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Calling All Siamese Algae Eater Owners!

Discussion in 'Freshwater Bottom Dwellers' started by pinkertd, Apr 29, 2009.

  1. pinkertd

    pinkertd Moderator
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    In early March I acquired two true SAE's from Mgamer to add to my planted 75G pleco tank. I had remembered reading in a couple of places that SAE's would eat moss and was a bit concerned about the fate of the taiwan moss I keep in that tank, but decided to take a chance anyway. I figured if they did keep it mowed down, I am also growing it in two other tanks so I should always have a decent supply of it.

    I recently added some amano shrimp to that tank and recalled reading a short blurb somewhere about SAE's and that they might eat shrimp, so I've been doing a lot of observation in that tank when the shrimp are out and about. One of the SAE's loves to perch on a large piece of driftwood in that tank. The other night while an amano also shared that stretch of driftwood with the SAE, the SAE seemed particularly active and they do tend to sometimes move a bit spastically, when I saw the amano jump, I really wasn't quite sure if the SAE was interested in the amano or not. Or whether the amano jumped at just being startled buy the quick movement of the SAE.

    This is what led me to do some more in-depth research into the SAE's and what I discovered is really quite interesting and unlike anything I've read about SAE's to date. I want to share this information with all you SAE owners out there, there are some very interesting statements I've stumbled on, and I'd like to ask you to go back and view your SAE's in an effort to try to figure out what "variety" of SAE they really are. If you're the owner of an SAE from Mgamer, please indicate that as well so we can compare thoughts.

    It seems that there is much more to the SAE identity mystery than just trying to figure out if it's True Siamese Algae Eater (Crossocheilus siamensis), Flying Fox (Epalzeorhynchus kallopterus), or False Siamese Algae Eater (Garra taeniata). "Even if you have eliminated the chance of it being a flying fox, garra, or chinese algae eater there is more to come…… what you think may be a genuine Crossocheilus siamensis may not actually be.":) Read on:

    So we know the true Siamese Algae Eater is the Crossocheilus siamensis which is often confused with the Flying Fox (Epalzeorhynchus kallopterus) and not so similar Chinese algae Eater (Gyrinocheilus aymonieri) as well as a fish known as the False Siamese Algae Eater (Garra cambodgiensis) which prefers fish food to algae.

    [​IMG]
    Garra cambodgiensis
    [​IMG]
    Epalzeorhynchus kallopterus


    The only real gem for planted tanks is the Crossocheilus siamensis as this is the one that WILL eat brush algae (red algae) unlike most other fish…. All others also rather eat fish food and will not touch any algae.

    So how do we tell them apart from a false Siamese algae Eater? Well the rule so far has been that the fins should be be all clear and the black horizontal line goes all the way to the tip of the tail. Sounds pretty easy but it seems one of those things so many get wrong…including publications (Baensch Atlas has a picture of a fake SAE instead of a true SAE in the book) and the internet has an array of wrong images listed under Siamese Algae Eater.

    You may now smugly look at your tank and think ‘YES, I have a true siamensis’ but don’t get excited yet. Even if you have eliminated the chance of it being a flying fox, garra, or chinese algae eater there is more to come……

    Intrigued as to how so many people can be confused a little research was needed…
    It seems a whole group of fish who look very similar and near identical all swim in the same habitat and these are all caught up and labeled as one of the above names and sold in the shops. So even in one tank in the shop you can have a mix of near identical fish who are actually different fish – yes it is so confusing but it gets even worse…


    What you think may be a genuine Crossocheilus siamensis may actually be :-
    Crossocheilus oblongus
    Crossocheilus Langei
    Crossocheilus atrilimes
    Crossocheilus citripinnis

    WHAT?????
    Yup these guys all swim around together in a habitat and believe me they all look like the real deal…but don’t act like the real deal when it comes to Algae.


    [​IMG]
    Crossocheilus oblongus
    [​IMG]
    Crossocheilus Langei
    [​IMG]
    Crossocheilus atrilimes

    Note that in images the coloration varies depending on stress as well as lighting etc.


    There is a whole art to telling these guys apart which comes down to shading in a certain light, the exact millimeters of the horizontal stripe as well as the barbels or lack of. To make matters worse the one and only TRUE named Crossocheilus siamensis very very rarely is imported and nearly does not exist in our tanks.

    So who is the imposter you thought was your true Siamese algae eater?

    If you are lucky it is the Crossocheilus Langei which I believe we all label as and know as the true Siamensis – these guys are the only real brush algae eaters. All the others prefer fish food….

