Siamese algae eater

Siamese algae eater | A Complete Guide

Usually, when you look for a fish to keep in your aquarium, you sort them either based on likings or solely for entertainment. There are certain fish that have a particular role in your aquarium especially Siamese algae eater.

As the name clearly implies, these fish are for cleaning purposes. Algae growth is one of the most serious problems that aquarists with plant tank can face. In a planted aquarium algae growth is tremendous and it can even outgrow the plant. In that case algae, eaters are the ultimate solution.

Siamese algae eaters are peaceful and calm fish. These bottom dwellers must not be confused with flying fox as the two may look similar.

This article is a complete guide for those interested in getting this amazing fish. It includes everything regarding their care, growth rate, life span, types and living conditions.

So, let’s get to explore this unique and wonderful creature together.

True Siamese Algae Eaters

Origin and history

Siamese algae eater (Crossocheilus oblongus) belongs to the Cyprinidae family. These amazing creatures were first discovered in southeast Asia, Malaysia and Thailand. Now, these areas are hubs for supplying the best algae eaters to the whole world.

Siamese algae eaters are close relatives of carps. They are naturally habitant of bottoms of rivers and streams. They move quickly and cover lots of area in no time. Based on their activity and speed, they are best for keeping your tank tidy.


Siamese algae eaters have elongated streamlined body. They hardly grow larger than 6 inches in size.These are mostly seen in pale grey or slightly golden color. They have a distinct pattern over them.

The most unique feature of these fish is a long and sleek black line extending from their head to the tails. Their caudal fin has a very distinct v shape.

Sometimes, during periods of stress or danger they might get paler. Some experts claim that the pale color is a state of camouflage to trick the predators. Moreover, this light color is also seen during mating season.

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Difference between algae eater and flying fox

Siamese algae eater is often confused with Siamese flying fox fish. Although, they are fairly similar in appearance and size. Their activities are quite the same as well.

The only difference spot able is that the flying fox( Epalzeorhynchos kalopterus) has a broader and darker black line beginning from its head towards its tail. This black line is smoother in Siamese algae eaters and ends completely at the tail point.

To avoid any further confusion the easiest way to access the right fish just remember that the flying fox has flaps around their mouths. The Siamese algae eaters lack the mouth flappers. Furthermore, the flying fox is more colorful and brighter.

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In addition to flying fox, there is one more specie that readily gets mixed with your Siamese algae eaters. Chinese algae eaters are false Siamese so you must know the accurate difference between the three Siamese flying fox, Siamese algae eater and Chinese algae eater.

Algae eater size

Approximately 6 inches (16 cms). Siamese algae eaters can grow to a maximum of 6 inches (12-16 cm). usually male and female are similar in size until the age of 3-4 years when they are close to maturity. At the time of mating, the females are 30-40% larger than the males.

Algae eater Lifespan

Siamese algae eaters are remarkably hardy and can survive significant changes in water parameters. As they feed on algae thus starvation or malnourishment is not even an issue. They can survive up to 8-10 years easily. This is a good life span for a fish like that.

Siamese algae eater Tankmates

When it comes to having company, Siamese algae eaters are quite friendly and peaceful. They get along well with most of the small fish. Their friendly nature makes them an ideal community member.

As they are bottom dwellers so they should not be kept with any other bottom-dwelling aggressive fish like shark etc. as they get easily stressed out so any bulling fish should be kept away from these algae eaters.

Any large territorial fish is an absolute No. Cichlids, Oscars and Angelfish must be avoided. As these monsters will definitely try to attack the small fish like algae eaters.

Now coming to the ideal companions for your algae eaters are following.

  • Tetras
  • Guppies
  • Danios
  • Gouramis
  • Barbs

Except for these fishes, many other creatures can be kept with these beauties, including the following.

  • Cherry shrimps
  • Ghost shrimps
  • Snails

Stocking the above-mentioned fishes, snails and shrimps can add lots of activity, entertainment and interest in your aquarium.

Schooling fish or not

Siamese algae eaters are lovely creatures and they are great when schooling together. Keeping a bunch of these not only keep your tank clean but you will also enjoy an exaggerated activity in the bottom.

As they are still fish so they also produce lots of waste thus over-crowding can make more mess than cleanliness. So that should be kept in mind. Despite being a great schooling fish, these algae eaters also do great well alone or in pair.

Typical behavior

Being algae eaters and bottom dwellers, they stay in the bottom and near the algae embedded spot. These are quite energetic and entertaining.

