Siamese Algae Eater 101: Ultimate Care Guide for Beginners!

The Siamese Algae Eater is a popular and highly sought-after fish known for its ability to keep aquariums clean and free of algae. It is a beautiful addition to any tank and a helpful and efficient cleaner.

If you’re a beginner in the world of fish keeping and are considering adding a Siamese Algae Eater to your aquarium, you’ve come to the right place!

This ultimate care guide will give you all the information you need to successfully care for and maintain a happy and healthy SAE algae eater. 

From their diet and tank requirements to their behavior and breeding habits, this guide will cover everything you need to know to ensure your Siamese Algae Eater thrives in its new environment.

So, let’s dive in and learn all there is to know about this fascinating and beneficial fish! 

What are Siamese Algae Eaters (SAE)?

Siamese Algae-Eaters (SAE) are small freshwater fish commonly kept in aquariums to help control algae growth.

Known for their peaceful nature and efficient algae-eating abilities, SAEs are a popular choice for aquarists who maintain a clean and balanced tank environment.

SAE algae eater

These fish are native to Southeast Asia and are typically found in fast-flowing rivers and streams. They have a distinctive appearance, with a streamlined body and a honey sucker-like mouth that allows them to graze on algae-covered surfaces.

Siamese fish algae eaters can grow up to 6 inches in length and thrive in well-maintained aquariums with plenty of hiding spots and a varied diet. While they are primarily used for aquarium algae control, SAEs also contribute to the overall biodiversity of the tank and can coexist peacefully with a wide range of other fish species. 

Siamese algae eater Crossocheilus Siamensis (Species profile)

While the “Siamese algae eater” is commonly referred to as Crossocheilus siamensis, the actual scientific name for this species is Crossocheilus oblongus.

Here’s a revised and updated species profile for the Siamese algae eater (Crossocheilus oblongus):


  • Slender, torpedo-shaped body with a pointed snout, growing up to 6 inches (15 cm) long.
  • Distinctive black horizontal stripe running from snout to tail, earning them the nickname “striped algae eater.”
  • Silvery-gray back and light gray belly, with transparent fins and tail. 


  • They are generally peaceful towards other fish species but can become territorial towards their kind and similar-looking fish, especially as they mature.
  • Best kept in groups of 6 or more to minimize aggression and spread out territorial tendencies.
  • Active swimmers, particularly when young, spend more time near the bottom of the tank as adults.
  • Can be skittish and hide in plants or decorations, especially in new environments.


  • Primarily, algae eaters effectively tackle nuisance algae like black beard algae.
  • Consume detritus, plankton, and other small food particles as well.
  • May nibble on aquarium plants if algae are scarce, so providing alternative food sources like algae wafers, blanched vegetables, and sinking pellets is crucial.


  • Thrive in well-established, planted aquariums with plenty of hiding places like rocks, driftwood, and dense vegetation.
  • Prefer slightly acidic water with a pH range of 6.0-7.5 and a temperature range of 72-82°F (22-28°C).
  • Minimum tank size of 30 gallons for a group of 6, with larger tanks recommended for larger groups or to house them alongside other fish species.

Overall, Siamese algae eaters are excellent algae control fish for aquariums, effectively keeping tank walls and decorations clean. However, they can be challenging to keep due to their territorial nature and specific care requirements. If you’re considering adding SAEs to your tank, research and ensure you can provide them with the proper environment.

How do you set up an aquarium for Chinese algae eaters?

 Setting up an aquarium for a Chinese algae eater requires careful consideration of their specific needs. Start by choosing an appropriately sized tank, at least 30 gallons for a single Chinese algae eater fish.

Add a substrate layer and decorate the tank with live or artificial plants, rocks, and driftwood to mimic their natural environment. Ensure the tank has a powerful filter to keep the water clean and algae-free.

Asian algae eaters also prefer water with a moderate flow, so consider adding a powerhead or water pump to create gentle currents. Keep the water temperature between 75-82°F and maintain a pH of 6.5-7.5.

Monitoring the water quality regularly and performing regular water changes to keep the tank well-maintained is essential. Additionally, provides hiding spots and caves for the Chinese algae eater to retreat when stressed.

Finally, acclimate the fish slowly to the tank to reduce stress and ensure they have a comfortable transition to their new environment. 

What Do Siamese Algae Eaters Eat?

