True SAEs have very discernable characteristics. They have one set of barbels (the small whiskers on the sides of their mouth), their body is a tan-brown with black band that goes from the mouth all the way to the fork in the tail, and this band is in a jagged pattern (side note: these colors “fade” when SAEs are stressed.
Scientific Name: Crossocheilus Siamensis (formerly Epalzeorhynchus Siamensis)
Common Names: Siamese Algae Eater, SAE, Siamese Flying Fox
Region: Thailand and Malayan Peninsula
Maximum Size: 6″ (15cm)
pH Range: Not particular, can live in 5.5-8.0 but slightly acidic 6.5-7.0 is best
Hardness: Prefers soft water, but can be in fairly hard water
Temperature: Needs to be a constant 75-80F (24-27C), they don’t like a lot of temperature change.
Environment: Heavily planted tanks are a must. You need to keep your water clean with regular water changes. Oxygen needs are normal; typically the surface agitation from your filter and that released by your plants is enough.
Feeding Habits: Main food source is the algae that grows in your planted tanks. They will even take care of the dreaded brush/thread/hair algae. They do not eat the plants themselves. This needs to be supplemented with Flake and algae wafers. People have fed veggies like lettuce, but I stick with flake and wafers.
Distinguishing Sex: Females typically have a wider girth, no other characteristics
Behavior: Community, do not mix well with large, territorial fish.
Breeding: Darn near impossible. I have never heard of anyone breeding them.
Lifespan: 5 to 10 years plus (still new enough that there is conflicting data)
The SAE has been a widely popular fish in Europe for many years and a common import due to their hunger for algae types ignored by all other algae eating fish. It took a while for people stateside to catch on, but in the last year planted aquarium owners have realized the value of the SAE. This has had two major effects: first, the availability of the fish is extremely limited due to the difficulty in breeding and second, LFS have identified many of the similar species, such as flying foxes, chinese algae eaters, and false Siamese algae eaters, as SAE.
True SAEs have very discernable characteristics. They have one set of barbels (the small whiskers on the sides of their mouth), their body is a tan-brown with black band that goes from the mouth all the way to the fork in the tail, and this band is in a jagged pattern (side note: these colors “fade” when SAEs are stressed. If you are buying them in a less than ideal LFS, the colors may appear to be faint), and their tails are almost purely clear.
SAEs are a great community fish, unlike their look-alikes and should be kept in pairs or schools. They are darting swimmers and need to be in a covered tank. Their darting behavior is due to an underdeveloped swim bladder, so the fish must dart or it will sink. This also leads to the SAE “sitting” on the bottom of the tank or on plants, resting on its fins.
Personally, I got hair algae bad in my 72 gallon planted tank. Upon searching for a solution, I came across SAEs on a web site. I went to or called every LFS I could find in the Chicagoland area. That’s a lot of LFS. I decided they were not available in my area (websites had said they were not easy to acquire in the US) and went a web shopping. Wow, these cool guys were only $3.75 each, I was excited. Wow, shipping was more than the fish, I was not. Not to mention it was winter, and shipping fish in winter is risky. I went to my local LFS and talked the owner into ordering some for me. He ordered two dozen and sold me the six I wanted for $4.00 each. He sold the other 18 in the next 48 hours.
So I brought my planted tank saviors home, and released them. Literally it took them two days to rid me of hair algae, and it was thick. I have had NO algae since. I ended up putting two in my paludarium, with the same results. These are not your typical algae eater, these guys are efficient. I can’t imagine the battles I would have to go through without these guys.
Last update: 2006-02-06 10:30