Siamese algae eaters love to move around and clean the place until there are no algae left. They rarely get aggressive or territorial. They don’t attack any other fish but regarding their activity, they might irritate any fish around them.

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Siamese Algae Eater Guide

Siamese algae eater Care

When it comes to care and protection, it is not that much of an issue. Siamese algae eaters are quite hardy and great survivors. They do get sick often and need particular living conditions but despite that all they are not that problematic. Even for beginners, Siamese algae eaters are a good choice.

Care levelEasy
Tank size20 gallons
Temperature75-79-degrees Fahrenheit
Ammonia, nitrate and nitrite0ppm

Tank size for Siamese Algae Eater

An adult Siamese algae eater requires at least 20 gallons of space. As they are bottom dwellers thus focusing on the increasing the width of the tank. With each additional fish increase the tank space by 10 gallons.

Due to their energetic nature, they can cover pretty much space in a short time. As these algae eaters are fond of playing around thus larger space greater will be their growth.

Water Conditions

Firstly, finding a suitable substrate is the most significant thing to do. As these algae eaters spend most of their time at the bottom of the tank. Thus, sandy substrate is an awesome choice. As they fulfil the purpose for fun, scratching, digging and playing around.

For creating a natural habitat use of plants, rocks and caves are necessary. Use fast-growing plants like hornwort and Marsilea hirsute.

An efficient water heater is necessary for maintaining the temperature between 75-79-degrees. Using a heater guard is optional but it can protect your fish from any possible damage.

Water pH should be maintained between 6.5-7.0. water hardness should be kept in the range of 5-20 dH. Although, these algae eaters don’t strictly require ideal water conditions but maintaining the water parameters is rather more important.

As Siamese algae eaters have great speed; thus, they don’t require additional water currents. So, there is no need for a water pump.

Although, it may sound absurd for a cleaning fish to require cleaning, but it is true. An efficient filtration system is the need of the day. To maintain 0 ppm of ammonia, nitrate, nitrite and chloramine, filtration is the key.


Although, there is not a list of diseases to which this fish is prone to. Some common diseases affect them badly and seriously.

Ich disease

Ich disease caused by Ichthyophthirius multifiliis parasite. This disease begins with the formation of small white spots all over the body. Later these spots become papules and progressively they form blisters.


This ich disease can be controlled in the beginning by using a simple home remedy. Firstly, separate the fish from the rest of the tank mates. Then take a 5-gallon bucket with water and add 2 tsp of salt per gallon. Add the fish in this water for almost 24 hours.

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If this remedy does not work, then consult any medical practitioner. Once the fish has reached the blisters stage then don’t use this remedy but consult the expert.

Basic health tips

In order to ensure the safety and health of your fish keep the following tips in mind.

  • Use high-quality food but avoid over-feeding the fish.
  • Clean water with suitable water conditions is the key to healthy living.
  • Cycling the tank is of particular importance.
  • Whenever you add any plant or decoration, make sure to clean it well.
  • Don’t use any harmful chemicals or detergents for cleaning the tank.


Their name reflects their diet quite properly. This fish basically survives on algae growing in your tank. Siamese algae eaters are omnivores and appreciate both plants and meats.

In the form of vegetation, they mainly eat algae. Their favorite type of algae is brown algae and green hair algae. If no food is available, they can even start nipping the plants around them.

Moreover, these algae eaters greatly appreciate flakes, pellets, shrimps and snails. Bloodworms in any form dried, frozen or alive are best for their growth.

Overfeeding is a great problem that may arise. As they are always eating algae from the tank. Thus, their diet should be managed with care.

To avoid overfeeding don’t give them more than what they can eat in a few minutes.

Siamese algae eater breeding

Although, there is no much difference between the male and female type. They are same in color, size and shape until they reach sexual maturity. At the age of 3-4 years, the male is quite smaller than the female.

When these algae eaters are close to mating, their colors become pale and less vibrant. Spawning is mostly induced by changes in water parameters like increasing the temperature.

There is currently no evidence of breeding their fish at home. Only specialized fish experts can successfully breed them in farms. Specific hormones are necessary for effective breeding.


This might give you a shock as these useful creatures for such a low price. A pair of these beauties cost to not more than 6-10$(3-5$ per fish). Yes, it is true they are cheap and affordable.

Of course, for beginners, this fish is a complete deal as it is cost-friendly, hardy and easy to care for.


I hope this article covers every aspect of Siamese algae eaters. They are fun, entertaining and interesting creatures. You should definitely consider keeping this amazing creature at home.

Looking forward to your positive response to this article. For any queries ask us anytime.

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