This article is about siamese algae eater. It is about its habitat, appearance, behavior, tank setup, water conditions and tank mates.

The Siamese Algae Eater (SAE) is one of the most popular aquarium fish kept today. Many people fear that SAEs will eat their other tank mates’ scales or slime coat. This is not true, but they can harm long-finned fish with their saw-like teeth. If your other tank mates are really tiny and harmless (like guppies), then there’s no problem.

SAEs wouldn’t be so popular if they only did one thing: eat algae. They give people variety, because they come in different colors, shapes and sizes. They are also very active swimmers that can be seen darting throughout your tank.

Background and natural habitat

SAEs originate from the rice paddies of Southeast Asia, where they live in slow moving rivers, canals and flooded forest areas. SAEs are still kept by farmers there t oo control algae in the rice paddies, which is their natural habitat.


Although there are many Siamese algae eaters kept in aquariums today, they come from different geographical locations and therefore show some physical differences:

* 1. SAEs from Thailand: Longer and more slender than its cousins and has a dark horizontal line right behind its mouth.

* 2. SAEs from Malaysia: Has a lighter body with less black on head and has no horizontal line right behind mouth. This variety usually grows to about 6 inches (15 cm).

There are also other varieties in different colors, like the Albino Siamese Algae Eater, Green Dragon (Moonlight) Siamese Algae Eater and Hypostomus plecostomus, which are all kept in aquariums.

These varieties vary from the same species because they have been bred to be different from each other. Breeders try to bring out whatever color or shape that people like best by mating 2 fish with similar features..

Siamese algae eater vs flying fox vs Chinese algae eater

The Siamese Algae Eater is a freshwater fish and can live in a temperature range of between 74F (23C) to 82F (28C).

It is not closely related to either Chinese algae eater or flying fox, which are both saltwater fish. Chinese algae eaters cannot live in freshwater, and they must be kept at a pH level of 6.5 to 8 (the Siamese Algae Eater prefers between 7.0 and 7.5).

Flying foxes are tropical fish that like water with a temperature no lower than 78F (26C). They cannot live in freshwater since their bodies are adapted for saltwater.


SAEs are peaceful and shy at first, but unique in their own way: They eat algae like other fish would, but they do it with an unmatched enthusiasm. For this reason, you will be able to see all the action when you feed your Siamese Algae Eater because it will fight for food even if there’s no more algae left on the glass. This is why people sometimes think that Siamese Algae Eater eats their tank mates’ slime coat instead of algae!

SAEs are also known to jump out of tanks, so keep an eye on them when your tank isn’t covered enough.

If you keep more than one SAE in the same aquarium, then they will become territorial towards each other. They can be aggressive and damage each other’s fins whose tips – which are very thin and easy to tear off – might get ripped if not given enough space. If there is another fish in your tank that lives too close to the bottom, it will probably be seen as a predator by the SAE, who might try to defend itself.

Their aggressiveness doesn’t attack tank mates, but people have reported that they have bitten fingers in rare cases when they put their fingers to near their mouths. Since they are nocturnal, you may not see them being aggressive at all until it’s too late.

Tank setup

It’s best to keep your SAE in groups of 5 or more fish, with 7 being the minimum. They are not schooling fish, but they will feel safer in larger numbers. A single SAE may get frightened and try to jump out of the tank when there is no room for swimming. Also – if you notice one fish hiding for some time – it might be sick. Sick fish usually hide to protect themselves from other fish who may pick on them or spread germs in the tank.

Tanks size

A tank that’s at least 20 gallons (75 liters) is best for your Siamese Algae Eaters.

If your aquarium is smaller than 20 gallons, keep only 1 SAE per tank because they will become stressed otherwise. You don’t want to see them constantly swimming up and down the glass or sitting on top of plants – this is a sign of stress, which may lead to disease.

In small tanks, it’s best to have more than one SAE so that they won’t be stressed and the light will be more evenly distributed over the tank. Also, if you keep a school of 3-4 SAEs then your algae problems should disappear completely – algae eaters typically leave other fish alone and focus on their favorite food: algae.

Make sure your tank is covered – get Lid

SAEs are jumpy, so it’s important to have a lid for your aquarium. Not only will the lid keep your SAE from jumping out, but it can also keep other pets from falling in. If something falls in the tank, it may be difficult for your SAE to find its way out as the glass walls are likely too slippery for them.

If you have a hood on your aquarium but it doesn’t have a cover yet, then now is the time to buy one! Also, if you have an aquarium with a picture frame sitting on top of it, you should remove the picture frame because SAEs can jump over the top of a picture frame with ease.

A good alternative to a hood is an aquarium cover that goes all around your tank – especially if your tank doesn’t have a lid.


