Finding the perfect combination of aquarium inhabitants is an art. You want to find species that are compatible with each other in terms of size and color, but you also have to think about aggression and diet as well. Once you’ve established the ideal balance, it can be challenging to add a new inhabitant to the tank. If you’re struggling to control problem algae, however, adding a new species could be your best option. Bristlenose Plecostomus, oto cats, and other algae eaters are a natural and long-term solution for problem algae, but they require care of their own.
Best Fish Food for Algae Eaters
In this article, we’ll explore the benefits of algae eaters in the home aquarium and talk about how to care for them properly. You’ll also see our top picks for the best fish food for algae eaters.
Choosing the right algae eater for your tank is half the battle but then you need to know how to care for it. Remember, each species has unique requirements and you’ll need to research your algae eater’s nutritional needs.
Best Fish Foods for Algae Eaters
Adding an algae eater to your tank could be the ideal solution to your algae problem but remember that algae may not be enough for your new fish to survive. Depending what species you choose and the size of your tank, a single algae eater could make quick work of the algae and be left hungry. Supplementing your algae eater’s diet is the key to keeping it healthy so it will continue to do its job.
Here are our top picks for the best algae eater food:
1. Editor’s Choice: Hikari Algae Wafers
From one of the most popular fish food brands on the market, these Hikari algae wafers are the number-1 selling diet for plecos around the world. These wafers are high in vegetable matter that algae eaters prefer and enjoy and rich in stabilized vitamin C to reduce stress and build immunity. Rich in pure cultured spirulina, this fish food will not dissolve nor cloud the water.
2. Runner Up: Tetra PlecoWafers Algae Wafers
The ideal sinking diet for bottom feeders and algae eaters, these wafers come in packages of several sizes for your convenience. They offer complete nutrition in a formula designed to keep your tank water clear and are suitable for all fish breed sizes.
3. Best Wafers: API Algae Eater Wafers
Made with a unique, nutritionally-enhanced protein, these wafers are designed to ensure maximum absorption of nutrients. When your algae eaters are able to digest their food and absorb nutrients, they produce less waste which means cleaner, clearer water. The ingredients include algae and Omega-3 fatty acids that algae-eating fish need for optimal health and growth, so your fish will thrive on this diet. The recommended feeding schedule is up to twice a day, serving an amount of food your fish will consume within 2 hours.
4. Best Kelp: Omega One Veggie Rounds
Hand harvested kelp from Alaska is packed into the Veggie Rounds making them full of Omega 3 & 6 to support your fishes’ immune system. It also contains Spirulina which is a powerful cyanbacterium that will eliminated internal bacteria and pathogens. So by now you can see that the Omega One Veggie Rounds are more than just food, they are packed with essentials vitamins that your algae eating fish need to stay healthy and strong. There are no filler meals, hydrolysates, digests or any other pre-processed protein – this is pure food. There are 5 purchase size options you can choose from so you don’t have to worry about running out too soon. The rounds are naturally insoluble and that will reduce the water pollution in your tank and reduce fish waste.
5. Best for Smaller Fish: Hikari Mini Algae Wafers
If you’re looking for smaller algae wafers for algae eaters like otocinclus catfish, these mini wafers might be the ideal solution. Made with pure-cultured spirulina, these mini wafers offer the perfect balance of vegetables and protein. The wafers contain high levels of vegetable matter that plecostomus and other algae-eating fish prefer, and they are rich in nutrients that support the overall health and immune system of fish. Not only that these mini algae wafers are a convenient feeding option for most herbivoros bottom feeders, but they also won’t cloud the water in the tank.
6. Best Digestible: Aquatic Foods Wafers
Versatile and nutritious, these algae wafers are formulated for all tropicals, not just bottom feeders, as they both float and sink. Sifted and graded to remove most dust and most chips, these are smaller and thinner than most wafers (⅜“- ½” in diameter and apx ⅛” thick) and will make a great meal for plecos and other algae-eaters. The formula is easily digestible and made up of various plant sources and marine products such as algae, spirulina, wheat germ, to ensure healthy gill, fin and tissue development. To boot, these wafers have been formulated to reduce waste and increase water clarity – a win-win from all aspects.
7. Best Sinking: Aquatic Arts Sinking Algae Wafers
Ideal for all algae eaters, these large wafers are made with algae, spirulina, veggies, and a blend of proteins for optimum nutrition. They are ideally suited for dwarf shrimp, crayfish, fish, snails and other various algae eaters. To boot, these wafers are formulated with 30% protein content for optimum health, digestion, and enhanced fish color, and they’ll encourage faster growth and breeding of invertebrates.
8. Best Block: Zoo Med Laboratories Pleco Banquet Block
While traditional algae wafers break down quickly, this banquet block provides a longer lasting solution. This slow-release feeder is ideal for plecos and other suckermouth-type catfish, as it provides opportunity for bottom feeders to use and exercise their mouthparts naturally. Not to mention that this time release food block makes a great vacation feeder – it will keep on feeding your fish even when you’re away.