The Siamese algae eater, also known as Crossocheilus oblongus, is a popular choice for aquarium enthusiasts due to its ability to consume large amounts of algae. In addition to algae, these fish also consume other types of food.

Their diet primarily consists of algae, but they will also eat other types of food, such as blanched vegetables, sinking pellets, and flake food.

It is essential to ensure that their diet is well-rounded and includes plant-based and protein-rich foods to ensure their overall health and well-being.

They consume various forms of algae and biofilm in their natural habitat that accumulate on rocks and other surfaces. In an aquarium setting, providing a variety of foods is beneficial to ensure they receive proper nutrition.

Their appetite for algae makes them an effective and natural means of controlling algae growth in an aquarium, making them a popular choice for many fish keepers. 

siamese flying fox fish vs Siamese algae eater (Crossocheilus oblongus)

The Siamese flying fox fish and the Siamese algae eater are popular aquarium fish often mistaken for each other. However, there are some critical differences between the two species.

Siamese Flying Fox Fish

  • Appearance: The Siamese flying fox fish has a slender, torpedo-shaped body with a smooth black stripe running down its sides and a thin gold stripe above it. Its fins are often tinted with red or black.
  • Size: Siamese flying fox fish can grow up to 6 inches long.
  • Temperament: Siamese flying fox fish are generally peaceful but can be territorial towards other fish of their kind. They are also known to fin-nip slower-moving fish.
  • Diet: Siamese flying fox fish are omnivores and will eat algae, fish flakes, and brine shrimp.
  • Water requirements: Siamese flying fox fish prefer slightly acidic water with a pH of 6.0 to 7.0 and a temperature of 75°F to 80°F.

Siamese Algae Eater

  • Appearance: The Siamese fish algae eater has a body shape similar to the Siamese flying fox fish, but its black stripe is more jagged and does not have a gold stripe above it. Its fins are transparent.
  • Size: sucking loach Siamese algae eaters can grow up to 6 inches long.
  • Temperament: Siamese algae eaters are generally peaceful fish, but they can become semi aggressive if they are not well-fed or kept in a tank that is too small.
  • Diet: Siamese algae eaters are primarily algae but will also eat fish flakes and brine shrimp.
  • Water requirements: Siamese algae eaters (gyrinocheilus aymonieri) prefer slightly acidic water with a pH of 6.0 to 7.0 and a temperature of 75°F to 80°F.

Which fish is right for you?

If you are looking for a peaceful fish to help control algae in your aquarium, the Siamese algae eater is a good choice. However, if you have a larger tank and are looking for a more colorful fish, the Siamese flying fox fish may be a better option. Just keep an eye on them to ensure they are not bullying any of your other fish.

A True Siamese Algae Eater (Crossocheilus cf.)

The True Siamese Algae Eaters are known for their ability to consume large amounts of algae, making them a valuable addition to any aquarium. They have a sleek, elongated body with a characteristic dark stripe running from their head to their tail.

These peaceful and active fish are often mistaken for Chinese Algae Eater fish, but their distinctive coloration and behavior can distinguish the true Siamese variety.

They are best kept in a well-established aquarium with plenty of hiding places and a moderate water flow. Providing them with a varied diet is essential, as their algae consumption may not be enough to sustain them.

In addition to algae wafers and flakes, they will also benefit from small live or frozen foods. With proper care, a True Asian algae eater can live in a thriving aquarium environment for several years, bringing beauty and function to the tank. 

SAE algae eater: Habitat and Tank Conditions

The SAE algae eater, also known as the Siamese algae-eater (SAE) or Crossocheilus siamensis, is a popular aquarium fish known for its voracious appetite for algae, however, before welcoming these algae-munching companions into your tank, understanding their natural habitat and ideal tank conditions is crucial for their well-being.

Natural Habitat:

  • Initially found in slow-moving streams and rivers of Southeast Asia, particularly Thailand and the Malay Peninsula.
  • Prefer dense vegetation and plenty of hiding places formed by rocks and wood.
  • Thrive in slightly acidic to neutral water with moderate hardness.

Ideal Tank Conditions:

  • Water temperature: 24-26°C (75-79°F)
  • pH: 6.5-8.0
  • Water hardness: 5-20 dH
  • Tank size: Minimum 40 gallons (150 liters) for a single SAE, though larger tanks are preferred as they’re active swimmers.
  • Décor: Plenty of plants for grazing and hiding places like rocks, driftwood, and caves.
  • Substrate: Avoid fine gravel; they prefer softer substrates like sand or smooth pebbles.
  • Water flow: Moderate current, not strong.

