grazing surfaces.

Fish compatibility
Algae eaters should not be kept by beginners or in a community aquarium with delicate fish. As adults, they can be aggressive to other tank-mates and should be housed with large, tough fish or as a single species in the aquarium.

Water changes
Test water weekly to assess water quality. It is recommended that 10% of your aquarium water be changed per week. At the very least, 25% of your aquarium water should be changed per month.

Water temperature
Water temperatures should range between 72-82° F. Use an aquarium heater to maintain water temperature.

Aquarium placement
Place your aquarium in a low-traffic area, away from direct sunlight and drafts.

Aquarium stand
An aquarium stand will safely support the weight of your filled aquarium.

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