Can Algae Eaters Live In Cold Water? {What Are Their Ideal Temperatures?}

Would you like to find a suitable Algae Eater for your cold water aquarium, are you wondering Can Algae Eaters Live In Cold Water?

Which Algae Eaters will be harmed and which will remain happy and hardy? In this article, we’ll explore the topic of keeping Algae Eaters in a cold water tank.

Can Algae Eaters Live In Cold Water?

Algae Eaters are mostly sensitive to poor water chemistry, but cold temperatures can also be stressful. A few great options for cold water Algae Eaters include Snails, American Flag Fish, Hillstream Loach or Bristlenose Pleco.

How Much Cold Can An Algae Eater Handle?

Cold water tanks are an exciting addition to keeping a natural ecosystem without using a heater. They require careful planning for which types of aquatic life  you wish to keep under cold temperatures.

Algae Eaters vary, but most algae eating fish enjoy a medium to low flowrate and are used to fast flowing waters in their natural habitats. The temperature rarely falls below 70°F in most climates.

Some Algae Eaters can withstand temperatures as cool as 60-72°F including:

  • Hillstream Loaches
  • Bristlenose Pleco
  • Snails
  • American Flag Fish

Do Algae Eaters Need A Heater?

You will need to check each species of Algae Eater for the temperature range that keeps them healthy and thriving. Although a Bristlenose Pleco can withstand temperatures lower than 60°F, they prefer a range closer to 72-82°F.

Preference and tolerance are two different things. If you wish for your Algae Eaters to be able to tolerate some cooler temperatures for temporary amounts of time, then you can forgo a heater for most types.

If you can keep a heater to be in control of the water temperature, you will be able to find the happy medium to balance out the temperature needs for all of your aquatic life in your community tank. The general rule of thumb for a heater is:

  • 5 watts of power per gallon of water

What Is The Best Cold Water Algae Eater?

The best cold water Algae Eater will always be up for debate. We will answer the question in two ways:

  1. Easiest cold water Algae Eater = Freshwater snails (Nerite Snail , Mystery Snail, etc.)
  2. Best Cold Water Algae Eating Fish = American Flag Fish

1. Freshwater Snails

Freshwater snails can withstand cool temperatures and remain comfortable within a range of 65-82°F. They are cheap, easy to care for and will do their best to eat up detritus and algae in your tank.

The Nerite Snail is our favorite for its ability to focus more on algae than anything else and it remains one of the hardiest snails around. They can also be housed in saltwater tanks.

2. American Flag Fish

The striking appearance of the American Flag Fish (Jordanella floridae) with a frame extending only 2.5 inches is enough for us to desire their addition to a cold water tank. What’s even better is that they can withstand temperatures at 64-72°F.

This pupfish, is a type of killifish, from the Cyprinodontidae family. They will brighten up your tank and consume hair algae, microalgae and attack the hard to reach spots that are difficult to clean.

YouTube video

Which Algae Eaters Like Cold Water?

The temperature range is wide enough for most Algae Eaters to be comfortable in heated tanks at or around 70-80°F.  The following list of Algae Eaters would be welcome additions to your cold water tank:

Flying Fox (68-78°F)

A 30 gallon tank is the smallest tank required, but a Flying Fox is very fast and active. They expel a lot of energy and will need more than algae to keep up with their needs. They may also nibble on plants. Try not to keep them in waters cooler than 68°F.

Pond Loach (68-76°F)

A Pond Loach is peaceful and hardy in your cold water tank. They get along with other algae eaters and mind their own business. Spikes in ammonia don’t affect them as harshly as many other Algae Eaters.

Besides offering up all the algae they can eat, it’s a good idea to give them larvae as they enjoy feeding off insects in the wild.

Mystery Snail (64-84 °F)

One of our favorite algae eating snails is the Mystery Snail. They will consume algae and leftovers making them a perfect member of the cold water community tank.

They produce a lot of waste, so filtration would be wise. They will multiply with many eggs. You may wish to remove these eggs before they overpopulate and become a nuisance.

What Are The Best Algae Eaters?

Not all Algae Eaters can handle cold water temperatures over prolonged periods. They may reduce their activity and give up eating altogether when stressed. Make sure to keep the water to their liking.

An ideal temperature range is offered below next to each popular Algae Eater for your reference.

  • Siamese Algae Eater: 75°F to 79°F
  • Twig Catfish: 75 to 79°F
  • Chinese Algae Eater: 72 to 82°F
  • Otocinclus Catfish: 72 to 82°F
  • Bristlenose Pleco: 72 to 82°F
  • Nerite Snail: 65 to 85°F 
  • Amano Shrimp:65°-85°F
  • American Flagfish 64 to 72°F
  • Cherry Shrimp: 59 to 84°F


If you are choosing to manage and enjoy a cold water aquarium, you should definitely include some hardy Algae Eaters. We hope our lists above and recommendations help you decide which Algae Eaters are right for you.

Our favorite continues to be the American Flag Fish for its beauty and ability to reach the toughest spots where algae persists. Nerite Snails are a close second for their hardiness, overall ease of keeping and convenience.

The best algae cleaner in the end is you. No matter what we expect, the task of keeping our tanks clean relies heavily on our routines to take care of healthy ecosystems and thriving aquatic life.


Thank you for stopping by at We have plenty of articles on a wide variety of aquatic life that may also pique your interest. See you again soon!

Brian Arial

Brian Arial has kept fish for leisure and worked with fish stores for most of his life. He enjoys writing and caring for aquariums and ponds.