Additional Considerations:

  • Diet: While primarily algae eaters, they may also nibble on plant leaves, so supplementing their diet with algae wafers or blanched vegetables is recommended.
  • Social behavior: Can be territorial among their species, especially males. Keeping 4-6 SAs together can help distribute aggression but ensure enough hiding places.
  • Compatibility: Generally peaceful with other community fish, but maybe fin nippers towards slow-moving species.
  • Lifespan: Up to 8 years with proper care.

Remember: Adapting from their natural habitat to an aquarium environment takes time and proper care. Ensure your tank conditions are stable and provide them with a varied diet and ample hiding places for optimal health and happiness.

Siamese algae eater tank mates

Siamese algae eaters can be great companions in a community tank, but choosing their tank mates carefully is essential. These fish are peaceful and can be shy, so they do best with other peaceful species that won’t compete with them for food or bully them.

Good tank mates for Siamese algae eaters include peaceful community fish such as guppies, tetras, and peaceful barbs. Avoid housing them with aggressive or territorial species, as they may become stressed or injured.

Additionally, it’s best to keep them away from fin-nipping fish or larger, more aggressive species that may view the Asian algae eater as a potential snack. Providing plenty of hiding spaces and plants in the tank is essential to help the Siamese algae eating fish feel secure.

With suitable tank mates and environment, siamese fish algae eaters can thrive and contribute to a healthy, balanced aquarium ecosystem. 

Warning: Steer clear of Cichlids and red-tailed sharks, as they tend to be territorial and prone to aggression.

Best Algae Eaters for Freshwater Aquariums: (best algae-eating fish)

Choosing the best algae eaters for your freshwater aquarium depends on your tank size, water conditions, and the type of algae you’re battling. Here are some top contenders, each with their strengths and quirks:

Amano Shrimp:

  • Pros: Peaceful, hardy, excellent algae eaters, beautiful with distinct black and white stripes.
  • Cons: Require stable water parameters, sensitive to copper, may not tackle all algae types.

Nerite Snails:

  • Pros: Prolific algae eaters, long lifespan, unique and colorful shells, don’t reproduce in freshwater.
  • Cons: May climb out of tanks, damage some delicate plants, and leave orange eggs on decorations.

Otocinclus Catfish:

  • Pros: Peaceful, small size (under 2 inches), effective against green hair algae and diatoms, suitable for planted tanks.
  • Cons: Require good water quality and algae variety, shy and easily stressed, must be kept in groups.

Bristlenose Plecos:

  • Pros: Excellent algae eaters, peaceful, good for larger tanks (30 gallons+), stay relatively small (4-5 inches).
  • Cons: Can be territorial with other plecos, may eat some aquarium plants, require driftwood for dietary needs.

Reticulated Hillstream Loach:

  • Pros: Unique appearance with a flattened body, effective against green hair algae and biofilm, thrives in high-flow areas.
  • Cons: Requires particular water conditions (cool, well-oxygenated, high flow), is sensitive to water changes, and is not ideal for community tanks.

Cherry Shrimp:

  • Pros: Hardy, prolific breeders, attractive red color, eat some algae and detritus.
  • Cons: They are not as dedicated algae eaters as other options, may be eaten by larger fish, and require stable water parameters.

Remember, no single algae eater is a magic bullet. Addressing the root cause of algae growth, like overfeeding, insufficient lighting, or poor water circulation, is crucial for long-term success. Combine different algae eaters based on your needs and preferences, and don’t forget to provide them with supplemental fish food when necessary.

How much is a Siamese algae eater?

The price of a Siamese algae eater for sale can vary depending on its size, location, and the seller. You can expect to pay anywhere from $3 to $8 for each live fish.

Is it okay not to feed my Siamese catfish with algae wafer?

Siamese catfish need more than just algae wafers! While they enjoy them, a varied diet is crucial for their health and growth, including sinking pellets, veggies, and even bloodworms. Skip the wafers solely and offer a diverse menu for happy catfish!

What are the 3 main types of algae?

The three main types of algae include red algae, brown algae, and green algae. They exhibit diverse characteristics and play crucial roles in aquatic ecosystems worldwide.

