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FAQs on Freshwater Algae Eaters

Related Articles: Algae Eaters, Algae Control in Freshwater Aquariums by Bob Fenner, Dealing With Algae in Freshwater Aquaria by Neale Monks, (some) Algae (in moderation) Can Be Your Friend, ppt presentation, Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, by Bob Fenner, OtocinclusLoricariidsSiamese Algae Eaters/Crossocheilus

Related FAQs: Chinese Algae Eaters, Gyrinocheilus aymonieri, Algae Control, Freshwater "Scavengers", Aquarium MaintenanceFreshwater Aquarium Water Quality, Treating Tap Water for Aquarium Use, pH, Alkalinity, Acidity, Freshwater Algae Control, Algae Control, Foods, Feeding, Aquatic Nutrition, Disease

Watch out or I'll give you a hickey. 

Fuzzy algae and algae-eaters      7/15/15
Hello crew,
<Hey Aaron>
I have a 25 liter tank, well maintained for a year and a half, with a filter that sprays the filtered water onto the top surface of the tank and aerates the water this way, forming a modest current in the process. NO2=0, NO3~10, pH~7, GH=7-14 range. KH=6-10 range. The substrate is glass marbles and short plastic grass. In addition there are some plastic plants for decoration.
The temperature is maintained between 25.5 and 28 C.
My 7 critters include a male and female platy fish, two Otocinclus affinis catfish of unknown gender, one remaining "Amano" shrimp,(I started out with four), one Nerite (Clithon) snail (I started out with two) and one rabbit snail. Each of these has a job to do to keep the substrate, glass and plastic plants clean and they seem to go about it happily and efficiently. The
harmony among these creatures is palpable.
Over time the plastic plants have grown a fuzzy dark brownish-black covering of algae (or perhaps diatoms).
<Likely a mix; but mainly algae species; yes. Perhaps an unpalatable type/s, as your Otos and snails don't consume it. There are many possibilities here; including almost all Divisions of true algae and Blue Greens
I've read your section on algae but I still am not sure what I'm looking at in my aquarium. I'm not too bothered by this
dark fuzzy stuff, although it is not aesthetic. I can control it myself by removing the plastic plants and letting them air dry for several days, then knocking off most of the dried up chips of the dark stuff. But, rather than do that,
I'd like to raise the kind of critters that would be happy to eat it, since it is so thick and perhaps nutritious to some lucky creature. I feed my critters flaked fish food and also Spirulina flakes, so that everyone gets the kind of food they need. I am careful not to overfeed them, and I change about 1/4 of the tank's water about once a week.
Can you tell me what kind of algae I have here and who would be happy to dine off of it?
<Ahh; cannot.... w/o microscopic examination, and possibly other testing (e.g. for storage foods, photosynthetic pigments...) one can't tell just by macro-looking
I've attached a photo I hope is clear enough to be helpful.
Thank you,
<Something I would like to mention is the possibility of switching out the marble substrate (or putting some fine gravel under it) to provide nutrient competition and perhaps some Protist predation for this "fuzzy stuff".
Cheers, Bob Fenner>

Different types of algae and who eats/needs them?  (for miniature Otos)     8/26/13
Hi Neale, I hope you're enjoying your weekend! 
<Did indeed.>
I've attached 2 close up photos of some algae growing in 2 of my tanks. 
Since you've been keeping fish a long while, do you know what fish eats what type of algae....?
<In my experience, the "fish eats algae" paradigm is only of limited use, and tends to depend a lot on what other foods are available to the fishes in question. That said...>
In particular, do my algaes in these 2 pictures look like the type the tiny 1.5 inch Otos like to eat?
<Otocinclus tend to eat green algae and diatoms. Green algae is usually leaf-coloured and forms patches or low fuzzy tufts in aquaria. Diatoms form the golden-brown slime on glass and rocks. The dark green to blue-black beard and thread types are usually red algae (red is the colour when preserved in alcohol, by the way) and Otocinclus generally don't eat these types.>
Most store tanks are low on algae and therefore they just feed them pellets which is less ideal.
<Not sure this is strictly true; good quality algae flakes and wafers should make an acceptable staple.>
Since I grew some naturally with great success on this rock and the crypts plants, I wonder if I have an Oto buffet, or would they ignore it and grow feeble without some other food?
<Try it and see!>
I'm asking because in the forums I have heard people saying this fish eats this algae but not that algae, and they go on and on about their specific types of algae and the types that will or will not get eaten by various types of fish!!!
<Correct. There's some overlap between algae eaters, but each fish species often has preferences. I'd also add that few, if any, fish is as good as Nerite snails. Fish simply aren't as methodical. Fish generally ignore the thread or beard algae types too, with a few exceptions (Siamese Algae Eater and Ameca splendens spring to mind).>
I'd love to try a small school of Otos, but I want to make sure I have the right type of algae so they're not just stuck with compressed tablets of algae.
<Do bear in mind that Otocinclus aren't just eating algae; to a large extent they're feeding on detritus and tiny animals that live among algae threads, what scientists call "aufwuchs". So, even if the algae type isn't 100% right, it'll still be home to stuff Otocinclus can eat.>
Every fish care paper I read says "it's best to have natural algae growing in their tank," but that's not specific as to what type the species actually prefers and will eat.  I suspect what I have is good Oto food....but don't know for absolute certainty if these are super picky little creatures.
<They're semi-picky. They are at risk of starving in a new aquarium or one with dim lighting and hence little algae growth beyond, say, blue-green algae (which they cannot eat). But in a mature aquarium or one with enough lighting for plants to thrive, they'll find enough to eat, especially if their diet is supplemented with a good quality algae wafer. Generally, competition from other fish tends to be the killer. If they're harassed by larger fish, then they'll fail to thrive, no matter what other factors are correct.>
If I move the sword(or swap rocks) to the 2nd tank, they could have the rock with the heaviest algae, since there will be more of them.  Though they're so little... Not sure even they could make a dent on the furry rock any more than the sword has.  Of course maybe if they had just the plants and the less algaeful rock, maybe they'd clean those up faster.  That would be nice for the plants.
And the sword favors the rock.  She munches it happily.....I feel a little guilty to move it to the other tank.  Is the algae on the rock probably the same type as the algae growing on the plants anyway?!
<Otocinclus and livebearers enjoy the same algae types, so whatever the Swordtail eats will be correct for the Otocinclus.>
And....would I need to supplement the Otos diet with anything else if this is the right type of algae for them?
<For sure, though less often (once a week, perhaps) if they are nicely fattened up on algae and detritus.>
I do intend to put a piece of driftwood in their tank as well, as I heard they like it.
<Correct, though likely this has more to do with culturing algae and aufwuchs than anything else.>
Thank you, I hope you've kept Otos to know what they like too.
<Yes, have kept them, though much prefer Nerites as algae-eaters.>
I know you like brackish a lot, which they're not, but I think you have wide knowledge and experience.
<Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Different types of algae and who eats/needs them?  (for miniature Otos)     8/26/13
Thank you, Neale, very helpful.
I like the little Otos and I'll get some. Have a nice week.
<Most welcome! Neale.>

Planted Tank, fish sel. for pest control   11/9/11
Dear WWM,
Usually this would concern marine topics, however I do have a 20 gallon freshwater planted. My goal when I purchased it was to make a tank that would be almost self sufficient, obviously it needs water added on occasion due to evaporation and flow provided, my end product has a small heater, and filter, and standard light (also receives ample sunlight). Stocked with Micro Sword which is growing across that tank; Amazon Sword that has more than doubled in size and number of leaves; Argentine Swords which grow and are a nice back drop, Java Fern slow growing, and what I believe to be a Ludwigia peruensis that likes to loose leaves every time new ones grow in.
I also have two Apple Snails, Six Ghost shrimp that keep having babies whom I can never find. I would assume this is due to the free swimming larva encountering the filter. One common Pleco. I also have gnats that like to land and die in the water much to my dismay. Is there a fish I could get that would not have a high demand or be over-whelming to my tank that would eat the gnats and algae? The algae I already identified to be Green Spot Algae rather than a non-photosynthetic type. Thanks.
<Depending on water temperature and water chemistry, something from the killifish or livebearer groups would seem most appropriate here. At low-end tropical temperatures, Florida Flagfish can make excellent algae eaters.
They're territorial but not especially aggressive. Other pupfish-type Killies might be used depending on their availability in your area.
Livebearers are good for tanks with moderately hard to hard water. Alfaro cultratus is an exception, doing well in soft water, though it is difficult to breed and eats mostly insects rather than algae. On the other hand, Limia nigrofasciata is an excellent algae-eater and unusual enough that passing on excess fry is easy to do. The Dwarf Mosquitofish, Heterandria formosa, would be an excellent choice for your tank, being so small it'd have minimal impact on water quality unless you kept hundreds. Naturally, you could go with plain vanilla livebearers too, such as Endler's. Just as an aside, the Plec has no place in this tank and will cause trouble before long; neither will it do much/anything to hold back algae. Replace with an Ancistrus instead; these are smaller, reasonably good algae eaters, and very easy to keep. Otocinclus might be an option too, but they're delicate, dislike warm water, easily starved, and often die within a few months or a year of purchase. Cherry Shrimps are much easier to breed, and they're also more colourful, and in my opinion the best all-around shrimps for most tanks. Do bear in mind that Green Spot Algae isn't going to be removed by any fish. To deal with this algae type, you want to adopt a preventative approach, perhaps through a combination of physical removal of what you have now, Nerite snails for scraping away new colonies before they start, and the use of fast-growing plants (ideally, floating plants) to inhibit algal growth. Cheers, Neale.>

Re: help!... algae eater/s... ID...     10/1/11
hi neale,
I obviously have been advised wrongly, I was going to a little independent pet shop and asked what fish to get. so I need to get rid of my sucker mouth?
<If a Pterygoplichthys species or a Chinese Algae Eater (Gyrinocheilus aymonieri) then yes, it's a species that needs a tank 300+ litres in size, and in smaller tanks will grow too fast and make far too much filth. No value as a "cleaner" despite what some beginners think. By definition, adding a fish always makes a tank dirtier. Some fish eat algae, yes, but these two do little useful in this regard, and adults eat hardly any algae.
Ancistrus Bristlenose Plecs are excellent alternatives.>
he is small and stays away from the other fish.
<As I say, something like Pterygoplichthys pardalis can reach 45 cm/18 inches within 1-2 years. These are massive, fast-growing fish.>
my cat fish do not seem to be growing.
<They will in healthy conditions, and quickly.>
I have 7 Neons now. (obv dying because of the water) I only have 2 platys because I think I over fed them. so would you say to get rid of the guppies and mollies?
<Determine what water chemistry you have, and choose accordingly. If soft water, then South American tetras would be excellent fish; if you have hard water, the Central American livebearers would be the better bet.>
how do I know if my water is hard or soft?
<Buy, use a general hardness test kit.
my temperature is at 26 do I change that?
<Turn the dial on the heater down or up depending on what you want. By default, 25 C is ideal for the widest range of species. The dial on the heater isn't accurate, so use a thermometer to check. Cheap sticky LCD ones are fine for this. If the thermometer says 26 C but the thermometer says 25 C, the thermometer is more likely to be accurate so adjust the dial on the thermometer a degree up or down until the tank warms or cools to the temperature you want.>
a so sorry for all the questions but I just want to get it right. I am trawling your website to learn more. thank you so much for your help.
<Have fun reading, learning. We're always glad to help. Do visit the Wet Web Media forum, here:
You can sign up there for free, and quickly join in with discussions among both beginners and experts. Our WWM crew joins in too, helping to make sure things stay factually correct as well as open minded. It's a great way to learn about the hobby quickly. Cheers, Neale.>

Huge Otocinclus... CAE
Non-Otocinclus Questions  11/20/09

Dear Crew- I am re-sending this as I was having computer issues and am not sure it was sent the first time. I am very eager to find out your thoughts on my issues (fish related ones, that is) that I thought I'd give it another try. Hope I don't appear too impatient....
You have helped me before with mollies and platy, and now I am eager to find out what you think may be going on with my Otos. Sadly, the mollies with which you helped me before are no longer with us. I currently maintain a 10 gal tank with 2 Otos, 3 Zebra Danio and 1 platy. I perform 20-30% water changes weekly, and my water tests are 0 ammonia and 0-5 nitrate/trite.
pH levels maintain at 7.5 I feed the fish Omega Flakes. The oto love their algae wafers and deal with the Nori.
My question about the oto is as follows:
1. He is HUGE compared to the other. Is this a normal size for an oto?
He measure nearly 4 inches from head to tail. He appears healthy, if not a bit pale since adopted. The other oto is the requisite 1.5 inches with a nice fat tummy.
2. The giant oto (picture attached) spends most of his time eating or digging in the same corner of the tank. As he is so big, rocks are flung around as he digs and he creates quite the commotion. I am concerned this is stress related, but would like your opinion.
3. How do I purposefully grow green algae to supplement my Otos? I love watching the Otos and understand they are not as easy to care for as advertised in the stores. I would like them to have the most nutritious food possible, and enjoy the idea of growing algae for them. After reading an article on the site, I am inclined to get driftwood for the tank.
However, with the voracious appetite of Bruce, do I need to do anything special to get the algae going?
Thank you for your time and help. I have learned so much already from your site, and hope to become more knowledgeable about my Otos.
< Your Chinese algae eaters can get up to 5 inches plus. At that size they are rather bothersome to other fish and are actually pretty poor algae eaters compared to Plecos and real Otos. Algae will grow when the
conditions are right. Too much light and too many nutrients in the water.
Better to feed Spirulina flakes or wafers.-Chuck>

