Do Algae Eaters Eat Dead Fish? {Is That OK?}

Algae eaters stepping out of bounds and eating other fish is a big no-no for me. Do algae eaters eat dead fish and is that ok?

Why do they eat other fish? Are algae eaters carnivores?

In this article, we will find out about algae eaters eating dead fish and any possible dangers that could result.

Do Algae Eaters Eat Dead Fish?

Yes, an algae eater will happily eat a dead fish if they have access to it.  They have also been known to eat live fish.

Algae eaters will not typically eat a dead fish unless they are:

  • very hungry 
  • younger
  • lack of detritus 
  • lack of algae
  • no other food sources (algae wafers)

As long as you feed them regularly they will have no interest in eating fish, dead or alive.

Do Algae Eaters Eat Dead Fish

Is It OK For Algae Eater To Eat Dead Fish?

Yes, it is perfectly safe for your algae eater to eat dead fish as long as the dead fish has not started to decay.

If you notice a dead fish in your aquarium you should remove them as soon as you can.  If they start to decay this will cause issues if other fish eat them and it will also reduce the water quality in your tank.

Furthermore your other fish will also be more vulnerable to diseases. If you do have a dead fish in your aquarium I recommend you do the following:

  1. Remove the dead fish as soon as possible.
  2. Clean the tanks filter.
  3. Change 40% of the tank’s water.
  4. Perform a water quality test (Using a tester kit).

Should I Let My Algae Eater To Eat Dead Fish?

It is not recommended to let your algae eater to eat dead fish if you can help it.

The fish could have died from a disease and if another fish eats them this could be bad news for that fish.

If the dead fish has been dead for a few days, they will also start to decay which can spell bad news for your fish and the water quality.

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Do Chinese or Siamese Algae Eater Eat Dead Fish?

Yes, a Chinese or Siamese Algae Eater are typically aggressive fish and will attack other fish when they come near.

They like to scare off other fish and will nip at them to keep them away. From time to time they will bite off flesh from other fish and will eat it.

Why Is My Algae Eater Attacking Other Fish?

If an algae eater is not frequently fed they are known to attack other fish and feed on them to get the nutrients they require.

Some algae eaters are more aggressive then others such as Chinese or Siamese Algae Eater and are known to be constantly nipping at other fish.

Generally speaking if you feed your algae eaters frequently you will not have any issues with them nipping or eating other fish.

Do Algae Eaters Play Dead?

Yes. Algae eaters are at the bottom of the tank because they:

  • Feast off detritus and leftovers
  • Pick algae around the substrate
  • Shy away from the rest of their tankmates
  • Wish to be left alone

Algae eaters are generally not very social. They will try to hide when schools of fish approach. Some are great at burrowing into the substrate to hide while others play dead.

Another example is when an algae eater attaches itself to a stone or piece of gravel while removing the algae. Suddenly the current flows and they get swept away.

This makes you think they are dead, but they are so obsessed about sucking up the algae that they lose buoyancy when they stop swimming.

Are Algae Eaters Carnivores?

Algae eaters are opportunistic scavengers and mostly omnivores. They are not just looking for algae when there are sources of food available. Here’s a few items that should be on the menu for most algae eaters:

  • red slime algae
  • green film algae
  • hair algae
  • diatoms
  • cyanobacteria
  • brown film algae
  • detritus
  • microalgae

When these options above are unavailable or not enough, an algae eater could feed off dead fish carcasses that should be removed.

Why Do Algae Eaters Eat Other Fish?

Algae eaters will eat dead or alive fish when there are few factors at play. Here are some examples:

  • Lack of available algae
  • Not being fed enough
  • Not being fed at all
  • Dead fish not being removed
  • Not eating fish, but only sucking off their slime coat
  • Attaching to sides of fish

Take a look to see if this algae eater is actually eating the dead or alive fish. They might just be feeding off their slime coating and attaching themselves temporarily to those fish for any available nutrients on its exterior.


Poorly fed, underfed or never fed algae eaters are going to eat what they can to gain enough nourishment. Leaving them to consume only the algae in your tank might not be enough nutrition and will lead them to look for any food they can find.


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Hello, I'm Jason. I'm the guy behind I volunteer at my local fish shop and I created this site to offer tips and advice on the fish I care for.