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Siamese Algae Eater
(Crossocheilus siamensis) Moderate Peaceful 6" 30 gallons 75-80° F, KH 5-10, pH 6.0-7.0 Omnivore Southeast Asia Cyprinidae Suckermouth Catfish Community Native to the many tributaries, streams and drainage ditches of Southeast Asia, the Siamese Algae Eater (Crossocheilus siamensis) is a schooling species of suckermouth catfish. They are found living amongst the dense vegetation along the banks and bottoms of the many streams and drainage ditches of the tropical areas of Southeast Asia. Generations spent living in an environment of dense aquatic vegetation has made the Siamese Algae Eater a master at eating algae from all manner of plant leaves, stalks and stems, which consequently has endeared them with those who keep planted aquariums the world over. Often referred to as the "friendly" algae eater, the Siamese Algae Eater (Crossocheilus siamensis) has a lot more going for it than simply being more peaceful than the more widely available and similar in appearance Flying Fox (Epalzeorhynchus kalopterus) and the Chinese Algae Eater (Gyrinocheilos aymonieri). It is due to the similarities in appearance between these species, that hobbyists will often refer to the Siamese Algae Eater as the True Siamese Algae Eater in order to more clearly distinguish it from the more common Flying Fox and Chinese Algae Eater, who are often mislabeled as a Siamese Algae Eater. Although Siamese Algae Eaters are a bit more rare than their Chinese cousins, they are readily available within the hobby and do great in peaceful planted community aquariums. Their peaceful temperament and effectiveness at eating a wide variety of algae types has endeared this species with planted aquarium hobbyists the world over. In fact the Siamese Algae Eater is one of the few species of suckermouth catfish that is known to consistently feed on Black Brush or Black Beard algae. The Siamese Algae Eater, although dull and not colorfully attractive, can be an important asset when dealing with various forms of algae and is also an intriuging schooling fish, ideal for community setups. Their ideal tank setup would mimic their southeast Asian streams; however, they will also do well in planted tanks and general larger community aquariums. As is the case with most species originating from streams and rivers, they need additional water flow via a power head or canister return and plenty of dissolved oxygen. In their native stream habitats they are accustomed to clean, flowing water and plenty of room for schools of individuals to swim about. They prefer aquarium setups that have at least moderate water flow and plenty of plants and rock on which they can graze for algae and adequate size to accommodate at least 6 full grown specimens. Ideally this species should be kept in a 4 foot long, 55 gallon or larger aquarium which will provide enough swimming room for a group of 6 or more 6 inch adult True SAEs. When kept in small groups the Siamese Algae Eater is very peaceful towards tank mates and will generally school about the aquarium feeding on algae with its mates. However, if not kept in a small group or school they will tend to act like Barbs who are not kept in groups and nip at other fish. This occurs because they are used to living in a group and the fish within the group will communicate their position to others in the group by slightly touching or nipping each other as they move about the aquarium. Fish who aren't accustomed to living in schools will find this behavior to be stressful. Proper tank mates vary from community fish species like Tetra, Barbs, Corydoras, Gouramis, Loaches, Rasboras, Rainbowfish and peaceful Cichlid species. The key is keeping a small group of Siamese Algae Eaters and keeping them with fish who are not large or aggressive enough to see them as food. They make an excellent compliment to most community aquarium setups as they control algae growth and swim in attractive looking schools. It is well known within the aquarium hobby that the True Siamese Algae Eater is a prolific consumer of algae, including some species of algae like Black Beard Algae that many other algae eaters won't consume. Algae will most often make up the bulk of this species diet, much to the joy of hobbyists looking to control algae growth within their tanks. However, if there is a shortage of algae in the aquarium the True SAE will gladly consume a wide variety of commercial foods including flakes, freeze-dried worms and shrimp, algae wafers and even vegetables like zucchini or green beans. Despite having some distinct differences in body shape, coloration and pattern, the Siamese Algae Eater is continually mislabeled as a Chinese Algae Eater (Gyrinocheilos aymonieri) or a Flying Fox (Epalzeorhynchus kalopterus). Lets start with the easy one first, the Chinese Algae has some very distinct differences between itself and the true Siamese Algae Eater (SAE). These differences include: much larger, thicker and longer body; larger and more down turned suckermouth; rounder and thicker head; dark brown coloration and brown spotted pattern on the top of their body and lastly a brown lateral stripe instead of the very black stripe of the SAE. Now for the more challenging part, identifying a True Siamese Algae Eater from the False Siamensis and Flying Fox fish. The