Fish selection....  (algae eaters, why you don't need a FW clean-up crew)  11/16/09
What type of algae eaters or "clean up crew" would you recommend for a 30 gallon freshwater tank with 10 zebra Danios and 1 rainbow shark? Along with the type, please recommend the quantity also. Thank you, and once again great site!
<Hello Shawn. Let's be crystal clear here: freshwater tanks do not need a clean-up crew. Yes, people will sell you such, but then they would, wouldn't they? The whole point to a clean-up crew *in a reef tank* is that they remove organic matter that it is physically impossible for you, the aquarist, to do without damaging delicate sessile invertebrates. In all other types of tanks a strong filter and regular water changes are want you want for this! Let me go a step further. Adding animals in the hope they'll "clean up" the tank is completely misunderstanding things, since by definition adding new animals always makes a tank dirtier. Always. No exceptions. Since things like Corydoras don't eat waste, you have to add more food for them, so you're also adding more nitrogen to the system, and that means more ammonia and nitrite. What I'm saying then is that while it's fun to have fish that feed from the bottom of the water column, they should be *part* of the overall plan, and not viewed as cleaner-uppers. You certainly don't *need* bottom feeders, no matter what the pet store salesman might suggest. Now, having said all of that, the best algae-eating animals would be Nerite snails and Cherry Shrimps, the two species doing a superb job far better than any fish. They should be ignored by your existing fish. If you wanted a catfish simply for the fun of it, I'd be looking at Ancistrus sp., one of the Bristlenose Cats. These are fairly small (around 12 cm is typical) and do a reasonable job of removing diatoms and green algae from solid objects. When they're small they clean plant leaves too, but as they mature, they can't do this anymore. Snails and shrimps can, which is why I prefer them. Another superb choice would be the Florida Flagfish, a busy, somewhat boisterous fish that does well at the fairly low temperatures (up to 24 C) that Danios require. A male and two females would add some cichlid-like fun to the bottom of the tank, while staying small and also being excellent algae eaters, in this case eating green algae and to some extent thread algae. These fish are a bit boisterous for the average community, but with Danios and Shark-minnows, they'd be great. But do, please, understand that none of these algae-eaters will do anything to fix serious algae problems, and their impact on hair, thread, red, and blue-green algae will be minimal to zero. Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Fish selection.... (algae eaters, why you don't need a FW clean-up crew) -- 11/16/2009
Thank you for your excellent insight and expertise on the subject of algae eaters and "clean up crews."
<Happy to help.>
I guess I kind of worded my question wrong seeing the answer I got from you.
To be clear I don't have an algae problem and wouldn't resort to fish if I did.
I just wanted to possibly add life to the different layers of the tank.
<By all means.>
So, to restate my question; what would be the best algae eater to add fun and exciting life to the various levels of my 30 gallon tank while not disturbing my rainbow shark or 10 zebra Danios?
<As mentioned in my last e-mail, Ancistrus would be good, as would Florida Flagfish. A school of Corydoras is an option, but depends on your Shark Minnow, because sometimes Shark Minnows are little terrors, and chase the poor old Corydoras about. There are some nice loaches like Horseface Loaches that would be fun if you had a sandy substrate (they don't really work with gravel). Dwarf Synodontis are an excellent choice, though shy, and need to be kept in groups of three or more. If you had a back-up tank
in case something went wrong, you might even try a pair of Carinotetraodon irrubesco pufferfish. These work fine (in my experience) with fast-moving tankmates, but like all puffers, they're sensitive to poor water quality and can be nippy. Cheers, Neale.>

Chinese algae eater needs help   8/12/09
Dear WW Crew, I have a (what I believe to be ) a Chinese Algae Eater ( his name is AL . Yea, how original)
<You mean Gyrinocheilus aymonieri? This is a pretty useless fish to be honest. It's a lousy algae-eater once more than about half-grown, and as it ages, it becomes increasingly aggressive. Adults, which measure some 30 cm/12 inches in length, are often very nasty fish. I've kept adults in 200 gallon tanks alongside Central American cichlids, but I can't recommend them for the average community tank.>
(going by the colors of Crayola Crayons, he has the basic body color of lemon yellow with spots like that of a pinto horse the color of yellow-orange ) It is about 2 " not counting the tail.
<A baby still.>
I've had this fish since Oct of 2008 and got him as a juvie. He lives in a 5 g. hex along with 3 Blue Rams.
<Sorry, did you say 5 gallons? I'm going to start ranting here, so if you actually meant 55 gallons, forgive me. A 55 gallon tank would be adequate for Gyrinocheilus aymonieri. But a 5 gallon tank? Not a chance. Not only will the fish get too big to even physically wedge into this tank, water quality will suffer long before that becomes an issue. Blue Rams, which are an artificial form of Mikrogeophagus ramirezi, need completely different environmental conditions, and there's no way you can keep these together indefinitely. Blue Rams need soft, acidic water that is very warm, around 28-30 C (82-86 F). Gyrinocheilus aymonieri needs cooler water, around 25 C/77 F, and as it grows, it'll need more oxygen than this tank could
possibly provide. The fact it is only two inches long after you've owned the thing 10 months already indicates conditions are very, very poor for this species. A year-old specimen should be at least 10 cm/4 inches in length, and usually around 15 cm/6 inches.>
Everyone gets along.
<For now.>
Tank stats are ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate are 0, ph is 6.
<Biological filtration stops working below pH 6, so I hope you're buffering this water somehow.>
These guys get a 50 % wc once a week without fail using RO water and API's Stress Coat with 1 drop per g inbound of Tetra Algae Control.
<You are using just RO water? Nothing else, no mineral salts? No tap water?
This is very, very bad for your fish. Just to recap, fish don't live in pure water. Even soft water fish will be living in water with some mineral salts as well as various organic acids. For Ram cichlids, your pH is fine,
but you'd be aiming for a hardness around 5 degrees dH. Who told you to use plain RO water?>
I had a hair algae problem and Al doesn't eat it.
<Of course not. Despite being called "Algae Eaters", they're not.
Gyrinocheilus aymonieri feed mostly on aufwuchs, which means they take green algae (not hair algae, which is red algae) alongside various small invertebrates.>
Temp is at 80.
<Too cold for Rams, too warm for Gyrinocheilus aymonieri.>
About two months ago he began developing a small 2mm-ish translucent blackish patch - not raised, not hole, just a color on the top of the head in-between the eyes.
<Likely a bacterial infection. Opportunistic, brought on by low immunity, triggered by poor environmental conditions.>
I say translucent as I can still see the body color under the spot. This spot has now grown and has elongated to a long diamond shape. It is now approx. 6 to 7 mm long extending from the back of the eye towards the snout. It has not touched the eye yet. He is also losing weight rapidly.
<I bet. This is a DIRE set up, and there's no way he'll survive in it.>
This gang gets HBH shrimp pellets ( Al's fave ) and Aqueon Cichlid Mini Granules pre-soaked and smooshed to sink. I might add that I have indeed been doing research to find answers but so far have come up dry.
<Where have you researched? What web sites told you these fish could live in a 5 gallon tank? Even the Blue Rams would need a good 20 gallons, and the Gyrinocheilus aymonieri at least 55 gallons.>
I'd like to find this answer before it is too late. Could this be a bacterial issue ?
<Well, yes, bacteria are likely involved, but only because you allowed them to.>
Thanks So Much for this website, I have found it to be very useful. Suz V.
<Glad you enjoyed the site. Hope you find information served "straight up" palatable. Some folks are a little sensitive about such things. But you're doing lots of things wrong, and need to sort them out, pronto. Good luck, Neale.>

Re: Chinese algae eater needs help   8/12/09
Yes, going by Live Aquaria.com's picture he [Gyrinocheilus aymonieri]
looks just like the one pictured only with yellow-orange patches over the base of yellow.
<Oh dear.>
[This species gets very big] At which point a trade in would be necessary.
<He's already too big for a 5 gallon tank. There's no discussion here, no question about "when" to move him. No fish, other than perhaps a fancy Betta, can be kept in a 5 gallon tank safely or responsibly.>
He is my first and most likely, last [fish], but he "is" cute and I kinda like him. Plus, he needed a home.
<Unfortunately, buying "needy fish" from pet stores doesn't actually do any good. For a pet store, a sale is a sale. Even if you think you're rescuing a fish, all the retailer sees is a successful transaction, and they are very likely to order more of that kind of fish. In the case of Gyrinocheilus aymonieri, they're ordering in one of the worst aquarium fish in the trade. Sometimes you have to be cruel to be kind, and letting pet stores lose money on fish that can't sell (and perhaps die) sends a strong message to the retailer not to buy in unsellable and undesirable fish.>
I originally had a Betta in this tank and needed an opportunistic scavenger. The LFS told me to get an algae eater.
I really wanted Corys but knew they can't have a good go of it beings that they need the security of numbers and a much larger home. I did research the fish and had the intent of moving him when he got bigger into my 45 g. and have attempted to catch him 4 times but he does not want to leave.
<Instinct, not desire. Gyrinocheilus aymonieri come from fast-flowing rivers, and they're superbly adapted to rapid dashes. To the fish, you're a predator, and he'll try and escape from you, no matter what.>
This also disrupts the Rams too much so I'm leaving them be... for now.
<Your choice, but you are deluding yourself, and if the fish is already sick, leaving it in a totally inadequate environment will only make things worse. All I can do is tell you what you should be doing; I can't force you.>
The Betta got pop-eye in one eye ( no , the Betta wasn't in there with the Rams. Just Al.) and was re-located to a different tank to be fed easier as his vision is affected and he can't hit his mark so I have to feed him piece by piece every day. I have had Fred the Betta in several different meds all claiming to cure pop-eye but with no luck so far.
<Pop-eye is usually caused by environmental issues or physical damage. In the case of an overstocked 5-gallon tank, either cause could be at play, so it's difficult to say. The sensible thing is to approach with an open mind, assuming both are issues, and act accordingly. Physical damage comes from aggression between fish and bumping into things, typically the hood when scared. Environmental things include non-zero levels of ammonia and nitrite, and less often, long-term exposure to high levels of nitrate, anything above 20-50 mg/l depending on the species.>
I just got some erythromycin to try next which will start tonight if I can ever get this e-mail out. I just finished writing the last one to you when updates ran and kicked me off and I lost the whole thing.
<Do read here:
A combination of Maracyn plus Epsom salt in the water is the usual solution. But this does, of course, assuming the background causes are dealt with too.>
I have had Fred for 1year 4 mo.s now.. A Wal-mart refugee. Sickly to start with but so very sweet. He is my first fish and I'm very fond of him. As long as he has the will to be here I will keep trying to get him well.
<A fine sentiment. Good luck!>
Yes. My fingers didn't stutter [I did say 5 gallons]. You are justified [at ranting]. I will consider myself shredded.
YIKES! [at comments about size, growth rate of Gyrinocheilus aymonieri]. I don't know how old this guy was when I got him nor what the growth rate should be as I've never had them before. He had been doing well and I can say he had doubled in size. All appeared to be fine in this tank until I had a huge algae outbreak that I could not control thru water changes so I started adding the algae drops and if I am right, then it was shortly after this by maybe , a few weeks, is when Al started developing this spot.
<Well, even the worst diseases start small.>
I got the Rams because they would stay small.
<Still too big for a 5-gallon tank.>
Yes. for now [everyone gets along]. [Biological filtration diminishes below pH 6...] This I did not know. How do I fix it?
<See here:
Only what I have listed [i.e., just RO water]. I am going to claim 100% ignorance on this one. I don't know how to use the buffers and other additives and I was afraid I'd screw things up. Please show me the way.
<See links above. For most community fish, a half-dose of the Rift Valley cichlid salt mix. Ram cichlids are different, and prefer very soft water.
One-tenth to one-fifth dose would be ample for them, though you'd need to keep up with the water changes to ensure the pH stayed stable.>
I do not test for this , so, Guess I oughtta start, aye ?
<At minimum, you should have a pH test kit to hand. If the pH stays stable from when you do a water change to just before you do the next one, you're probably fine.>
No one [told me to use RO water]. I just tested my RO to see how it went.
<I see.>
Because My PH is too high out of the tap as well as being well water with varying amounts of ammonia sometimes its zero sometimes its 2.0. I live out in the country on a farm and my water is hard and CRINGE run thru a softener.
<Look, hard water is fine for most fish. Apart from the Rams, which do need very soft water, both Bettas and Gyrinocheilus do just fine in "rock hard" water. Do see here:
Please don't bite me too hard on this one, Neale as I have just recently learned how you feel on this. But Being that I am where I am now what can I do to fix this ? Should I get a 55 g plastic garbage can to store the water and hope it doesn't leak ?
Any suggestions here ? See?!, my LPS said this would be ok, too. It amazes me what people will do to make a sale.
<When you buy a motor car, do you take on trust everything the salesman says about mileage and economy? Or when you're buying a dress, do you assume the sales clerk has great taste in shoes? When the real estate agent says a house has no structural faults or plumbing problems? Of course not.
Every single time you go shopping for anything, you balance what the seller says against what you already know. In the case of a house for example, you'd get a surveyor in to double check the facts. People in the pet trade sell fish, and they sell more fish if people don't keep their fish terribly well. (When fish die, they buy more fish; when fish get sick, they buy medications.) There's no real incentive at a pet store to offer good advice. Many do, but not all of them. Even the best stores will have part-time or casual staff who know little about fish, particularly pet stores without a focus on fish. Such staff may be well meaning, but they don't actually have the depth of knowledge to offer reliable advice 100% of the time.>
So who CAN you believe ?
<Well, a good book is a start.
There's a book by Gina Sandford called "A Practical Guide to Setting Up Your Tropical Freshwater Aquarium" that you can get (used) from Amazon for just one cent. So there's no real excuse not to shell out on that! It's a good book, and covers all the basic stuff you need to know.>
I guess this explains why he [Gyrinocheilus] likes the shrimp pellets. He will not eat the small pieces of algae wafer I give him Though I have seen the Rams nibble on it.
Thinking back this all [the disease] seems to have started about or shortly after I started adding the algae remover.
<Perhaps; as you'll see on WWM, we don't recommend the use of snail- and algae-killing potions because they do have the potential to cause harm.>
Gee, I tried to keep the tank clean and Al really doesn't appear -as in visually-to be stressed.
<Difficult to tell when some fish are stressed; either way, physical damage like a blister is a good sign that *something* isn't right.>
I have tried other foods frozen, flakes but these were not eaten so I have to go with what they " will " eat. I know they " need " more variety but they won't eat it.
<Yes, they will. Be stubborn. Wet-frozen bloodworms are eaten by most everything. Personally, I recommend against freeze-dried foods, partly because they're ridiculously expensive for what they are, and also because lots of fish don't care for them.>
Well...just thought some folks were a bit overboard [when critical of small tanks]. In the past few months I have come to hate these little tanks and I am being swayed to the other side.
<Very good.>
Here's the part where I will speak on my defense... I am heading up my first year at fish keeping. This has been quite a ride ! It is just not as easy as I was led to believe from the LPS.
<It's not a difficult hobby, but there are some rules beginners shouldn't break. For one thing, someone new to the hobby shouldn't get anything smaller than a 10 gallon tank, and realistically, a 20 gallon tank is the best, safest starting point.
I do have a few starter books but they don't even begin to go where I need to go so I poke around online to see what I can find and boy, oh by is there ever a lot yet to be learned. They ( the LFS) have indeed steered my the wrong way many times and I am indeed taking risks every time I buy any fish from any of the pet stores in my area I have two to the left and two to the right and not a one will be honest, the other two just have teenagers...nuff said there.
<This is often the case, as mentioned above. With the best will in the world, a 17-year old doing a Saturday job isn't really motivated to research the fish he or she is selling. Rather, they're look to make sales and keep the floor manager happy. Sure there are some teenagers who know more about keeping fish than I do! But you don't often find them in pet stores...>
What I -have- learned amazes me and there is a very long way to go yet. Rome was not built in a day and neither is my own mental database for the quest in learning about these fascinating creatures. If I knew then when I got these little tanks, what I know now I most certainly would have done things differently right down to the 45 g.
So, What am I supposed to do if the water tests read in the Okie dokie range and you cannot see the bacteria ? What drug would be best for this guy ?
<Would probably start with an anti-Finrot medication, perhaps Maracyn.
Melafix is often suggested, but it is somewhat unreliable, and it wouldn't be my first choice.>
I have a great respect for life and all the creatures that live in my home and I do so want to do right by them.
<As do I.>
After much trial and error I have attained harmony in all of my tanks and it looks beautiful. I am smart enough to be able to tell when things do not look right and I do my best to fix it when it isn't. I am still learning and it seems that one can spend an entire life's time learning.
<I think that's the point; I doubt we were put on this Earth to watch the home shopping channel.>
I am an avid student of the art of Dressage and I have taken an Arabian horse of whom the prior owner said , and I quote, " He can't do it !" and made him a champion. To which I say. "No, he can't learn it in the length of time you are giving him. "
<Well done.>
But He can and he did and now at the ripe young age of 24 he is the best I ever hoped for and I made him through patience and good careful training into what he is.
<My aunt has a retired racehorse (a thoroughbred) some 20-something years old, and she did a lot of dressage with him, quite successfully. He's a bit old for that now, his joints a little stiff on landing, so mostly just goes hacking across the countryside.>
Dressage takes a lifetime to learn for both the horse and the rider and so goes for the newcomer to fishkeeping. Have patience with me, Neale. I am still new to fish keeping and apparently I have learned the wrong way.
<Patience I have. Feel free to write us as, when you need to.>
Sincerely Suz V aka, Betta Bubbles
<Good luck, Neale.>
<PS. If you do write back, just send a new e-mail. Your comments threaded between mine were fine to read, but really difficult for me to turn into what WWM posts on its pages. 40-minutes later, and a few interpolations (in square brackets) of my own into your replies to make it clear, I hope I've done justice to what you'd written. Cheers, Neale.>
<<An emphatic note, for emphasis. The CAE will likely kill the Betta here... Remove it ASAP. RMF>>

