What Eats Black Beard Algae? {Full List Here}

Are you frustrated with persistent Black Beard Algae growth and you’re here for a solution? Do you know which species of fish, shrimp and snails can work with you to defeat this reoccurring nuisance? You’ve arrived at the right place if you need some helpers to eat up Black Beard Algae.

What Eats Black Beard Algae? This difficult to remove algae can be softened up by CO2 injections, adding more live plants, then letting Florida Flag Fish, Flying Foxes, Cherry Shrimp, Nerite Snails and Siamese Algae Eaters feast on Black Beard Algae. 

What Is Black Beard Algae?

This stubborn subtype of red algae can also appear as blue or green. It resembles dark looking hair that doesn’t wish to leave your aquarium once it has arrived.

Also referred to as Black Brush Algae, this persistent type of algae grows on:

  • stems
  • leaves
  • rocks
  • decorations

You may have had this algae introduced through the addition of new decorations, plants and fish, but now it’s time to get rid of it.

How Do I Get Rid Of Black Beard Algae In My Fish Tank?

We have dedicated another article on how you can work on this issue by yourself, but today’s topic involves helpers from within your aquarium.

Black Beard Algae thrives on:

  • high phosphate
  • excess vitamin B12 in the water column
  • above average concentration of calcium
  • low carbon dioxide aquariums

Injections of carbon dioxide, adding more live plants, hydrogen peroxide and good old fashioned tank cleaning is explained in deeper details in our next article (How Do I Get Rid Of Black Beard Algae In My Fish Tank?)

Thankfully, you don’t need to go at this alone. Are you ready to bring in some help? It’s time to bring in the Black Beard Algae eaters!

What Will Eat Black Beard Algae?

Before you cross your fingers and wish for your algae eaters to get to work, you can help to soften up the Black Beard Algae with CO2 injections available in canisters at your local fish shop.

You can also purchase liquid carbon, but we recommend injecting CO2 for the safety of your aquatic life compared to large quantities of carbon poured into the tank. Now it’s time we bring in our aquatic companions to help us out:

  • Florida Flag Fish
  • Golden Algae Eaters
  • Chinese Algae Eaters
  • Flying Foxes
  • Bristlenose Plecos
  • Rubber Lipped Pleco
  • Siamese Algae Eaters
  • Black Molly 
  • Twig Catfish
  • Otocinclus Catfish
  • Rosy Barb
  • Cherry Barb
  • Nerite Snail 
  • Mystery Snail
  • Malaysian Trumpet Snail
  • Cherry Shrimp
  • Amano Shrimp
  • Cardinal Shrimp

The list is large and we’re here to provide as many examples as possible. If you read further, we’ll focus on some of our favorites to eat that Black Beard Algae in your tank.

6 Fish That Eat Black Beard Algae

  1. Florida Flag Fish 
  2. Chinese Algae Eater
  3. Flying Fox
  4. Rubber Lip Plecostomus
  5. Twig Catfish
  6. Siamese Algae Eater

The following 6 fish reached the top of our list to eat Black Beard Algae. Let us know about your experiences by emailing us. You may have a different ranking order, but we’re going to explain why these 6 made our list today:

Fish #1: Florida Flag Fish

The Florida Flag Fish is also referred to the American Flag Fish. Although they may only grow to about 2 inches in length, these killifish have a ferocious appetite for algae. They are one of the least pickiest eaters we’ve ever come across in this hobby.

They are hardy, peaceful and quite attractive to add in your community tank. Let the Florida Flag Fish get to work on your Black Beard Algae problem and thank us later.

Fish #2: Chinese Algae Eater

Some of you may not agree with this selection for two reasons:

  1. Adult Chinese Algae Eaters grow to around 10 inches.
  2. They get aggressive in smaller tanks or when there are too many tankmates.

With the negatives out of the way, let’s focus on how much Black Beard Algae these Chinese Algae Eaters can actually consume. Bring them into your tank as hungry adolescents and watch them go to work.

If you have the space and do not wish to populate your tank with many varieties or quantities of fish, then you can rest assured that the Chinese Algae Eater has your back when it comes to devouring Black Beard Algae.

Fish #3: Flying Fox

Although it is easily mislabeled or mistaken as a Siamese Algae Eater, Flying Foxes are a freshwater fish that thrives off eating mostly green algae.

We have had success with introducing flying foxes in our tanks to clean up and munch on Black Beard Algae that we have initially softened up with CO2 injections.

The Flying Fox and the Siamese Algae Eater both have a black stripe running along their bodies, but the Flying Fox has a smoother edge to the stripe compared to the jagged looking edges of the Siamese Algae Eaters.

Fish #4: Rubber Lip Plecostomus

You may have heard them being referred to as Bulldog Plecos partly due to their less desired appearance compared to the more popular Bristlenose Pleco, but these fish can truly devour Black Beard Algae.

The Rubber Lip Pleco is a hard worker, but make sure to give them enough room in a tank over 25 gallons to allow them the room to maneuver.

This is our favorite algae eating pleco for their determination to pick at the toughest strains including the elusive Black Beard Algae.

Fish #5: Twig Catfish

We love the appearance of Twig Catfish, but we acknowledge its shy nature. The tankmates of Twig Catfish shouldn’t compete with its effort to eliminate your algae problem or they may retreat and hide.

With a thin body and average length of 6 inches, they can can fit into 20 gallon tank, but prefer 30 gallons or more if possible. Keep the water as pristine as possible and provide some current to mimic their natural environments so they can happily take care of your Black Beard Algae problem.

