Do Algae Eaters Eat Fish Food?

Do Algae Eaters Eat Fish Poop?

Do Algae Eaters Eat Fish Food?7 mins read

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Sydney Perry
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Do algae eaters eat fish food?
Image From Flickr

Many aquarists wish to keep an algae eater for the fist time, and inevitably ask themselves the question ‘do algae eaters eat fish food’? After all, keeping Plecos, Cory catfish, and other algae eaters is a bit different from keeping other fish varieties.

If you have an algae problem there are always algae eaters that can come to the rescue and help to clean your tank. They feed off algae on plants, tank walls, and ornaments to keep it from getting out of control. But you may want to give them extra nourishment and thus question ‘will algae eaters eat fish food’?

Unfortunately, many individuals are under the impression that Algae Eaters can survive solely on the algae in your tank. This is not entirely true, especially for algae-eating fish species. However, don’t be fooled by the common question ‘do algae eaters eat fish poop’ either. these fish actually need their own tailored diet.

Algae Eaters And Fish Food

To kick off the topic “Do Algae Eaters Eat Fish Food?” the overall answer is yes. However, it must be formulated for them specifically. Algae eaters cannot survive on algae in your tank alone, and this is because:

  • Algae do not provide sufficient nutrition.
  • There may not be enough algae in your tank.
  • Many algae eaters are omnivores requiring plant and meat matter to survive.
  • Some Algae eaters are bottom feeders that will feed on leftover food and other waste materials, rather than algae alone.

Secondly, Algae Eaters eat specialized fish food such as algae wafers which form their staple diet. You can similarly supplement them with vegetables, and meat-based foods such as insect larvae and blood worms.

These will depend on whether they are solely omnivores or herbivores. Most algae eaters are omnivorous and generally feed on detritus (dead plant and animal waste matter), small invertebrates and insects, as well as plant matter.

Lastly, most freshwater fish species will occasionally feed on algae in your tank. Therefore, there may not be sufficient amounts left for your Algae Eaters.

Do I Need To Feed My Algae Eaters?

Do I need to feed my algae eaters?
As mentioned, yes algae eating fish needs to be fed, not usually as regularly and as much, but they will need fish food for algae eaters. Image From Flickr

As mentioned, yes, you need to feed your algae eaters. However, this is not usually as regularly and as much, but algae eaters’ food should comprise of specially formulated fish food.

There are similarly many species of algae-eating fish that, if you don’t feed them properly, will resort to eating the slimy coating of other fish species. Unfortunately, sometimes they might even eat the eyes. Then again, there are certain species of algae-eating fish, or suckermouth fish that don’t eat algae but rely on other sources of food.

Then again you need to keep in mind that much of the leftover foods, from feeding surface-feeding fish will eventually drop to the bottom of the tank. If these are left uneaten, you may find many species of algae-eating fish happily gobble them up. In the wild, algae eaters food is whatever falls from the surface!

Worth mentioning is that when choosing a diet for your Algae Eater you do some research on the specific fish species first. If you are thinking of commercial foods, the answer to ‘do algae eaters eat fish food?’ is yes. However, it is not the same food as your other fish. Each species has its requirements in terms of food types and feeding schedules. Many catfish and other algae-eating fish species are nocturnal and thus need to be fed at night.

What To Feed

  • Commercial Foods – Sinking wafers and pellets are available from reliable pet stores and online. Generally, algae eaters’ food should consist of this on a regular basis. It should provide a balanced composition of algae and other nutrients, suitable for most algae-eating fish species.
  • Vegetables and Fruits – Depending on the fish species you can give them vegetables such as cucumber, zucchini, lettuce, and other leafy greens. It is ideal if you blanch these. Some species will enjoy fruits such as watermelon and even snack on plants inside their tank.
  • Meat-Based Foods – Most Algae-eating fish species prefer dead insects and fish to feed on. though some species may feed on live smaller fish and fry. However, small algae eaters like many pelco species re herbivorous as a rule. You can supplement omnivorous Algae eaters with insect larvae, brine shrimp, and bloodworms as a protein-based food source. The more varied your algae eaters food is, generally, the healthier.

Algae Eaters Species Information

In the aquarium hobby, most aquarists at some other stage have had to come to terms with algae. Algae can be both good and bad, good algae can provide nourishment for tank inhabitants and look aesthetically pleasant.