Re: More Re: Chinese algae eater needs help-- 08/14/09
Hey, re-read my note...the Betta does not live with the CAE any longer.
They were separated in January !
<Bob will be pleased!><<I am relieved. RMF>>
Fred the Betta has his own luxury condo...al to himself.
<Very good.>
The CAE bunks with German Blue Rams. And If I can ever get off this blooming computer today I will catch the little varmint ( CAE ) and relocate him today, try and fix his funk and bring him back to the place
from wherst he came !
I just spent the better part of the morning writing a reply to Neale only to get to the stage of proof reading and corrections only to have AOL boot me and I lost the whole darn thing ! POOF ! GONE.
<Bad AOL! Naughty AOL!>
Right at this moment I am livid and ready to hit warp zone pissed. I hope all of you can find it in your souls to forgive the mistakes of a rookie.
<Not a question of forgiveness, so don't worry about that. We're always ready, happy to offer what help and advice we can.>
Sooz V aka Betta Bubbles
<Cheers, Neale.>
Re: More Re: Chinese algae eater needs help
Hey Neale,
I'll try and write you again later.
Thanks for your input.
<Okay! I'm off on my holidays from Saturday, and will have limited web access, so please don't be surprised if someone else on the WWM Crew handles your query. Cheers, Neale.>

Algae control 5/30/2009
I have lots of algae in my tank and could you please suggest a good algae eating fish.
<No fish removes algae without creating other problems. By definition, if you add a fish that eats algae, you're going to increase the amount of ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate in the system, and these will speed up the rate at which algae can grow back. Furthermore, fish only eat green algae
and to a lesser degree diatoms; hair algae is largely ignored, and blue-green algae is totally ignored. Green algae only grows in tanks with very bright lights, in which case adding some fast-growing plants (such as floating plants; Amazon Frogbit works well) will slow down the growth of algae dramatically. If you do this, and then add an algae-eating fish (such as Ancistrus, Garra or Siamese Algae Eaters) or snails (Nerites are good), green algae and diatoms are generally not a problem. I remove algae from the front glass of my tanks once every 4-5 months, and the rest of the tank is basically algae-free! If you have poor lighting, then plants won't help, and you're more likely to be dealing with other types of algae that fish
don't eat. Physical removal is by far the most effective approach. Of course, hair algae and especially blue-green algae imply relatively poor conditions in the tank; both thrive in conditions with high nitrate and poor water circulation, and these in turn will stress your fish, too.>
<Cheers, Neale.>

Gyrinocheilus aymonieri (Mostly about stocking tanks; capacity) 4/21/09
Hello, WWM Crew, and thank you for taking the time to read this.
<Happy to help.>
I (personally) am revisiting an old interest; (trying to educate my daughter about the wonders of a home aquarium, and I kept a Tiger Oscar for 3 years successfully in the past), and I have begun to relearn all of the Fish Facts that I once knew. One thing I was never taught by anyone (even my father, who bred Angelfish at home when I was young, kindling the love Aquatic) until I read your site, was how EVIL the Gyrinocheilus aymonieri actually is.
<Not actually a secret; most anyone who's kept fish knows this, and yet aquarium shops keeping selling them...>
I must admit that I own ONE, and only one, and will not own another according to the sage advice I have received from WWM. I am committing a mortal sin (only going by what I have read) with my new starter tank, which has been running SUCCESSFULLY for more than 3 months so far.
Tank Specifications: 10 U.S. Gallon Cap.
1 5-15 Aqua Tech Filter
1 "Elite" 115V 50W Heater
1 "Elite" 802 Air Pump Bubble Wall (Opposable Variety)
Fern Bed
4 Plastic Plants
6" Hollow Clock Tower
4" Aztec Ruin Wall Section
The mortal sin I referred to was the AMOUNT of fish that I have in said tank: M/F Xiphophorus maculatus ("Mickey Mouse Platies") M X. Variatus??
("Green Platy") M Poecilia sphenops ("Sailfin Molly") M/F Poecilia sphenops ("Dalmatian Molly") 3 Paracheirodon innesi ("Neon Tetra") F Betta Splendens ("Betta")ONE EVIL Gyrinocheilus aymonieri ("CAE")
<Not only overcrowded, but asking for trouble. Mollies require fundamentally different conditions that Neon tetras; even if you decided (foolishly, in my opinion) not to add salt, you'd still need much warmer and harder water than Neons tolerate for long.>
Now I know (once again) that my aquarium is overcrowded, and I have seen my CAE in its "aggressive" state, chasing other fish around the tank (it even opened the belly of my M Dalmatian Molly, which has subsequently healed).
Although my tank is full, it is (by all appearances, a healthy and thriving eco-system, as my F "Mickey Mouse Platy" is completing her second birthing cycle ((3 fry survived from her first brood, and not sure of the second, will continue to update as the fry hide in the fern bed to survive)) and my Dalmatian Molly is expecting.
<That livebearers are breeding doesn't really imply good conditions; they'll breed almost regardless of conditions, in the sense that once pregnant, the females can/will produce a number of batches, whether they're healthy or not.>
I maintain a strict schedule for my water quality, performing a 25% water change every 3rd day ( I keep an 18L bottle of water covered with a cheesecloth aside for use, as it dechlorinates as it stands ((Info from my LFS, confirm please!!)),
<Tap water will indeed lose chlorine when left alone for a day or two. But this does nothing at all about chloramine, which is also used widely now, and much more stable. Neither will this approach fix problems with copper (from pipes) and ammonia (from groundwater pollution). There's really no excuse for not using dechlorinator. None. Nada. Zip. And if you are using dechlorinator, or more accurately, water conditioner, you don't need to let the water stand for 24 hours.>
while adding Jungle's "Start Right" with Allantoin, Tetra Aqua "EasyBalance", and NutraFin Waste Control. (I don't use NutraFin Cycle Bio Filter Supp., as I have more than adequate lower level aeration to "lift" the ammonia from the bottom.) Water Temp is kept at a balmy 81F, <Far too warm for Swordtails and Neons! Both of these fish want to be kept around the 23 C/73 F mark. Swordtails live in fast, relatively cool streams, and Neons come from relatively cool waters as well. Cardinals in warm water, Neons in cooler water; that's the rule!>
and light cycle is kept to 12H maximum (although at times I have been caught away from home and forgotten to turn off the hood lamp). I have never had an algae problem in this tank, as I had a Pleco originally (Glyptopterichthys gibbiceps) and it died when I had to perform an emergency 100% water change.
<Not why it died.>
That was when my LFS told me that the CAE was better than a Pleco due to the cost of species (CAE was $3, vs. $11 for a Pleco) and like a noob, I swallowed that hook. D'oh!!
<Hmm... any, and I mean, ANY, aquarium book would tell you not to buy Gyrinocheilus spp.>
What started this whole novel was I am experiencing "hair-algae" in my Betta Bowl (I have a male in solitary confinement, which is how he likes it) and I wanted to know if it was safe to put the CAE in the bowl WITH him. After perusing WWM, I saw that this was a VERY bad idea (as CAE will eat the fleshy parts of his fins) so I removed Betta to a separate bowl (with pre-treated water, of course) and put CAE in to eradicate algae. I will leave said situation overnight and see what CAE can do. Will it alter the consistency of Betta's bowl?
<The idea that fish "fix" algae problems is a silly one. They don't. Think about this for a few seconds... that's all it takes. Algae grow because the environment suits them. Among other things, that includes nitrate and phosphate levels in the water. Every time you add a fish, or replace a small fish with a bigger fish, you are raising the rate at which nitrate and phosphate increase. Ergo, adding any kind of algae eater on top of the fish you already have tends to make the algae grow faster. So instead think about what would make life harder for algae. Top of the list is competition from fast-growing plants. Bizarre as this might sound, the tanks with the least algae are invariably those with the strongest lights because the plants simply pulverise the algae! Whether it's direct competition for nutrients, or something more subtle such as allelopathy is up for debate, but this is certainly what happens.>
Betta has been attempting to construct his "bubble-nest" and I don't want to have to completely change the water in the bowl and completely destroy it (although, while I think about it, its kind of stupid to think that way, because I am not breeding it, YET!!)
I am currently conducting an arrangement to obtain a 30 U.S. Gallon tank, that I will be able to transfer my fish to a larger "world" and allow them to not be so crowded, but I haven't attained that yet. Knowing this, what is my optimal Fish-to-Gallon Ratio?
<For small fish like Neons, it's about an inch per gallon. The bigger the fish, the more aquarium volume you need. But this is only part of the story. Filtration is an issue too: big fish need more "turnover". Small fish can get by with filters rated at 4 times the volume of the tank in turnover per hour, but bigger fish will need 6 times, and things like Oscars and Plecs, 8-10 times. Surface area is yet another factor. A tall tank will hold less fish that a shallow tank of equal volume. So it's complicated. A 30-gallon tank would doubtless hold a couple of dozen livebearers of various sizes, some as small as Platies, and some larger ones like Mollies. Keeping Gyrinocheilus in there once mature would be daft, so I won't even comment on that beyond saying that this fish gets to 30 cm/12 inches and would claim that entire tank as a fraction of its territory in the wild.>
I was told it is "an inch of fish per gallon of water" but as I said, my lovelies are happy as clams! (Figuratively speaking, of course!)
<They can't be that happy if fish are dying because of the need for "emergency" water changes.>
And once I know my FtG, I wanted to keep the 10 G tank as my fry tank (especially when I start attempting to breed the Bettas, but please know I wont do ANYTHING in that regard until I know the regimen in my sleep!
<Look, the key thing isn't "how many fish can I cram into a tank this big", but rather, "how much space do I need for this species to do well".
Swordtails for example are fast swimmers, to long tanks suit them very well. But the males are extremely aggressive, so in 30 gallons, a single male together with 3-4 females might be a very sensible approach. Add a few cool water catfish such as Corydoras paleatus or maybe some Cherry Fin Loaches, and you'd have a very nice set up. You could certainly add some Garra flavatra if you really felt the need for an algae eater or three, but Cherry Shrimps and Nerite snails would be better. All these would thrive at the low temperature Swordtails need to live their full life span and show their best colours. Why mess about trying to cram in Neons, Mollies and other such stuff that don't belong? There's no sense to it.>
A link to that info, if available, would be appreciated.) Am I going out of my league here?
<Not out of your league, but I suspect you're not doing your research first.>
I just wanted a nice addition to my living room (something other than the TV to educate and amuse a 2 year old) plus I love to just sit and observe them myself! What fish owner (keeper??) doesn't enjoy the fruits of his/her own labours?
<The fish owner who is constantly fighting against problems of ill health, aggression, overstocking... I mention this because if you keep fish the proper way, with due regard to water chemistry, temperature, aquarium size, social behaviour etc., the hobby is easy. Neglect those issues and choose "one of everything" that catches your eye, the results are often disastrous.>
I have made the best possible attempt to give you the most concise information I could for your assistance in this matter. If there is anything else I can provide, please let me know.
And Thanks!! :)
<Cheers, Neale.>

Hello... FW Ray comp., algae eater sel.   4/5/09
Hello, I have a 135 gallon tank with 2 reticulated teacup F/W rays, a completely freshwater archerfish,
<? What species?>
and 2 clown loaches. I will be getting 3-5 discus soon.
<Mmm, not recommended with FW Rays... even your species, which is smallish, can get to over a foot in diameter... Are very "messy"... too hard to maintain "decent" water quality, which Symphysodon need... and they may get Steve Irwin/ed>
My tank is 6ftx20in.x20in. I have a Fluval 405 filter, 2 75 gallon bio wheel filters, And 2 100 gallon air pumps. Do you have any idea of any kind of fish that will eat algae that I can put in there?
<Mmm, I'd be looking at the family Loricariidae. Read here:
and the linked files above.>
<Welcome. Bob Fenner> 

Re: hello
Can I put a Farlowella algae eating fish with my rays, clown loaches, and discus? 4/6/2009
<Should be fine if the Rays aren't too large, the Catfish too little. B>

Algae Eaters, FW sel.   3/8/09 Hello Crew, Hope all is going well for you. I wanted to know if a bristlenose catfish was a good choice to help keep a 75 gallon freshwater tank clean of algae, and if so should I only purchase one? <Yes, a fine choice, though you may want/need more than one. I'd have thought 3-4 specimens more appropriate. But do remember "algae eaters" don't actually cure algae problems. Fast-growing plants are the real fix, for reasons not completely understood but likely to do with allelopathy. For example, algae eaters won't do anything to fix either hair algae or blue-green algae since they don't eat either kind. Take a more holistic approach, and use algae-eating fish to tidy up any green algae or diatoms squeezing in despite the plants.> Also, are they compatible with Corys? <Yes, though remember to feed enough "bottom feeder" food for both!> Lastly, is there a hardy type of shrimp that would also help keep the tank clean that would not get eaten by the fish? <No; algae-eating shrimps (typically Caridina and Neocaridina spp.) are all small enough to be harassed, nipped or eaten by large/aggressive fish. Angelfish for example will view them as food, while the larger Barbs simply nibble at them. They're fine with Corydoras and Ancistrus spp. though.> Thank you for all you do. James <Glad to help. Neale.>

Fry tank algae eater   1/31/09 Hello, I need your advice on an algae eater for a 10 gallon fry tank. I have a Fancytail guppy fry tank that has 15 babies that are a one and a half weeks old. At any given time there can be babies ranging in age from newborn to 2 weeks old and I don't want to use an algae eater that can or will harm or eat them. Thank you in advance of your advice... Cindy <Cindy, the short answer is a few snails, ideally Nerite snails. Anything else (e.g., fish) will pollute the water too quickly, reducing the growth rate and health of the fry. Do not even think about Otocinclus or adult Ancistrus; they'd be totally inappropriate for this system, though you could rear some juvenile, 1.5 inch-long Ancistrus in there if your retailer sells them (some do). Shrimps might be an option, but honestly they eat the same green algae than the Guppies should be eating. Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Fry tank 1/31/09 How many do you think I would need and what size should I look for, and oh, are they easy to find? <I find 1-2 Nerite snails per 10 gallons is about right. They are very industrious! All are fairly small, about the size of your thumbnail, at most. Are they difficult to buy? Depends on where you live, I suppose. Here in England most of the better aquarium shops have them. You can also buy them online. Cheers, Neale.>

