Algae is a common problem for many aquarists. But if I tell you that some little helpers will help you control the algae outbreak. Algae eaters are a great way to prevent algae growth and keep the tank looking clean. These algae eaters are entirely safe for aquarium plants. In this article, we will discuss the 7 best algae eaters for small fish tanks.

Small tanks typically have limited space, so it’s essential to choose algae eaters that are not too large and won’t take up too much room in the tank. A few of the best algae eaters that we will discuss in this article are Siamese Algae Eater, Nerite Snails, Ghost Shrimp, Malaysian Trumpet Snails, Cherry Shrimp, Amano Shrimp, and Otocinclus Catfish. These little helpers are not only safe for your small fish tank but are also cute pets. They can live in small tanks ranging from 3 to 5 gallons and can be great helpers.


1. Siamese Algae Eater

Siamese Algae Eater in search for algae in the tank

The Siamese Algae eaters are the ideal small algae eating fish for small aquariums. These are known as Crossocheilus Siamensis in native South Asia. The Siamese Algae Eater is a very energetic fish and it can eat a variety of algae types including black hair algae. They are very easy to care for so they can be a good choice for beginners aquarists.

They are peaceful demeanor and can be kept with a variety of other species in a community tank. A characteristic black stripe that extends from its snout to its tail may be seen on its sleek, thin body. Its maximum growth length of 6 inches makes it perfect for tiny aquariums. The Siamese Algae Eater enjoys water that is between 72 and 82 degrees Fahrenheit and has a pH range of 6.0 to 8.0. So It is a perfect choice for cleaning your messy aquarium and also adding extra beauty to the tank.

2. Nerite Snails

7 Best Algae Eaters for Small Fish Tanks
Zebra Nerite Snail

Now let’s go toward these little fellows, Nerite snails are a diverse family of small snails. It can be equally effective as any aquarium cleaning equipment. It scraps the algae from driftwood and aquarium decor. green algae are the hardest to remove and It can help you prevent green algae. They can control unwanted growth in the aquarium without disturbing live plants.

Nerite snails are tiny, typically reaching lengths of just 1 to 1.5 inches. They are therefore a good option for little aquariums. They like water that is 72–78°F and has a pH range of 7.5–8.5. Nerite snails may be found with a range of shell designs, including zebra, tiger, and black and white stripes, which provide the tank with a splash of color. Nerite snails will not reproduce in freshwater, hence their populations will not grow in the aquarium, it is crucial to remember this. Nerite Snails are an excellent choice for controlling algae growth in small aquariums.

3. Ghost Shrimp

Mature Ghost Shrimp on marimo ball

You might be wondering why are they known as ghost shrimp. Well, it is because it is very hard to spot them in water because of their invisible appearance. Besides their ability to consume a variety of algae types. They are also prized for their ability to scavenge and clean up uneaten food and debris, helping to keep the tank clean and healthy. They are also known as glass shrimp.

Ghost shrimps are tiny and only reach a maximum length of 1-2 inches. They are simple to maintain because they are hardy and can adapt to a variety of water conditions. Being highly active, ghost shrimp will wander about the aquarium, clearing up debris and algae as they go. They are calm and may live in a community tank with many different species. They prefer water that is between 72 and 78 degrees Fahrenheit and has a pH of 7.0 to 7.5. Their effective cleaning abilities and low maintenance requirements make them a great choice for fish keepers.

4. Malaysian Trumpet Snails

MTS on algae hunt

Malaysian Trumpet Snails, also known as MTS, are among the 7 best algae eaters for small fish tanks. These can be a fantastic hardworking cleaning crew for your aquarium. Their scientific name is Melanoides Tubercilata. They have cone-shaped shells and the ability to consume a variety of algae types. They can prevent your small tank from green algae, black beard algae, and green hair algae.

It has relatively small sizes somewhere around an inch or so. Malaysian Trumpet Snails are incredibly peaceful and will not attack any other creature in the fish tank. You really don’t have to do a lot of afford to control its population because it’s usually consumed by fish in aquariums. Malaysian Trumpet Snails prefer water with a pH range of 7.0-8.0 and a temperature of 72-78°F. MTS generally feed on decaying plants and they do need light so they can feed on the substrate in the tank.

