Name: Gyrinocheilus aymonieri
Origin: Southeast Asia
I have had my Chinese Algae Eater for at least three years now. When I bought the fish, it was no bigger than 3 cm, and now it's a little over 15 cm. They grow very quickly, but slow down once they reach 15 cm. I have heard that this fish can reach 28 cm, but mine has seemed to stop growing. This fish becomes more aggressive as it grows, both towards its own spieces and other aggressive speices. I only have one of these in my tank and it doesn't display any agression towards the barbs and tetras that it shares its tank with. The only serious agression I saw was when I placed a male Betta in the tank with it. Although the fighting fish occaisionally picked fights with it, the chinese algae eater defended itself accordingly. Mine has its own cave that it defends under a piece of flat river rock. There has to be some form of a hiding place for this fish for it to feel comfortable in its environment. It does tend to dig in its little cave, pushing out the gravel, and it has uprooted some of my less secured plants in the past. It eats regular flake food. As my algae eater got older, it also stopped being an algae eater and relies more on flake. My algae eater tends to be shy and swims to its cave once it realizes that I'm coming, but it comes back out once I stop moving around. It definately responds to its owner, even if it doesn't swim up to the glass to check you out, it does so from a distance. I also don't think there is any reliable way of sexing this fish. The Chinese Algae Eater is a great addition to a community tank and I highly recommend it.
I have kept these fish a few times, all bigger ones that I have 'given a good home' when other people don't want them any more. Although they have a certain charm, I really wouldn't recommend them for a number of reasons, they are very aggressive and territorial, they eventually grow to a big size (20+ cm) and they can bite big chunks out of other fish with their rasping mouths! I don't understand why they are still sold for community tanks, or even worse for goldfish tanks. Best advice, don't buy them!
I've had a Chinese algae eater since he was given to me in 1984. He is about 17 cm. As he's aged the side bars are fading and he is now quite dark. I don't know how long they live. He ignores all prepared flake and pellet and still grazes on the algae that I encourage with 6500 K lamps. He hides during the day in a rock cave and comes out at night to feed. I've never seen him harrassing the other fish until they start playing dominance games with him. These he takes care of in short order, then goes back to his cave. He is tough as nails and has survived extended power outages, several moves and a couple of disease outbreaks. I've grown kind of attached to this old fish and hope he lives another 26 years.
I have kept a Chinese Algae Eater (10 cm) for several years now. Chinese Algae Eater is actually somewhat of a misnomer. It's actually a cyprinid with a sucking mouth adapted to hold onto rocks and such in swift currents. It will eat algae when youger, but increasingly turns to substrate feeding when mature. It also may become territorial when mature, with more than one large CAE in a small-medium sized tank being a bad idea. I know mine occasionally gets in scraps with my male betta over rights to the underwater cave. Luckily for my betta, he's a betta, and therefore tough as nails. Despite these considerations it's still my favorite fish in the tank. It's an athletic fish, mine occasionally darts around the tank, throwing water onto the canopy before settling into a cloud of sediment. It's also very aware of my presence in the room, sometimes checking me out for a while, before deciding whether to hide or show off his fins for me.
I have a Chinese algae eater. It's about 15 cm in length and I have it in an aggressive tank it is housed with a 25 cm red devil and a 10 cm green terror. When it was small it ate the algae and did a wonderful job, now that it is larger it has been eating the slime coat off my green terror! Not only does it do damage to my green terror, but it also goes after my 25 cm pleco. If you plan on having one of these fish, be warned the aren't what they seem.
I had one of these for a while in a 180 L tank and had to get rid of him. He was lousy at eating algae and was very detrimental to all my other fish, being territorial and aggressive to my peaceful community.