FW Crawfish?  11/6/08 I am looking for a certain type of algae eating "freshwater blue Japanese lobster" for a friend of mine who said he used to have a few in his planted aquarium.... he claimed they were some holy grail algae scraping machines.... however any crawfish I have ever observed seem to scavenge and hunt (smaller fish, crustaceans, anything meaty...) SO... The only animal I can find via Google are "Cambroides japonicus" ....Not so sure about them... if I could read the Japanese script on the pages it might help me more... Thanks for all your help!!! You Guys Rock!  Mitch (ps. I am trying to obtain possible photos) <Hello Mitchell. So far as I know (and can understand) no crayfish is a useful algae eater. Yes, they all eat algae, but they do so by processing sediment. I can't see how these hulking animals could possibly scrape glass or delicate remove green fuzz from soft plants. Most crayfish are more like to eat plants than clean them! There are Japanese shrimps that have been popular as consumers as green algae, called Amano Shrimps. I personally consider Nerite snails to be far superior (see my article on Algae Eaters in this months PFK magazine for a full run down of algae-eating animals). But do also understand that NO ANIMAL fixes a major algae problem. At best they consume certain types of algae, but since all animals also produce ammonia, they fertilize the water, speeding up the growth of algae generally. The ONLY reliable fix for algae is to add fast-growing plants under bright lighting. When aquarists report that their planted tanks have no algae, this is rarely because of the fish or shrimps or snails. It's because the plants are stopping algae from growing through a process called allelopathy. If your tank [a] doesn't have fast growing plants; and [b] doesn't have bright lights, then adding an algae-eater won't make much difference and could make things worse. If your tank already has brown algae, hair algae, or blue-green algae, then you have other problems with the tank, and adding a crayfish or algae-eater of any other kind isn't on the cards at all. Cheers, Neale>

Question about nasty Chinese Algae Eaters!   8/11/08 Hi there, <Megan,> I recently bought a 28 gallon tank from my neighbour. Excited to get started, I went and bought myself six guppies (who now have babies! Woohoo!), six neon tetras, two small gouramis, <Colisa lalia by any chance? Do read my writings on this species elsewhere on WWM -- extremely poor quality stock in the trade, and serious problems with viral diseases mean that you must choose your specimens with the utmost care.> and four barbs. <And what, pray tell, are these Barbs? Do be aware that many barbs (e.g., Tiger Barbs) are notorious fin nippers when kept in too small a group (realistically less than a dozen) and your Fancy Guppies will be mincemeat once they get started.> I have live plants in my tank and I bought one algae eater to begin with. <If this is Gyrinocheilus aymonieri, this is too large for your tank (up to 35 cm/14") and extremely aggressive.> After a couple days I thought my algae eater was looking a little lonely. <They don't get lonely. They are territorial. Please be extremely careful about transposing human feelings onto animals. This path leads to all kinds of problems! Instead, research the animal and then act accordingly. Trying to cater to an animals social needs is absolutely the right thing to do. But those needs are not necessarily the same as ours. In fact they very rarely are.> I don't know much about algae eaters but I thought, what the heck? I went to the pet store and got three more of what I thought were the same type. A couple days later, my neighbour came over to visit and made a terrible discovery - I'd purchased three Chinese algae eaters. <Oh dear, yes, this is Gyrinocheilus aymonieri, possibly the single worst commonly traded fish in the hobby.> Now, one of them is growing rapidly and becoming very aggressive. The other two are growing, but not as fast. My neighbour seems to think the fourth algae eater (my original one) is of the same family, but we can't find it in books anywhere. It's almost albino looking - pale in colour and other than that, very similar looking to a Chinese algae eater. <Likely the "Golden" morph. If it has the same shape and look, but is just sort of yellowy-pink, that's the beast. Gyrinocheilus aymonieri also have very distinctive gill covers, with small holes at the top that allow the fish to breath in and out through the gills. As you probably know, most other fish breath in through the mouth, and out through the gills.> The pale algae eater isn't growing nearly as fast, however. I don't know what to do with them, so I want to know if you have any suggestions. I've tried just giving them to people, but no one seems to want them, and I can understand why! <Yep.> I can't bring myself to kill them unless it's completely pain free, and I've noticed on your website there are a couple different ways of doing so. <If in doubt, consult a vet. With large fish, the simple methods recommended for use with Neons and the like may be inappropriate. Large fish will need to be sedated first, then destroyed.> But before I take that route, I want to know if there is anything else I can do, and if you can give me any more information on them. <These are actually acceptable fish in certain situations, e.g., big cichlid tanks. They really need systems 750 litres/200 gallons upwards, where they are dynamic and attractive fish. So if you've called the local tropical fish shops and they won't take them, try joining some tropical fish forums and bulletin boards, and advertising on their "trade/swap/freebie" sections.> I really don't want them hurting my fish, especially my beautiful little gouramis who are peaceful. <Indeed.> Any help would be appreciated! Thanks Megan <Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Question about nasty Chinese Algae Eaters!   8/11/08 Hello again! <Hail and well met.> Okay, so instead of trying to explain visually what everything looked like for proper identification, I decided to send pictures... probably would have been a smart move in the first place eh? <Right, the golden barb is Puntius sachsii, a species that gets to about 8 cm/3" in length. Like all barbs its sociable, so the more you have, the less likely it is to cause problems. But this isn't a particularly nippy species and with luck you should be okay. The algae eater and the golden algae eater are both Gyrinocheilus aymonieri, the big, nasty bruiser I was talking about last time around. The gouramis are Colisa lalia, in my opinion and utter waste of money. You appear to have two males, one of the "Red" variety and one of "Powder Blue" variety. Same species, same problems. I'm not saying they're bound to die after a short miserable life, but a lot of the do. Do a Google search for 'Dwarf Gourami Iridovirus' to learn more.> Thanks for the information on my algae eaters. I hate it that pet stores employ people with little or no knowledge about the species they're giving you. I asked specifically for two small, calm algae eaters. I assumed even though I didn't know much about them, the people they had working there probably would. I recall the girl giving me a confused face and then saying "Oh, yeah, these are what you want then!" <Agreed. Problem is that people often buy fish without researching them, going by price/colour first, and provided there's a market, retailers will stock them.> Note to self: Just because the fish is small at the time it's bought, doesn't mean it can't grow to over a foot long. And, also, those Chinese algae eaters don't look any different then an ugly old trout when they grow up. <They're not ugly fish when they're grown up. They're rather handsomely marked. But they certainly aren't community tank fish.> I forgot to mention that I only asked for two and received a little freebie in my bag - bringing me to three plus one mystery fish. <The photo labeled "Mystery Guy" is a golden morph of Gyrinocheilus aymonieri. The same species as the fish labeled "Evil". Notice how I use Latin names? Avoids all complications because this way everyone knows precisely what fish is being discussed. While you might think using Latin names is awkward, it actually dramatically simplifies fish shop shopping.> Argh. <Quite.> Anyways, I am going to call the pet store today and see if they will take them off my hands. And your idea about the forums was a great one! So I guess my next question would be what can I get to replace them that's going to be calm and friendly and preferably not cost me my next month's rent? <If you want small algae eaters, then the safest bets are Nerite snails (harmless, don't breed, don't damage plants); Cherry Shrimps (colourful, small, but will be killed by fish medications, as will snails by the way); and Bristlenose Cats (Ancistrus spp.).> I have attached a couple pictures. One of my gouramis, my barbs and my mystery algae eater. Thanks for your advice, it's all really useful! <Cool.> (PS - I am a sucker for placing human attributes on animals - I'm constantly thinking "oh, he looks so lonely!", when in fact the fish would rather be alone and I just assume it needs "friends".) <Note I'm not saying animals don't have feelings or don't like people. Animals surely do have feelings, just not the same ones as ours. Likewise many animals enjoy human company. Goldfish for example positively thrive when looked after well and attentively, as do most cichlids and pufferfish. Cheers, Neale.>

Common Pleco in a planted tank......  6/30/08 Hey there, Quick question....can I put a common Pleco in a 150 planted tank? By common, I am referring to Pterygoplichthys pardalis. I am working on a 3D background, etc, and plan on having various plants growing along the back wall space-in-creation. The bottom/mid level will house various shapes of large driftwood protruding from the "river bank"....the very bottom will have various boulders, gravel, and large driftwood. I am worried about a Plec eating plants and disrupting their locale. That is the common complaint that I've found on chat boards and bio-pages. However, more than once I have read of the "exception". So I am confused and looking for a blunt opinion in plain English. I have one that's about 8 or 9 inches currently living in a bucket. (It would be funny if I stopped this email right there, eh?) He was in a 55......I parted that tank out. Had him in a 20 temporarily. I also parted out my 150 reef and moved that in a 55 high current reef......planned on getting a couple of large freshies to put in the 150.......after 12 hours of moving the 150 inhabitants I went on the back porch to have a beer. I heard a loud *!Crack!*....... the 20 gallon, sitting on the counter with the tiniest little nick in the corner glass finally gave way (had been running for over 2 years). I chugged my beer laughing. All fish were saved (Plec and some baby Cichlids that showed up one day in another tank).....and they all now live in a 5 gallon bucket. The cichlids are going to a different tank...... Well, my neighbor has a gnarly fresh water planted tank and he turned me on to the idea of that rather than a couple of big meanies. So....... Can this Plec go in the planted tank? (Could have started and ended this whole damn email with that one sentence!) Thanks in advance for the info. It's funny that sometimes the simplest answers to the simplest questions are the hardest to find. I've searched everywhere!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Jon <Hello Jon. The short answer is that Pterygoplichthys spp. tend not to eat plants directly, being omnivores with a preference for algae and benthic invertebrates such as bloodworms. This contrasts with, for example, Panaque spp. that are almost entirely herbivorous and feed on plants and wood rather than algae. However, this distinction is somewhat academic, because large Plecs can and will uproot or otherwise damage all but the most sturdy plants. They swim like bricks, as you probably realise, and don't so much avoid plants and bulldoze through them. In the process they will uproot small plants and break the leaves off bigger plants. They also like to burrow, and this sand or gravel shifting can easily end up smothering plants. Finally, they have rasping teeth that can damage soft-leaved and waxy-leaved plants in the process of their grazing on algae. The best plants for tanks with Plecs are robust but flexible and fast-growing species, such as Giant Vallisneria. Java Fern can work well too, partly because it is tough, but also because it doesn't need to be planted in the substrate, so isn't uprooted or smothered easily. Anubias might work well, though when kept with Panaque it ends up being reduced to a Swiss Cheese Plant, so I'd not necessarily recommend it. I'd also mention the fact Panaque destroy painted polystyrene/resin backdrops that go inside the tank; Pterygoplichthys may be different (it has less robust teeth) but I wouldn't bank on it! Bottom line, large Loricariid catfish generally do best in rocky tanks with bogwood and Java Ferns where they can't do too much damage! Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Common Pleco in a planted tank......  - 7/1/08 Thanks Neale, I was thinking along the same lines as your "bulldozer" idea, regarding the Pleco in a planted tank, the more that I thought about it today. I am thinking that with the setup that I will be having, smaller cleaners are definitely the way to go here. I have to set up another rocky tank anyways. He can stay in that bucket for a bit longer. Thanks for the info and thoughts on the subject! Jon <Hi Jon. For planted tanks, your best bets on the algae-eater front are invertebrates, in particular Nerite snails and algae-eating shrimps such as Neocaridina spp. If you want to supplement these with fish, then go with small Ancistrus spp./Crossocheilus spp. as grazers and perhaps Jordanella floridae for thread algae control. That said, invertebrates on their own do a much better job when used in sufficient numbers. For example, I'd reckon on at least 4 Nerite snails plus 10 Cherry Shrimps per 30-40 litres. Cheers, Neale>

Can you help please ????? Backgrounds in tank and FW algae eaters   4/19/08 Hello crew, I recently bought a Jewel 300 litre tank to replace a 100 litre tank which cracked . I also bought a Jewel 3d background of some rocks, which was very nice. However over a period of a couple months the design on the 3d background started coming off !! So I called the Petshop I bought the tank from and they said they would replace it , the owner off the shop said it happened because I have a small algae eater (approx.10cm.). I have never seen the algae eater on the background and thought that the reason for the design came off was because of a faulty pair of background tiles . I would appreciate your opinion on this matter , have you heard of this before ? Could it be my flow off the pump is flowing wrong direction (water getting pushed to back off tank)? Hope you can help as I'm waiting to find out if I should put in the new tiles or take out my algae eater first . Happy Xmas. <Hello Andre. Some algae-eating fish can, will destroy textured backgrounds. The Juwel ones are made from expanded polystyrene or epoxy foams. The basic material is one colour, but there is paint applied to the outside to make it look more attractive. In any case, Panaque spp. catfish for example simply shred them. So what you report is not at all surprising. They cannot be used with Panaque spp., and probably not other medium to large Loricariidae. Cheers, Neale.>

Gold sucking catfish... ID, dead   4/6/08 Hi! This is my first time here but I've read a lot of the Q's & A's to help me with my family's new hobby, and I have learnt so much - thanks! My query is since starting my own tank with balloon mollies and platies in October I had a gold sucking catfish, 'Sticky', that did wonders for keeping all clean, then he/she went belly up in February. I got 'Sticky II' who unfortunately only lasted not even 2 months and also ended up belly up. I do have salt for the mollies, but minimal because of the platies. do a 25-30% water change fortnightly, and not being educated in gallons the tank is 60x30x28cm. The ph is around 7.6, and ammonia, nitrites etc are all always no danger. Sticky added character and looked good so what can I do to make life good in my tank for another or should I be looking at getting a different type of algae eater? I know mollies and platies are algae eaters but the difference in the tank's cleanliness is definitely noticeable. Thanks in advance, Tania <Tania, the short answer is that if you've tried to keep the same species twice and both times failed quickly, it's best to forget about that species for now. Wait another 6-12 months when your skills have developed some more. Take the time out to identify the species in question ("gold sucking catfish" could mean anything). I fear you mean the golden morph of Gyrinocheilus aymonieri, one of the worst fish in the hobby. In any case, identify the fish, read up about it, and concentrate on maintaining your aquarium as it is. Algae eaters don't actually make that much difference. Using a sponge or scraper once a week will do a million times better job, and without any extra loading on the filter. By the way, Platies are fine with a little salt, provided you raise the salinity slowly. 5 grammes per litre (about SG 1.002) would be an ideal balance between the needs of your Mollies and the tolerances of your Platies. If you wanted an algae eater for a slightly saline environment, I'd heartily recommend things like Florida Flagfish, Amano shrimps, and/or Nerite snails -- all much smaller and more effective than any catfish. Cheers, Neale.>