Fish #6: Siamese Algae Eater

We round out the top 6 Black Beard Algae eating fish with the Siamese Algae Eater. The most common and popular fish for your algae problem is right here and ready to work. You want to introduce them as juveniles when the Siamese Algae Eater only cares about feasting on algae alone.

They will pick at Black Beard Algae even when it’s rough, stiff and hasn’t been softened or loosened up yet. Once your Siamese Algae Eater grows into an adult, a varied diet becomes more common as they start looking for more sources of food.

YouTube video

3 Shrimp That Eat Black Beard Algae

Your fish are not the only helpers that wish to eat up Black Beard Algae. We’ve enlisted the help of our favorite shrimp to include in community tanks for the purpose of eating algae. Here are our top 3 in no particular order:

  1. Cherry Shrimp
  2. Amano Shrimp
  3. Cardinal Shrimp

Shrimp #1: Cherry Shrimp

These ornamental shrimp will not only eat green algae, hair algae and Black Beard Algae, they’ll take care of detritus and leftovers as well. Cherry shrimp are very common and inexpensive to purchase. They breed quickly and easily to expand their algae eating army.

Shrimp #2: Amano Shrimp

Amano shrimp grow larger than Cherry shrimp at about 2 inches. The added size gives them the appetite advantage to eat more bites of Black Beard Algae in your tank. The only downfall is that they won’t breed in your freshwater tank and are pricier than most ornamental shrimp.

Shrimp #3: Cardinal Shrimp

The Cardinal shrimp is part of the Sulawesi family that thrives on algae. They will help you with Black Beard Algae consumption, but they demand a lot in return. The water quality must be more pristine and parameters cannot fluctuate as much as they can for other shrimp species.

3 Snails That Eat Black Beard Algae

We complete our focus of aquatic life that eat Black Beard Algae by including some of the best snails that are also fit for this job. Welcome our top 3 Black Beard Algae eating snails in the list below:

  1. Nerite Snail
  2. Mystery Snail
  3. Malaysian Trumpet Snail

Snail #1: Nerite Snails

Nerite snails are extremely popular in this hobby for their ability to devour the toughest forms of algae from hair to brush types including Black Beard Algae. Relatively inexpensive and highly mobile, the Nerite snail will spend it’s time in your tank with a focus on taking care of any algae problems you may have.

Snail #2: Mystery Snails

Common and characteristically appealing, the Mystery snail is a welcome addition to many aquariums as detritivores who eat many types of algae. Since they can grow up to 2 inches, the Mystery snail can pack a punch with its appetite to take down their fair share of Black Beard Algae.

Snail #3: Malaysian Trumpet Snail

The Malaysian Trumpet snail breeds rapidly under the right conditions and loves digging into the substrate for bits of leftover debris. The Black Beard Algae growth must be contained along the bottom layer of the tank for Malaysian Trumpet Snails to be interested in nibbling on it.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Will Any Fish Eat Black Beard Algae?

Unfortunately no. Black Beard Algae tends to cling tightly to surfaces like rocks and decorations along with leaves on live plants. It is difficult to remove by hand and most fish who may show some interest in taking a bite may fail due the difficulty of tearing off pieces.

A Siamese Algae Eater or Florida Flag Fish will be more successful than most fish in eating Black Beard Algae.

2. Does Anything Eat Black Hair Algae?

Many types of fish including, Florida Flag Fish, Siamese Algae Eaters, Twig Catfish and invertebrates such as Nerite or Mystery snails eat Black Beard Algae.

It is not fair to say that anything will eat Black Beard Algae due to its rough texture and the unique feeding preferences of various aquatic life.

3. Do Mollies Eat Black Beard Algae?

Yes. Certain live bearers such as Molly fish nibble on various types of algae including Black Beard Algae. Since this type of algae clings firmly to surfaces in your tank, your Mollies may have difficulty removing bite sized pieces and may move onto other food sources or types of algae that are easier to consume.

4. Do Snails Eat Black Beard Algae?

Yes. Snails are invertebrates capable of devouring the toughest algae growth including Black Beard Algae. Keep in mind that many snails such as Pond Snails breed rapidly and can become a nuisance themselves. Nerite Snails do a great job at focusing on algae consumption throughout the day.

5. Do Nerite Snails Eat Black Beard Algae?

Nerite Snails are our favorite algae eating snail. They make their way across the entire tank in their search for algae. They do not discriminate between the varieties of algae and will do their best in their diminutive size to consume as much Black Beard Algae as possible.

6. Do Otocinclus Eat Black Beard Algae?

Yes. Otos are easy to keep for beginner aquarists due to their peaceful nature and desire to dwell on the bottom layer of the tank while keeping to themselves as they graze on various forms of algae. They can grind down tougher bits of Black Beard Algae better than most fish and are recommended for this reason.

7. Will Flying Fox Eat Black Beard Algae?

Flying Foxes are fish that are commonly mistaken for Siamese Algae Eaters, but are equally useful in their ability to munch on Black Beard Algae. The main difference here is the Flying Foxes can be more aggressive or territorial and their black stripe along their body has a smoother edge compared to Siamese Algae Eaters.


We hope that are in depth article focusing on Black Beard Algae eaters will help to control, remove and hopefully eliminate the build up of this unwanted intrusion in your tank.

If you would like to learn more about treatment and prevention, continue on and check out our article on How Do I Get Rid Of Black Beard Algae In My Fish Tank.


Thanks for visiting HelpUsFish.com with your concerns or curiosity surrounding Black Beard Algae. We have plenty more informative articles on algae and other aquatic life that may also be of interest to you. See you 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.

Recent Posts