SAEs are great tank cleaners, so live plants may be harmed when they clean the glass. If you want to keep live plants in your aquarium with Siamese algae eater, then it will be best to keep plastic plants instead of real ones because the fish might eat them. Also, their poop will be harmful to live plants.

Rocks and caves for hiding

SAEs like to hide and rest at night and during the day, respectively. To give them a cozy yet open environment which they would enjoy, then provide them with plenty of rocks or caves that are deep enough for them to swim inside – they need an area where they can rest without being seen.

The fish will feel safe when there are many hiding places and many fish. That’s why you should never keep them alone: They like to be surrounded by their own species and feel safe when they can see other SAEs, especially during feeding time.

You should always make sure that there is enough space for all the fish to swim around (3cm/1 inch per gallon of water). There should also be enough hiding spaces. Breaking up territories with plants or rocks can help them get along better.


You can use sand, gravel or no substrate for your aquarium since SAEs won’t root in the sand and just eat it when they eat algae. However, if you’d like to reduce the risk of your fish swallowing sand and suffering from the consequences, then choose a substrate that is small enough for them not to swallow: Sand with 1-2 mm diameter is ideal, larger grains can cause blockage.

Gravel of different colors is also fine, but the fish might swallow it if they are not well fed.

Fish won’t be able to root in no substrate at all, so use plants instead.

You can also use a little bit of sand or gravel as the base to be “covered” by larger stones. In this type of aquarium, it is recommended that you cover about 25% as much as there is sand/gravel in the tank.

The best way to prevent your fish from swallowing sand is by feeding them regularly and often.

Use an algae scraper as much as you can so that the fish don’t have to search for food themselves. This will also ensure that they eat all their food and won’t be hungry for a long time, which makes them more likely to swallow sand.

Water conditions


74-82 Fahrenheit is the ideal temperature for Siamese algae eaters, but they can survive in a wider range of temperatures.

If your fish are cold, try to raise the temperature slowly so that their immune system may not be affected. If it’s summertime and your house is hotter than usual, you should lower the heat by a few degrees so that your fish don’t have to work too hard to keep themselves cool.

Your fish will be able to survive the occasional higher or lower temperatures, but try not to disturb their habitat more often than you have to.

If anything changes in your tank, it takes a while for the water properties and temperature to return back to normal. If your water quality gets worse for some reason, then the fish will be more likely to catch a disease unless you help them get back on track with regular water changes and medicine if necessary.

PH levels

Your water should be alkaline (7-8) or acidic (6-7), but the fish will survive in a wider range of pH levels.

If your water is more acidic than neutral, then you can buy some peat and put it at the bottom of the tank to make the environment more like they would come from a lake.

If your water is more neutral or alkaline, then you should plant some bogwood in your tank to make it closer to their natural environment. If you don’t have a filter that can help you with the peat/bogwood, then place them by a rock or something else if necessary. You can also remove them from the tank if you feel that they’re not necessary.

Temperatures, pH levels and the amount of peat or bogwood should be stable so that your fish can get used to them. If anything changes, it will make it harder for them to adjust.

Don’t use distilled water since it doesn’t have enough minerals for fish to survive.

Don’t use ammonia removers since they also remove the stuff that is necessary for your fish’s immune system to work properly. If you have used them, then you should replace some of your tank water with clean water so that your fish won’t suffer because of the lack of something important.

If you are keeping other types of fish together with your siamese algae eaters, then they should have the same conditions as your fish.

Slightly acidic water is best for most of the community fish since they come from slightly acidic environments in their natural habitat. If you’d like to keep them with more active or colorful species, choose fish that prefer the same water conditions as yours.

Be careful when you’re introducing new fish into your tank since it could affect the water conditions. You should release them in a separate bowl or put them into your filter for some time before that so that they can get used to the water conditions, then add them gradually into your tank. Siamese algae eaters are used to most of the conditions that community fish need, but they especially appreciate slightly acidic water that is rich in oxygen.

They can survive with less oxygen, but will be more active if there’s more oxygen in the water. They also prefer soft water over hard water since it doesn’t have too many minerals.

Water flow

Water should be slow, which makes it easier for algae to grow. Your tank will have more algae if the water moves too fast because the fish won’t have time to clean that area or they might even get hurt by moving rocks and decorations.

Your siamese algae eaters should not live in a strong current since you need to remove the algae from the surface of the tank so that it doesn’t stay attached to rocks and decorations. They usually live in the middle of the tank, slowly swimming around to clean algae from every area.

If your siamese algae eaters are struggling to stay in one place for too long, then you should reduce the speed of the water flow or add some plants or other obstacles that will make it harder for them to move fast.

