My favourite algae eating (herbivorous) marine fish

Discussion in 'Fish Articles' started by viper357, 20 Feb 2013.

  1. viper357

    viper357 Admin MASA Contributor

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    I thought I would put something together for those new to the hobby or those not familiar with which fish are good herbivores to help control the various nuisance algae’s that can grow and become a nuisance in our home aquariums. Yes there are many various forms of chemical and other filtrations suitable for controlling algae growth, but I think it is very important not to overlook the importance and value of herbivorous fish and invertebrates for your aquarium. There are also many different fish and I’m sure some will prefer a different fish over another one based on their experience, you also need to bear in mind that this is my list from my own personal experience over my years of fish keeping and may differ from others opinions and preferences, you should always research any fish before you buy it to familiarise yourself with its requirements and it’s compatibility with the fish already resident within your aquarium and also check if they are reef safe (some fish eat corals and hermit crabs and shrimps etc.)

    Lawnmower Blenny – Salarias fasciatus

    Maximum Size fish grows to: 13 to 15 cm’s. Will be ok in a 2ft tank.
    My Info: Some people think they are ugly, some think they are cute, I loved my little guy, he used to park himself in the strangest of places, mostly on top of my Squamosa clam though (who never seemed to mind), they will spend their time making short swims up into the water column, scraping bits of micro algae off the glass and also off the rocks, before plonking themselves down somewhere and looking like they are keeping an eye on you on the other side of the glass.

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    Yellow Foxface Rabbitfish –Siganus unimaculatus

    Maximum Size fish grows to: about 18 cm’s so you need a biggish tank, minimum 4ft I would say.
    My Info: One of my favourite fish, lovely colouring and becomes very friendly, will take food from your fingers once it settles in and gets to know you, spends a lot of it’s time browsing the tank for algae on the rocks and also on the glass, seems to prefer the shorter variations of algae, if you have long green hair algae then pull off as much of the long stuff as you can and the foxface should hopefully eat the shorter bits left behind. Spends most of its time swimming in the water column but like to sleep against or behind something at night, also has stress and sleep patterns that look like camouflage. Be very careful when handling this fish or putting your hands in the tank, his dorsal fins (the ones along the top of the fish) are highly venomous and will cause severe pain if you get stung by them. Enjoys being fed Nori or Algae flakes.

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    Regal Tang - Paracanthurus hepatus

    Maximum Size fish grows to: 30 cm’s but generally smaller in home aquaria. Bare minimum 4ft tank needed, although they really enjoy swimming so possibly even a minimum of 5ft would be better. Don’t make the mistake of buying one of these for a small tank as they are often sold when they are very small, only 2cm’s in size and they look too cute at that size but will soon outgrow small tanks.
    My Info: Very peaceful fish and spends most of its time swimming in the water column, it likes to sleep on its side underneath rocks, so don’t panic when you see this for the first time. They seem to enjoy most types of short microalgae. Loves Nori.

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    Powder Blue Tang - Acanthurus leucosternon

    Maximum Size fish grows to: about 20 cm’s
    My Info: Although this fish is another great algae eater, you should be wary of it as it comes with a few issues, it is highly prone to whitespot and is also known to be an extremely aggressive fish in an aquarium, if you want to add one I would recommend making it the very last fish you add to your aquarium and also try and find a small one. I owned two of these over the years and they absolutely hated new inhabitants being introduced to the tank, so much so that they killed off some of the newly introduced fish. Having said that, some aquarists have experienced no problems. But still, a truly stunning fish with amazing colours, it’s hard to find another fish with such beautiful markings and colours as this one.

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    Yellow Eye or Kole Tang - Ctenochaetus strigosus

    Maximum Size fish grows to: about 17cm’s
    My Info: A bit of a plain looking fish from a distance, but these guys are true workhorses and spend almost the entire day grazing for algae. They seem to be especially fond of grazing on the glass and you will often see their ‘kiss marks’ on the glass where they have been.

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    Yellow Tang - Zebrasoma flavescens

    Maximum Size fish grows to: 15 to 20 cm's
    My Info: A very hardy fish and enjoys macro algae and filamentous algae. I haven’t owned one of these for very long but from the short time that I have it spends a lot of time swimming around gracefully and its colouring is fantastic, loves to graze on the rocks and also enjoys Nori.

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    Sailfin Tang - Zebrasoma desjardinii or veliferum

    Maximum Size fish grows to: 40cm’s
    My Info: Enjoys green hair algae and looks very graceful when it opens up its huge fins. A big swimmer as well so needs a large tank to accommodate it ideally.

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    These next two fish I have never owned but thought they should be worth a mention as I spent a lot of time looking into which herbivorous fish to buy and these two were prime candidates but I didn’t buy these particular ones as I chose other species instead, mostly due to availability at the time, so please do consider these ones as well.

