site logo

Main Index > Detailed Fish Profiles > Cyprinids > Chinese algae eater
19 visitors reading profiles


This page will give a completely detailed profile of the selected fish, from A to Z. The profiled fish will be chosen randomly by Badman, and will come from the complete genre of tropical fish. New profiles are added on a regular basis. If you would like to submit a profile for the site please contact me. Don't forget to let us know you experiences with this fish by filling out the



Photo from: "Atlas of Aquarium fish" by, TFH.

Gyrinocheilus aymonieri



Your comments:


Please remember that the following comments are personal experiences and may or may not apply to your setup. Use them as guide to help better understand your fish, like us all individuals will behave differently under different circumstances.


From: Erin
I have heard a lot of negative comments about CAE fish recently, but I have to say, my CAE Suction-Cup (yeah, original name, I know) is honestly my most beloved fish ever. He is 8 years old (will be 9 on January 1, 2008) and going stronger than ever. He has survived 2 tank-wide ick breakouts, 3 ammonia poisoning attacks, and at least one other diseased tank incident that killed all of my other fish except him. He has had a long, eventful life and he has proven to be my favorite fish. He currently resides in my 20 gallon tank (which I think is too small, I wish I could give him a bigger tank) where he spends his days lounging in and out of his favorite branch/log ornament, rearranging gravel and the plants around him. He doesn't eat algae much anymore, but I couldn't care less. I have noticed that he can be aggressive towards other fish at times, but mostly its just a matter of him "asserting his dominance" as I would put it. Just to let the other fish know that he's the boss, and the tank will run the way he wants it run :) I would NOT recommends these fish to anyone who wants a large community of fish, or who doesn't have enough space to accommodate a fish that grows quite large. But I love my Suction-Cup to pieces and I hope he lives for years to come, he's such a character.
From: Ed Anderson
I "inherited" 2 CAE's about 3 weeks ago, when a friend decided he didn't want to keep fish any more. They are about 3" long. The CAE's arrived with their tank buddies - 2 silver dollars, a pair of red-tailed sharks, 4 small angel fish, 1 zebra danio and a pair of golden gouramis - and were introduced to our community aquarium (4ft) housing rummy nose tetras, neons, black widow tetras, siamese flying foxes, a pair of bristlenose catfish, a couple of mollies and a few other assorted tetras. The CAE's haven't given the other fish, me, or the tank any trouble at all, although disappointingly, I haven't seen a noticeable reduction in algae since they arrived. Our tank is quite heavily planted (becoming less so every day, thanks to the dollars!) and has plenty of structure (wood, rocks, etc.), so I'm guessing they have been able to choose their own little "territory" and it hasn't disturbed anyone else too much. I have seen similar behaviour in the red-tailed sharks.
From: Robyn Hoe
My girlfriend Becca and I recently decided to get a freshwater aquarium having been an aquarium enthusiast as a teenager I was quick to purchase a Chinese Algae eater. It's always good to have a bottom feeder/sucker fish. My girlfriend didn't want the more common ones that look scaly and grow to large sizes. We started the tank with the Chinese Algae Eater, 2 Red Wag Plattys, 1 Painted Glass Fish. The tank has the works as far as plantings I don't know the names they were purchased as bulbs and only 2 of the 10 sprouted. We put two different habitats in the tank for fish who prefer little cubby holds. A Pirate ship that is a work of art with a hole in the hull for fish to enter, and a small castle. The trouble started after our first gravel cleaning when the painted glass fish died. He looked beat up but we didn't see it happen so we didn't know who to blame. I then purchased a Sunrise Platty, Mickey Mouse platy and a Bumblebee Cat. All of the fish were smaller than the CAE. The CAE "DJ for Dave Jones" was always hanging around the decorations/habitats and seemed quite aggressive to my girlfriend. I dismissed it as him just wanting to chase them. Once algae began to grow on the sail of the Pirate Ship "our centerpiece" "DJ, the CAE" began to test my patience as well. One of the red wag platty's was dead when I returned from lunch 3 days ago. Today I caught him in the act of finishing of the Bumblebee Catfish, ramming him into the ship. Call me crazy but fish are smarter than we give them credit for. DJ is sneaky, he stopped the minute I approached the tank and went to hide in the ship. This is not characteristic of him usually since I feed them often and he always comes to the front when I approach. I had visited the pet store during the suspicious deaths to pick up brine shrimp, have my water tested etc. and would spend the time watching all the tanks that had the CAEs in them. They all were larger tanks and had a broad range of fish inside them including our Plattys. Even now as I type this he is harassing the remaining Red-Wag. After reading this forum I am glad to see that so many others have noticed this aggressive behavior in the CAE when in a community tank. They may be OK for a person who likes aggressive fish all in the tank together to watch a survival of the fittest competition but for the Aquarium lover who names their fish, likes their personalities etc... I would say "Stay Away from the CAE!" Its a shame since he showed such personality in the beginning"3 months earlier" They are one of the more attractive sucker-fish that I've seen. Some have said they get a bad rap, I just think that's due to an affection for their active behaviour. I doubt you will find it worth the VERY little cleaning that he does "excluding the gravel" to watch him harass your prettier fish until one day your not looking and he finishes them off. Today needless to say that DJ is off to the pet store. If I weren't so good natured I would ask them to put him in the feeder tank rather than give me a refund just to watch him get some of his own medicine but that would be cruel.
From: Beach
We had a mild algae problem developing in our 10 gallon tank my husband got me for nostalgia sake. I kept fish as a child. So I decided we needed an algae eater. The store tried to sell me a pleco, but I wanted a Chinese algae eater, the type I remembered from childhood. None of the ones I had back then ever got larger than my pinkie finger is now. I was shocked when they took us back to a tank full of three inch "monsters." I figured they must have been feeding them something special. (Yes, the dangers of not researching before you buy. I probably knew they got so large when I was a kid.. but..) It took the guy five minutes to net one, even with about 30 of them in a 10 gal tank. The one he caught was just under three inches. I wasn't going to send him back in to try for one of the smaller ones. On the way home, we named the fish Big Al. Al had all the algae gone within a day, prompting a trip back to the store to buy algae wafers. Such was the beginning of a love affair.