9. Honorable Mention: New Life Spectrum AlgaeMax Wafers
Designed to mimic a natural herbivorous diet, these algae wafers feature a wide variety of vegetables with added nutrients. These slow-dissolving wafers are ideal for marine and freshwater algae eaters.
Tips for Caring for Algae Eaters
Every aquarium hobbyist struggles to keep their tank clean and algae is a constant battle. If you’re looking for a simple and effective way to control algae in your tank, chemical water treatments might not be the solution. An algae eater is the perfect addition to any tank that struggles with algae.
Popular algae eater species include bristlenose plecos, otocinclus catfish, Siamese algae eaters, and even more. Keep in mind that different species tend to prefer different types of algae and you’ll need to supplement the fish’s diet to keep it healthy. When choosing an algae eater, consider the maximum size and level of aggression in comparison to the inhabitants you already have in your tank.
Here are some simple tips to care for your algae eater:
- Provide your algae eater with plenty of places to hide in the tank – some species are nocturnal and some are very small, so they may need protection from other fish.
- Offer your algae eater sinking foods that will make it to the bottom of the tank before other fish can eat them – wafers are usually the best option.
- Break large wafers into smaller pieces and remove the uneaten portions after an hour so they don’t dissolve completely and affect your water quality.
- Give your algae eaters fresh blanched veggies like zucchini, broccoli, and lettuce to supplement their diet – make sure it’s properly cleaned and softened before feeding.
- Don’t add more algae eaters than your tank can support – unless you have a very large tank or a big algae problem, one fish is probably enough for the entire tank.
Caring for an algae eater isn’t difficult, but you do need to do a little research ahead of time. Choose a species that is compatible with your existing tank inhabitants and be sure to keep in mind the maximum size. Chinese algae eaters, for example, can grow to be quite large and aggressive. Once you’ve brought your new fish home, be sure to include it in your daily feeding routine to keep it healthy.
Do algae eaters need algae wafers?
The main reason why many aquarists opt for algae eaters in their tank is right there in the name – they eat algae that appears in the aquarium. However, these fish are not self-sufficient when it comes to their diet, so you’ll still have to feed them daily, hence algae wafers. This type of fish food is made primarily from algae, often with other beneficial ingredients such as spirulina or vegetable matter, to support your algae eater’s overall health.
How many wafers should I feed my algae eater?
As your tank won’t produce enough algae to keep your fish full, you should offer algae wafers daily. As a rule of thumb, you should feed one or two algae wafers per algae eater, on a daily basis. If you have more than one pleco or algae eater in the tank and are unsure about the feeding amount, check the manufacturer’s recommendations, often printed on the bag or container.
How long can an algae eater live without food?
If your algae eater is healthy and in the adult stage of their life, they could probably survive without food for 3 to 7 days. Of course, there’s no reason for your fish to starve, even if they would be able to survive for a period of time. This could put a stress on their body and immune system, and weaken them – leaving them susceptible to diseases and health issues down the road.
What do algae eaters eat if there is no algae?
As mentioned, algae eaters need additional food to survive and thrive – keeping your tank free of algae won’t be enough to sustain them. To meet their dietary needs, you will have to offer them algae wafers or spirulina, as well as a healthy veggie content. Some fish food for algae eaters included vegetable matter, but you can also cut up some fresh veggies, such as zucchini, lettuce, or broccoli, and throw them in the tank for your algae eater to feast on every once in a while.
How often do you feed an algae eater?
Your algae eater should be fed daily – the amount depends on the type of food you’re offering. Generally, most brands recommend that you feed twice a day the amount of food your fish can eat in 2 hours, but to be sure, check the recommendations by the manufacturer and stick to that. Occasionally, you can add a bit of fresh veggies, to provide much-needed fiber and vitamins.
Why is my algae eater not eating?
If you have a pleco, the chances are that you’re messing up the feeding schedule – these algae eaters feed only at night, so if you’ve been feeding them during the day, it’s not a surprise that they are not eating. In other situations, it might be that the algae eater isn’t noticing the food before it dissolves (put the wafer near them or at their favorite spot to test if this is the case) or that you need to switch up the brand of food they’ve been avoiding. Of course, if your algae weather is not eating the algae that naturally occurs in the tank, it might be a dietary preference – different algae eaters eat various species of algae, for instance some will feast on hair algae and others only eat diatom algae, and so on.
Kate Barrington is the loving owner of two cats (Bagel and Munchkin) and a noisy herd of guinea pigs. Having grown up with golden retrievers, Kate has a great deal of experience with dogs but labels herself a lover of all pets. Having received a Bachelor's degree in English, Kate has combined her love for pets and her passion for writing to create her own freelance writing business, specializing in the pet niche.
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