A Guide For Keeping Chinese Algae Eater Tank Mates

By Algal Web

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Chinese algae eaters are not the brightest or most vivid or lively fish species and yet, they are quite popular among aquarists. The main reason so many people prefer to keep this fish is because of their diet. These fish species love to feed on algae and they are tremendously helpful for keeping your aquarium nice and clear.

It is wise to do a little bit of research on this species before you make your way to the pet store. Chinese algae eaters can be quite challenging to care for and their behavior or temperament towards other fish species can differ over time. 

In this guide, we take a closer look at Chinese algae eater tank mates, their preferred living conditions, and the best ways to keep this species happy and healthy. 

Chinese Algae Eater Species Summary

Chinese algae eaters are native to Southeast Asia and are also commonly referred to as Siamese algae eaters, honey suckers, or sucking loch. They are bottom-dwelling fish that range from yellowish to dull brown with darker dots and have long slender bodies with tiny fins. Their dorsal fin on its elongated body has several firm rays that give a spiky appearance.  

The most notable feature of this fish species is their mouth. The Chinese algae eater has a large mouth with sizable lips that is useful for creating a vacuum close to smooth surfaces so the fish can latch onto glass or suck up and scrape off algae from surfaces. 

Unlike the name suggests, they are not common in China but are more often found outside of this country and they are often spotted in large rivers or flooded fields. Here is a quick look at a summary of this fish species.


Scientific Name: Gyrinocheilus aymonieri

Food Sources: Algae, plant matter like vegetables, brine shrimp, and small insects

Avg. Fish Size: 10 – 11 Inches

Life Expectancy: 10 Years

Pond Size: 30-gallon minimum tank size

Water Conditions: 72 – 82 Degrees F, 6.0 – 8.0 pH level

Temperament: Semi aggressive

What Should The Tank Size Be For Chinese Algae Eaters?

The recommended tank size differs depending on the size of the fish. A tank of at least 30 gallons is recommended but a larger aquarium is more preferable as these fish grow. They can get pretty large and small tanks often do not offer the needed nourishment or space in which case the fish species can become aggressive towards its own and other fish species.

How Big Do Chinese Algae Eaters Get?

This Fish species usually reach a length of 10 – 11 inches when they are fully grown. In captivity or in small tanks they tend to be smaller at about 6 inches long. In larger tanks or ponds, this fish species can become over 11 inches long but it is uncommon for them to grow larger than 11 inches. 

How to Care for a Chinese Algae Eater

This fish species is often described as hardy and they can be easy to care for since they don’t need a lot of maintenance. But for optimal health and to maintain the species temperament, you do need to offer them the right type of care. Here is a quick look at the most important fish care requirement for the honey sucker. 

Create a Good Habitat

All fish species need plenty of exercises to keep them healthy. If the tank is too small, your fish might not grow properly or it can become overweight. It is best to keep this fish in an aquarium of about 50 gallons but a larger tank is preferable. 

You can add aquarium features like smooth rocks, stumps, or other accessories so your fish species can find a good place to hide or rest under. These tank accessories can also increase their food supply since algae love to grow on aquarium decor.

Your tank should also have adequate oxygen levels to support your fish species and some algae growth. 

Stay On Top of Water Conditions

Algae eaters tend to be hardy but they still need the right water conditions or they can start to suffer. They won’t stay healthy in a dirty tank. The fish species need a controlled environment with clean water and enough food or snacks to nourish them. 

The hardy fish species prefer a water temperature of 72 – 80 degrees F. This temperature ensures a good appetite and promotes healthy algae growth inside your tank. A pH level of 6 – 8 is ideal and aquarium owners feel that a level of 7.5 is perfect for keeping the fish healthy and for keeping algae growth under control. You can also keep the water hardness at a level of 8 – 10 KH. 

A Healthy Diet

It is important to keep the algae in your aquarium under control but you shouldn’t eliminate all algae growth. Chinese algae eaters love to feed on these green growths. They also clear a bit of detritus off the tank floor. 

You can supply the fish species with healthy vegetables about twice a week or whenever you notice that there might be very little algae in your tank. Vegetables like leafy greens are a wonderful food to offer your fish.

Fish owners regularly treat this fish species with a bit of protein like insect larvae, frozen bloodworms, frozen shrimp, or other frozen foods. Offering some protein once a week will help keep the fish species healthy and can keep them from lashing out at tank mates.

Standard Lighting And A Lid

Chinese algae eaters are notorious escape artists and can sometimes jump out of fish tanks. It is best to keep your tank closed with a tight-fitting lid that has plenty of ventilation. 

You can also add standard lighting or keep your tank close to natural light without direct sun exposure. Standard lighting will promote healthy algae growth so your fish will have plenty to eat. 

Will Chinese Algae Eaters Eat Other Fish

One of the drawbacks of Chinese algae eaters is that they can be semi-aggressive towards other fish. Aggression towards smaller fish is typical, especially if your fish is underfed or doesn’t have a proper living environment. 

