Algae eater

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Algae eater or algivore is a common name for any bottom-dwelling or filter-feeding aquatic animal species that specialize in feeding on algae and phytoplanktons. Algae eaters are important for the fishkeeping hobby and many are commonly kept by aquarium hobbyists to improve water quality.[1] They are also important primary consumers that relay the biomass and energy from photosynthetic autotrophes up into the food web, as well as protecting the aquatic ecosystem against algae blooms.


A Plecostomus uses its mouth, shaped like a suction-cup, to attach itself to surfaces and scrape off algae.


Some of the common and most popular freshwater aquarium algae eaters include:

Common freshwater algivorous fish:


Some freshwater shrimp are also excellent algae eaters:

  • Almost all of them belong to the family Atyidae (the only family in the superfamily Atyoidea) including many genera
  • Some of them belong to the genus Palaemonetes (grass shrimp)


Most species of freshwater snails, discounting most adult specimens of species belonging to the family Ampullariidae, which primarily subsist on aquatic plants as adults.

  • Bellamyinae
  • Lioplacinae
  • Viviparinae


Some of the known types of fish to eat algae are blennies and tangs, but along with fish there are snails, crabs, and sea urchins who also eat algae. These species are known to eat red slime algae, green film algae, hair algae, diatoms, cyanobacteria, brown film algae, detritus, and microalgae.[3]



There are several saltwater fish species that eat algae. Two of the major algae eaters are blennies and tangs. These fish eat red slime algae, green film algae, and hair algae. Some of the known species are as follows:


Seaweed Blenny


Regal Blue Tang


Hermit crabs and other species of crabs eat algae. Crabs eat green algae, film algae, red slime algae, diatoms, cyanobacteria, and microalgae. Some of the known species are:

Hermit Crabs:

  • Dwarf Blue Leg Hermit Crab
  • Dwarf Red Tip Hermit Crab
  • Electric Blue Hermit Crab
  • Halloween Hermit Crab
  • Hawaiian Zebra Hermit Crab
  • Anemone Carrying Hermit Crab[6]

Other Species:[7]

Sea urchins[edit]

All species of sea urchin eat algae. They eat all sizes of algae, from something as small as macroalgae to something as large as kelp, and have been known to eat Coralline algae.[8] In cooler waters, sea urchins have even been known to eat enough to control the size and compositions of kelp forests. Sea urchins act as scavengers and will also eat dead algae that they find. Some sea urchins, such as the variegated sea urchin or the red sea urchin, have become popular as pets for home aquariums because of their ability to proficiently eat algae.[9]


Snails are known for eating hair algae, cyanobacteria, diatoms, green film algae, brown film algae, and detritus.[10]


  1. ^ "Best Algae Eaters For The Freshwater Aquarium". 2020-01-24. Retrieved 2020-02-13.
  2. ^ Huntley, W. (1995). Jordanella floridae The American-Flag Fish. SF Bay Area Killifish Association http://www.sfbaka. net/.
  3. ^ "saltwater algae eater". 2010-02-01. Archived from the original on 2010-12-01. Retrieved 2015-03-27.
  4. ^ "Saltwater Fish That Eat Algae | Tropical Fish Hobbyist Magazine". Home | TFH Magazine. Retrieved 2020-12-12.
  5. ^ a b "Reef Safe Algae Eaters". The Spruce Pets. Retrieved 2020-12-12.
  6. ^ Chambers, Thomas E. (1949-05-01). "The School Aquarium". The American Biology Teacher. 11 (5): 123–124. doi:10.2307/4438056. ISSN 0002-7685. JSTOR 4438056.
  7. ^ "Saltwater Aquarium Fish|Live Corals|Marine Invertebrates". Retrieved 2020-11-26.
  8. ^ Paletta, Michael. "Echinoderms: Part 7 - Sea Urchins (Echinoidea)".
  9. ^ Hauter, Stan. "Reef Tank Janitors Like Shrimps, True Crabs, and Sea Urchins".
  10. ^ "Snails". Archived from the original on 2015-05-01. Retrieved 2015-03-27.