However, when algae get out of control it can lead to some major concerns in your tank. These include ammonia and nitrite spikes, low oxygen levels, and a lack of light for fish and plants. Not to mention it looks unpleasant and can make it hard to see inside your tank.

Algae Eaters, or as they are known as “algivores” refers to a bottom-dwelling or filter-feeding species of fish. In this category, algae eaters’ food is mostly algae and other phytoplanktons.

Algae eaters are relatively crucial in the aquarium hobby to help improve water quality, and aid in tank maintenance.

This article focuses mainly on Freshwater Algae Eating fish. However, the generic group name of Algae eaters can consist of; fish, shrimp, and snails. Therefore if you want to know the answer to ‘do algae eaters eat fish food?’ it is different for each of these.

Some Facts On Algae

Some facts on algae
Algae spores in the air. Image From Flickr

You may be asking yourself where algae come from and why it grows so fast. Most individuals believe that algae is growth responds to sunlight, or direct sunlight. However, this is not usually the main cause.

Algae can come from three common places:

  1. Water in the pet store containing algae.
  2. Algae spores in the air.
  3. Spores on new aquatic plants.

Unfortunately, you can never remove algae from your tank once there. You can only manage it somewhat. However, this is not always the worst case, if you have algae eaters in your tank.

What Makes Algae Grow

Excess algae is generally a sign of nutrient imbalance in your tank. This is usually from a build-up of food and dead plant material waste.

The most basic culprits are:

  1. High ammonia levels from fish waste.
  2. High phosphate levels from fish food.
  3. Excessive light, especially sun; is tight in some cases.
  4. No or too few live plants in your tank.

Optimally, you should always do some routine tank maintenance, keep some live plants, and introduce a few algae-eating species to your tank. These measures mean you can easily keep ammonia and phosphate levels down. Minimizing direct sunlight, and rather opting for artificial and indirect sunlight will also help.

Remember though, although the answer to ‘do algae eaters eat fish food?’ is a yes, this doesn’t mean they only eat fish food. Even if you feed them to the correct schedule, they will still clean algae from your tank.

Types Of Algae Eating Freshwater Fish

Types of algae eating freshwater fish
As far as I have stated before the focus will mainly be on freshwater algae-eating fish species, rather than snails or shrimp. Image From Flickr

As stated before, the focus will mainly be on freshwater algae-eating fish species, rather than snails or shrimp, This is more relevant to the question of  “do algae Eaters eat fish food”, or need fish food for that matter.

If you are wondering instead ‘do algae eaters eat fish poop’, the short answer is no. To make it very clear, bottom-dwelling fish or algae eaters will not eat fish waste. Rather, they will feed on dead plant and insect materials as well as algae. Thus, you will still need to maintain the tank to reduce waste.

According to species we have the following algae-eating fish;

  • Loricariids – They mainly consist of sucker-mouth Catfish and Plecostomus species that graze on algae and biofilm.
  • Cyprinid Species – Including the Chinese, and Siamese Algae Eaters, dwarf Octocinclus, Mollies, Barbs, and baby Goldfish, among a few others.
  • Botiidae A cypriniform fish species, usually consisting of Loaches that are bottom dwellers.

Among these two genera, many fish species will feed on algae. These include your different Catfish, and Pleco fish species.  But will algae eaters eat fish food preferentially, and leave the algae? Don’t worry. Most of these guys will still eat algae.

They also come in many variants and colors, as well as sizes. Plecos Catfish and even Loaches are usually popular in home aquariums as algae-eating fish species. So, whatever you choose, your tank will be cleaner as a result!

Other Requirements For Algae Eating Fish

Other requirements for algae eating fish
As most Algae eating fish species are bottom-dwelling fish it is important to have a proper substrate. Image From Flickr

According to research and experienced hobbyists with a variety of Algae eating fish species, especially Catfish, Plecostomus, and Loaches certain characteristics stand out in these species that you must consider, other than just their diet.

Here are a few factors worth mentioning, should you be interested in obtaining an algae-eating fish. They are also useful if you already have, and are experiencing some issues.

  • Water Parameters

Most Freshwater fish species have specific requirements in water pH levels, water temperatures, and water hardness levels.  These tend to depend on the exact species. For example, the climate of the natural habitat of the Algae eating fish species will establish the water temperatures they will need in their tank.

