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Clear Your Pond’s Gunk with These 14 Algae Munchers

Clear Your Pond’s Gunk with These 14 Algae Munchers

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What eats pond algae? Typically, plecos, koi fish, goldfish, and other aquatic animals can help you reduce the number of algae in your pond ecosystem.

If you want to know how to stop pond algae from getting out of hand, you’ve come to the right place.

In this article, we’re going to discuss aquatic animals that eat pond algae. So, stick around!

What Eats Pond Algae?

Pond algae can disrupt the pond ecosystem. It can reduce the oxygen level in the water and block sunlight from getting into aquatic plants.

Luckily, there are several ways to keep them in control. For instance, you can add more algae-eating pets to your pond.

Here are some beneficial creatures that can help you control algae in your pond:

1 – Pond Snails

Pond snails can be beautiful additions to your pond. On top of that, they can serve as scavenging janitors of your pond ecosystem.

Typically, pond snails consume algae, decaying organic matter, and leafy vegetation. However, they’re less likely to cause damage to your plant foliage because they prefer softer string algae.

Here are some great pond snails for your outdoor pond:

  • Dwarf pond snails
  • Great pond snails
  • Wandering Pond Snails
  • Big ear pond snails
  • Ramshorn pond snails

2 – Tadpoles

Generally, tadpoles are the larval stage of various amphibians, like frogs and toads. Although some species have a carnivorous diet, most tadpoles start as vegetarians.

Tadpoles consume various microscopic organisms, such as zooplankton, protozoa, bacteria, and algae. In fact, they need algae and other food sources, so they can develop into healthy adults.

Usually, 20 tadpoles will be enough. However, you can add more if you have a larger pond.

Moreover, the best time you can add tadpoles to your pond is late spring or early summer. This way, the water will be warm—not too cold or hot.

Here are some of the best algae eaters:

  • Bullfrog tadpoles
  • Cane toad tadpoles
  • Wood frog tadpoles
  • American toad tadpoles
  • Western toad tadpoles

3 – Freshwater Shrimps

Shrimps are algae-eating crustaceans that also consume decaying animal matter. What’s more, shrimps aren’t picky eaters.

Hence, shrimp eat common types of algae, from filamentous to planktonic algae. Here are some of the shrimp species that you can choose from:

  • Grass shrimp
  • Bee shrimp
  • Bamboo shrimp
  • Cherry shrimp
  • Ghost shrimp

4 – Mussels and Clams

Shellfish won’t only make beautiful additions to your pond, but they can also help you prevent algae from building up. They consume algae and other organic matter, like insect larvae and dead vegetation.

On top of that, they can serve as natural cleaners to your pond by filter feeding. Here are examples of mussels and clams:

  • Fingernail clams
  • Zebra mussels
  • Freshwater pearl mussels
  • Duck mussels
  • Swan mussels

5 – Crabs

Crabs are another type of crustacean that enjoy a meal of animal protein and plant matter, ranging from organic waste and algae. Plus, crabs are hardy and low-maintenance.

Here are some common types of crabs that’ll serve as great algae eaters:

  • Fiddler crabs
  • Mithrax crabs
  • Red claw crabs
  • Vampire crabs
  • Sally lightfoot crabs

Do Pond Fish Eat Algae?

Pond fish consume algae. In fact, there’s a wide variety of fish species that can help you keep your pond algae-free. Let’s take a closer look at them:

1 – Plecos

Plecos are one of the most common types of fish that eat algae. On top of that, algae are a crucial part of their diet, so they’re effective for algae cleanup.

Moreover, the number of algae they consume will depend on their size and how you feed them.

Larger plecos can consume more algae than the ones with average sizes. Make sure that you feed them half of the recommended fish food, otherwise, they’ll eat fewer algae.

However, not all species eat algae. Some of them are sunshine plecos and zebra plecos.

On the other hand, plecos that eat algae are clown plecos, common plecos, and bristlenose plecos.

2 – Dojo Loaches

The dojo loaches or pond loaches are enthusiastic scavengers that have an omnivorous diet. Basically, they eat algae and other organic materials.

