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Small Algae Eaters

In this blog post, we’re going to delve into the world of Small Algae Eaters. You’ll find a few great algae eaters that can fit into most small tanks.

Everything from catfish, shrimp, snails, and even cichlids made the list. All these fish listed below are beginner-friendly and “pretty” easy to care for.

Here are a few that we like the most.

My Top Algae Eaters For Small Tanks

  • Siamese Algae Eaters
  • Otocinclus Catfish
  • Molly Fish
  • Guppies
  • Endlers Livebearers
  • American Flagfish
  • African Cichlids (Neolamprologus Multifasciatus)
  • Nerite Snails
  • Trumpet Snails
  • Cherry Shrimp
  • Amano Shrimp
  • Bamboo Shrimp

One of the greatest ways to combat algae problems in your aquarium is by purchasing a few algae eating fish.

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Small Fish That Eat Algae

There are several different algae eating fish species, which will feed on algae as their primary source of nourishment. Different types of snails and shrimp are also known for eating algae, which we will cover.

It is not uncommon for aquarium owners to include several algae eaters in their tanks, solely to keep algae growth at bay.

Here, we list 12 algae eaters that are perfect for Small Tanks 10 Gallons & Under.

Siamese Algae Eaters

Siamese Algae Eaters

Siamese Algae Eaters

  • Care Level: Medium. Although they can sometimes show aggression, they do so far less often, especially when compared to Chinese algae eaters.
  • Max Size: 6.5 inches
  • Temperature Range: 75-79F
  • PH Range: 6.5-8

Siamese algae eaters are known for being some of the most effective algae-eating fish available. They’re often confused with Chinese algae eaters, but at the end of the day, they’re very different. For the most part, they never grow to be as large as Chinese algae eaters, making them better for smaller tanks.

These fish are so productive at algae-eating that it’s even in their name. The great thing about the Siamese algae eater is that it takes care of all types of algae. While some fish only prefer green algae, Siamese algae eaters enjoy it all. Everything from red algae to brown algae is considered a food source to the Siamese algae eater.

They are also at their algae-eating best while still young. As they age, they tend to lean more heavily on other food sources such as pellets. But make no mistake, algae will always remain a primary food source during the lifespan of a Siamese algae eater.

Otocinclus Catfish

Otocinclus Catfish

Otocinclus Catfish

  • Care Level: Minimal. Generally, as long as these catfish have enough algae to eat, they’re happy. But depending on how many bigger fish are contained in your tank, you may want to double-check to ensure that the environment is fit for Otocinclus catfish. Angelfish, for example, will attack Otocinclus catfish.
  • Max Size Of Fish: 1.5 Inches
  • Temperature Range: 70-80F
  • PH Range: 6-7.5

Otocinclus catfish, or dwarf suckers, are ideal algae eaters for tanks under 10 gallons. Otos are small fish, giving them the ability to eat algae in tight spaces.

Although they aren’t the most aggressive or most robust species of fish, algae, in particular, doesn’t stand a chance against them. To the Otocinclus catfish, brown algae is a delicacy, although these fish will eat all sorts of algae.

Molly Fish

Molly Fish

Molly Fish

  • Care Level: Minimal. Mollies are great independent fish that require minimal care. As long as a good brand of flakes is added to their regular diet and algae, they are easy to keep happy. It is not uncommon for mollies to be recommended to new tank owners.
  • Max Size Of Fish: 2 Inches
  • Temperature Range: 75-80F
  • PH Range: 7-8

Molly fish are another great algae eating option for smaller tanks. Black mollies, in particular, are known for being the most effective. Although they will eat large amounts of algae, they can also be used as algae-eating sidekicks. This is because algae serves as only one food source. They also enjoy protein-filled food sources such as bloodworms, as well as high-quality flakes.

Molly fish come in all sorts of varieties, from golden mollies to black mollies. There are even dalmatian mollies, which are known for their unique speckled design.

There are many types of mollies available because, over the years, they’ve been one of the most hybridized types of fish. Although some mollies can be aggressive, they are generally friendly fish that get along well with others.