    Combtooth Blenny – Atrosalarias fuscus or Ecsenius namiyei
    Maximum Size fish grows to: about 10 cm’s so ideal for nano tanks of about 100 litres.
    More Info: Apparently they have about 100 very fine teeth on their lips which makes them excellent grazing fish for scraping microalgae off the rocks and glass.

    Tomini Tang – Ctenochaetus tominiensis
    Maximum Size fish grows to: 15cm’s
    More Info: Will fight with other tangs similar to it so be careful when choosing tangs for your tank. But a similar algae grazer to the yellow tang I believe.

    p.s. Don’t forget your regular clean-up crew of snails and hermit crabs.

    If anybody has any other recommendations, please feel free to share them, thank you.
     
    Last edited: 18 Jan 2017 at 11:03
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  3. Riaanv

    Riaanv

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    Think it is similar to the yellow eye kole tang (both are bristle tooths) in terms of its grazing (also likes the glass). When buying bristle tooth tangs check the mouth carefully as this is their weakpoint when shipping. IME figting with other tangs not so bad butwould not put two bristle tooth tangs in the same tank.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: 21 Feb 2013
  4. RocketRooster

    RocketRooster

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    My regal tang isn't much of a grazer. He'll peck here and there but actually he's a dirty, disgusting little coprophile.

    My Kole tang: +1 for this fellow. He is an algae eating machine! I don't think he's plain at all. He is still small, but the tan colour he has got going is gorgeous. It's already deepening to a gray colour on his head, I hope he goes blue.

    Very elegant fish.
     
    Last edited: 20 Feb 2013
  5. carlosdeandrade

    carlosdeandrade

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    I have 4 of the above fish, and they all rock in terms of eating macro algae, my best is definitely the Lawnmower blenny, tough, and as ugly as he is interesting. Great info @viper357
     
    Last edited by a moderator: 26 Nov 2015
  6. Henkie

    Henkie

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    I can vote for the fox face, great for eating shorter algaes and they are super friendly
     
  7. dickw

    dickw

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    My vote for foxy as well. mine really good nibbler and friendliest in tank.
     
  8. dickw

    dickw

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    I also have a regal and similiar experience to rocketrooster. Seldom has extended nibble sessions.
    If "coprophile" means he lets go all his crap in middle of food at feeding time to upset everyone else's meal, then he fits description.
     
  9. deadmeat2016

    deadmeat2016 Wouter

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    My lawnmower blenny turned into lionfish food :( didnt think it would happen cus the blenny was twice the size of the lion, found out the hard way..........
     
  10. Landu

    Landu

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    @dickw, super LOL for regal's poo fest, mine does the same!

    My yellowbelly regal and sailfin do graze, bt go absolute bonkers when i scrape algea off glass, chasing it down... Had 2 Foxies but they never get over their camo stage and don't make the first week, dunno why, they like my fav fish!
     
    Last edited by a moderator: 26 Nov 2015
  11. dickw

    dickw

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    fox and sail.jpg

    My Foxface and Sailfin.

    Foxie also goes to camo each evening ( actually like a rotten banana) after lights out or if threatened.

    fox and sail.jpg
     
  12. mandarinman

    mandarinman

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    Clown surgeon
     
  13. CyberSlakkie

    CyberSlakkie

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    Thanks for the Info @viper357

    Will have to invest in a Lawn Mower Blennie!!
     
    Last edited by a moderator: 26 Nov 2015
  14. Braco

    Braco

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    i only saw this thread now and i have to agree i have both the Regal and Sailfin..the Sailfin is my algae monster...the regal..he nibs..i had a lawnmower blennie...need to get another one..to add to the already characteristics i have in my tank
     
  15. Ajay

    Ajay

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    I love a Regal tang. Realy is a pretty fish
     
  16. HOT SAUCE

    HOT SAUCE

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    i've got a mower blennie that eats so much algae that its stomach looks like its gonna burst. by far the best algae eating fish IMO
     
  17. Hammerhead

    Hammerhead

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    Are lawnmower blennies local, if not are the local ones any good, they kinda look similar.
     
  18. Francois

    Francois

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  19. 001Taz

    001Taz

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    haha my fox face (roxy) does the same. and always in the same spot
     
  20. Braco

    Braco

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    What a stunnng beauty..they're definitely algae grazers to the core..a friend of mine had one..
     
  21. CharlieB

    CharlieB

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    I have a local blennie out a rock pool and he is an awsum character and goes crazy almost chipping away at my live rock. My tank is new so not much algae but with the way he eats I doubt much will get a chance to develop haha.
     
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