Tank mates

Temperate siamese algae eaters usually live together with other fish since they don’t have many natural predators and can survive in most of the tank conditions. They are too big to be eaten by cichlids and will only be attacked if another fish wants their food or territory.

They can even live together with active, colorful species that love the same water conditions. However, they are slow swimmers and their tank can’t have too many fish since they might not get enough food.

Siamese algae eaters can also live together with most of the community species that don’t bother them or even help them clean the tank by eating algae faster than they would. They are most often kept with non-aggressive fish, but they especially appreciate tank mates that also eat algae.

They can be kept together with other types of algae eaters, but only if the first fish is the siamese one since other species might try to claim its territory or food. They are slow swimmers and have poor eyesight so they will be attacked even if the other fish just wants to live in that area.

They can also live together with other bottom dwellers and mid-dwellers as long as they aren’t the same species and don’t bother each other too often.

However, you should never keep your siamese algae eater with fish that are larger than it since they will see it as food or try to claim its territory.

It is best to keep them with smaller fish that keep their distance and don’t bother them too much.

Siamese algae eaters will even try to claim rocks and decorations in the aquarium so you should add some plants or other objects that they can hide among.

They are not fussy about who they live together with, but it’s better to keep them with peaceful fish that aren’t aggressive, don’t bother them and also like the same water conditions.

They can be kept in a tank with other types of algae eaters since they will rarely fight over territory or food. They are not very active swimmers so they won’t bother their tank mates too often.

If you notice that your siamese algae eater is being bothered too much or doesn’t get enough food, then you should separate it from the other fish.

They can also live together with most of the community species if they are peaceful and don’t bother them. They might even help each other by eating more algae than they would alone.


You should feed your siamese algae eaters a wide variety of vegetables and meat. They usually eat most types of lettuce, spinach, peas and other leafy greens that are rich in vitamin A.

You can also supplement their diet with veggies like cucumber, zucchini, broccoli or carrots since they love crunching on them.

They usually eat meat too since they are omnivores, but it’s best to feed them food rich in vegetable matter.

You can also give them cooked beef heart or earthworms since they will be easier for them to digest than other types of meat. They will appreciate frozen bloodworms and brine shrimp too.

However, you should only give them live or frozen foods if they eat vegetables and leafy greens. Siamese algae eaters usually won’t eat live food that often, but some of them might get used to it with time.

Adult siamese algae eaters can also survive on poor diets so you don’t have to feed them too much if their tank is well maintained.

However, you should still try to feed them properly since their health might suffer if they don’t get enough vitamins and minerals in their diet. They might also become aggressive if they are extremely hungry or sick.

They should eat sinking algae wafers or pellets that can be found at pet shops too, but it’s best to supplement their diet with live or frozen food too.

You should give them food 2-3 times per day, but you can feed them more often if they are really hungry since it’s better for their health to eat smaller amounts 3-4 times per day than one big portion once a day. They usually don’t have a problem with overfeeding, but you should still avoid it to protect your fish.

You can also give them blanched vegetables like spinach or lettuce since they will be softer and easier for them to digest than other types of food. They usually prefer veggies that are rich in vitamin A though, so veggies like carrots and broccoli might not be the best choice

It is best to feed your siamese algae eater until it’s full instead of overfeeding it since this reduces the risk of bloating and can also protect your fish.


So these are the basics of keeping siamese algae eaters. You should take some time to research more about them and gain more experience before you buy one though since they usually need specific care.

It’s best to keep them in tanks that are at least 20 gallons, but bigger tanks are better since they will give your fish more room to swim and you will be less likely to disturb them.

You should also make sure the water in your tank is well filtered and clean, give them enough cover or hiding places and feed them a varied diet rich in veggies.

The siamese algae eater is a great choice for anyone who wants a peaceful, hardy fish that will help you keep your tank clean.

For the end, let’s keep all these facts in mind:

– Siamese algae eaters are easy to care for

– They usually get along with other fish if they are peaceful and not aggressive towards siamese algae eaters

– Siamese algae eaters can be kept with other types of algae eaters if they don’t fight over territory or food

– You should feed them different types of veggies and meat, but they prefer leafy greens that are rich in vitamin A

– They should also be given sinking algae wafers or pellets since these can make up for their lack of nutrients

– You should only supplement their diet with live or frozen foods if they eat vegetables and leafy greens often

– Siamese algae eaters are omnivorous, so they can survive on poor diets if their tank is well maintained

– You should feed them 2-3 times per day, but you can increase the number of feedings if they are really hungry

– Feeding them small amounts more often reduces the risk of overfeeding and bloating which protects your fish

– It is best to feed them until they are full instead of overfeeding them since it can also protect your fish

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