After about six months, Al was up to six inches long and we were worried about having him in the ten gallon tank.. so we went and bought him a 30 gallon. The entire tank, decorations and plantings were designed around Al's swimming patterns and habits. We made sure he had a decoration big enough for him to be inside of comfortably even if he continues to grow. He may not be the prettiest of fish but he has personality to spare. It's always funny to see the look on some one's face when they walk in the room and Al is doing "donuts" on the glass.

This past month, we've started to see some aggression from Al. (Which is fine. It is HIS tank. If the other fish don't shape up and keep out of his way, they go to the ten gallon.) This aggression started when we got swordtails. While we've had platys share Al's algae wafer, they always let him feed first and took the leftovers. The swords (full grown male/female pair) love the algae wafers and aren't interested in "waiting their turn." It is rather comical to watch Al chase them off and then sit on the wafer. He "walks" backwards on his fins to get it to his mouth, sucks his way along it, then sits on it till he's ready for the next mouthful. Meantime, the swords are trying to get at the wafer from the side. Every so often, Al does a big "shimmy" thing to back them off. He'll also sometimes rush them and chase them away. No one is getting hurt and I don't see any aggression outside of feeding time (which is well deserved.. It is HIS algae, after all.) Al ignores the smaller fish, including a half inch albino cory cat we got a month ago who thinks it's great fun to "slide" down Al's back. The cory cat is now about an inch long and bothers Al all the time. (Think 8 week old puppy) No aggression is shown.

While we got this fish to do a job, he's become the number one fish in the house. I highly recommend one of these fish for a larger tank. They're especially good for a disabled person's tank or someone who is bedridden as they are large, active and fun to watch. Since they are so large, you can see their eyes and other features from the other side of the room or from the bed, making them more of a "pet" than guppies or small fish.

From: Jim
I kept these in my tanks for over 15 years. I never experienced any aggression from them but then I found when they got big they did not eat the algae so I used to get rid of them, and get more young ones. I had a deal with a local pet store they used to take the big one back and give me young ones in return, because some people wanted the larger ones. My tanks were always very clean with these guys around.