There are no records of Chinese Algae Eaters eating other fish. But they can be aggressive towards other or even their own species and might lash out and harm the other fish in your tank. 

Chinese algae eaters prefer to live on their own and won’t form part of a school. They don’t even like their own fish species and might lash out if they are huddled too closely together. It is recommended to only have one of these fish species in your tank at a time or it might result in fighting or injury. 

Breeding with Chinese algae eaters is quite a challenge since they do tend out to lash out towards their own species. It is very difficult to distinguish between males and females and the water temperatures need to rise over 80 degrees for successful breeding. 

You should also mind the type of tank mates you include in your aquarium. Some fish species just don’t interact well with honey suckers even if the tank offers plenty of space, food, and good conditions.

Under the right conditions, there are however quite a few compatible tank mates that can tolerate. 

Suitable Chinese Algae Eater Tank Mates

You can’t include just about any type of fish species with Chinese algae eaters. As young fish, they can seem peaceful and will mind their own business while eating algae and foraging for snacks on the tank floor surface. But when they grow up, they can become territorial. Their territorial tendencies can lead them to start harassing and endangering other tank mates.

It is best to pair this aggressive fish species with fast-swimming species. Fast swimmers can quickly and easily get out of the way whenever your algae eater feels threatened or becomes aggressive. Let’s take a quick look at some of the best-suited fast swimming tank mates for Chinese Algae Eaters.


Characidae or characids are tropical fish that belong to the order Characiformes. This peaceful fish species can vary in length but usually only reach a length of 1.2 inches. There are over 1300 fish species in the Characidae family. These species are typically small, fast swimming, and feed on plant matter, detritus, microbes, algae, and small aquatic organisms. 


Cyprinidae is a family of freshwater fish that are commonly referred to as carp or minnows. There are about 1270 species of Cyprinidae found on earth and they can range from 12mm up to 3 meters in size. Common aquarium species include rainbow sharks, blue danios, bitterlings, silver carps, and many others. 

African Cichlids

African cichlids are part of the cichlid family that covers over 1200 species of fish. The community fish are typically smaller than 2 inches n length and can greatly vary in color and pattern. Common species include the African Butterfly, Yellow African, African Peacock Cichlid, and Orange Zebra Cichlid. This fish species can sometimes be aggressive but they prefer the top waters of tanks and are unlikely to make contact with your Chinese algae eater. 

Molly Fish

Molly fish are often called mollies or common molly. This freshwater fish is usually dull silver in color but there are some other varieties like black moly, white molly, golden molly, lyretail, dalmatian mollies, and others. They are very social fish and have a dolce temperament which makes them perfect for fish keepers who want to stock their community aquarium with lots of aquatic life. 


Platy fish or platies are freshwater fish in the Xiphophorus family. Subspecies of this small yet bright fish include rainbow platies, 24 karat gold platies, mickey mouse platies, and blue wagtail platies. This fish species is also quite dolce and very social. It is a good species to combine with Chinese Algae eaters because they are fast swimmers and they prefer the upper part to the tank. 

Zebra Danios

Zebra danios or zebrafish belong to the minnow family. This active fish species is easily identified by their black and white stripes and they can sometimes appear neon. The omnivorous species is social and dolce which makes them good companions for other fast-swimming fish species in your tank.

Emperor Tetra

Emperor tetras or Nematobrycon Palmeri have a purple hue and can appear neon in subdued lighting but they can seem yellow in bright tanks. The popular fish species are casual and they are omnivorous which makes them easy to keep in tanks. Their vivid colors and color-changing effects in light can make your tank look a lot more interesting and bright. 

Tiger Barbs

Tiger barbs are tropical fish of the cyprinid family. They are fast swimmers and have a distinct tiger stripe pattern on their bodies. This fish species can be good tank mates for Chinese Algae eaters but you do need to be careful when adding other tank mates. Tiger barbs are known to attack other species like koi fish or goldfish. 

These fish species are good companions because they prefer the upper water columns of the tank which can keep contact with your algae eater to a bare minimum. 

Bottom-dwelling fish species often don’t get along.  It is best to avoid other bottom-dwelling fish species if you have a Chinese Algae Eater. Other bottom dwellers like snails, sucker mouth fish, Japanese algae eaters, shrimps, and corydoras catfish are very likely to be picked on or even fall victim to Chinese algae eaters who might feel threatened by their presence. 

Final Thoughts

With the right Chinese algae eater tank mates, you can keep a peaceful and beautiful fish tank. But if you have a tough time finding the right species to include in your tank then it might be better to invest in more social algae-eating fish species like Siamese algae eaters, Twig catfish, Otocinclus catfish, mollies, Florida flag fish, or tank snails.We do hope that this guide helped you find suitable tank mates for your algae eater so you can keep a peaceful tank while keeping the algae under control. If you are stills struggling to keep the growth of algae under control despite your algae eater then you can have a look at some of our other guides. On Algal Web, we strive to help you find the best green algae control solutions that will help keep your tank crisp and clear without completely eliminating these needed nutrients.

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