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Crossocheilous siamensis (Smith, 1931)  


Photos by G.J.Reclos (MCH) - November 2002

Crossocheilous siamensis (Siamese algae eater)

This is a rather peculiar fish from South East Asia (Malaysian penincula) in the sense that very few people would add it in their tanks because of its physical appearance. Indeed, it gets rather large for the average community tank (15 cm), it has no color, it swims in fast sprints which will stress other peaceful fish, it is a dedicated vegetarian which will means adding special food for it, etc. However, all those drawbacks are balanced by one singe advantage. It is the only fish which will eat the dreaded hairy algae even the black one. Moreover, they will keep on doing that day after day, for many years - since they eat algae even when they grow up and they live for many years (up to ten). Distinguishing it from other similar fishes is essential since most of them will not touch the algae and have a different temperament which doesn't make them suitable for the average community tank. The Siamese Algae Eater (SAE) is not territorial or aggressive and will get along fine in any community tank. It will not harass the discus, the Hemigrammus erythrozonus or the Corydoras aeneus in my tank. On the contrary, they will gather together, swim together even eat the algae in a close formation. Although we will add more information to this note from our own experience (and many photos, as usually), we would like to add some tables which will tell you more about this fish and - of equal importance - how to select the right species.

Size

In captivity they usually only grow to 4 - 5 inches. But they can grow up to 6".

Origin

South East Asia (Malaysian Penisula)

Temperature

Ranges of 75-82

pH

6.0 - 8.0

Food

Omnivorous (with a preference for vegetable-based foods/Algae, Flake Foods, Lettuce and other vegatables).

Tank

30 gallon minimum size (for 2).

Environment

Lots of Plants and heavy Filtration. They like clean highly Oxygenated water.

Breeding

They do not breed in captivity.

Lifespan

Up to 10 years.

Sexing

No visible differences. Although the female "may" appear fuller.

Behavior

Non-aggressive (although their look-alikes are aggressive).

Activity

Very active and are fast Swimmers. They also are prolific Jumpers (you must keep their tanks covered).

Algae Eating

Will eat Algae all their life. And is the only known fish to eat the Red Beard/Black Brush Algae (an Aquarium's worst nightmare). Note: Look-alikes do not eat the tough Red Algae, nor do look-alikes eat Algae all their lives like the SAE's do.

Plant Eating

They do not eat your Plants. But they may appear like they are, as the eat the Algae off the plant leaves.

Availability

Extremely popular and available in Europe. Not as available in North America. Usually one of the look-alikes will be falsely labeled as a SAE. Hopefully, as the become more known for their Algae-eating ability, we'll see many more SAEs here in the U.S. But the fact that they do no breed in captivity is the biggest challenge to their availability.

Other

They also like to eat Planaria. Which tend to pop up in Fry Tanks.

Information presented in this table was retrieved from : http://www.bettastarz.com/sae.htm You may find additional information on this species at this link.

How to select the true SAE:

Siamese Algae Eater or SAE:
The true SAE has a jagged black horizontal stripe that goes all the way to the tip of the tail. All of the SAE's fins are clear. The black and white and their contrast are more intense than with the other algae eaters below.

False Siamese Algae Eater or false SAE:
The false SAE if usually found in shipments of true SAE (or the other way around). Unlike the SAE, the black stripe ends at the beginning of the tail. Often, if one goes to buy SAE's in a US aquarium store, they may in fact be all or mostly false SAE's. False SAE's may have some red around the mouth and a yellow tint to the fins. My false SAE had some nice gold and red on the dorsal fin. Mine was sold as a flying fox.

Flying Fox:
Just like the true SAE, the flying fox has a black horizontal stripe that goes all the way to the tip of the tail. Unlike the SAE, the edges of the stripe are smooth and not zagged. The flying fox may have some rainbow-like coloring on the fins. It is more pretty than the other fish mentioned on this page. The black horizontal stripe extends to the end of the tail like the SAE but it is much stronger and broader.

Chinese Algae Eater or CAE:
The Chinese algae eater is Gyrinocheilus aymonieri. Unlike the SAE, false SAE, and flying fox, the CAE does not have a distinct black horizontal line. It is more mottled. The fish is more brown than black and white. The tail fin lacks any striping. The CAE also does not have any barbels unlike the other three fish. If you go to the average pet store that carries fish and ask for a fish that eats algae, probably half the time, you would have a Chinese algae eater foisted upon you. While these fish are a delight like the above fish, they have only a low to moderate desire to eat any algae. If fish food is available, it will compromise most of their food intake. Also, as Chinese algae eaters grow older, the may become nasty to other algae eaters or even other fish in the tank. Some may try to latch onto fat-bodied fish. Sometimes, though some individuals get along well with their tankmates. There is a very common albino (or gold) CAE which may be sold even more often then the regular gray CAE. The CAE does not zip around as much as the SAE, false SAE, and flying fox. It tends to do more sucking. CAE's normally stay under 6 inches but have the ability to grow to almost twice that length.

Information retrieved from http://userpages.umbc.edu/~rrhudy1/sae.htm You can find more information by visiting this link.

Distinguishing Features of Algae Eating Cyprinids

 

Crossocheilus siamensis

"False siamensis"

Epalzeorhynchus kalopterus

Crossocheilus oblongus

Gyrinocheilus aymonieri

Horizontal stripe
-edge:

zig-zag

smooth

smooth

smooth

uneven

-extend to tail:

yes

no

yes

no

 

light stripe above

(sometimes)

yes

yes

?

 

Dorsal region:

reticulated (black edged scales)

solid greyish brown

 

 

 

Fins
- dorsal:

transparent

dark lower rays & yellowish

dark bands & white tips

transparent

transparent

- anal:

"

yellowish

"

"

"

- pelvic:

"

"

"

"

"

Mouth:

 

small, nonclinging suckermouth (maybe with red/pink)

 

 

clinging suckermouth

Barbels:

1 pair

2 pairs

2 pairs

2 pairs

none

Table retrieved from the article "Algae Eating Cyprinids from Thailand and Neighboring Areas" by Neil Frank and Liisa Sarakontu. You can read a lot more about the SAE in this article.

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