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FAQs on ""Chinese"" "Algae Eaters": Stocking, Selection

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

FAQs on: Chinese Algae Eaters (CAEs), Gyrinocheilus aymonieri 1, CAEs 2,
FAQs on: CAE Identification, CAE Behavior, CAE Compatibility, CAE Systems, CAE Feeding, CAE Disease, CAE Reproduction,
Related FAQs: 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

Both evil
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.>

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.>

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>>

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.>> <<Tom>>

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