From: CatFishChris
Hello! I Love these fish...I currently have two! I make it A point to make sure Every one of my tanks have at least one Algae Eater. I have one CAE in my 150gal tank along with A 14inch Pacu,10in. Barb & 8inch Severum Cichlid! they all get along Great! The Coolest thing ever is my CAE sucks to the side of my Pacu & Cleans him(of what,I don't know?)But my Pacu seems to Love It. I guess it's sort of like A massage for my Pacu lol AnyWay! These Fish R Awesome, & they Def- inately do A Great job Cleaning my tanks The CAE in my 150gal. is about 6 inches & really Plump(thick) I only wish I could find More Big ones to Buy in the pet stores, because it seems to be they R all very Very Small in the pet stores. & In my experience they take a long time to grow & get Big!(I like em really Big) Well, that's it! Algae Eaters in my opinion R really Great! Fish & I personally Think every fresh water fish tank(aquarium)should have at least One(just my opinion)thanks 4 reading bye
From: blipmore
Be careful with this fish. They grow very strong and large when they get old. Mine has taken over a hollow log (along with 3 old clown loaches) and fiercely patrols the area around it. If I try to place a plant, or even the gravel around the log, he'll move them back to how he likes them. I hardly ever see him eating algae anymore. He hides all day and remakes the tank at night. If you buy this guy, prepare owning a big tough fish for a long time... mine is about four years old now.
From: Romano Verlengia
We have had our CAE about six months, and he has survived many first timer mistakes. He has escaped death twice after being lifted out of the tank while clinging to tank decorations, and left out of water for the duration of the water change. Seems to chase the other fish around, but we have not seen him hurt any other fish. Our tank has no algae, so he seems to do his job cleaning. Mostly active in the evening.

