The Chinese algae eater, Gyrinocheilus aymonieri
, is sometimes kept in aquaria
to control algae. It can range up to 11 inches (28 cm) in length. It has a reputation for becoming increasingly jealous of its territory as it matures, and also can be aggressive to fish, especially slow, flat-bodied fish. In the home aquarium
, the algae eater makes a poor tank mate. It is very aggressive and boisterous; they often attack other fish and rip off scales, causing infection. It rarely swims to the surface as it likes to be on the bottom of the tank. It is very hardy and can survive in semi-dirty water, plus a wide range of temperatures, 60 - 90F (16° - 32°C), allowing it to be sometimes kept in unheated aquariums indoors. Similar to the Pleco
, Chinese algae eaters tend to hide in caves when they are not feeding. If a cave is not available for them to hide in, they will attempt to make one themselves by digging under large rocks or against the walls of the aquarium.
Though in the wild they feed exclusively on algae, in the aquarium there is some controversy on the effectiveness of the algae eater. While they are young, they may be effective. But as they grow, they may develop more of a taste for processed foods and consume those instead. Some aquarists also report large specimens attacking and consuming smaller fish, such as Neon Tetras
The two other Gyrinocheilus
species, the spotted algae eater
and the Borneo algae eater
, are rarely seen in the aquarium trade.