Goldfish, mis-stocked, Gyrinocheilus, no reading...  3/30/08 Hi I have a 10 gallon tank with 5 goldfish, <Much too crowded> I had an algae eater <... you haven't followed directions... and read on WWM before writing us...> in the tank until yesterday because I seen him sucking on the fish and my other fish are a black googly eyed fish, orange poofy cheek and an orange and white one that's stomach is shaped like a marble and an other little goldfish but my question is my orange bubble cheek fish is a slow guy and the algae eater was picking on him a lot and I seen that he was missing some scales on his back and there's a thin white tissue on his back and I talked to the petstore and they said put in some stress coat, that will work and that was yesterday but I see that the tissue has gone on his eyes, I think he cant see because he is swimming into a lot of things and he just doesn't look healthy at all and its really scary. What can I do? April <Read: http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/gldfshsystems.htm and the linked files above where you lead yourself on a wonderful journey of discovery and self-fulfillment... Thrill (!) as you find that you've been mistreating the life in your care! Excitement will be yours as you delve into the real care of your aquatic charges... Imagine (!!!) their relief at being taken care of properly!!! BobF>

Algae eater... no reading, whacky , 3/22/08 I have three algae eaters in a 29 gallon tank. I'm not sure what type they are but they're all three your cheap Wal-Mart types. <What?> The biggest one is about 17-18 inches long <...?!> and about 6yrs old, and the other two are about 7-8 inches long and 5 1/2 inches long. The largest and one of the smaller ones are fine but my other one has suddenly started turning white. Not gradually either, from a dark brown/black/reddish to a white with some dark spots within a week and a half. He's acting normal and I see nothing else wrong with him at all. The tank is very clean and well taken care, water all tests fine. Is this just him changing color naturally or could something be wrong? I can't find anything about this anywhere online and all of our pet stores around here shut down. <... Something whacky here... Search: http://wetwebmedia.com/
WWMAdminSubWebIndex/question_page.htm "Algae eater identification" Bob Fenner>

Sick goldfish, CAEs  - 3/5/08 Hi, I have a question and wondering if you can help. I have a big goldfish that is 4+ years old. We got him at a carnival. He lives in a 20 gallon tank with two mollies and an algae eater. He has been sick for over a week. Usually I can get him better, but this time looks bad. He has been swimming upside down and sideways, and now his eye is bloody and clouded. He is also missing scales. I'm thinking maybe the other fish "picked on him" when he was sick? Now he is laying on his side at the bottom of his "sick tank". He is barely moving. Is there anything I can do? thanks Rachel <Hello Rachel. First, tell me what the "Algae Eater" is. The common or Chinese Algae Eater (Gyrinocheilus aymonieri) is a fish that becomes increasingly aggressive with age. Adults often attack their tankmates, and many specimens have been observed to scrape the scales and skin from slow moving fish. They are simply not acceptable tankmates for community fish. I'm concerned because the missing scales could easily be caused by this. In any case, whatever you do, you will need to do the following: - Check water quality (a 20 gallon tank is too small for Goldfish once they get above about 8 cm/3", so I'm guessing that's at least one factor). - Use a combination Finrot/Fungus medication such as Maracyn or eSHa 2000. When you use medications, be sure and remove carbon from the filter if you've been suckered into using this stuff. Do read the article linked below for more Goldfish basics; if you're not doing everything outlined therein, that's probably where you're going wrong. http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/goldfish101art.htm Cheers, Neale.>

Are these baby algae eaters? Or What? Perhaps Gyrinocheilus...  -12/14/07 Hello. Thank you for reading this.. <Welcome Karen> A while ago I replaced our algae eater (I am not sure of type -sorry) that had died. The store gave me two of them. The smaller of these two also died 3-4 weeks ago. The remaining algae eater has gotten longer and larger. Tonight, I noticed that there were a lot (like 100 or so) of little tiny (less than 2/10 of a centimeter) whitish-cream moving creatures all along the sides of the tank. They are long and thin. They are sort of ovalish -long oval. The edges are clear. <Interesting> I am assuming that they are baby algae eaters. I have spent the last 2 hours looking and looking online for info on this. And, no luck, no photos. <Mmm, maybe on Fishbase.org... through some of their specialized links... IF we can first discern the species here> Okay, I keep taking a second look at the tank....But, now I am not sure, there were a few crawling up the side -outside of the water. Ugh, there are hundreds of teeny tiny - like 1/100th of a centimeter in there. What the heck are these? I don't even think I could take a photo to send it, they are so small. I am ready to open my kids Eye Clops, that is waiting for Christmas, just to get a better look at them. <Need a pic... Cyclops? No worries re placing these> Here is my tank info. I have one nice red Betta fish (who did not eat its food today-maybe eating these little things?) It is in a non heated tank. <Needs a heater... to be heated consistently... To be/stay healthy... IS a tropical fish> It is a 5 gallon tank with a few fake plants and one fake piece of coral rock. The Betta has been with us for nearly 2 years. But since the algae was getting a bit much to clean each month, I brought in an algae eater. I feed the Betta Wardleys Essentials Betta premium food (2-3 pieces per day) and since I had just cleaned the tank before putting in the two new algae eaters there was not a lot of algae growing and I purchased Aquarian sinking algae chips -which the remaining algae eater eats one chip in one day. What do I do if this is some sort of infestation - from what? Or is it really baby fish? <Do see the Net re the word: Gyrinocheilus... is this the fish? I would do nothing overt here... but would read re Betta Systems: http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/
bettasysart.htm, get that heater... Bob Fenner> Thank you again. Karen

Re: Are these baby algae eaters? Or What? Flatworms   12/18/07 Thank you for your input. From one of your referenced sites, I found that these little white things are Planaria. I remember dissecting these in Biology in college. Neat, but not so neat in the fish tank. The fish seem to be eating them. Since there are a lot less now. Thank you again. Very helpful. Merry Christmas! Karen <Neat! Thank you for this follow-up. Bob Fenner>

29 gallon, FW... temp. high and Ram and plant sel.... algae-eater sel.  10/21/07 Hi, I have had the same 29 gallon aquarium since 1993 when I received it as a birthday gift from my dad when I was 12. Since that time I have evolved quite a bit in my knowledge of fish keeping! I recently moved, giving me the opportunity to completely overhaul my tank to become a planted aquarium. I purchased a 50 watt cable heater from Aquarium Designs (but it has no thermostat?!) which I sandwiched between a thick layer of sand on the bottom. I then spread a thin layer of Eco Completer, a thin layer of Fluorite, and finally mixed the rest of the two substrates with my original gravel to bring a good 5-6" layer for rooting. The problem is, with no thermostat, the water is a steady 84 degrees. Too bad 29 gallons is too small for Discus.? I started the cycle with black mollies, Cory catfish, and a Chinese algae eater (I hate them, but didn't want to buy another Pleco that would quickly outgrow the tank and uproot everything ~ I can't find any dwarf Pleco's locally and the shipping is quite high on my budget for online ordering). I have several large pieces of wood, and a small (but growing) collection of plants. <Hmm... I think you'll regret the "economy" of a Chinese algae eater. Since you don't need an algae eater (the idea you do is a myth) better to just go without. Ancistrus sp. catfish make a better alternative, and as 2-3 cm "kittens" they are usually easy to obtain and very cheap.> Would Blue Ram's be ok in water this warm? Are there any plants that thrive in warm water that you would suggest? <84F (29C) is just about perfect for all Mikrogeophagus species, so this shouldn't be a problem. However, most Corydoras *hate* water that warm, and in some cases (e.g., bearded, peppered, panda and bronze Corys) they will die prematurely from heat stress (those species are subtropical fish). Mollies are fine in very warm water. If you can, swap out the Corydoras for something else, or at least make sure you have true tropical Corydoras species (like Corydoras sterbai and Corydoras adolfoi). At 84F (29C) you're basically running things at "Discus temperatures" and need to make allowances for the fact relatively few tropical naturally endure such temperatures indefinitely. Likewise with the plants. Good choices tend to be things like Cryptocorynes, Java ferns, Anubias, Echinodorus bleheri. Coldwater plants, like Elodea and Eleocharis, tend to do not so well. Subtropical and low-end tropicals, such as Vallisneria, are somewhere in between. To some degree, you'll need to experiment, but going by the temperature guidelines in an aquarium plant book would be a sensible way to start.> Thanks, Ben <Good luck, Neale>

Algae fish sucking on goldfish 10/3/07 We have 2 goldfish and an algae fish. They have been in the same tank for about 6 months. Today the algae fish was attached to one of the goldfish and now the fish is floating on his side at the top of the tank. It seems like you can see through him and his fins look flat and torn. My question is do you think he was sick or did the algae fish kill him? Also, should we worry for the other goldfish? Thanks, Denice <Hello Denice. What you describe is actually very common. Under no circumstances should "algae fish" -- by which I assume you mean Gyrinocheilus aymonieri -- be kept with goldfish or any other large, slow moving species. Apart from eat the mucous from the skins of large fish, as they get bigger they become increasingly hostile, to the point where they can, do batter tankmates to death. Despite their widespread sale in aquarium shops, these ARE NOT GOOD AQUARIUM FISH. Most aquarium books say as much, so please let me remind you of the importance of researching a fish BEFORE buying it. The guys in the pet store often have no clue, and ultimately only care about making a sale. If you can, return the fish to the store. They are, of course, tropical fish, and unless your goldfish aquarium is heated to around 22-24 C, your specimen of Gyrinocheilus aymonieri will not last for very long. Cheers, Neale>

Guppies and Chinese Algae Eaters  4/8/07 Hi, <<Greetings, Matt. Tom with you.>> Just having a read through your website. Very helpful. <<Glad to hear it, Matt.>> I have a 25 litre tank with both male and female guppies as well as 4 golden Chinese algae eaters. Fairly small, the largest is 2 inches. The shop said it would be fine however your site is giving me some doubt! <<Again, I'm glad to hear this. Even without going into my usual diatribe on CAE's, Matt, they grow too large for a 25-liter tank.>> Will the guppies be fine as they should be too small and fast to be latched onto by a CAE? <<Just responded yesterday to a reader who found exactly the opposite to be true'¦sadly for one of the Guppies. Nearly identical circumstances, coincidentally. In short, your Guppies are not safe at all.>> There doesn't even appear to be algae in my time <<tank?>>, should I consider giving them the flick? <<Immediately, if not sooner than that.>> If so what other bottom dwelling fish can live in fresh water tanks at room temp.? As I mainly got them as they are something different! <<Oh, they're different all right! Personally, I'd look into a few of any of the Corydoras varieties of Catfish. Personable little fish that get along well with nearly all fish, certainly with your Guppies. Mine are kept at 78 degrees F. so you'll want to do some careful acclimating if 'room temperature' is far below this.>> Cheers Matt <<Best regards, Matt. Tom>>

Guppy problem need help soon... - 4/6/07 Hi, <<Hello, Shilpi. Tom here.>> I have a 3 gallon tank.. I have 2 Guppies one male, one female... 1 Neon Tetra... 1 Gold Algae Eater (Scavenger)... Yesterday, I saw the Gold Algae Eater going and sitting on the male guppy (Do not know if it was biting the fish or what was it probably up to?) So, I moved gold algae Eater from the tank to a different place... but the next day I saw the male Guppy with white round spot (kind of fungus) on its fin near the gills.. and the in a couple of hours it was dead... I removed the dead male guppy from the tank.. but I am afraid that remaining 2 fishes might get infected. Please tell me how to treat the tank so the other fishes are safe (I also think that my female Guppy is expecting babies)...... <<Shilpi, a 'Gold Algae Eater' is a color variant of the Chinese Algae Eater, a fish notorious for feeding on the slime coats and flesh of its tank mates. You don't mention how old the CAE is but this murderous behavior usually manifests itself as the fish approaches adulthood. The wounds inflicted are round matching the shape of the CAE's mouth. These wounds are also terribly susceptible to fungal infections since the protective slime coat is missing. Now that I've shared the 'bad news', the good news is that the fungus that developed on the wound of your Guppy was already present in the tank, anyway. Your healthy fish weren't, and likely won't be, affected by it. You took care of the 'problem' by removing the Algae Eater.>> Thanks, Shilpi <<You're welcome, Shilpi. Best regards. Tom>>

Gold and wild type Chinese algae eater... Wherefore art these?   3/14/07 Hello,           I know that the so-called "Chinese Algae Eater" is a wild-caught species, <Mmm, not usually... has been largely cultured the last few decades> but is the "gold" albino variant wild-caught, <No, it is captive-produced as well> as well. I am not a fan of man-made fish, and so have no use for the gold variant if it does not occur in the wild. Thanks. Bill Day-Skowhegan, Maine <Mmm... well, for the sake of clarity... the flavistic CAE is the result of fortuitous accident, and perpetuation through selective breeding... No Frankenstein, genetic manipulation involvement. Bob Fenner>

Algae eater problem   3/10/07 My algae eater has a bright red bump of some sort on the side of his sucker. <Is this a Gyrinocheilus aymonieri? See the Net re...> I don't know if it is a sore or like a growth.  The fish is not very old and the bump has only been there for like 3 days now but tonight I looked at him again and it looks like he is getting more of them on the top of his face but they are really small yet.  Do you know what this might be? <Mmm... likely environmental in origin... see the Net again re the natural, tolerable water quality conditions for this species (fishbase.org...)...> Is it something I need to treat? If you have any ideas please let me know. Chelsie <Umm... you need to know the actual information listed above... as the common name is not sufficient to identify this species... and you list no water quality, system, or maintenance information... Know the species, its requirements, then meet them... No need for ameliorative measures. Bob Fenner>

Algae eater selection  2/12/07 Dear Crew, <<Hello, Christine. Tom with you this afternoon.>> I am a big fan of your site and am hoping you can offer some advice. <<I'll give my best shot, Christine.>> I have a 20 gallon tall planted freshwater aquarium that houses 6 Harlequin Rasboras, a female threadfin rainbow fish, a male Bolivian Ram, some ghost shrimp and possible still an Oto or two (hardly ever see them). <<Haven't seen mine lately, either.>> The tank is kept around 80 degrees and even with cleaning, restricting feeding and hungry plants I have algae (mostly green hair with some diatom and green spot thrown in for fun). I tried to control with Otos, but I can't seem to keep more than one or two alive for an extended period of time. <<Very difficult to acclimate these fish, sadly.>> I was looking for an alternative algae eater that I can keep in a alkaline (7.8 pH), warm tank. I thought about Siamese Algae Eaters as they do well in my 29 gallon tank, but I'm concerned about keeping more than one in such a small tank. Any advice (related to the subject matter)? <<Ahhh'¦ You've read my stuff! :) Related to the subject matter? Don't try to control algae problems with 'pets'. You'll wind up with a tank full of fish that won't touch what you're attempting to control. Best bet? Reduce your lighting. You've done well by keeping the plants and reducing feeding. Both are good moves. Lighting is next. Attempting to stick with the subject, not all 'algae eaters' will eat all algae'¦if that makes sense. Some will simply stick their noses up at some forms of the stuff, diatoms in particular. Additionally, should the algae (happily) disappear, you've got to supplement the algae eater's diet with something that it will live on and thrive. Why introduce a fish that you don't 'really' want, especially in a tank that's somewhat small. Cut back on lighting first.>> Thanks, Christine <<You're welcome. Tom>>