Guppies

Guppy

Guppy

  • Care Level: Minimal. Although Guppies will eat algae, this should not be considered their only source of food. A variety of flakes and other nutritious fish foods should be given to Guppies. Algae alone is not enough.
  • Max Size Of Fish: 2.4 inches
  • Temperature Range: 74-82F
  • PH Range: 6.8-7.8

Guppies are among the most popular fish in the aquarium world. Although they are more often purchased for their looks and temperament, they are also great algae eaters.

Most guppy owners have no idea that they are algae eaters, upon purchasing them. Gradually, they will come to learn this and even appreciate the Guppies’ ability to keep algae from overrunning the tank.

Keep in mind that  Guppy Fish are also prolific breeders. Tank keepers that do not want to deal with guppy offspring, often purchase only one gender of the fish. Otherwise, guppy fry can be quite overwhelming, especially while being consumed by other fish and the guppy parents themselves.

Endlers Livebearers

Endlers Livebearers

Endlers Livebearers

  • Care Level: Minimal. Endlers livebearers are hardy fish that can get by in a wide range of aquatic environments. With that said, their growth is often assisted by warmer conditions. Like Guppies, owners should never rely on algae as a primary food source. Although they will nibble on algae throughout the day, they prefer flakes, shrimp, and other powdered foods.
  • Max Size Of Fish: 1.8 inches
  • Temperature Range: 64-84F
  • PH Range: 5.5-8

Endler’s livebearers are colorful little algae eaters that have been seen to breed with Guppies. They are a Venezuelan fish, commonly seen in pet shops, and frequently recommended to new aquarium owners.

Endler’s livebearers range in color, although the males are known for displaying more appealing patterns. The algae they prefer grows on live plants. Although they’re not known for cleaning the algae contained within the substrate, they will keep live plants fairly algae-free.

American Flagfish

American Flagfish

American Flagfish

  • Care Level: Minimal. Flag fish are known for being adaptable and can eat algae while keeping to themselves for hours.
  • Max Size Of Fish: 2 inches
  • Temperature Range: 66-86F
  • PH Range: 6.7-8.2

The American flagfish has no problem-consuming algae. They are uniquely colored and frequently used as algae eaters. Initially, they were native to swampy Florida settings. Their color patterns are similar to the American flag.

Although flagfish do enjoy the company of fellow fish, they are also known to frequently remain solitary, hiding between rocks and within live plants.

African Cichlids (Neolamprologus Multifasciatus)

Neolamprologus Multifasciatus

Neolamprologus Multifasciatus

  • Care Level: Minimal. Most types of African cichlids prefer the company of groups. The algae they prefer generally grows on rocks and glass.
  • Max Size Of Fish: 2 inches
  • Temperature Range: 63-74F
  • PH Range: 7.8-8.5

Although there are tons of  African cichlid types, generally, they will always graze upon algae whether they are male or female. It’s best to research which African Cichlids are recommended for 10-gallon tanks, as some types can reach up to 3 feet in length.

Neolamprologus Multifasciatus cichlids, however, are much smaller. These fish, although beautiful, are often unseen due to their tendency to take refuge in shells.

Small Snails That Eat Algae

Nerite Snails

Nerite Snails

Nerite Snails

  • Care Level: Medium. Nerite snails do have to be looked after, and can only be placed in certain tanks. Tanks containing loach fish, for example, present a problem as they like to feed on nerite snails. Tanks must also be covered due to their adventurousness. They also have a tendency to scatter eggs throughout tanks, which doesn’t exactly make a tank more presentable.
  • Max Size Of Fish: 1 inch
  • Temperature Range: 71-78.8F
  • PH Range: 7+

That’s right; snails too can be great for algae eating! In addition to being incredibly useful, nerite snails also feature highly appealing shell designs with creative patterns. They are often described as having shells similar to the stripes of a zebra.

There’s no type of algae that is off-limits to the nerite snail; they love it all. Being the bottom feeders that they are, they will also keep your substrate clean.

Trumpet Snails

  • Care Level: Minimal. Although they are productive algae eaters, their reputations as a pest species precede them in some circles.
  • Max Size Of Fish: 1-2 inches on average, although they can grow up to 4 inches in rarer cases.
  • Temperature Range: 50-90F
  • PH Range: 6.5-8

Trumpet snails are also attractive looking, algae-eating machines. Their primary food source is algae, so they can be great tools for keeping algae levels to a minimum. They get their name from their unique shell design, which is cone-shaped. They’re usually a rusty-brown, although black trumpet snails are rare and can be found.