Many of the Catfish and Plecostomus species are from Tropical climates with more neutral water pH levels. It’s best to research each species on its own for specific water parameter requirements. Many Algae Eating species tend to be sensitive to changes in water conditions. Thus, it is essential to keep water parameters, and temperatures consistent.

  • Aquarium Set-Up

As most Algae eating fish species are bottom-dwelling fish it is important to have a proper substrate. Many species have a softer belly, in which case softer sand or gravel substrates are ideal. Similarly, for many species such as Plecos and Catfish, you will notice that they require driftwood to feed. This not only aids with digestion, but they also use it as a hiding spot.

Most Algae Eaters do not need many live plants. However, some are nocturnal or prefer hanging around on a large leaf, driftwood, or large rock. Therefore, these make great tank décor. In the case of larger species such as Plecos, you may need a strong filter to deal with waste materials. This should also keep the water well-oxygenated.

Many Algae-eating species tend to be sensitive to changes in water conditions. Thus it is important to keep water parameters, and temperatures consistent. On the other hand, floating live plants can provide shade and hiding. Similarly, many algae eaters prefer low light, and some plant species can even offer a tasty snack.

  • Common Behaviour And Temperament

Especially with Pleco and Catfish species, they are peaceful and very tolerant towards other fish species, however, territorial towards their species. As they are mostly nocturnal and shy they may find a spot where they prefer to keep to themselves. Ideally, you should do proper research on the specific algae eater and their behavior.

  • Size And Lifespan

From smaller freshwater fish species of around 2 to 3 inches (5-6 cm), larger Plecostomus species can grow up to 61 Cm (24 Inches) and larger. Thus, depending on the specific species and algae eater family, the size may differ. Tak this into account when choosing a suitably sized tank for an Algae Eater.

  • Tank Mates

Most Suckermouth, bottom-dwelling algae eaters such as Catfish, Loaches, and Plecos will get along very well with most freshwater fish species. The exception is they often don’t get on with their own species! For other Algae Eating fish, you may need to do some research on the specific species.

  • Common Health Issues

As a freshwater Algae-Eating fish species, most algae eaters are usually prone to the basic health issues of any other freshwater fish. These conditions can include:

    • Ich, a parasitic infection causing white spots on your fish.
    • Fin Rot or Tail rot, is usually caused by either infected injuries or unhealthy water conditions.
  • Dropsy or other swim bladder infections may be either fungal or Bacterial.
  • Breeding

Breeding Algae-eating fish will depend entirely on the specific species. Unfortunately, it is impossible to breed most Pleco fish species at home, especially larger variants. Loaches, Plecos, and Catfish species are hard to determine the gender of. They are also territorial, which makes breeding even more tricky in the end.

Final Thoughts

Algae Eaters
Most algae eaters will need additional fish food specialized for their species to flourish and stay healthy. Image From Flickr

In conclusion, much of the care guidelines, and feeding regimes for Algae Eaters will depend on the specific species and their requirements. Yet for those wondering ‘will algae eaters eat fish food?’ generally they will, but only specially formulated food.

Most algae eaters will need additional fish food specialized for their species to flourish and stay healthy. However, they won’t take food from your other fish unless it is leftover. Hopefully, this article will have demonstrated the different parts of this question. Now, you can be sure you are feeding your algae eaters correctly.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Best Commercial Food for Algae Eaters?
Ideally, algae wafers, spirulina discs, and algae discs that contain additional algae among other nutrients, can be fed as a staple diet, along with fresh vegetables and meat-based foods if needed.
Do Algae Eaters Eat Fish Poop?
Believe it or not, this question has come up many times. According to some aquarists, they would say that algae eaters may get the waste in their mouths while sieving through food waste and algae on the bottom of the tank. Though many would disagree with this answer. Algae Eaters are generally more likely to consume wasted fish food, dead plants, and other materials, rather than fish waste, though they may occasionally take a bite at it.
What Vegetables Can Algae Eaters Eat?
There are surprising quite a few different vegetables that you can feed most algae eaters. The rule of thumb is to keep it thinly sliced and feed it blanched and cooled. These vegetables include; Green Peas. Fish Beans.
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