Aquarium fishes introduced: Siamese Algae Eater (SAE)

Aquarium fishes explained / Siamese algae eater

Common Name: Siamese Algae Eater (SAE)

Scientific Name: Crossocheilus siamensis

German Name: Siamesische Rüsselbarbe

Family: Cyprinidae

Species : Epalzeorhynchos kalopterus

Habitat: South-East Asia. Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia / This bottom-dwelling fish is found in mainland of South-East Asia in the Chao Phraya, Mekong, Thade and Xe Bang Fai basins and also at Malay Peninsula. Their natural habitats are rivers, stream and also flooded forest during rainy season.

Maximum Size: Will grow up to round about 6 inches (15cm)

pH: They tolerate a pH between 5.5 – 8.0 but 6.0 – 7,5 is better

Total Hardness: They seems to love soft water but do well in a wide range of water hardness (< 25°)

Temperature : 22 – 28°C / 72–82°F

Reachable Age: They can reach 8 to 10 years in a fish tank. This kind of Fish is defenetly long living.

Strata: Bottom and half


The Siamese Algae Eater is a very beautiful fish and is a very fast swimmer and loves to swimm against the jet of water. But they also love to chill out on plant leaves for a long time while they monitor the area around them. If they seek rest, then they hide behind plants, rocks or roots. They play together and it often looks like they dance in the water. They also do search often for food and algaes and that seems to be the reason for their name. They are also very good in jumping out of the water which means it is better to have a closed fish tank instead of an uncovered tank.

The bodyshape of the Siamese Algae Eater is elongated and a little bit similar to the bodyshape of a shark. The Siamese Algae Eater has a black line in the middle of their body. And the rest of the body looks golden. That all makes the Siamese Algae Eater a very attractive fish.

Siamese algae eater love to be in a group and therfor it is advisable to give them this pleasure. Writen things above mean the fish tank should have at least 200 litres but better more depending on the group size.

The Siamese Flying Fox eats a wide range of things from living food for example mosquito larves and underwater fleas to vegetables like typical flake-food, pellets and lots of other things you can get in your local aquaristic store. You can also feed them overboiled but cooled bio-cucumber and so on.

Sexing and Breeding

It is very unlikely that they will breed in the aquarium. Differences between the sexes is not know yet. People say, breeding them in a fish tank is not succeeded yet. Some told about breeding by chance but it is not accordingly publicized to this day.

More about Fishkeeping

You can find more articles about fishkeeping on my blog.


11 thoughts on “Aquarium fishes introduced: Siamese Algae Eater (SAE)

  1. Hi, I researched them a lot before buying two. Mine are thriving, but just curious why some say they need soft water. I have very hard water at home and can’t make it softer without lots of chemicals. Yet my fish are very active, does hardness matter very much? and how can I make the water less hard? answer me on twitter if you can.

    1. First of all they just seems to prefer softwater but they do well in harder water too. First I had hard water and they seemed to feel ok. Later I did soften my water with “reverse osmosis plant” device. You should not use any chemicals in your fish tank. That is not good.

      I would say the hardness does not matter much for SAE´s as I experienced that they did well in hard water when I started this hobby.
      Again.. if you want softer water then try to get a “reverse osmosis plant” device and never use chemicals. I bought my device for 70€ and you put it on the water connection. If you open water connection.. the water will go through this device and filtering so that it gets soft. You simply collect the water in some buckets and mix it with you harder water later so that you reach your desired level of waterhardness. If you buy such a device you should research a little bit how that all works. But its not that difficult. This device is the best solution. Every chemicals are poison for your animals and plants.

      But again for SAE´s the waterhardness doesn´t matter much. I wanted softwater so that I can try to breed other fish I have like Harlequin Rasbora, Five Banded Barbs and my little Boraras brigittae. For Boraras brigittae the soft water seems to be very importend and I noticed they would not do well in the tank if the water would be hard. But with SAE´s you cant do that much wrong.

      I think you can feel reassured. 🙂

    2. Btw. the people say that siamese algae eater do prefer soft water because the water in their habitat like the Mekong River is very soft and alkaline with a pH which varies between 6.2 and 6.5. You can read about the Mekong here:

      I guess the same goes for the water parameter of their habitat in the Chao Phraya, Thade and Xe Bang Fai basins and also at Malay Peninsula.

      Thats why people say they do prefer soft water. People want to simulate the water parameter of the fishes habitat. And I think that is good that people try to give them water parameters which this fish is used to in their habitat. That should be the reason why a lot of people say that soft water is best for them. 🙂

  2. im so confused here. im just starting out and i need help understanding Siamese Algae Eater (SAE), and Flying Fox. i read in some forums that these two species have a different look, and are not the same fish. my concern is aggressive and once older if they stop eating algae like a chinese algae eater. so are they one in the same? what am i misunderstanding here?

    1. You do not misunderstand anything. You are completely right. When I wanted to buy some more SAE´s, I found out later that I had now a few fishes which looked somewhat different. The problem is indeed that they sold me some Flying Fox while I had already SAE´s. They sold them under the wrong name. Then I started researching and found out about the difference like you did. Nothing wrong with what you found out.

      When I found out that they are two different species, I wanted to change parts of my article. But it seems that I did forget to do so. I am pretty happy that you remind me to the problem but at the same time I am very sorry that I confused you with this article, which needs an update with my newer knowledge.

      The fun thing is that my article even contains a photo where you can see both fishes as they sold me both species as mentioned. Look at the second photo and on the fish at top. This is a Flying Fox while all the others are siamese algae eaters on the photo.
      You can see it as the Flying Fox has a white body under the black line while a Siamese Algae Eater has it golden like above the black line.

      I am very sorry for the misleading article. I did forget my to-do list to change the article.
      The values of the waterparameters are still right but count for the Siamese Algae Eater. But it seems that the Flying Fox needs similar parameters as I had them both under same conditions without problems. But most other statements of the article count for the SAE´s.

      For the behavior with my latest experience I can tell you that they can get aggressive by times. I saw it a few times that they were hunting each other. But nothing happened. It seems that they get a much more agressive behavior with the years. That is true.

      So, you are right. There is a lot confusion about both species in the internet but not only there. Also in local stores. I will start to rework the article now.

      Have a great weekend.

      1. I removed Siamese Flying Fox from the common name list and in other places of the article as the name was misleading and wrong and not related to the information of the article.

        I meant that you can see the flying fox on the third photo at top. Not the second photo. As said… a flying fox is rather white under the black line after my experience and research.

        Btw. I did not see any difference in behaviour between both species when I had them both in my fishtank. They even swimm together always. 🙂

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