Chinese Algae Eater I have had two CAE for a while now, about a year.  Just recently one of them was disappearing for long amounts of time, I would look for it, and with no success, then it returned.  I watched it for a while and it had gone again, so I opened my filter up and it is staying in my filter, is this a normal thing, or should I get it out. Thanks <<LOL! This is one I haven't heard before. My guess is that he feels safe in there because it's darker and most algae eaters tend to be nocturnal. However, I have to worry that he'll inadvertently get into a spot in the filter that could harm him. If possible, use a mesh of some sort to block the area he's getting into. Plastic canvas might work well or if it's on the part of the filter where the water comes back out you could probably use a piece of a sponge or a filter pad cut to fit. You might also want to give him some sort of a cave that he can hide in. A small piece of PVC pipe or a clay flowerpot broken in half with the broken edges buried in the gravel should work. Ronni>>

Sucking Loach I have two sucking loach which I have owned for over a year, one of them has started to dig big holes and up rooting plants, neither of my loaches have done this before and I was wondering if you know why it has started to do this. <sounds like normal behavior for the Chinese algae-eater, they will probably start eating your plants as well.  Look up the "Chinese algae-eater" or "Gyrinocheilus aymonieri" on fishbase.org, if this is what you have you can expect much more of this behavior in the future. Best regards, Gage>

Sick algae eater?    1/14/07 Hi!   <<Good morning. Tom here.>> Our six year old has three beloved goldfish in a 10 gallon tank with a 20 gal. capacity bio-wheel filter and a 10-15 gal. capacity whisper-quiet filter running at all times.  (The whisper-quiet came with the tank kit, which was adequate with one goldfish.  We added the bio-wheel filter soon after buying the two other goldfish to keep "Dorothy" company.)  The two filters keep the tank very clean despite the three poop-monsters, and we perform regular water changes and chemical tests.   <<In spite of the splendid maintenance regimen and filtration, I would urge you to look into upgrading the tank for the Goldfish. A ten-gallon tank is much too small, in the long term, for one Goldfish let alone three. (Always a 'hard sell' to try to convince folks that their happy little Goldfish need to be in a tank four times the size of their current home but it's with very good reason, I assure you.)>> We added in a catfish and a golden algae eater (from PetSmart) to help keep the tank clean shortly after getting the two new goldfish.  <<Mixing tropical fish with Goldfish is rarely a good idea. First, the water parameters required are largely incompatible between species. A 'happy medium' is difficult to attain and, generally, isn't going to be ideal for either. In this specific case, it's also placing an unneeded load on a tank that's already too small. You don't mention what type of Catfish you added which makes it hard for me to make any further recommendations. Some, such as the Corydoras, remain very small while other varieties, if kept properly, can reach proportions that you can't imagine.>> The golden algae eater (named "Goldie") has gradually turned dark gray in the six months we've had "her".  First she looked like she was turning transparent and we could see her insides, and then she just got darker and darker from gills to tail.  Right now, her head and the top half of her tail are the only parts of her that are still gold.  She hides behind the filter tube during the day and comes out to eat mostly at night.  We put algae discs in the tank, but she usually doesn't eat them, preferring to suck the glass or stones on the bottom.  She has grown longer since we got her, but she has gotten very, very skinny as well.  We keep expecting to see her floating lifelessly, or to find her missing entirely with the goldfish looking more well fed than usual!  Is she sick?  Is she not really a golden algae eater?  Any suggestions?   <<The 'Golden' Algae Eater is a color-variant (a variation that doesn't seem to be 'holding', by the way) of the Chinese Algae Eater which is, unfortunately, a particularly despicable fish. (No need to share that with your young son.) As these fish mature, they lose their taste for algae and can/will become very aggressive toward tank mates. They have the distasteful habit of attaching themselves to larger fish, Goldfish for example, and feeding on their protective slime coats and flesh leaving the 'victims' susceptible to infection and disease. This can result, sadly, in death. Additionally, as if you wanted an 'additionally', these fish grow larger than they're often advertised to grow, up to six inches in length. (Thank you, PetSmart!) 'Goldie' needs to be moved or, you can make the upgrade I've recommended and leave her in the ten-gallon tank by herself. In the meantime, keep a very close eye on the Goldfish and look, specifically, for round, white/red wound marks on the sides of the fish. Unless this CAE dies beforehand, this will be a matter of 'when', not 'if'.>> Thanks!    JR's Mom <<I strongly suspect that through educating the fishkeeping public the sale and market for CAE's dropped off dramatically for a period of time until some 'enterprising' folks began to reintroduce these animals in 'disguised' form. My local PetSmart stopped selling CAE's altogether due to their notorious reputations. A little disappointing to find that the chain has turned to selling them as a 'different' fish. If there are other questions you have, please, don't hesitate. I much prefer to give our readers positive experiences when they write to us. Best regards. Tom>> CAE gone My algae eater was in my tank just the other day and last night when I went 2 feed my fish he wasn't no where 2 find in the tank but my other 2 fish was there and the only that takes care of them is me. I clean out my fish tank and he still wasn't in there. He no where 2 be find.  Kayla <Look on the floor, perhaps a smiling cat... RMF>

Problem CAE  9/19/06 Greetings Crew, <Hi Jessica, Pufferpunk here> I've been reading some of the postings on your website concerning the Chinese Algae Eater. Having learned that this fish is not suitable for community tanks, I called the store that I purchased my CAE from in hopes of getting a refund or some kind of store credit. The guy that helped me said that the store doesn't do refunds. What should I do with the fish? I'm keeping it in a small 1.5 gallon tank at the moment, but I really don't want to keep a fish that isn't going to permanently inhabit my larger tank. Also, while it was in my larger tank (it stayed in there for about half a week), it kept swimming up & down the walls quickly, scaring my Platies & Dwarf Frogs. What should I do? I don't want it to die, but I don't want to keep it... Please advise!!  =( <Forget about getting any $$$ back & just give it to them.  It will die in that bowl.  Even a pest fish has the right to live.  Search around for a true Siamese algae eater or get a dwarf Pleco, like the Bristlenose.  ~PP> <Mmmm, this volume is too small for these algae eaters... maybe a snail species... BobF> Thanks, Jessica Goldfish and Suckerfish    8/7/06 Hi! <<Hey, there. Tom this afternoon.>> I currently have 3 small goldfish, and lately there has been some algae growth. Is this due to the cycle of the tank, because it has recently matured? <<One of the signs of a cycled tank is algae growth so I would say this is more than likely the case.>> I was wondering if there was any types of algae-cleaners that I could buy to put in my tank. I have read that the common Pleco will suck on the goldfish. Are there any other types of suckerfish that would get along with goldfish? <<Your information on the Common Plecostomus is correct. Unfortunately, there aren't any of the so-called Algae Eaters that will do well in a Goldfish tank. Very few fish will, which is why it's recommended that Goldfish stay segregated with their own kind. What you might look into, provided it's aesthetically pleasing to you, is the Olive Nerite snail (Neritina reclivata). I'm not a "snail guy" myself but these critters are used by many aquarists to control algae (something they do very, very well by all accounts).>> Thanks! <<You're welcome. Tom>> <http://yatfs.com/new_page_11.htm>CAE help   7/27/06 Hello, <<Hi, Caitlan. Tom>> I recently purchased a Chinese algae eater as the pet shop people told me that they live well with goldfish. <<I'd take that with a very big grain of salt.>> I have 4 very hungry fantails. As opposed to the usual case, my fantails are ATTACKING the CAE? Is this normal? <<If you expected the situation to be reversed, give the CAE some time to mature and it may very well be the case. I don't have any specific knowledge of the CAE's behavior with Goldfish but I do know that they become territorial, aggressive and, potentially, killers as adults around other types of fish. One of their particularly distasteful habits as adults is to attach themselves to slower moving fish and feed on the skin of the hapless victim. These creatures shouldn't even be sold to hobbyists, in my opinion.>> I was hoping you could give me some advice as to what's an appropriate step to take in this case? <<In your case, Caitlan, I'd take the animal back to the pet shop and get your money back. This fish won't "change its spots" and will turn out as Mother Nature decreed. I certainly wouldn't put your Goldfish in jeopardy - odd as that sounds from what you've described - over this fish. Personally, I'd think hard about accepting the recommendations from the folks at this pet shop, as well. A shop that stocks a fish with the reputation that this one has may not be the best place to do business.>> Thanks for your help! <<Don't know that I'd call it "help" in this case, Caitlan, but I don't think you'd get a different opinion from any of my fellow Crew members on this one.>> With regards, Caitlan FW, stkg., algae eaters, algae control  6/5/06 Hi Bob, I have a 10 gallon tank, (almost a year) with the following: 1 dwarf Gourami, 1 zebra loach, 3 Otos, 5 Pristella tetras. The Otos aren't doing a good job of cleaning off the algae on the surfaces, live plants etc. <This genus of little Loricariids is not really great at this task...> I have about 6 plants in there, no plastic ones and driftwood.  I would like to add an Ancistrus to eat the algae.   Is this going to be too crowded?   <Mmm, maybe... You'll need to keep an eye that this new cat and the Otocinclus are receiving food... likely from sinking wafer/pellet additions> And if so, how can I get rid of the algae especially because its taking over the plants and I can't enjoy their natural beauty. <Many things to state. Please read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/PlantedTksSubWebIndex/algcontags.htm and the linked files above> I also leave the lights on for up 12-16 hours a day <I'd reduce this to 12> for the plants and just because.  Also, my Ludwigia (is that how you spell it?) <Close, will correct> has lost all of its bottom leaves and only the top ones are left, I wonder if its due to insufficient lighting? <One possibility. More likely light intensity, quality than duration> I have one newly replaced 19 watt fluorescent bulb. <Need more than this... Please read: http://wetwebmedia.com/PlantedTksSubWebIndex/lightingags.htm and the linked files above. Bob Fenner> Thanks in advance, Lydia Algae eater and gold fish bowl  6/5/06 <<Hi, Tammy. Tom here.>> Need to know if algae eaters can exist in gold fish bowl or do they need a filtering system?   <<No fish, including Goldfish, should be kept in an unfiltered system, Tammy. My concern here is the kind of "algae eater" you have. Otocinclus and Siamese Algae Eaters grow to no more than a few inches. Plecostomus "Algae Eaters" can grow to four times this size. Sounds like you're in for some homework.>> We have gold fish and just wanted to keep it simple with a gold fish bowl. The algae eater was purchased. Please let me know. <<The few examples I cited are all tropical fish meaning they will, no doubt, require heaters in their "homes" in addition to the filtering system. A Goldfish bowl isn't going to work here.>> Thanks <<You're welcome. Tom>> Algae Eater Behavior, Food - 05/21/2006 Just last month we noticed that our algae eater is eating our goldfish food.  Is that typical <Yes.> and second of all he likes to float on his back on top of the water.  Is that normal? <Only if he is looking for food or doing this during feeding time.  Wishing you well,  -Sabrina> No one has a answer... I do: Read... on WWM re goldfish sys., CAEs   5/15/06 I have asked a lot of people about these fish and the  condition they have.    I had a Fantail, a common Goldfish.  For a  few days my Fantail wasn't very energetic, but when I purchased 8 new babies <?> including two algae eaters she perked up.   <... Chinese Algae Eaters? This species is incompatible... Please read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/algaeeatersart.htm and the related FAQs file linked at top> Anyways just few days one of the  babies started to get black spots on it fins and then it moved to its side and  with in a few days it died. Then my Fantail died, the one other baby fantail had  black fins when I purchased it the it went to almost a solid black before dying.  It has spread to another fish and I know that it does not have much longer to  live.  I have changed water and moved the bigger one out and into a big  fish bowl.   <... what re water chemistry?> No one seems to have an answer. <You don't provide sufficient information...> I have put a  fungus treatment in the water and everything else is fine.  They eat very  well right up till the end and they swim all the time.   If anyone has  any idea why this is happening then please let me  know <Please read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/gldfshsystems.htm and the linked files above. Your goldfish are likely suffering from an improper, vacillating environment. Bob Fenner>

Re... goldfish dis., CAE, incomp. - 05/16/2006 <I didn't catch your first E-Mail, but I'll take a crack at this one.> Everything with the water is just fine.  I just cleaned  everything and took out the younger goldfish.  The algae eaters are not  exactly trying to suck on the other fish at least yet.  But I believe that  you are right they are the CAE.  I will be removing them ASAP. <If they are CAE, they will try to munch on your Goldfish, just a matter of time.>     But I still don't understand why they got black blotches on them ( young  goldfish). <Water quality!  Likely you have high levels of Ammonia in your tank.  If you don't know about cycling, read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwestcycling.htm >   And now my big goldfish has fin rot but I found a good remedy to  cure that up with a peroxide dip. <I don't know if this will hurt your fish, but I don't think it will help.  I wouldn't do it.>   A fish farmer I know told me about this  dip and he says that it works.  Exactly what causes fin rot? <Almost always water quality.  The only real "cure" is to start doing big water changes (30 to 40 percent) every day, maybe even twice a day.  I believe that your tank is cycling.  Please read the article linked above.>    And  is it common for a black moor to have one small fin on the side? I was thinking  that she/he was in a crowded tank at one time and could not develop properly.  Thanks for your reply. <Probably a genetic abnormality, nothing to worry about.  As for your tank, you really need to read about Cycling, get your hands on a test kit and keep your Ammonia and Nitrite levels below 1.0 PPM!  In the future, please give a little "back-story" in your E-Mails -- you may not get the same crew member responding to each E-Mail. Jason N.>

Sick Convicts?... CAE...    5/2/06 Hi! <<Hi, Sharon. Tom>>   I recently purchased 2 female convicts for a 37 gallon tank.  They will be the only inhabitants except for a Chinese algae eater later on.   <<Sharon, you had me right up until the CAE. Do NOT add this fish to your aquarium! In my opinion, they shouldn't even be sold. They grow to a fairly large size and develop a "taste" for fish skin as adults, latching on to fish and sucking "juices" from tankmates - to death. The Siamese Algae Eater is, by far, a better choice but is a little more difficult to find.>> My question has to do with coloring.  One of the females has beautiful dark stripes and coloring..  She has a little pink on her side. The other female is a bit smaller with drab stripes but with the female pink on her side.  Is this because she is a juvenile? <<Likely but not all fish are created "equally". Some are just a little slow to develop. Also, it just might not happen. Time will tell here.>> Thanks.  Sharon <<Welcome. Tom>> Thanks!  I did not realize that about a CAE.  I appreciate your help! <<Glad to be of assistance, Sharon.>> Sharon <<Tom>>

Sick Algae Eater    5/2/06 Last week my goldfish died. His tank buddy of 4 years is an Algae Eater and became lethargic with fins held close to his body ever since. <Unusual... something amiss with your water quality> Thinking he may have the same disorder as whatever killed the goldfish, I tried an antibiotic for a few days then did a 50 percent water change and then an antifungal for a couple of days. Now, because he hasn't eaten for the entire time, I put him in a fresh tank with a charcoal filter to see if he might have been getting overmedicated. <Very common> He still seems the same, moves a bit occasionally and more so if touched by hand. Could he be pining for his recent loss of company? <Not likely> If that's the case, what would be the best fish to get for him? An early reply would be most appreciated. John R. <Please read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/algaeeatersart.htm and the linked file/s at top. Bob Fenner>

