Siamese Algae Eater: Care, Tank Mates, Feeding, Breeding

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If you want a nice little fish to put in your tank, the Siamese Algae Eater (SAE) is a pretty good choice. In today’s article, we’ll talk about this breed in detail.

To begin with, the Algae Eater has a long and narrow shape colored in gold and grey, with a black stripe throughout its body. This stripe begins on its head and spans until its tails.

It can happen that stripes begin to fade away. This is due to breeding or times of stress that your fish are going through. Also, the stripes could fade away because the fish tries to camouflage itself, though this isn’t very common in aquariums.

Now, let’s see what we’ll talk about in this article more exactly:

For start, we’ll see what type of aquarium is best suited for this species and what are the water requirements, which need to be kept at an optimal value.

I will also mention some of the tank mates that work well together with this species. Also, this guide wouldn’t be complete if we don’t talk about feeding and breeding. Let’s get on with it:

Minimum Tank Size for SAE

Any fish breed needs a specific minimum tank size to thrive. This is because most species have different needs, and thus the space for living and swimming is different as well. So, what is the tank size for Siamese Algae Eaters?

A Siamese Algae Eater needs a tank of at least 20 gallons in volume. Keep in mind that this size is for only 1 fish. If you plan to buy more, or later add new ones to the tank, you will need 10 gallons additionally per each fish.

You need so much space, because the Algae Eater swims around very quickly. Also, it usually sits on the bottom of the tank too. So, you need an aquarium large in size, to ensure a large bottom space for your fish.

They spend a lot of time here, because they scavenge the bottom for left-overs. But most importantly, they search for algae in the tank. When they find a spot on the aquarium’s bottom covered in algae, they won’t leave it until the algae is gone entirely.

Water Requirements

Now, let’s see what are the water requirements for Siamese Algae Eaters. Like any species, this one also has specific parameters to thrive in the tank.

First of all, you should know that in their natural habitat, these fish have waters with many plants, rocks and wood logs. These provide plenty of places to hide and rest.

Considering these facts, your tank and water environment should also be set up accordingly.

For instance, put enough rocks and driftwood in it. This will provide your Eaters with plenty of spaces to feel at home. Basically, if you try to make similar water characteristics like in its natural habitat, you will replicate the environment perfectly.

Water parameters include other aspects too. For instance, the temperature is another important factor you need to consider. Siamese Algae Eaters need warm waters, usually between 75 – 79 degrees Fahrenheit.

To ensure this water temperature, you will a need a heater in the tank. By itself, the water won’t be able to stay at this temperature. Get a heater that can work long periods of time, without the need to stop it too many times.

The natural water parameters are slightly acidic, so you should also keep the pH level according to this. The levels should be between 6.5 and 7.0, but these fish will also tolerate a wider span, between 6.0 and 8.0.

Their natural habitat has slowly moving waters. Because of this, you don’t need to create special water flows inside the tank. They will live just fine in stationary water.

Tank Mates

Now, almost any fish breed needs tank mates to live with. There are some exceptions, but the Siamese Algae Eater isn’t one of them. In this section, we’ll talk about some of the best aquarium mates for this species.

Since Siamese Algae Eaters are a peaceful breed, they can live together with many other species in the same aquarium. Actually, the list is quite long, but I will talk in detail only about the best choices you could get.

Eaters are bottom dwellers, so you must think about other species that live peacefully together with such fish. For example, the Cory Catfish or Corydoras, is a great choice as a tank mate.

The Cory is a bottom dweller, just like the Algae Eaters. However, they will live together peacefully, due to their nature. And the good thing about Cory Catfish, is the fact that there are tens of different versions you can choose from. This gives you the liberty to set up the tank however you’d like to.

There are species that grow quite big, but even so, could be great tank mates for your Siamese Algae Eaters. For instance, the Gouramis and Barbs are such species. Due to their peaceful nature, it doesn’t matter if they grow too big. You don’t have to worry about them eating your Siamese Algae Eaters.

You know what? Actually, not every tank mate has to be some sort of fish. There are other species you can choose from. For example, here are some of them: shrimp (multiple types, like cherry shrimp, ghost shrimp or amano shrimp) and snails.

If you choose snails, make sure you keep them at bay. If you don’t, they tend to overpopulate your aquarium. A good breed, that works well with Siamese Algae Eaters, is the nerite snail.

Of course, the best tank mates, that will certainly get together well, are other Siamese Algae Eaters. Actually, it’s best to have about 5 or 6 together in the same tank, because they are schooling fish. Most of their time is spent swimming in small groups.

