Do Endlers Livebearers Eat Algae?

My tank has been starting to develop a problem with various types of algae, especially hair algae.  I know there are a lot of types of fish that you’d never guess eat algae, so I started wondering whether endlers were one of those species.

Endlers typically do not eat algae.  Most people that I have spoken to have never seen their endlers eating algae, even when starved for 1-2 weeks.  A small number of people have endlers that will eat algae (especially brown algae), but among those that do, most only lightly graze on the algae.

There are a few people that have told me that they added endlers into their tank, and the endlers completely cleared up a hair algae problem, however.

This means that the answer is not necessarily black and white.

Let’s dive in and discuss this in a bit more depth.

Endler guppy
Guppy endler, Poecilia wingei, freshwater aquarium fish, males in spawning coloration and female, courtship, biotope aquarium, closeup nature photo

Can Endlers Eat Algae?

Theoretically endlers can and will eat algae.  In reality, however, it doesn’t usually work out that way.

Some endlers livebearers will eat algae, but the majority of them are not known to eat algae.  The endlers that eat algae will typically just pick at it, rather than eating it in any way that would make a difference in the total amount of visible algae in the tank.  Only a few endlers will eat a significant amount of algae.

No one is really sure what makes one endler eat algae and another one from the same source refuse to, but even when buying endlers from the same store, a few people will have endlers that love to eat algae and a the majority  will say that their endlers won’t eat algae regardless of what they do to try to encourage them.

It might have something to do with captive bred vs wild caught, or perhaps with the genetic stock, but it’s hard to say for certain.

Of those that do eat algae, the types that they seem to prefer are: 

  • Brown algae (diatoms)
  • Some types of hair algae (that aren’t too tough)
  • Other soft types of algae that they can pick off of plants and decorations.

This last one is a big bonus when they do eat algae, because they’ll clean off leaves and parts of plants that are hard to take care of by hand.

Types that they don’t seem to eat are: 

  • Black beard algae
  • Staghorn algae
  • Green spot algae
  • Blue green algae (which is a type of bacteria)
  • Other types of tough or unpalatable algae that most algae eating fish won’t touch.

If you’re looking for a fish to help with an algae problem in your tank, endlers are probably not the species to look to.

Getting endlers that like eating algae is more of a happy bonus if you’ve already decided you want endlers livebearers anyway.  You just shouldn’t expect it.

If you like endlers, however, but also have an algae problem, there are some good tank mates for endlers that will happily eat algae.

Algae Eating Tank Mates for Endlers Livebearers

Any peaceful community type algae eater should work as a tank mate, but here are a few that are worth mentioning.

Otocinclus Catfish

Otocinclus catfish are a bit of a stretch, because otos prefer slightly acidic water, and endlers prefer hard water that’s in the 7.5+ range, but there is a happy medium where both fish can live in harmony in the same tank.

If your tank’s parameters will support it, otos can be a good choice for an algae eating tank mate for endlers.

Bristlenose Plecos

Bristlenose plecos are a good, peaceful fish that can live in smaller tanks but will still eat algae.

(As opposed to my clown pleco that lays around and slacks off all day.)

They won’t bully your endlers or eat their young (typically), so they are a good choice for a second species in an endler tank or general community tank full of peaceful fish.

If your tank is big enough, a bristlenose is a good addition to almost any tank with an algae problem.

Nerite Snails

Nerite snails are one of the most famous algae eaters in the fishkeeping world.

They do have a problem with escaping tanks, so you have to keep a close eye on them, but they are rumored to make short work of algae.

(I prefer mystery snails, so I don’t personally have any nerites.)

Nerite snails will eat hair algae, will sometimes eat black beard algae, but will usually not eat staghorn algae.

Amano Shrimp

Amano shrimp are perhaps one of the best types of algae eaters to add to an endler tank.

Amano shrimp are ravenous algae eaters, won’t bother your fish, and won’t reproduce in a freshwater tank.

They also will eat hair algae (along with diatoms and several other types of algae).

The down side to getting amano is that some stores sell other types of shrimp that don’t eat algae as amano shrimp.

Do Endlers Livebearers Eat Algae Wafers?

While we’re on the topic of algae, will endlers eat algae wafers?

In general, yes.  As long as you break them up enough that they can get their mouths around the wafers, they will eat them.

I’ve heard one account of endlers stealing algae wafers that were put out for shrimp that lived in the same tank.

Algae wafers aren’t exclusively algae – they are part fish meal and have a lot of other ingredients mixed in.  Because of this, even endlers that turn their nose up at algae may like algae wafers.

I wouldn’t feed my endlers algae wafers as a staple, however.

It’s better to feed them a food that is designed for small fish, like Fluval’s Bug Bites.

If you want a guide on what enders should be fed, check out my complete endlers livebearers care guide here.

Conclusion

Whether endlers livebearers are good algae eaters or not completely depends on the individual fish.

Some are great algae eaters.  They’ll tirelessly pick over all of the plants and eat soft green algae as well as diatoms.  (Sometimes hair algae.)

Most, however, are not great algae eaters.

And worse, when you get one that isn’t a good algae eater, even starving it will not usually convince it to see algae as food.

If you’re getting endlers anyway and are just wondering if they’ll clean your tank, they well may.

If the entire reason for getting them is to clean algae out of your tank, I’d recommend looking for another fish.

I hope this helped you.