Unlike plecos, dojo loaches don’t grow to a large size, which means they don’t consume the same amount of algae as plecos. However, they’re perfect for when you’re combining methods of algae removal.

What’s more, dojo loaches can thrive even in cooler climates. Therefore, they’re perfect for cold water ponds!

3 – Flying Fox Fish

Although flying fox fish are small fish, they tend to be friskier than other fish. As a result, they have higher needs for nutrients.

The flying fox fish can squirm between rocks and crevices. They’ll happily zip around the bottom of the pond and anywhere else they can find algae.

Furthermore, this type of fish is ideal for smaller ponds. They all prefer warm temperatures, so make sure that the pond water stays above 70℉.

4 – Siamese Algae Eaters

Siamese algae eaters aren’t selective when it comes to their diet, which makes them effective natural cleaners. They’ll feed on multiple types of algae, including string algae and red algae.

However, keep in mind that Siamese algae eaters are accustomed to warm bodies of water with temperatures ranging from 70 to 79℉. That said, you’ll need to transfer them to an indoor fish tank during cold climates.

If you live in areas with warm weather all year round though, the Siamese algae eaters are a good choice.

5 – Koi Fish

Koi fish are pretty common pets in outdoor ponds because of their colorful appearance. Aside from that, they also tend to snack on algae.

This type of fish eats a lesser amount of algae compared to algae eaters, like plecos and Siamese algae eaters. Instead, they eat more fish food and insects.

Although koi fish are hardy when it comes to temperature, they need sufficient swimming space. In addition, it’s better to keep them in a heavily planted pond because they might get sunburned if you leave them under strong sunlight.

Overall, koi fish are great if you’re planning to combine two or more algae eaters in your pond.

6 – Goldfish

Goldfish have similar colorful bodies as koi fish. This species comes in different body shapes, colors, and sizes. They can also tolerate cold temperatures as low as 40℉.

Unfortunately, goldfish’s diet requires other food sources other than algae. They need fish food and insects as well.

In fact, goldfish turn to algae as snacks, so they might not be the best choice if you have a significant algae problem in your mind. In this case, you’ll need to incorporate other methods or add other algae eaters.

7 – Mollies

Mollies are also called algae suckers because they suck algae from bottom liners and pond substrates, such as rocks and pebbles. Although they only grow at a mixing of three inches, mollies can play their roles as algae eaters because they prefer more plant matter in their diet.

Additionally, algae suckers can reproduce quickly. As a result, they can do a wonderful job at keeping your pond clean from algae.

8 – Freshwater Batfish

The freshwater batfish, otherwise known as the Chinese high-fin banded shark, are classic bottom feeders that can help you maintain a healthy pond. Plus, most of their diet consists of algae.

This type of fish tends to eat more than smaller fish because they grow to be approximately four feet long.

However, keep in mind that freshwater batfish only feed on the bottom of the pond. So, it might be a good idea to combine other algae eaters or other methods of algae removal.

In addition, the freshwater batfish can withstand colder temperatures from 55 to 75℉. If the temperature gets any lower though, you’ll need to install a heater.

9 – Otocinclus Catfish

The otocinclus catfish is one of the best algae-eating fish that you can add to your pond because they prefer algae over fish food and other animal proteins. They’ll suck off algae from the pond liner and substrate.

In fact, otocinclus will happily snack on a cluster of algae. Although they’re small in size, with a maximum length of two inches, they tend to eat more than their weight.

On top of that, they can clean every nook and cranny of the pond. However, otocinclus catfish are accustomed to warm temperatures. Therefore, you’ll need to transfer them in a warm indoor fish tank during the cold season.

Final Thoughts

So, what eats pond algae? Generally, there are a lot of aquatic animals that can help you prevent algae buildup in your pond.

Some great choices include pond snails, crabs, shrimps, and tadpoles.

You can also add algae-eating fish to your pond, such as plecos, mollies, Siamese algae eaters, freshwater batfish, and otocinclus catfish.

If you have a mild algae problem though, goldfish, koi fish, and dojo loaches are perfect for you.


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