Trumpet snails are somewhat non-active during the day, and do most of their feeding and exploring at night. Tanks containing live plants will benefit greatly from the help of trumpet snails.

Shrimp That Eat Algae

Cherry Shrimp

Cherry Shrimp

Cherry Shrimp

  • Care Level: Minimal. These shrimp are highly adaptable and easy to take care of. They prefer aquariums that contain plants, where they can shield their young and themselves. These shrimp will shed an exoskeleton every so often. This doesn’t have to be fished out of the tank, as they will eventually consume it for healthy minerals.
  • Max Size Of Fish: 2 inches
  • Temperature Range: 57-84F
  • PH Range: 6.5-8

Shrimp, too, can be competent algae eaters. They prefer the smaller fish company, so the chances are that the residents of a 10 gallon or under tank should be fine.

 Cherry shrimp are widely known for their looks, and although they come in a variety of colors, red is the most popular. Because of how small and versatile they are, they can easily get by in desktop aquariums.

As a food source, they prefer algae and all types of biofilm. Plants, which frequently provide biofilm, are great for cherry shrimp. They also enjoy fish flakes, including zucchini and other veggie products.

Amano Shrimp

Amano Shrimp

Amano Shrimp

  • Care Level: Minimal. Amano shrimp are great at adapting to a variety of tank environments, making them a suitable species for beginners. They prefer to be in groups, and tanks with smaller fish and live plants. They should be given extra food in tanks containing low algae levels. It’s recommended to treat your Amano shrimp to vegetable flakes every so often, zucchini in particular.
  • Max Size Of Fish: 1.5 inches
  • Temperature Range: 68-86F
  • PH Range: 6.5-7.5

 Amano shrimp are considered to be the most productive algae eaters in the shrimp category. One of the great benefits of having an Amano shrimp is that it will also eat unconsumed food in your tank. Uneaten food tends to break down into harmful bacteria, which can promote the growth of algae. That being said, this shrimp is capable of eliminating the source of a tank’s algae problem.

Like cherry shrimp, they’re no slouches in the looks department. Their translucent spotted bodies make for a great addition to an aquarium. Like cherry shrimp, they will periodically shed. It’s essential to double-check that they’re receiving healthy diets and remaining strong. When the time comes to shed, they must have the strength to do so.

Bamboo Shrimp

  • Care Level: Minimal. Bamboo shrimp will resort to eating algae, especially while other food sources are low.
  • Max Size Of Fish : 3 inches
  • Temperature Range: 68-77F
  • PH Range: 6.5-7.5

Although not quite as productive as cherry shrimp or Amano shrimp, bamboo shrimp can serve as active algae eaters. They are native to Southeast Asia and enjoy water flow within aquariums.

Final Thoughts on Algae Eaters for Small Tanks

Every aquarium owner eventually discovers algae.

Different types of algae mean different things, but generally, it is considered a problem. While some algae, like red algae, can be toxic, other algae such as brown algae are usually regarded as harmless.

But it’s still unpleasant to the eye.

The various algae types often point to different weak points in an aquarium’s ecosystem. Often, insufficient lighting periods, bacterial breakdown due to uneaten food and fish waste, and reduced oxygen levels/circulation are culprits.

Eventually, every tank owner develops a unique approach in its effort to combat algae. Sometimes, the solution is simple and requires a minor adjustment, such as more frequent water changes or a  regular maintenance schedule.

Other times, algae problems can be multi-layered, and tank owners have to experiment with a variety of solutions before the problem is solved.

Hopefully, by now, you have a good idea of some easy ways to take care of the algae levels in your tank. When looking for natural solutions, it is essential to remember that fish, shrimp, and snails can potentially eliminate algae.

Although some are smaller than others, generally, each of these algae eaters’ appetites will remain strong!

Here are a few more great algae eating fish.

Further Reading:

More Info About 10-Gallon Tanks

Small Algae Eating Fish For Tanks 10 Gallons & Under