How Do You Know if Your Algae Eater Is Dying

How Do You Know if Your Algae Eater Is Dying?

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Algae Eaters do a great job of cleaning up the algae buildup from uneaten food in your freshwater tank. They really help keep ammonia and phosphate levels down, which maintains the mini ecosystem. But, sometimes, even with prevalent amounts of food in the tank, an Algae Eater will show signs of dying.

So, how do you know if your Algae Eater is dying? There are many signs your fish can give to signal death is near. But the most common is a loss of color and lack of activity. But other signs could be cloudy, slimy eyes, weight loss and labored breathing.

How do you know if your Algae Eater is dying?

Your Algae Eater will give off many signs to let you know it’s dying. So, it’s important to monitor your tank regularly to catch any issues before they become big problems. In the event you notice a marked change in your Algae Eater, take a look at the following list and see if one or several of these apply:

  • It’s losing its color, turning white or showing other discoloration.
  • The fish isn’t eating as vigorously as usual and has significant weight loss. This could indicate a lack of food and nutrition in the tank.
  • It’s not acting normal, there’s a lack of activity or it stops putting their mouth on surfaces.
  • If there’s a whitish-gray slime, discoloration or a white cotton-like growth covering the Algae Eater’s eyes, it could be symptoms of Cloudy Eye, fungus or some other bacterial infection.
  • It has labored breathing, which could be a sign of Ich or other respiratory disease.
  • The fins look frayed, torn or damaged. This could signal that another fish is bullying the Algae Eater, it has a disease or experienced damage from the substrate (or other decoration).

Can you do anything about a dying Algae Eater?

The good news is there is something you can do about a dying Algae Eater signaling. Of course, nothing guarantees bringing it from the clutches of death, but it’s worth trying.


First, create a quarantine tank for your Algae Eater. This will help keep the other fish in the ecosystem safe and healthy. Then check the water parameters with a quality aquarium test kit. Do whatever you need to adjust it to prime levels.

Call the Vet

Next, consult with your vet and tell them about all of your Algae Eater’s symptoms. They will have everything you need to take care of it, if you can. Most medications you can find on your own. But they may have to prescribe something for your Algae Eater depending on the severity.

For instance, if your fish is suffering from a fungal or bacterial infection, use a commercial antifungal or antibacterial in the water. In the case of Ich, your vet may have to prescribe a stronger antibiotic or you can purchase a commercial remedy.

Are there any other things that can cause Algae Eaters to die?

Aside from the common indications above, there are other things that could be happening to your Algae Eater that’s bringing it closer to death. It is of the utmost importance that you watch your tank once or twice per week to see how your ecosystem works together.

Aggressive Fish

If there are aggressive fish in your tank, they could be bullying your Algae Eater. They may nip at and chase the Algae Eater while pecking at their bodies and tearing their fins. This is why it’s crucial to take a few hours to watch the goings on in your aquarium.

If you have something like a Red Shark or an aggressive variety of Cichlid such as in the case of an Angelfish, it could be terrorizing your Algae Eater.

Multiple Algae Eaters

Also, more than one or two Algae Eaters will cause stress to the bottom section of your tank. This is because there’s too much competition for food and resources. Since many Algae Eaters aren’t aggressive by nature, this can cause them to experience a kind of depression.

Plus, larger Algae Eaters will dominate smaller ones in your tank. For instance, if you have a Chinese Algae Eater, you might think it’s good to also have an Amano Shrimp for balanced cleanliness. But it isn’t wise to house these two together because the Chinese Algae Eater will be aggressive toward the Shrimp.

Tank Size

Before removing any aggressive fish from your tank, make sure your tank is large enough to house all fish. Most Algae Eaters require a tank size of at least 20 gallons. But others like some Catfish species and Chinese Algae Eaters have to have a 30 gallon tank. In the case you have a Pleco, it must have a 50 gallon tank.

Other Factors

Before purchasing an Algae Eater, be sure to research several species of interest and consult with a seasoned aquarist to ensure an Algae Eater will be right for your tank. If so, ensure you buy babies with healthy, round bellies. Anything else may indicate a predisposition to disease along with fungal and bacterial infection.

If you use aquarium salt, this could be harming your Algae Eater. Also, just because it eats the algae in your tank doesn’t mean you don’t have to feed it. This could be the reason why it’s losing weight too. Be sure to give it a well-balanced diet that includes algae but also things like fresh veggies as a treat.

Final Thoughts

The moment you see your Algae Eater showing things like cloudy eyes, lethargy, lack of activity, not eating or discoloration, it could be dying. When you notice these poignant symptoms, it’s imperative to check the water parameters and quarantine your fish.

Algae Eaters make a fabulous cleanup crew in a freshwater aquarium. But, it’s important to observe your tank and keep an eye on your fish to control any problems as they arise and to prevent them from beginning in the first place.

See Also:
How To Keep Two Betta Fish In One Tank
How Long Do You Leave the Filter on in a Fish Tank?
Is Used Fish Tank Water Good for Plants?
How Do You Know if Your Algae Eater Is Dying?