    If you are unlucky you have the Crossocheilus atrilimes who favors soft plants and moss which makes sense to me now…. some people report their SAE eating moss etc. while others say they don’t touch theirs.

    If you have a Siamese Algae Eater and are curious as to which one you really have now here is an excellent link:
    http://math.muni.cz/~niederle/tabulka.html

    In the photo below the SAE in the back is a Citripinnis and the one in the front is a Langei (note the coloring is the same but the snout is different).
    [​IMG]

    It seems that if you want the true algae eating one (C. Langei) then look out for a dark blotch under the abdomen and litle barbles on the front then you can't go wrong:

    Crossocheilus langei
    [​IMG]
    Crossocheilus langei is the genuine Red Algae Eater.
    [​IMG]

    Crossocheilus atrilimes is a Java Moss Eater.
    [​IMG]

    The Lemon-finned Crossocheilus is similar to Crossocheilus atrilimes but possesses maxillary barbels"
    [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]

    So..........tell me what you think of this! And which type do you (and we that purchased from Mgamer) have?
     
  2. TwoTankAmin

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    I have had the false sae for sure, they were my first try and I did out them all eventually to be replaced. I am no expert but I can offer you a photo of what I felt were real SAEs in my tanks. I had to get them all together into one tank to battle a bba outbreak. You tell me what they were (most have since passed to the great tank in the sky).

    [​IMG]
     
  3. pinkertd

    pinkertd Moderator
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    Nice photo and tank!!! Without being able to see the mouths up close, I couldn't tell you. From what I've learned, since the true SAE Crossocheilus siamensis are rarely imported, C. Langei is the one you hope to end up with. Apparently it is the only one with barbels and has a black blotch in the ventral area. However, this black blotch will only appear as a small black dot on young fish. This is the only one that will indeed spend most of the day eating algae. In the photo of C. Citripinnis and C. Langei side by side, for sure you can see that the mouths are shaped differently. The ones I have at home have pointier mouths like the C. Langei and I can't wait to go home and investigate them to see if they have barbels. I love the pair I have, they seem to be very gentle and peaceful, they are always all over the plant leaves and glass doing what I think is cleaning! If you can magnify your photo, see if you detect any barbels.
     
  4. serissime

    serissime second-guessing

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    wow, I've never owned any of the above, but this is really interesting. Thanks for the information!
     
  5. jpappy789

    jpappy789 Plants need meat too

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    I love the complex, but hate ID'ing these species. I thought I actually had a Flying fox, but now I think I might have a different Crossocheilus species.
     
  6. pinkertd

    pinkertd Moderator
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    TwoTank - I just took another look at your photo and the SAE to the far right shows the dark area down by the vent....so you're correct! You had the C. Langei which are the only ones that eat algae.

    I checked mine and they have the dark vent spot and barbels, so yah, I have the Langei as well. And that is why they are not eating my moss.

    And I should add that they do not eat shrimp!
     
    #6 pinkertd, Apr 29, 2009
    Last edited: Apr 29, 2009
  7. msjinkzd

    msjinkzd AC Members

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    very interesting, great post. Maybe we should take some of those images and information to add to the sae sticky
     
  8. KarlTh

    KarlTh AC Members

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    To be fair, even Baensch struggled; the picture of C. siamensis in Baensch 1 manifestly and famously is no such thing.
     
  9. noodles62

    noodles62 Just Noods......

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    Interesting article Deb. I also purchased 3 from MG. I know that they have two little barbels (1 on each side of the mouth). I will look for the dark patch on the abdomen when I get home. I really love the little guys. They are so fun to watch them swim around in their spastic little way, they are quite pretty and very peaceful. I can't wait til they are big enough to put in my main tank. (It has a hungry Angel in it!) LOL
     
  10. fishorama

    fishorama AC Members

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    I keep changing my mind about which 2 species of crossocheilus I have. Seeing the mouth differences I now think 1 might be citripinnus. As a youngster it looked like a "true" SAE. After a year or so it's fins started to get yellowish, I thought oblongus. Gradually it's mouth has changed, I thought maybe due to injury or disease. It has some difficulty eating & is now housed with other same sized fish with more competition. It's fins are now quite yellow with a little whitishness.

    The other 3 I bought together & have the dark vent area but the largest (that lives with the "citripinnus") is now, at 4-5 inches, showing a tinge of yellow in the fins. Only the other 2 have any moss in their tank & they seem to ignore it.

    All are avid fish food eaters & constant grazers. Neither tank has BBA but both have diatoms & GSA, they are grazed but not controlled. The younger 3 did control BBA in another tank when small as did the "citripinnus".

    I'm as confused as ever. I'll look for barbels.
     

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