most apparent difference between them is the horizontal black stripe running the length of the body. Both the False Siamensis and Flying Fox have a sharp, smooth black stripe topped with a gold stripe. The True Siamese Algae Eater has a lateral stripe that has ragged edges between the black stripe and the gold body coloration. Additionally, the Flying Fox has red and black on its finnage, which becomes very pronounced as they become adults. Another distinction between the SAE and the False SAE and Flying Fox is the number of pairs of barbells on the mouth of the fish. True Siamese Algae Eaters have a single pair of barbells (whiskers) by their mouth; where as, False Siamensis and Flying Fox have two pairs of barbells. While this difference can be more difficult to see on small fish darting about in an aquarium, it can definitively identify which species it is. Lastly, the behavior of the fish can help identify their true identity. True Siamese Algae Eaters are a schooling species who will stay together with others of their own kind, both swimming and feeding in small groups of individuals. While both the False Siamensis and Flying Fox are solitary species who will attempt to claim a territory and prevent other suckermouth catfish from entering by chasing off any of their own or similar species of fish.
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Joe Piegols
Otocinclus Catfish
(Otocinclus sp.) Easy Peaceful 2" 30 gallons 74-82° F, KH 6-10, pH 6.5-7.5 Herbivore South America Loricariidae Suckermouth Catfish Community Otocinclus Catfish (Otocinclus sp.) originate from South America where they are found living in small streams, tributaries and on the margins of larger rivers. They live clinging to substrates and plants using their mouth as a sucker, and feeding on algae growth on submerged wood & roots, stones, and the leaves and stalks of aquatic plant life. They inhabit water ways that have well oxygenated water and prefer areas where the water flow ranges from gentle to moderate. The water in the Otocinclus Catfishs native environment are clean and contain very low levels of dissolved nutrients. Otocinclus Catfish live in groups of individuals called schools, in which the school will inhabit a relatively small area of a water way provided that there is adequate food sources. They generally only migrate substantial distances if they are forced to by receding waters caused by drought or seasonal rains. Otocinclus Catfish are found within the aquarium hobby under a wide variety of common names, which include: Oto Catfish, Otos, Ottos, Dwarf Suckermouths, Dwarf Oto, Dwarf Ottos, Dwarf Suckers, Otto Cats, Pygmy suckermouths, Macrotocinclus affinis and Otocinclus affinis. The wide range of names for this species is somewhat of a testament to how popular they are with aquarium hobbyists who keep planted community aquariums. Otocinclus Catfish are considered one of the super stars of any algae control team, they excel at consuming algae from plant, wood and rocks. They are especially coveted by those with planted aquariums, as they can remove algae from even the most delicate plants without causing any damage to leaves. Probably the greatest testament to the Oto Catfishes algae eating prowess was that they were often included in planted aquariums designed by the late Takashi Amano, where they were paired with Amano Shrimp and Nerite Snails. In order to successfully care for Otocinclus Catfish, hobbyists need to focus on three things: stable water conditions, established algae growth and suitable tank mates. Otocinclus Catfish are not a suitable day one fish species, they should be added to aquariums that are well established, this will provide them more stable water parameters and some existing algae growth on which to feed. While not absolutely required, they will do best in aquariums with plenty of live vegetation, soft sandy substrate and some smooth rocks and drift wood or wood root. Lastly, Otocinclus Catfish are a very peaceful species that needs to be kept with other peaceful community fish and invert species, like Tetra, Discus, Rasbora and ornamental shrimp. They will not do well with more aggressive species like Cichlid fish or ornamental crayfish. In addition to an established aquarium, algae growth and peaceful tank mates, the Otocinclus Catfish requires gentle water flow, warm slightly acidic water and areas of diffused lighting. The Otocinclus Catfish is a herbivore who requires that a large portion of its diet comes from naturally occurring algae growth, which is essential for the Oto Cat to maintain a healthy immune system. They consume naturally occurring algae from within the aquarium by grazing on the aquarium glass, substrate, plants, rocks and driftwood. In cases where the aquarium does not have enough algae growth to support the Otocinclus Catfish, they will also consume blanched vegetables like zucchini or squash, sinking algae wafers, or other similar herbivore foodstuffs. However, when kept in well established planted aquariums the hobbyist should rarely if ever need to provide supplemental feedings. Hobbyists should be able to gauge whether sufficient food is available within the aquarium by visually identifying natural algae growth within the tank and through visual inspection of the Otocinclus Catfish, looking for a properly shaped plump body.