How big does a Siamese Algae Eater get? 

Siamese algae eaters reach an adult size of 6 inches (15 cm) within two years, making them perfect algae cleaners for medium-sized aquariums. Their unique diet includes tough red algae, keeping your tank spotless! Remember, proper care can help them thrive for over ten years.

What is the ideal Siamese algae eater size tank?

The perfect Siamese algae eater tank size is a minimum of 30 gallons. Providing ample space ensures these fish can thrive, maintain their health, and effectively control algae in the aquarium.

How effective are Siamese algae eaters?

Siamese algae eaters is one of the best algae eaters. It has small maxillary barbels and a slightly curved upper lip without fringes. Their diverse diet tackles green, brown, and even stubborn red algae like beard algae. They’re active algae munchers, constantly patrolling your tank for tasty growths.

Do Siamese algae eaters clean plants?

Siamese algae eaters help clean plants by nibbling algae growing on their surfaces. While not plant-exclusive cleaners, they can contribute to a healthy, algae-free aquarium. However, be mindful, as they may munch on delicate plants, too.

Will Siamese Algae Eater eat my shrimp?

Siamese Algae Eaters may eat smaller shrimp, especially babies. While generally peaceful, their opportunism can lead them to snack on slow-moving shrimp. Consider larger shrimp species like Amanos or keeping the SAE well-fed with algae wafers to minimize shrimp nibbling.

Will Siamese Algae Eater eat my plants?

Siamese Algae Eaters may nibble on plants if hungry but prefer algae & readily accept other foods. Supplement their diet to discourage plant munching!

What is the best algae eater for a planted tank?

The “best” depends on your algae type & tank size! Amano shrimp tackle hair algae, nerite snails graze biofilm, & bristlenose plecos munch brown algae. Research each for the perfect fit!

Do algae eaters clean glass?

Some algae eaters, like Otocinclus catfish & Nerite snails, love grazing glass for yummy algae! But for a sparkling shine, consider dedicated algae magnets or scrapers.

How many Siamese algae eaters should be kept together?

Siamese algae eating fish species are maintained singly or in groups of 5-6, but can be semi aggressive in smaller numbers. Keeping them solo is also acceptable. Remember, a bigger tank = more SAE friends!

Are Siamese algae eaters aggressive?

Siamese algae eaters (gyrinocheilus aymonieri) are not inherently aggressive, but their environment and tank mates can influence their behavior. Careful planning and providing optimal conditions can help minimize aggression and ensure they thrive in your community tank.

Do Siamese algae eaters eat fish poop?

While Siamese algae eating fish won’t prioritize fish poop, they are opportunistic omnivores and may nibble on it occasionally. If algae are scarce, consider supplementing their diet with algae wafers, blanched veggies, or sinking pellets to deter poop-snacking.

Do Siamese algae eaters stop eating algae?

Yes, Siamese algae eaters may stop eating algae for reasons such as Age, Abundant food, and Algae type. With some adjustments, your Siamese fish algae eater can return to their algae-chomping best!

Can betta fish live with Siamese algae eaters?

Siamese algae eater and betta fish can coexist in larger aquariums with sufficient hiding spots. However, monitor their behavior, as male bettas may show territorial aggression.

Where can I find crossocheilus siamensis for sale?

You can find Epalzeorhynchos kalopterus, commonly known as Siamese algae eaters, for sale at reputable aquarium stores, online fish retailers, or through local breeders specializing in freshwater fish.


In conclusion, the world of aquarium keeping is a captivating journey filled with vibrant aquatic life and the joy of creating a thriving ecosystem. As we explore the diverse species that contribute to the beauty of our tanks, the Siamese algae eater is one standout hero that emerges—the Asian algae eater. This small yet mighty fish adds a unique charm to your aquarium and plays a crucial role in maintaining a clean and balanced environment. By diligently consuming algae and promoting overall tank hygiene, the SAE algae eater fish becomes an indispensable ally for every aquarium enthusiast.

So, as you embark on your aquatic adventure, consider welcoming the Siamese algae eater fish into your tank—a dynamic companion that brings elegance and functionality to your underwater world of fishkeeping.

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About Me

I am the founder of, a devoted wife and mother, and an avid fish enthusiast. My aim is to assist fellow fish lovers worldwide in understanding how to properly care for and breed their pet fish.

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