Siamese Algae Eater vs Flying Fox – What is the Difference?

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These two fish species are so similar to each other that it gives you a hard time to distinguish them. However, once you know what to look for, the whole thing becomes quite obvious.

First off, they have a slightly different mouth structure. In the corner of the Flying Fox’s mouth, there is a fleshy flap. This is a tiny little detail that is absent on the Siamese Algae Eater’s head.

Now unfortunately this detail is so small that you can’t really rely on checking it.

We don’t expect you to take the fish out and start comparing the structure of their mouthparts. Thankfully, this is not the only way to figure it out. If you take a close look at them, you can see that their color patters are also somewhat different.

The edge of the horizontal black stripe on the Flying Fox is a straight line. The same stripe on the Siamese Algae Eater is, on the other hand, has a kind of zigzag edge.

Also, while the Flying Fox has a clean, uniform background color, the Siamese Algae Eater has some other shades and dark outlines on its scales.

Anyways, here is one picture of the Flying Fox and Siamese algae eater to understand the main differences in their appearance:

Flying Fox

Flying Fox

Siamese Algae Eater

Siamese Algae Eater


Flying Fox and Siamese Algae Eater Water Requirements

Since both the Flying Fox (Epalzeorhynchos kalopterus) and the Siamese Algae Eater (Crossocheilus oblongus) can be found in Southeast Asian rivers, they are used to the same water conditions. If you can provide similar water temperature and acidity for them, then they are definitely going to thrive.

According to tropical waters of Southeast Asia, an acidity between 6.0 and 8.0 pH should be fine. When it comes to the temperature, it should be set between 70-79 °F with a 5 to 20 dH water hardness. As you can see, the Flying Fox and the Siamese Algae Eater are not too sensitive to water conditions.

These freshwater species need regular water changes. This means that you need to provide them fresh water at least once a week. Also, it is important to add plants to the aquarium. These fish not only like to be around them but plants are also great oxygen resources and make the water cleaner.

The Minimum Tank Size for the Two Species

The Flying Fox and the Siamese Algae Eater are schooling fish species. They are also scavenging bottom dwellers. You will mostly find them swimming around the bottom layer of your tank and hiding behind plants, rocks and other decoration.

If you want to keep only one specimen, then we recommend at least a 30-gallon fish tank.

This applies for both species. In case you want to keep them in schools, then every additional fish will require another 10 gallons. It has to be at least a 5-6 fish school in order for them to feel comfortable with each other.

Feeding Requirements of Flying Foxes and Siamese Algae Eaters

The name of the Siamese Algae Eater is quite self-explanatory. As long as you have algae in your tank, they are going to find it and consume it. If you keep them in schools, you are going to see them eat together regularly. The Flying Fox is also a vigorous algae eater.

Both species are great for cleaning your tank from algae. However, it is not the only thing they require for a full diet. They are omnivorous creatures; therefore, they also need meat-based foods. These include brine shrimp and various frozen varieties. They can eat almost anything, just make sure not to feed them too much.

If you give too much food to the Siamese Algae Eater or the Flying Fox, they can get so much into it that they won’t want to eat algae anymore. You need to balance it out and let them only eat algae from time to time.

The Perfect Tank Mates

Siamese Algae Eaters can live together comfortably with many other species thanks to their peaceful temperament. You can populate a community aquarium with various fish breeds without any complications.

Since they spend most of their time close to the substrate, you shouldn’t keep any aggressive bottom dwellers in the tank as mates. They can hardly bother any other species that swim around in the higher layers of the tank. However, it is better to avoid any aggressive breeds whatsoever.

There are plenty of peaceful ones to choose from, such as Guppies, Corydoras, Tetras, Barbs, Rainbowfish and more. The same applies to the Flying Fox, except that this species gets territorial with age. If there are similar-looking fish around them, there is a high chance they are going to attack them.

On the other hand, if you keep them in bigger schools, they are going to be peaceful even as adults.

Which One is the Better Algae Eater?

The absolute algae eater powerhouse is without question the Siamese Algae Eater. They have a huge appetite for algae throughout their life. They eat various kinds of algae, even the ones that other algae eaters rather stay away from.

While they actively look for algae and don’t hesitate to eat it, they also do a great job of keeping the plants in the tank undamaged. The Flying Fox also does a great job cleaning up various hair and brush algae. In the end, both species are very effective when it comes to eating algae.

The possible reason why most aquarists choose the Siamese Algae Eater is that it’s more peaceful overall than the Flying Fox.


Whether you choose the Flying Fox or the Siamese Algae Eater for your tank, you will get a highly effective algae eater. They are both beautiful fish with unique personality. As their tank mates swim around, they are always busy looking from algae and swimming around in the bottom layer.

If you want them to truly thrive, then buy a big school and watch how their swim around and eat together. Also don’t shy away from buying lots of plants and putting them into your fish tank. These species absolutely love to be around plants. It imitates their natural habitat.

Since these fish breeds are not demanding, we can recommend them for beginners and more experienced fish enthusiasts as well.

Author Image Fabian
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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