The Siamese Algae Eater is a species of tropical freshwater fish belonging to the carp family called Cyprinidae. This bottom-dwelling fish is usually found in mainland Southeast Asia, including the Chao Phraya and Mekong basins as well as the Malay Peninsula.
Crossocheilus oblongotus became one of the most popular fish in aquascaping mainly because of its natural ability to eat algae (hence its name). They can consume considerable ammounts of BBA (Black beard algae).
They move around a lot and quickly, so they do a great job at covering the whole tank in a short period of time.
Native to Thailand and the Malayan peninsula, the Siamese Algae Eater is a bottom-dwelling inhabitant of fast streams and rivers with rocky bottoms.
During the rainy season can also be found in flooded forests. He mostly feeds on algae, periphyton and phytoplankton.
The Siamese Algae Eater has a long slender body with of brownish-beige color. Along its sides there’s a bold black strip running the full length of its body and stops at the base of its caudal fin. Has transparent fins and rostral barbels.
The Siamese Algae Eater is a very strong and enduring fish which can adapt to a wide range of aquarium conditions.
The fish doesn’t posses a swim bladder so it must move constantly in order to avoid sinking to the bottom of the tank.
The Siamese Algae Eater is often confused with the False SAE (Garra cambodgiensis) and Siamese Flying Fox (Epalzeorhynchos kalopterus).
They can be easily distinguished based on the black stripe: the False SAE has a gold strip above the black one. In addition to this gold strip, the Siamese Flying Fox has hints of yellow-orange on its fins, compared to the SAE’s fins which are transparent.
The Siamese Algae Eater is commonly found in the aquarium trade and is one of the most popular and effective aquarium algae cleaners.
Prefers the bottom levels of the tank where they will swim around until they find a spot covered in algae. They are active fast swimmers that will school together if kept in groups of at least 6-8 members. Some individuals may be aggresive to their own kind or other related fish.
They can grow to a maximum size of about 16 cm (6 in.) in an ideal aquarium environment. In order to reach that size you have to give it plenty of space to swim around and high-quality food 2-3 times a day.
The SAE became popular for its appetite for algae but unfortunately this fish is not a cure for all algae. Green spot and blue green algae are not within its food preferences.
Make sure to feed a balanced and varied diet consisting of live and frozen food, or freeze-dried plant-based options.
If not provided with sufficient plant-based meals, the Siamese Algae Eater will start to nibble on your aquarium’s plants, especially on some types of aquatic moss.
It’s worth mentioning that as the fish gets older, it will eat less and less algae found in your aquarium.
Unfortunately there are no proven records of succesfully breeding the SAE in home aquariums (without support from hormonal boosters).
Currently, the specimens found in pet stores are either bred in large fish farms or wild-caught.