Rescued Oscar and CAE  - 04/15/06 Recently I rescued an Oscar that is about 10 inches long (Around 1 1/2 years old. He is a orange albino.) from a 20 gal tank that had no filter or heater or bubbler. I have no idea how long the fish was in this water but you could not see the fish through the murk. The Chinese Algae Eater (CAE) has green growing on his back. I have had the two for about three months in a 50 gal tank with a double bio wheel and another filter two bubblers and a good heater. The Oscar has started thrashing around the tank flaring his gills out and attacking everything. He flips upside down and rubs his face and gills on everything. He seems like he is fighting himself on the side of the tank, his head will start to twitch then the gills flare then the attacking starts. It seemed like he was trying to scratch himself. He has also turned very dark and sometimes he will loose his color and you can see all of these blotches all over his fins and head. I don't know if they are scars or sores. There are no lumps. I was sure that he had gill flukes <Why?> so I started treating him with clout and then parasite buddies parasite clear. This seemed to make it worse <I'll bet!> so I then gave him a salt water dip <ouch!> and changed out all of the gravel in the tank. <Why?> I know this has now killed the biological filtration <Not killed, but set back. Don't forget those two Bio Wheels> so I have been checking the levels and changing water daily. <Great!> I have also discontinued use of the parasite meds. <Greater!> I just put the filters back in <Huh? You removed the filters? The whole thing or just the carbon filled inserts?> and I am letting the tank get back to normal. Also the Oscar has a strange relationship with the CAE. He want it to suck him. He will lay on top on the CAE until it has no place to go but to suck on the Oscar. Most of the time it just runs away from the fish. I am so baffled as to what this could be. The pH has a tendency to get low so I have been putting pH 7.0 in the tank and the ammonia has gotten normal and the nitrite is almost back down but the nitrate is high. I know this is a lot of info but they all seem to coincide with each other. Please help before he dies, the only thing he will eat is crickets now and the twitching and thrashing is worse, I ALSO CHECKED THE THERMOSTAT AND HE ACTS THE SAME SO I DON'T BELIEVE HE IS BEING SHOCKED> Thank you so much Mike Raegan and OTCH <First I want to personally thank you for rescuing the Oscar. (Please note I did not mention the CAE) He has major skin problems from his time in the foul tank that are now being made worse by your water conditions. You need to do as many water changes as it takes to get ammonia and nitrite to ZERO, nitrates BELOW 20PPM. 50% at a time, twice a day, (a few hours apart) if needed. Once a day at least. Test the pH of your tap. If within a very few tenths of 7 stop using the buffer. More on this latter. The only thing you should use right now is dechlorinator. That's a must. Do not use anything like Stress Coat. Continue to test and do the water changes as needed until ammonia and nitrite stay at zero without a water change. Nitrate should be the only thing spiking. Now set a water change schedule to keep it under 20ppm. Oscars are very messy fish. I assume he will need about two 50% water changes a week after the tank is cycled. But right now you need to do them big time. Use a gravel vac to siphon out as much organic matter as possible. You want his tank pristine clean while he heals and adjusts to his new, and far better, home. About pH and the use of buffers. The best pH for almost any fish is a steady pH. And as you have noticed, pH tends to drop as the water ages. Now this poor fellow was in such poor conditions for so long that his tank's pH was probably very low. Then you quickly (I assume) brought his pH up to 7. I think this, along with the high nitrates, are his main problems right now. After the tank recycles and you have the nitrates under control you can use the buffer to keep a steady pH between water changes. But right now you'll be doing them often enough that none will be needed. If your taps pH is not close to 7, then add only enough to correct. Interesting to note the Oscar using the CAE as a cleaner fish. As a CAE ages it eats less algae and more fish skin. Not a good community fish at all. I suggest you remove it as soon as possible. Right now the chewing feels better than the itching to the Oscar, but not for long. Don>

Loricariid, medusa cat    3/24/06 Dear WWM <Ben>   Am just enquiring to whether you know anything about the spotted medusa cat Ancistrus l225. <Mmm, don't have this species, but have kept others of the genus> Have obtained one and am finding good info on them hard to come by. <The "L" numbered catfishes are much better reviewed in other languages... Do you read German?> I Bought the cat with the intention to have as an active algae eater, planning to swap it in the tank for two common Ancistrus. Have found some conflicting info on it though, some for eating algae predominantly and some for meat based bloodworms etc., my water parameters are ph7 and temp26 which seem fine. <Yes> If this isn't a great algae eater is there a need to get another algae eater in the tank, I have a sturosoma aurem already, a couple of doras,2 flag cats, and rainbowfish also keep 5 Kuhlis in a 280ltr tank. <Mmm, the algae question is up to you. If you don't want one, would rather wipe, scrape, so be it. I doubt if the present catfishes and loaches will eat much of the types of algae that grow on the viewing panels or substrates. Bob Fenner> Thanks for any help you can recommend. Best Regards Ben

Chinese Algae Eaters Eating Bettas Fins. - 03/18/2006 Hello ,I have a 5 gallon eclipse system cycled tank (3 months old), cycled with Bio-Spira. All the levels in the tank are great (ammonia, nitrites) ph 6.8 constant temp. of 70 degrees. To my problem, I started with a Male Betta, love these beautiful fish and built the tank for him. Tank has been doing great fish have been doing great, till today. Came home from work and the male Bettas' fins are mostly missing. The spines are still there for the most part but the "fleshy" part of the fins are gone.  I have him isolated and using Melafix on him. He comes up for air but is pretty hurt, lays/floats sideways. In the tank I have him his tankmates are, a female he has been with for 3 months (they get along well, no flaring), a julii eye catfish, 2 medium Neons, a small American frog and a shrimp. Last week I picked up 2 inch algae eaters with sucker mouths. I thought they would be good for the algae growing on the glass. I would like to know what you think  the culprit is. I am very sad that this happened to my buddy and am hoping to nurse him back to health , but would not like something to attack him again (if it was an attack). It does not look like fin rot, no discoloration at all, just as if the  flesh was sucked off the spines. Any help would be appreciated. Sincerely Stephanie < While algae eaters do eat some algae, they will not pass up a meaty meal like the slim on larger slower fish or on the long flowing fins of Bettas. They are the ones who caused the problem.-Chuck>

Chinese Algae Eater question   3/15/06 Hiya! I made the mistake of putting a Chinese algae eater in with some goldfish, unfortunately I did not do my research first and believed the fish shop when they told me that CAEs get on well with goldfish. <... not eventually> He terrorized the goldfish and I have since removed the badly behaved CAE and put him in his own tank, but wondered do CAE thrive alone or prefer company? <Appear to be social animals...> Are there any fish they aren't aggressive towards? <Mmm, as-mean, fast, aware...> I have 2 other CAE in a tank with goldfish and so far they are behaving themselves, but if they start terrorizing the other fish could I put them in with the other CAE or are they also aggressive towards their own kind? Thank you for your help :) Laura <Are co-mutually aggressive. Generally get along as long as there's sufficient food. Bob Fenner> Looking For Roseline Sharks, Crossocheilus denisonii  - 03/12/2006 Hi Chuck,  Thanks for such a speedy reply.  Question - Does the roseline shark go by any other name?  I have the Aquarium Atlas by Riehl and Baensch and was unable to find anything that went by that name.  Is there another resource where I might find a photo?  Need to check up on habitat requirements.  Thanks again.  Kerry <Crossocheilus denisonii also goes by the name  Denison's Flying Fox or Denison's Barb. They come from India and like neutral water in the mid 70's. They get about 6 inches long. You should be able to do a Google search on the internet and find a photo. If not look at the  Baensch Atlas Photo Index 1-5. They are actually much prettier in person than should in that particular photo.-Chuck>

Cannibalized sucker fish!   2/1/06 I just read a reply on your "Fresh Water Algae Eaters" FAQ page regarding a sucker fish that went missing from a woman's goldfish tank.  She assumed the goldfish had eaten it, but you replied that it probably jumped out.  Well, I have a tank with three black moors and two goldfish and they definitely just cannibalized our lone sucker fish! <Yikes... unusual. Most species of these are quick, smart... perhaps yours was sick, close to death. Goldfish will "eat most anything"> I noticed about half of his carcass floating around the tank and within twenty-four hours there was nothing left but a whisper.  (I know I should have removed it but I couldn't find the danged net!)  Anyway, I thought you might be interested.  (And, as with the woman who originally wrote, it was a pretty unsettling experience for us!  Eeek!!....our goldfish are cannibals!) <Mmm, I'd say "opportunistic omnivores"... like me and pizza... though I prefer ones with pepperoni... Bob Fenner>

Chinese Algae Eaters (CAE's)  12/16/05 G'day from Australia. I have 3 CAE's - 4-6" in length -  in a 500 litre tank with cichlids ranging from OB Zebras; Convict; large Bala Shark and large Silver Dollars.  The CAE's show aggression towards each other, but haven't notice them attacking the other fish.  They still seem to be eating algae - will I have a problem down the track? Trevor < On big slower moving fish like discus and angelfish they have been known to try and feed off the slime from the sides of the fish. If you don't have any problems now then I doubt you will have problems in the future.-Chuck>

New Golden Algae Eater Inactive  12/1/05 Hi, I have a new tank (3 weeks old).  <Check your water parameters, nitrates, nitrites, ammonia, pH, etc.> I bought a golden algae eater which has been very active. However, as of yesterday, he goes into hibernation like behavior, sitting on the gravel, only changing its position once a while. <This is somewhat normal..> He looks sick and doesn't want to eat algae all around him. <Well if he looks sick, check the water parameters first, I would not treat with any medication because it does not sound like he has parasites or an infection. Is his gill movement fast or normal? Good luck, IanB> Please advice. Thanks Hsu 

CAE and Shubunkins  9/3/05 Hello, I have recently purchased a 8 cm long Chinese Algae Eater as an addition to my 20 liters freshwater aquarium, which also consists of 2 Shubunkins. <Crowded...> I would like to know whether the conditions are in my tank enough for the CAE and also about his behavior with the other fish. Attached, please find a photo of the fish tank. I replace about 30%-50% of the water weekly, and add one spoon of Terra Aqua's Easy Balance conditioner during every water change. <Good> The tank also holds one Elodea plant and a plastic ornamented structure to supplement the CAE. The CAE seems to like the castle shaped structure as a dwelling, and it constantly sits upon it and hides within it. <Typical> It regularly scrapes possible algae on its outside as well on different parts on the tank. I place a thin slice of cucumber in the tank once per week (as seen in the picture) to allow the fish to eat in case there is not enough brown algae present in the tank (I always see the CAE cleaning the different parts of the aquarium and gear). The Aquarium is equipped with a sponge air filter as well as an internal air pump which circulates the water (its electric cord can be seen at the right hand side of the photo). The Shubunkins do not seem to be bothered too much by the CAE, and they wander around freely in the tank, although sometimes the algae eater swims after them and nibbles at their tail (or appears to do so) when the goldfish are close to its cucumber or castle dwelling. Otherwise, they all swim and hang out next to one another without too much trouble. The CAE does not present a systematic hostile attitude towards the Shubunkins. <Good... but do keep an eye on it... can develop> Considering the aforementioned above, I would like to know if it is possible to keep the aquatic system under these conditions without removing the CAE. Plus, is one cucumber a week plus the algae in the tank enough for it? <Yes, all sounds very good... though will be too crowded for space with time, growth. Both types of fishes enjoy about the same water quality...> As far as I can tell, the fish do not appear to be overcrowded or distressed by the situation as it is now, and they are quite vibrant and lively. I will appreciate your knowledgeable advice on the matter at hand. Best, <Thank you for sharing. Bob Fenner>


An Undeserved Bad Rap? CAEs - 08/25/2005 Everyone gives CAE a bad name. I have three CAEs and they never kill my other fishes for 4 yrs. I have 27 gal tank. I believe 10 gallon tank is the problem which may drive CAE crazy. <Proper stocking density, proper tank size, and proper tankmates are all at play....> It is the owner who should get the bad name, not CAE. <For not researching and selecting good tankmates, I agree.  -Sabrina> My Golden algae eater, is acting weird 8/9/05 Hey, Steph here, i have a golden algae eater, which i think is related or the same species as the Chinese algae eater, i got my golden algae eater a few days ago, and recently i have noticed, it has been by the glass looking at its reflection then swimming up the glass and poking it's head out of the water then coming back down, i know that there is enough oxygen in the water because all my fish seem fine even my gouramis. It has been doing this for hours now, and wont even stop even when flakes and algae was all around it. I want to know if this is normal behaviour or if there is something wrong with it, your help is greatly appreciated. <Just a very active species... actually a cooler water fish that is even more rambunctious in tropical settings. Bob Fenner>

My poor goldfish... CAE incompatibility 7/27/05 I have a 10gal tank with 2 small fantailed goldfish, and an algae eater.   None of them are more than 3". <This system is too small...> My problem is that I thought the algae eater would eat the algae and goldfish poop, I have since done the research I should have and know this is not the case.  Unfortunately the algae eater has started attacking the goldfish. <Likely a Chinese Algae Eater, Gyrinocheilus... are frequently trouble, particularly with goldfish>   How do I condition it to eat the pellets and algae?  Is that even possible? <Highly unlikely. Take it out> I was thinking of using my hospital tank.  Please let me know.  I don't have the space or budget for 2 tanks, but really don't want to give up Coco (he's the only fish who's coloring looks right to my red-green color blind son).  Also would adding an apple snail to this tank be okay or would that just create more problems? Thanks for your time. Phil <The snail is an excellent substitution. Bob Fenner>

Chinese Algae Eater Woes - 07/21/2005 Thank you so much for your website; it's a Godsend! <And thank you very much for your kind words!> I found out - the hard way - that what I have is a Chinese Algae Eater (CAE). I have since separated him into a solitary 5 gal tank with cave - He was not thriving amongst my other fish in the 10 gal - or should we say, the other fish were not thriving due to his aggression. <Understood.> I have been feeding him wafers every couple of days - which from reading your site, seems like too much. I plan to feed him twice a week instead. <Likely a good plan.> My question is two-fold: (1) can I augment his twice a week wafers with a scrap of lettuce or something <Yes, absolutely.  Blanched spinach, zucchini, cucumber, or romaine lettuce would probably be best.  I would also urge you to supplement with a meaty food, like frozen bloodworms, occasionally.> and do I let is float or sink it somehow? <Tie it to a rock loosely with a rubber band, or use one of those lettuce clips they sell for marine aquarium use.> (2) he seems to be changing colour. He has faded significantly. Almost white. He otherwise appears healthy. Is he sick? <Possibly, or perhaps very stressed.  Provide him with more cover - live plants would be best.  Things like java moss, java fern, and Anubias would be good choices, as they tolerate most any light, and are very, very hardy.  See if improved cover makes him feel a little better.> Much thanks, Julianne in B.C. Canada <Glad to be of service.  -Sabrina, in California, formerly in north Idaho, and really missing the occasional dinner at ABC's in Creston, BC.> Algae eater 7/7/05 I recently lost my black Molly Fish of 5 yrs, I only have the 5 yr old algae eater left in my tank, He is a pretty big guy 2 or so inches long I am not sure how much to feed him I have algae wafers but need to make sure I am not over feeding or under feeding him. Please advise Thanks Molly <A small algae wafer/tablet every other day should do. Bob Fenner>