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Longnose Twig Catfish
(Farlowella gracilis) Moderate Peaceful 8" 40 gallons 72-80° F, KH 4-10, pH 6.5-7.8 Omnivore South America, Colombia Loricariidae Suckermouth Catfish Community Longnose Twig Catfish (Farlowella gracilis) is a popular species of armored catfish originating from the tropical river basins of Colombia. They go by a variety of common names within the aquarium hobby including: Longnose Twig Catfish, Twig Catfish, Whiptail Catfish and Slender Armored Cat. Many hobbyists keeping tropical community aquariums or Amazon biotope aquariums keep Longnose Twig Catfish both for their attractive appearance and their ability to consume algae and detritus. Longnose Twig Catfish perform an important role within the aquarium ecosystem by keeping excess algae in check and helping to keep the aquarium substrate free of decaying plant material and excess foodstuffs. They are also known for being a long lived and very hardy species once acclimated in the aquarium environment. The native tropical river habitat of the Longnose Twig Catfish consists of slowly moving waters that typically have a sandy or mixed rock and sand substrate with submerged tree root and vegetation near the river banks. Fish species originating from river habitats are typically used to clean, highly oxygenated waters and a good amount of water currents. Hobbyists should look to replicate these water conditions by providing additional dissolved oxygen and water flow via strong filtration water returns or power heads. Ideally submerged root, driftwood, rocks and plants should be provided to create a more natural habitat and provide additional places for the Longnose Twig Catfish to feed on algae. Tank mates should include peaceful community fish species (tetras, barbs, gourami, danios, cory cats, loaches) and smaller more peaceful Cichlid species (convicts, firemouths, rainbows, angelfish, smaller catfish). This species is best kept by intermediate or above hobbyists with established community aquariums, planted aquariums or Amazon river biotope setups. The Longnose Twig Catfish is an omnivorous species that requires both plant and meaty material in its diet in order to thrive and to maintain a healthy immune system. They will consume naturally occurring algae from within the aquarium, grazing on the aquarium glass, substrate, rocks and driftwood. They will also consume leftover meaty foods that are present on the aquarium substrate. However, in most cases the Longnose Twig Catfish will also require additional feedings as there will not be enough to food to support them through scavenging only. Hobbyists should provide additional feedings of blanched vegetables like zucchini or squash, sinking algae wafers, shrimp pellets and other sinking pellet foods designed for substrate scavengers.