NOTE: Don’t put them with assassins’ snails or else they will eat them all.

5. Cherry Shrimp

Red Cherry Shrimp

Shrimps are the hardest workers in an aquarium which makes it livable for other creatures. Cherry Shrimp or Red cherry Shrimp Is one of Those hardworking shrimps. Their scientific name is Neocaridina davidi. They are mostly seen eating softer green and brown algae. In appearance, cherry shrimps are available in all rainbow colors. and that’s what makes Cherry Shrimp absolutely beautiful. They eat algae off the fish tank’s surface.

Cherry Shrimps are small in size up to 1 inch. They remain active all over the tank so they might need a minimum size tank of 5 gallons. which requires little maintenance. Cherry Shrimp requires little maintenance. However, poor water quality can have a significant impact on these shrimp, so to avoid an accumulation of trash in the tank, you should buy a strong sponge filter and carry out two 30% water changes each week.

6. Amano Shrimp

Amano Shrimp with dark-colored dots on the body

If you ask me whether we should keep cherry shrimp or Amano shrimp then I will go with Amano Shrimp. As these creatures are much hungrier than the Cherry Shrimp. They can be seen going after hair, string algae, and even black beard algae. But the trick here is that you have to keep them a little hungry. Green algae and diatoms are two typical types of algae seen in aquariums, and Amano shrimp are very good at getting rid of them.

These shrimp are larger in size and can grow up to 2 inches. It has a gray or transparent color with dark dots on its body. The color of the tint on their bodies depends on their diet. If they eat a lot of algae they will have greenish-dark-colored tints on their bodies. They are peaceful so they can be kept in a small fish tank and will do the job of cleaning the algae.

7. Otocinclus Catfish

best algae eater for small fish tank
Otocinclus Catfish: The nano tank algae eater

If your aquarium is covered with brown algae then maybe the otocinclus catfish is your next best friend. The octocinclus catfish or Otos is famously known for preventing algae in small aquariums. It is a must-have for any aquarium and there won’t be any need to manually brush off brown algae from your tank. They are very popular among aquarists and readily available in most local fish stores.

They have a big sucker mouth to clean algae from the fish tank glasses. In appearance, It has Bull like gray back and a horizontal black stripe running along the sides of its body. Otocinclus Catfish are small, usually growing to only 2 inches in length. It is important to have good water quality in the tank for them to live happily. The preferred ph level for otocinclus is 6.5-7.5. So they can breed and keep your aquarium clean.

Frequently Asked Questions(FAQs)

What is the best algae eater for a small fish tank?

The Amano Shrimp and Nerite Snails are the best choice for a small fish tank. Each of these algae eaters can be a great option for your small fish tank depending on your needs and requirements.

What’s the smallest algae eater?

The Malaysian Trumpet Snail is the smallest algae eater. They grow under an inch or so and can be extremely helpful in cleaning algae from your fish tank. They have cone-shaped shells and the ability to consume a variety of algae types.

How do I control algae in my small aquarium?

In order to prevent algae in the small aquarium you need to follow these steps.

  1. Do water changes
  2. Avoid overfeeding
  3. Keep algae eaters in your tank
  4. Proper Lightning
  5. Filtration

Can algae eaters live in small tanks?

Yes, some species of algae eaters can live in small tanks. Malaysian Trumpet Snails are the smallest algae eaters and are suitable for any small tank.

What is the easiest algae eater to take care of?

Some of the easiest algae eaters to take care of include:

  1. Nerite snails
  2. Malaysian Trumpet Snails
  3. Otocinclus Catfish


Controlling algae growth is important for a healthy environment in a fish tank. Algae can be controlled in multiple ways and keeping algae eaters is one of them. You can choose from these 7 best algae eaters for small fish tanks according to your needs. They can play a vital role in naturally overcoming algae. Algae eaters are also safe as they are not harmful to other aquatic life in the tank. You don’t have to use toxic detergents to clean the small fish tanks. You will need little or almost no effort to do anything. However, it’s important to remember that a small amount of algae is normal and can be a sign of a healthy ecosystem.