It is no secret that freshwater aquariums can easily become a hotbed for algae growth. But something many people overlook is that there are actually many freshwater fish and invertebrates that enjoy feeding on algae and will actually save you time by cleaning the tank themselves.
In this guide we will be looking at the ever-popular neon tetra, and whether or not these little fish have a big appetite for algae or not.
Well, we have good news - they do eat algae. In fact, in the wild, algae is a main part of their overall diet.
With neon tetras being omnivores, they eat both plant-based and meat foods and need to do so to achieve a balanced diet. They should not live off algae alone, but you should definitely expect them to eat some of your naturally occurring fish tank algae, and if your tank is super clean, we recommend feeding them algae-based food products.
What Algae do Neon Tetras Eat?
Neon tetras are not fussy when it comes to their algae consumption, they actually eat a few of different types of algae that naturally grow in a home freshwater aquarium:
- Chlamydomonas green algae
- Conjugatohphyta green algae
- Volvocaceae green algae
As you can see, they do have a varied algae diet, but this isn’t to say that you should not provide them with some algae wafers in addition to their omnivore diet if they do not seem to be eating the algae in your tank.
Why Do Neon Tetras Eat Algae?
It makes a lot of sense as to why neon tetras eat algae. They are omnivores and enjoy feeding off aquarium plants, bacteria, and vegetation. Algae is simply a variation of aquarium plant that is created and spread via heavy light exposure.
Typically, neon tetras will take care of most freshwater algae that appears in your tank during the early stages, when it has not spread too much. Remember, neon tetras are tiny fish, only growing to a maximum of 1.5 inches (4 cm) in length.
So, do not expect your neon tetras to completely resolve an algae infestation issue, if your fish tank has been plagued with a ridiculous amount of algae. If this is the case, then you will have to take some steps to manually clean your tank.
Benefits of Neon Tetras Eating Algae
Despite being unpleasant looking at times, algae are incredibly nutrient rich, which is brilliant for neon tetras and should be considered to be a staple in their diet. Additionally, the nutrients in algae actually help to increase neon tetra coloration, making them brighter and healthier.
Microalgae is what neon tetras tend to eat in an aquarium setting, mostly due to the small size being easily digestible for the little fish. Algae also contains high levels of antioxidants, proteins, and carotenoids.
We mentioned that algae help with brightening the appearance of neon tetras, but it also promotes healthy growth within your fish too.
However, despite the benefits of eating algae for neon tetra, if the algae grows too quickly and there is too much, it can lead to some bad consequences. If your tank has too many algae, it can ruin the water quality, which, in return, can be detrimental to your fish.
This is why it is so important to not rely on algae eating fish, like the neon tetra to solely remove it from your aquarium, you will have to get stuck in yourself if you have big algae colonies forming in your tank.
Neon tetras most certainly do eat algae, and they enjoy eating it too! Being omnivores, algae play an important role in your neon tetras achieving a balanced and ultimately healthy diet, so ensure they are eating it, regardless of whether you have algae in your tank or not. Algae wafers are a brilliant way of ensuring that your fish are consuming algae, without needing tons of it to form naturally in their home.