Saltwater Fish That Eat Algae

Saltwater Fish That Eat Algae

So recently you have been somewhat disappointed with all the unwanted algae growth in your water tank and all the mess that it creates there. Right? If you are looking for saltwater fish that can help you in cleaning up all this mess and also enhancing the overall look of your aquarium, you are in the right place as we have got you covered.

Luckily, various saltwater fish species are not only great algae eaters but also help in controlling its further growth and getting your aquarium display back on track. Various types of blennies and marine snails, because of their algae-eating abilities, help clean algae mess in nano tanks. However, when it comes to getting rid of algae stuff in larger tanks, slugs and bulkier fishes do the job amazingly. If you have placed a well-thought algae Clean Up Crew in your saltwater tank, it can put almost all the algae outbreaks to an end. Moreover, these algae-eater fishes keep microorganisms such as red slime algae or brown Diatoms also under control.

In this article, you will learn about some amazing algae eater fishes that could rid your aquarium of all the algae mess once and for all.

Best Algae Eater Fishes

Below is a list of the best algae eater fishes and a short description of each of your algae clean-up crew members.

1.FoxFace Fish

FoxFace Fish
Common nameFoxface
Care LevelModerate
Algae targetMacro Algae, Hair Algae
Minimum tank size required75 gallons

The best addition as an Algae eating fish to your aquarium is Foxface fish. In saltwater aquariums, this aquatic animal proves to be an amazing Algae eater. Foxface can easily chew hair Algae grown anywhere in your aquarium Not only this, it happily eats most of the macroalgae as well. Having Kole Tang as a companion to Foxface fish will end up with almost all the algae in your saltwater aquarium. This fish also comes in the list of the hardiest herbivores which you can purchase for your aquarium. They have a naturally thick slime coat which makes them resistant to any sort of ich or bacterial infection.

But this full of personality fish comes with some drawbacks as well. The main one is that they have venomous spikes which can leave a nasty venom. Still, they are not dangerous as scorpionfish or lionfish. With a size 8”, they are pretty large and growing very fastly.

2.Kole Tang

Kole Tang
Common nameKole Tang
Care levelModerate
Algae targetFilm Algae
Minimum tank size required70 gallons

Kole Tang makes its name to the list of our favorite algae eaters for all the right reasons. The main one is that they have a smaller size which means that they do not need much space and even your medium-sized tanks can also house them. In smaller aquariums, Kole tangs tend to be less aggressive than purple, yellow, or scopas tangs.

Although most of the time, Kole Tangs eat film Algae but can also eat macro and hair algae in some cases.  To eat up all the macro and hair algae, a Foxface fish and Kole tang would be a viable combination for larger tanks especially. In this case, you have a tank with a much larger size, a combination of bristle tooth tangs like a zebra tang or Kole species, and Foxface/rabbitfish will be an amazing solid algae control team.

3.Ctenochaetus strigosus

Ctenochaetus strigosus
Common nameBristletooth, Yellow-eyed tang
Care levelEasy
Algae targetMicroalgae
Size7 inches when fully grown
Minimum tank size required70 Gallons

This member of the tang family goes with several names like yellow-eyed tang or bristle tooth. It usually comes in the list of less expensive tangs which you can purchase for your saltwater tank. It has a constant desire to eat up microalgae and small tuft-like growths. With a peaceful nature, this animal requires very little care. With a fairly small size of almost 7 inches that too when fully grown, this fish is an amazing option to consider if you want to get rid of all that excess algae growth in your tank. If you choose this member of the tang family, try to stay on one specimen as they reproduce and grow very fastly on their own.

4.Tailspot Blenny – Ecsenius stigmata

Tailspot Blenny
Common nameTailspot Blenny
Level of careEasy
Recommended tank size10-gallon tank size

Tailspot Blenny is a saltwater fish with a small size and enormous appetite. If you want to get rid of algae growths in your nano tanks, Tailspot Blenny is an option which you should consider as this aquatic animal loves to graze on film as well as filamentous hair algae ( not the one with string on it).  Whenever Tailspot gets out of its hiding hole, it forages your tank in search of the food to nip on.  Not only this, Tailspot Blenny has an amazingly attractive personality because of which is going to be your favorite once you put it in your nano tank. By any means, this fish is not aggressive and thus, does not likes being with mates who have aggression in their behavior. With a peaceful nature, Tailspot Blenny saves your time and money as it does not need much care.

Some aquarists recommend choosing Lawnmonner Blennies as algae eaters for saltwater tanks. Despite what the name shows, this type of fish is a very picky eater and thus, cannot control algae growth effectively. However, Tailspot Blenny does not grow fastly and eats algae more efficiently than Lawnmonner Blennies.

5. Sailfin Tang – Zebrasoma veliferum

Sailfin Tan
Common nameSailfin tang
Care levelEasy
TemperamentVery peaceful
Algae targetFilamentous green hair algae
Recommended tank size required125 gallons
Maximum Sizeup to 16 inches (around 40 cm)

This fish belongs to the Zebrasoma genus and has herbivorous nature.  All the fish from this genus, especially Sailfin Tang, eat many types of filamentous hair algae. As far as their algae-eating capabilities are concerned, we come across mixed opinions. Some people swear by the fact that they have found Sailfin tangs as the top-performing algae eaters. Others say that this fish is just not worth the cost. All this confusion comes from the type of algae this aquatic animal prefers to nip on. It will eat filamentous hair algae as much as possible but will not enjoy eating string, fleshy algae.

String hair algae are recognized by their thicker texture and weed-like appearance. Filamentous algae, however, are thin, long, and soft. They resemble either a mesh or spider web whenever become dense.

6. One Spot Rabbitfish- Siganus Unimaculatus

Common nameRabbitfish
Care levelModerate
Maximum size8 inches
Recommended tank size70 gallons
GrowthVery fast

If you set your mind to keep algae-eating fish, that too is not an invertebrate, the One Spot Rabbitfish can be your best to tackle algae hair problems in your saltwater tank. Including non-nuisance macroalgae, this aquatic animal species will eat almost all the algae types. It even eats bubble algae as well but takes a bit of time to recognize it as a food source. Being a hardy species, this fish is an amazing addition to your large saltwater aquarium. They can easily be said as large fishes as they can grow about 9 inches.

What are the different types of algae which algae eater fishes can eat?

All the members of Clean Up Crew which we have mentioned above can control the following types of algae in your saltwater aquarium.

  • Film algae
  • Hair algae
  • Diatoms or brown algae
  • Filamentous algae. This type of algae looks more like a soft mesh-like growth that is essentially an extension of the overgrowth of film algae.
  • Red slime algae, also given the name of cyanobacteria;
  • Dinoflagellates
  • Bubble algae
  • Bryopsis Algae

There can be many reasons involved in the growth of each of these algae types and of course, you have to tackle the core cause of this issue to get rid of this mess. However, algae eater fish can help you in initiating the eradication process and thus, giving you a kick-start for the cleaning process. Or you can also choose to keep the algae cleaners in your saltwater tank to aid you in the algae removal process.


Summing up the entire article with a conclusion that several different algae-eating fishes can help you in keeping your saltwater tank free of algae growth. They also keep microorganisms’ development under control.  Not only for cleaning purposes, but algae-eating fishes are also useful for aesthetic purposes as well because fishes like one spot rabbitfishes or sailfin tang enhance the overall look of your aquarium. Moreover, different types of algae which these algae eater fishes can nip on have also been listed. So, a saltwater fish needs a thriving reef tank that can start with super quality in salt-mixing and maintains your water parameters as well.

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