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Golden Chinese Algae Eater
(Gyrinocheilus aymonieri) Easy Semi-aggressive 10" 30 gallons 74-81° F, KH 8-10, pH 6.8-7.4 Herbivore Southeast Asia Gyrinocheilidae Suckermouth Catfish Community Golden Chinese Algae Eater's are an albino variant of the common Chinese Algae Eater (Gyrinocheilos aymonieri), which have been selectively bred over the years to increase their availability within the hobby and enhance their coloration. Gold Algae Eater's exhibit a striking goldish / yellow coloration that sets them apart from most other freshwater tropical aquarium fish commonly found within the hobby. They range in appearance from a light tan / yellow color, to a deeper goldish / yellow coloration depending on aquarium conditions, lighting and food sources. They typically exhibit their best coloration when kept in an aquarium with live plants and driftwood, which enables a variety of different conditions for algae growth. This provides the Golden Chinese Algae Eater (Gyrinocheilos aymonieri) with a variety of food sources which when combined with vegetable based sinking wafers provide a diverse and healthy diet that will bring out the fish's best colors. The Golden Chinese Algae Eater has been a popular aquarium fish for a long time, as they have been kept in tropical community aquariums for some time. Hobbyist's initially purchase the Golden Chinese Algae Eater for it's ability to keep algae under control, but soon find them to be both a useful and interesting fish to keep. Their unique swimming style combined with their ability to perch on rocks, plants, driftwood, etc. make them entertaining to watch. If kept in groups, a single specimen will generally become dominant over the others and attain a much larger size then the other Golden Chinese Algae Eaters kept in the same tank. While this is a breeding adaptation seen in many fish species, little is known about this species breeding requirements and habits. Aquariums housing Golden Chinese Algae Eater's should have plenty of rocks, driftwood and plants for the fish to graze on for algae. Golden Chinese Algae Eater's can reach upwards of 10" when fully grown and can swim very quickly in short burst, thus they should be housed in aquariums of 30 gallons or more to give them the room they need. They can be semi-aggressive towards others of their own kind, but tend to leave other fish alone. Even when they chase other sucker mouth fish, they are not overly aggressive and typically only squabble with each other or similar fish species over territory. Ideally they should be provided shaded areas within the aquarium, as they tend to like to avoid the bright aquarium lights at times. Golden Chinese Algae Eater's are herbivores that primarily eat algae growing on rocks, plants, driftwood and aquarium glass. They are excellent for planted aquariums as they can eat algae growing on live plants without damaging the plant itself. Other larger algae eaters like Pleco's can be damaging to live plants due to their size and weight. If enough naturally occurring algae is not present within the aquarium, Golden Chinese Algae Eater's can also be fed sinking algae wafers and pellets.
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Chinese Algae Eater
(Gyrinocheilos aymonieri) Easy Semi-Aggressive 10" 30 gallons 74-81° F, KH 8-10, pH 6.8-7.4 Herbivore Southeast Asia Gyrinocheilidae Suckermouth Catfish Community The Chinese Algae Eater has been a popular aquarium fish for a long time, as they have been kept in tropical community aquariums for some time. Hobbyist's initially purchase the Chinese Algae Eater for it's ability to keep algae under control, but soon find them to be both a useful and interesting fish to keep. Their unique swimming style combined with their ability to perch on rocks, plants, driftwood, etc. make them entertaining to watch. If kept in groups, a single specimen will generally become dominant over the others and attain a much larger size then the other Chinese Algae Eaters kept in the same tank. While this is a breeding adaptation seen in many fish species, little is known about this species breeding requirements and habits. Aquariums housing Chinese Algae Eater's should have plenty of rocks, driftwood and plants for the fish to graze on for algae. Chinese Algae Eater's can reach upwards of 10" when fully grown and can swim very quickly in short burst, thus they should be housed in aquariums of 30 gallons or more to give them the room they need. They can be semi-aggressive towards others of their own kind, but tend to leave other fish only. Even when they chase other sucker mouth fish, they are not overly aggressive and typically only squabble with other similar fish species over territory. Ideally they should be provided shaded areas within the aquarium, as they tend to like to avoid the bright aquarium lights at times. Chinese Algae Eater's are herbivores that primarily eat algae growing on rocks, plants, driftwood and aquarium glass. They are excellent for planted aquariums as they can eat algae growing on live plants without damaging the plant itself. Other larger algae eaters like Pleco's can be damaging to live plants due to their size and weight. If enough naturally occurring algae is not present within the aquarium, Chinese Algae Eater's can also be fed sinking algae wafers and pellets.
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