Do algae eaters eat tetras? 7/6/05 Hi,   We have had 10 tetra fish of varying sizes and they have been living happily in a 10 gallon tank for 1 1/2 years.   We went on vacation last week, put in the food pellet supposedly designed to feed for a week, and upon our return noticed one neon tetra had disappeared.   There was no sign of the fish (whole or otherwise), we checked filter tube, outside tank etc.  We also have an algae eater who is now fairly large 4-5 inches long and looking fairly fat. <Ah... a Chinese algae eater?>   The next day we noticed another fish gone (a larger white tetra)- there is no way we could miss finding this fish.   Could algae eaters eat other fish whole? <Yes>   We have removed the algae eater - just in case, but aren't sure if we should get another one if they resort to eating fish. Regards, Susan <Please see here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/algaeeaterfaqs.htm Gyrinocheilus can indeed consume other fishes. Bob Fenner>

Algae Eaters In a Horse Trough Hello I have seen several questions  about fish in horse troughs but have never seen any of them answered. My  question is... Is it safe for the fish and the horses  to put the fish in the trough? I have 18 horses and algae is a big problem in  their troughs. Thank you in advance. Carla in Delaware < WOW! Wouldn't that be nice to just throw a couple of fish in the horse trough and no more algae problems. Unfortunately most Pleco's are from tropical areas and require warm water and some aeration. If the water stayed into the 60's then you could try some Garra sp. with a common name of African stone lapping fish. American flagfish would eat the hair algae and take care of mosquitoes too. There are a couple of people catching Pleco's in the far South American continent that have found Pleco's that actually come from cool areas. These are not yet available in the hobby but the pond people will love it if they ever become available.-Chuck>

Missing Sucker Hi, I have a weird question. I have a 10 gallon tank with a Whisper filter. I've had the same four gold fish for about a year now. I recently added a sucker fish. When I was feeding the fish I couldn't find the sucker fish. I looked ALL over the tank and he's gone! Do goldfish eat sucker fish? Alive? My kids are pretty weirded out and so am I. Is this what happened? Any ideas? Nicole <If your sucker fish is an Algae Eater he may have jumped. They can easily land a few feet away from the tank. Most Plecos will not jump, but they are great at hiding themselves. Other than the floor or decor, you may want to look in the filter. If you do not have a strainer on it he could be hiding in the inlet tube. The love "caves" with a lot of water flow. Don>

Wants Algae! Why? Gyrinocheilus Hi all, I have a relatively new 10 gallon tank ~8 weeks. It is freshwater and has several types of plants, a pair of swordtails, 4 Neons, 1 golden algae eater, and 2 male guppies. I know this is a bit crowded, but everything seems to be going fine. The pH is at 7.5, nitrates are 0, ammonia is 0, and nitrates vary between 20 and 40. I do a 20% water change weekly and feed them Top Fin flakes twice a day (the amount they can eat in 2 min.s each time). Instead of a flake meal, they get frozen brine shrimp about twice a week and seem to enjoy that. I know swordtails and algae eaters like to eat algae and when we got the algae eater, the plants had a nice coat on them. S/he since ate ALL the algae in the tank. The plants look 1000% better, but I'm worried that he and the swordtails are going to be hungry. In real aquatic systems, elevated nitrates lead to algae blooms, so I'm somewhat surprised I can't seem to get any growing. I know this is a backwards question, but is this normal? Thanks, Catherine <Not a worry. Green algae takes a while to become established in a new tank. And the CAE may be holding it at bay. But no tank grows enough algae to feed your fish full time. Most will take there share of flake and many other foods. Some eat the slime coat off the other fish. For this reason they are not good community fish. Plus they get big and aggressive. I would look at replacing him with a few algae eating shrimp or snails. With him out of the picture your stocking level is very good. Nice readings on this new system. You seem to have cycled just fine. The nitrates are a little high, but not bad at all. An added water change per week would help keep them down. Also, in many well planted established tanks no algae control is needed. The plants will starve it out. Don>

Wants Algae! Why? pt 2 Thanks for the quick advice. I've noticed my GAE is somewhat aggressive, especially to the female swordtail, chasing her around the tank. The local fish store said he wouldn't be. Grrr. Anyway, right now the GAE is only about an inch and half long. How fast will s/he outgrow a 10 gallon tank? How big will s/he be when he needs new surroundings? I know that depends on water temperature and food and other conditions. But is that something like a year or only months? Finally, are there any fish that would be compatible with it? I'd rather have a "boring" tank than a stressed one, but having a couple of fish is fun. Could I put in 2 or 3 color morphs of Chinese algae eaters or will they just pick on each other? Thanks, Catherine <No, don't add any more. One is too many. Really, not a good fish. I strongly suggest you donate him back to the LFS. I had a pair of G/CAE in my 55 for a few months. They went from about two inches to over six very quickly. They did a poor job at algae control as they got larger. A true Siamese Algae Eater is a more peaceful fish and is one of a small group that will eat hair algae. But they also get big. My pair is less than a year old and are over five inches. A few shrimp or an Apple snail would add little to your bio load while controlling any algae outbreak. Or you could replace him with a pair of Corys to add action to the bottom of the tank. Catfish will add to the bio load, so keep testing if you go this route. Stay away from Plecos. They also get big, over a foot for a Common, and will add greatly to the waste produced in your system. Don>

Re: Sick Fantail, possible predatory CAE... Hello again Bob, <Darlene> I was just reviewing our previous email exchange and was wondering what you meant by "Typical... this is likely a CAE, Gyrinocheilus... can be dangerous, ride goldfish in time.."? I was wondering because my lovely little chipper fantail seems to have lost his tail in rather short order.  Does the Gyrinocheilus hang on the goldfish's tail or eat the tail? Curiously yours, Darlene <Yes to keeping your eye on Chinese Algae Eaters... you will likely see the one fish riding your Goldfish that's affected if it is the culprit. If so they need separating. Bob Fenner>

Borneo Sucker Fish Today I went down to the local pet store in Sumner (this particular one is really a fish and bird store and has just an incredible selection of fish, although everything else is higher priced than PetSmart, but their fish are taken extremely good care of) looking for a new Pleco to replace the one that I took out of the 80 gallon. Well, I found an Albino one I liked, and a couple black coolie loaches for 1.99, but then I saw these odd little gray sucker fish with white spots labeled "Borneo Sucker Fish", I have to admit that I fell in love with them, but being less than an inch long and costing me 6.99 I only bought one. I've never seen anything like this, and the pet store fish expert (I've known her for a long time, she's young and cute too!) said it was very hardy, but I still don't know much about them. Can you fill me in on it? <These are actually hill-stream fishes: http://www.google.com/search?sourceid=navclient&ie=UTF-8&rls=GGLD,GGLD:2004-27,GGLD:en&q=borneo+sucker+fish> If it turns out to be a good fish, I might buy a few more of them. Right now its in a ten gallon with some sword tail fry and it'll stay in there until it grows a little bigger. According to my friend it should get a couple inches long. <These fishes are often lost... due to less than ideal water conditions... as you will see by following the link above... they need cool, fast-moving water... Bob Fenner> Not enough algae My son has a fish tank, the algae is not growing & he has lost 2 of his algae eating fish. He doesn't have enough algae in the tank.  <You can feed the fish algae wafers to get them enough algae or if you don't have algae you don't need algae eaters. MacL>

Algae eater for a small tank Hi, <Hi, Don here> I wondered if there are any kind of algae-eating fish or snails I can put in my tank with my 1 male Betta and 2 zebra somethings (little black and white stripy things).<got a link to a picture?>  I don't want something I have to find a new tank for cuz he gets too big, or that will start warfare, or will be directly eaten. <would depend on what those "Zebras" are. If Danios (blue and white) no problem. If Convict or an African cichlid, more of a problem. Try to find a picture on the net and send me the link.>   I have a 10 gal tank with heater at 80F, lots of indirect sunlight, hanging filter and air stone, plastic and real plants, and some rock substrate and larger rock hiding places.  Fish have been together for about 6-8 months now -- everybody happy and healthy and no probs.  Feeding flakes, Betta bits, and bloodworms and peas. <Sounds like a good tank for a Bristlenose Pleco pending the ID of those Zebras. They get to about 5". A little big for a 10 gallon, but OK with only three other fish. Stay away from the Common Plecos sold at most Fish/Pet stores. They will grow to a foot or more. There are also a number of algae eating shrimp that would not add as much bio load to your tank. Make sure you feed any algae eater you may get. A ten gallon will not produce enough algae to allow them to thrive.> By the way, your site is by far the best I've seen.  My fish were 'rescues' so I had to learn fast what to do for them, and your site was GREAT. <Thanks! Don> Thanks.  Bella

Goldfish and Algae Eaters I have a 10-gal tank with one Bubble-eyed Goldfish, one Black Moor and two Algae Eaters. They have lived together for the past two months with no problems, until recently. I noticed that my Goldfish had some white spots on his tail. He also had a white spot on his back where he was missing some scales. After much research, I thought that this was Ick, so I dropped Ick Clear into the tank. His back developed a fungus, or something on it that looked like cotton. Also, the Algae Eaters have taken to attacking him and trying to feed on his back and tail (they never did this before). After a couple of days of the Ick Clear, the cotton-like stuff was gone, his tail looked a little better and he seemed more lively, but his scales have not grown back and the Algae Eaters still attack him. One more thing you should know. Originally, I thought that the Algae Eaters ate the algae in the tank, so for two months I never fed them anything else. After reading more, I purchased some algae wafers for them. My problem now is that every time I drop the wafers, my Goldfish and Moor think it's feeding time and they eat them, so the Algae Eaters can't get them. I really want to keep the Algae Eaters to help keep the tank clean, what suggestions do you have? < Chinese algae eaters are really poor at eating algae. As you have found out they sometimes prefer to eat the slime off the sides of slower moving fishes. Unfortunately many of the algae eaters common in the aquarium trade require warm water and your goldfish prefer cooler water. If you can find them, try an get some fish from the genus Garra. They are sold as stone lapping fish or algae eating shark. They do a great job of eating algae and can handle all types of water. Some encouraging news from my friend Oliver Lucanus of belowwater.com, soon there will be cool water Plecos coming from the extreme end of South America that can be housed with cool water fish and maybe even koi in outside ponds in warmer weather climates.-Chuck> ~Brian

Getting rid of a Chinese Algae Eater We have (what I suspect is) a Chinese Algae Eater.  We got him when he was small (on the recommendation of the employees at PetSmart), but he is now more than 4" long (see attached picture).  I think he is killing our other fish.  A few have died because of mysterious wounds and right now a black skirt tetra that we have had for a year has a nasty wound on his side (see picture).  How do I get rid of the Algae Eater???  I don't want to flush him and end up putting him into the rivers here.  Should I give him back to the pet store?  Please help----I don't anymore of our fish to die because of him. <I would definitely trade in this CAE... it is likely a/the killer here. Bob Fenner>

Algae Eater Hiding  Hi I have a 10 gallon tank with 4 Robert's Tetra in it. I have 1 regular algae eater. He keeps hiding behind 1 certain plant, and doesn't seem to be eating any algae. Any suggestions? Maggie  <<Dear Maggie; Nope. :P Algae eaters tend to hide, it's what they do. All I can tell you is to make sure you test your water regularly for ammonia, nitrite, and nitrates. Do regular partial water changes, and if there is no algae for your algae eater, you can drop algae wafers into the tank twice a week or so. He will also eat flake food that sinks to the bottom. Do not overfeed though! Hope this helps. -Gwen>>

Mean fish I messed up.  I put an algae eater in the bowl for my goldfish.  Everything was fine until I started to notice that the Algae eater was "picking at" the goldfish.  I removed the algae eater, but the goldfish is missing scales and is silver on top and near the anus.  Will the goldfish recover and grow back new scales?  My some is rather attached to the fish. Thanks, Steve Greulich, Evansville, IN <<Dear Steve; not to worry, as long as you do regular water changes, your goldfish should survive. He will grow back any missing scales. The water quality must be good in order to prevent any wounded areas from becoming infected with fungus. Putting an algae eater, or any other algae eating fish with goldfish is NOT a good idea unless you understand that these fish need to be fed! Sinking algae wafers usually do the trick. Starving algae eaters will see the goldfish as food, and chase them accordingly. -Gwen>>

Oscar-resistant algae eater? Is there any kind of algae-eater or scavenger that I could put in the tank with my 12" Albino Oscar, Sleepy Jean.   Her mate died a couple of weeks ago and she seems so sad.  I don't want to put another Oscar in there until I get a bigger tank.  She's in a 55 gallon now. < Your 55 gallon should be fine as long as you have a big enough filter that moves at least 150 gallons an hour. Bigger is better! The more water movement in the tank the cleaner your tank will be. Try and get an outside power filter that is easy to maintain. I like the Marineland brand myself. Look at one of the Emperor filters or something similar. How much water do you change and how often? Algae problems are usually related to high waste in the water. I would get a water quality test kit and test for nitrates. Reduce the levels with water changes.>   I know it's too small and it's probably part of the reason that he died. I need a 100 gallon tank.  I'm working on it.  Until then, is there any type of fish that I can put in there with her to keep her company and possibly help with the algae? < A regular Plecostomus would probably do the job just fine. I would add a PVC pipe from the hardware store that is big enough to let the Pleco in but not the Oscar. The Pleco will come out at night and eat the algae while the Oscar is sleeping. Make sure the Pleco is at least 1/3 of the size of the Oscar. Any smaller and it might be eaten ,or at tried to be eaten by the Oscar.-Chuck> Terri

Beard Algae I was wondering if you could recommend a species of fish that will eat bearded algae, my freshwater tank is a 55 gallon am running for filtration a Fluval 304, a CPR wet/dry with 400 gph flow rate, and 2 300 gph powerheads for circulation added the wet/dry for the overflow got tired of proteins on the surface of my water and seems to make for very good biological filtration, no longer getting bacteria clouds after water changes and the Fluval maintenance. basically I have 3 angels a zebra Danio 5 front and rear tail light tetras and 6 neon tetras in it with about 14 Swordplants and several large driftwood pieces was going to add a layer of water grass to the bottom but when I upgraded my light to a 110 watt 48 inch Coralife freshwater I started getting massive amounts of bearded algae that has managed to grow on every plant in there in a matter of days. and now am afraid since it is growing on all the leaves it might actually drown out the lighting for my plants. so what fish can I add that will get along with the rest of the pack and mow down the beard algae. I heard there was a barb that eats the stuff like its spaghetti. thanks for your time, Frank Di Gioia >>Dear Frank; Yes, there is a barb, the rosy barb (Barbus conchonius) that will eat beard algae. Feed them with fish food as sparingly as possible so they will be more inclined to eat the beard algae. However, you will also need to control the growth, because if left unabated, it will overrun your plants. You cannot remove it from leaves, you need to cut as many infested leaves off as possible. Then do frequent partial water changes to curb the growth, you can also add a phosphate-removing resin to one of your filters to help. Try to keep your nitrates as low as possible until you get this algae under control. Beard algae will grow under any lighting conditions, you just sped up the process by adding the new lights, and if this is a relatively new tank set-up, (a month or two) you should also test for ammonia and nitrite. -Gwen<<

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