There are a number of reasons causing the popularity of brackish water tanks to increase within the fish keeping community but the most common cause over the last couple of years has to be the spike in popularity of the various brackish water pufferfish. This has resulted in a large number of people reaching out and asking for recommendations on a brackish water algae eater that they are able to use in their tank and due to there being so much misinformation out there about what you should be looking for, we have decided to publish this dedicated article on the topic to help our readers.
Finding a fish to eat the algae in your brackish water tank can be difficult so most people opt to use either nerite snails or Malaysian trumpet snails usually being the best brackish water algae eater due to their low prices, the amount of algae that they eat, and how low maintenance they are to care for. It is easy to find both of these snail species in most areas too ensuring that you will be able to find a good algae eater for your brackish water tank.
We have seen some people on social media recommending various types of pleco as a brackish water algae eater but this is poor advice and will often result in the fish dying. Plecos do not do well in brackish water and they will often die within a couple of weeks of being added to the tank so we would always recommend that you just go with either of the snail species recommended above as they have the proven ability to consume huge amounts of algae in a brackish tank without having any problems with the salt in the water.
Why Do You Need A Specific Brackish Water Algae Eater?
Brackish water has a higher salinity than freshwater but a lower salinity than saltwater putting it in a unique category that often rules out the majority of algae eaters that you are able to use in either a freshwater or saltwater tank due to them not being able to live in a brackish water tank. This is why most people who do keep a brackish aquarium will look for specialist algae eaters that can live in brackish water without issue.
Keeping a brackish water tank is kind of like the goldie locks paradox but instead of the porridge being too hot or too cold, it is the salinity of the water in the tank. People within the fish keeping hobby have tried a wide range of algae eaters in their brackish water tanks including various types of fish, snails, and shrimp but the majority of people usually end up coming back to snails and sticking with them as their brackish algae eater of choice.
We have seen reports from people on fish keeping forums and social media groups where they have tried to acclimate either freshwater or saltwater algae eating species to brackish water without success. Thankfully, the community is starting to shift away from trying to find unique algae eaters that they are able to keep in their brackish tanks and just accepting that they should be going with snails from the very start.
What Is The Best Brackish Water Algae Eater?
The two best brackish water algae eaters are the Malaysian trumpet snail and the trusty nerite snail with both species having slight advantages and disadvantages over each other when it comes to living in a brackish water aquarium and eating algae. For the most part though, both species of snail are great options for the majority of people and they should be your primary consideration when looking for a brackish algae eater.
In our opinion, the Malaysian trumpet snail is slightly better than nerite snails as a pure algae eater as they do eat more algae and will often poop less than a nerite snail. This can reduce the amount of tank maintenance required on your part to remove the snail poop from your tank that can build up on the substrate at a surprisingly fast pace.
The majority of our readers will probably go with nerite snails as their snail of choice for eating algae in their brackish water tank though. This is usually due to nerite snails being much easier to source while also having a lower price tag in most place. One advantage that nerite snails offer over Malaysian trumpet snails is that they will also eat a large amount of detritus in the tank too where as Malaysian trumpet snails will usually just focus on the algae build up and only eat small amounts of detritus. As we covered in our guide to nerite snail eggs, nerite snails will breed and lay their eggs in brackish water with some nerite snails being able to take to living in brackish water without issue.
Are Plecos Good Brackish Water Algae Eaters?
People often recommend plecos as brackish algae eaters on social media but this is not a good idea and a pleco will almost always diet if it is placed in a tank with brackish water. Plecos simply haven’t evolved to be able to tolerate brackish water and although they are excellent algae eaters, they just aren’t designed to live in brackish aquariums.
As we covered in our guide on acclimating a guppy to live in saltwater, some fish can have their salinity tolerance increased when done correctly but plecos are not one of them. We have seen people claim that they have or are going to acclimate their pleco to higher salinity water but the chances of this working are minimal at best and often put the fish at risk.
Unfortunately, people have tried similar things with a wide range of different fish species to try and get their fish to be able to live in brackish water and eat algae but it rarely works. This is why we always recommend that you just go with either Malaysian trumpet snails or nerite snails as your brackish algae eaters of choice as they perform so well and are very cheap.
That brings our article going over finding a brackish water algae eater to an end. Although it may appear that there are a wide range of options due to the suggestions you can often see recommended in some social media groups, the actual options for brackish water algae eaters are actually very limited. In our opinion, you should just go with either Malaysian trumpet snails or nerite snails and save yourself the time and effort of trying to find an algae eating fish that can work well in brackish water.