From: Art
Very playful and fun fish. I bought a 1" peach colored CAE along with five silver dollars. The CAE immediately befriended the silver dollars. The CAE loves to play in the bubbles from the pump.. It lets itself go as the bubbles pushes it to the top. Then it comes back down and does it again. It has done this for hours and hours non stop. It also likes to swim with the silver dollars along the side of the wall. It likes to huddle -up and also eat with the silver dollars. Sometimes it playfully attaches itself (sucker-like) to the side of the silver dollar. When I approach the tank, the silver dollars all run away from me but the CAE swims toward me. My favorite is when it stands on the tallest rock on its two fins. I could swear its pretending to be tarzan doing his infamous yell. The silver dollars are now 4" and the algae eater is 3". Good buddies for life in their 55 gallon.
From: Russ
I put ten of these fish in a 6' algaed tank. They cleaned it up quick smart. I bought them when they were 1 1/2" long 10 months ago. Now they range from 2 1/2" to 5". I have no heater in my tank and they survived our winter,I'm guessing the water temperature dropped to 14c maybe less as our days outside are 14c to 20c and mornings can be zero degrees c. In the depths of winter they did not feed .In the summer months they would gather and watch for me to feed them very friendly towards me. Now after winter they are very flighty and shy as if they forgot who I am. They seem aggressive towards each other but not harmful at all. I'm hoping after a full year I may have some indication whether they will breed. Two of the lager ones' seem to be getting quite plump. Without doubt the most low maintenance fish EVER.
From: Liz
I have 5 CAE's in total. One is approx. 8 inches and lives in a huge tank with another 5 inch one, I believe both are males. I also have 3 others that are only about 2 inches in length. These are some of the most misunderstood fish I have ever come across. They are definitely not meant to be kept in peaceful community tanks because of how active and inquisitive they are. When kept with Cichlids or other more aggressive varieties they do awesome and fit right in. All the tanks I have except one which doesn't have a CAE in it are pristine. They work tirelessly at keeping the algae in control and in my experience well surpass the pleco who only comes out at night and only works for about half the time. I have had a deep love for these fish for some time now and really don't understand why people would hate them so much, it's really about understanding the fish and the environment that is suitable to their well being. I have heard stories of them being lazy or attacking other fish and quite simply I have not seen either behaviour to any extreme, in fact if anything they are the most peaceful fish in my tanks because I keep them with more suitable tank mates. I have also discovered that adults can live together as long as they are in a big enough space and there are enough caves and hiding places for them. My 2 biggest ones actually often share the same hole so in my experience the rap people have given them is really quite unfounded and I wonder if maybe the people who have had a bad experience may have unknowingly had a flying fox or something.
I bought one of these for each of my tanks, one 10 gal and one 20 gal. within 2 days each tank went from disgusting and completely covered in green sludge to almost perfectly clear. These little guys are getting a bad rap. They are awesome algae eaters! I have not yet witnessed any aggressive behavior, but will watch for it. The fish store told me as they get bigger they may display some, especially if not fed the wafers to be kept happy. So far, I am very impressed with my $6.00 investment($3.00 each). they did in 2 days what a $20.00 pleco couldn't do in 5 months at the job.
From: Suzanne
I bought one as he was recommended for my 10 gal tank. He was great at eating algae and got along well till he was about 6-8 months old. Then he was a bit spastic. Started giving more algae tablets and his behavior improved greatly and he started to attach to everything again. Just starving I guess. When over a year old became very aggressive. Ripping through my tank, destroying my landscape ( he had a bridge with a great tunnel he adored) also started darting at my neon tetras and guppies. My husband gave him to our local feed and seed store today. They knew right off what he was and explained how he was just too big for my tank. He was a good 4.5 inches long. They put him in a larger tank with bigger shark types and he fell in love and started eating algae off the bottom again. I'm glad we were able to find him a more suitable home. He's a lot happier now.
From: Aes
THESE FISH DO NOT EAT ALGAE! Don't let the pet shop sell them to you if you're looking for an algae eater. Especially if you want an algae eating fish that will fit into a community tank. I had 2 Chinese algae eaters and they harassed everything and anything that moved! I gave them to a friend who has a tank full of aggressive fish and they do okay in there, but they did not work in my peaceful community tank. And like I said, I never saw them eat a smidgen of algae. I recommend a pleco for that purpose - they have smaller ones that only get to 5/6 inches - the bristlenose for example - if you don't want one that will get huge. Plecos are much more peaceful and they DO eat algae. They're great window cleaners, but will also suck the algae off of anything and everything that has algae on it!
From: Mim
I have two young Chinese Algae Eaters in a 2-3 month old 4' tank (180 litre), which is moderately to heavily planted. Tankmates are peaceful and all young (Geophagus surinamensis, Hyphessobrycon socolofi, Ancistrus dolichopterus, Trichogaster leeri). Tank has soft water (Gh and Kh around 2-3), no ammonia, no nitrite, nitrite-less then 10); temp 27C).
The CAEs are now about 5-6cm (not including tail fin) and have grown quickly from 2-3cm about six weeks ago. I originally had 3, but removed the larger one as it was becoming a bit aggressive. The remaining two were always happy together but as time goes by they have tended to go their separate ways.
Today they behaved quite differently and, instead of the continuous algae munching, they spent at least half an hour swirling around each other, lip-locking and generally flirting. Have no idea if this was courtship behaviour or simply playing. (Surely they are too young for spawning; although they are definitely maturing.) I am positive that the behaviour was friendly and not at all aggressive. Afraid I interrupted it by trying to take pictures (which was not really successful).
I understand the spawning and sexing of these little fishes is not well understood. I'll have to wait and see if my two can shed any more light on this. I had intended removing them because of the risk to the other fish. Now I'll only move them or the other fish if it's necessary (ie overly aggressive behaviour).
BTW - I cannot yet see any marked difference between the two except that one is a bit bigger than the other.
From: Taryn
I have three of these guys in a tank with a variety of Barbs and a GIANT pleco. I can't say they're the greatest at cleaning the algae, but they have not been a problem otherwise. I think the key is to keep them out of a community tank where there are no dominant fish. My barbs seem to get along very well with them, and as long as they have enough room to all stake out territory there hasn't been a problem. I hate that these guys have gotten such a bad rap, they are a lot of fun to watch as long as you understand they are aggressive by nature.
From: J Hale
Although attractive, this is a horrible fish, it was one of my first purchases and seemed to be fine, it grew, and so did it's aggression level. I put it in an aggressive tank with my killed 3 of them (in 2 weeks-smaller venustus and kribensis) and does nothing but terrorize other tank mates. This fish is now gone. If you must get this fish, make sure you have larger and similar type aggressive fish.
From: linda
Mine is almost 18 years old and has become quite agressive . He measures about 6.5" . I have never seen him eating algae, so I would not recommend this fish to get rid of an algae problem in your tank.







Privacy Policy | Contact Badman's Tropical Fish
Copyright ©
All rights reserved. Reproduction of any portion of this website's content is forbidden without written permission.