However, as you can see from above, there are plenty of other tank mates you can choose from. All of the above-mentioned breeds are perfect to live beside Siamese Algae Eaters.

Now, let’s move on and talk about their diet:

Siamese Algae Eaters Diet

Like their name suggests, they eat mainly algae found in their environment. Being mostly on the bottom of the tank, they are looking for spots with the most algae, to eat it. Usually, when they find such a spot, they won’t leave it, until it’s clean of all the algae.

However, they are not only algae eaters. Most of their diet is composed of vegetarian food. For instance, you can give them simple vegetables. Be careful to slice them up into small pieces, so they can eat it easily.

Since the Siamese Algae Eater will scavenge the bottom of the tank, it will eat almost everything it finds. This contains even live food, or insects and even dead fish left over in the tank.

Another option would be to buy a special fish food, created for this species. For instance, they really like sinking pellets, that stay on the bottom of the tank, where they can eat without others bothering them.

There is an important aspect about feeding that you must keep in mind: don’t overfeed these fish.

Siamese Algae Eaters will eat all day long if you let them. This will only lead to sickness, and possibly their death. So, make sure you only give them as much food that they can finish in a couple of minutes.

The reason for this, is simply the fact that they already consume the algae in the water. If you give them too much additional food, it can lead to unwanted consequences.

Breeding Siamese Algae Eaters

If you want to breed these fish, it’s best if you don’t try too hard. There is very little known about the breeding process and the needed conditions, for home aquariums. Not many people try this, because it isn’t a well-documented process.

Usually, Siamese Algae Eaters are bred at special farms, with the use of hormones. Even sexing them is hard enough. You only notice the difference between males and females, when the breeding has already begun (if it can in the first place).

Siamese Algae Eater vs Other Algae Eaters

As you’d expect, there are other types of algae eaters, that are frequently compared with the Siamese species.

For example, all the following breeds are known algae eaters:

  • Flying Fox: this is a similar fish, that even looks like the Siamese Algae Eater. The only difference is the presence of flaps in the corner of their mouth. Flying Foxes have these, but Algae Eaters don’t.
  • Pleco Fish: the Pleco is a catfish species, known for its algae eating capabilities. It’s a peaceful breed, that can prove to be a great tank mate for your Eaters.
  • Otocinclus Catfish: this one is another catfish, frequently used, for cleaning tanks from algae. Siamese Algae Eaters can live in peace with this breed.
  • Nerite Snails: I mentioned these above. The Nerite Snails are another algae eater breed, that go well together with Siamese. But be careful, so that they won’t overpopulate your tank.
  • Amano Shrimp: this is a famous algae eater shrimp. It eats other food products as well, but mainly lives on the algae present in the aquarium. Siamese Algae Eaters will live well together with some of these shrimps.

Related Questions

Q: How big can a Siamese Algae Eater get?

A: Most of these fish will grow up to 6 inches long. Of course, there are exceptions, but this is the standard for most specimens.

Q: Are Siamese Algae Eaters aggressive fish?

A: Usually, Algae Eaters are peaceful fish, that won’t bother the rest of their tank mates. However, there are times when they could unsettle others, because they swim around quickly, in small groups most of the time. If they get aggressive for some reason, it’s best to separate them from the others.

Q: How many Siamese Algae Eaters can you keep in an aquarium?

A: The Siamese Algae Eaters work well in small groups (like mentioned above) of 5 – 6 members. They like to school together. But you can also keep only one or two in your tank. It won’t affect them negatively in any way.


In this article, I gave you a complete guide about Siamese Algae Eaters. We talked about their general behavior and look, so you can differentiate them from other species.

You could learn about the proper tank size, that is needed for a Siamese Algae Eater. Also, make sure you keep the water parameters at their best levels, like described above.

This is essential, for your fish to thrive in their new environment. If the water conditions aren’t ideal, they can quickly get sick and die. To make sure the water stays clean, get a quality water filter too. A canister filter will do the best job, for a long period of time.

There are many tank mates I listed above, that you can put together with your Algae Eaters. Some of them, will even help cleaning the tank from all the algae.

All in all, the Siamese Algae Eater is a good choice for beginner aquarium enthusiasts. Even if you don’t have a lot of previous experience with fish keeping, this breed is suitable for you.

All you need to do, is to set up a tank like I described above in the beginning. Also, have proper conditions that will make your fish happy. This way, your new Siamese Algae Eaters will fell right at home in their new environment.

avatar I’m Fabian, aquarium fish breeder and founder of this website. I’ve been keeping fish, since I was a kid. On this blog, I share a lot of information about the aquarium hobby and various fish species that I like. Please leave a comment if you have any question.

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