How Do You Know If Your Algae Eater Is Dying? (6 Symptoms)

An algae eater is the perfect option to clean up and slow down the algae growth in your fish tank naturally. Besides eating up algae and keeping your tank surface and water clear, an algae eater balances metabolic compounds like ammonia and phosphate. That helps to maintain the tiny ecosystem. 

However, this little worker of your fish tank can face immature death for many reasons. So it’s important to know if your algae eater is dying? What is the cause? And how to prevent that. 

Let’s figure out the facts.

Algae Eater is dying symptoms

What Is The Lifespan of An Algae Eater?

Normally a typical algae eater can live around ten years. In the wild condition, the lifespan can extend to five years more. Moreover, algae eaters have a really tough life. They can sustain up to 30 hours without water. And 3 to 7 days without eating.

How Do You Know If Your Algae Eater Is Dying? (Symptoms Explained)

Understanding the dying state of an algae eater is not a difficult task. They are slow movers, even though you rarely find them swimming. But they have a particular posture of activity and wellness. They will change their position frequently, continue to eat, look healthy, and grow fast. With regular monitoring and watchfulness, you can easily find out if your algae eater is showing any symptoms of dying. 

1. Unusual Eating

Your algae eater will stop eating obtrusively. It will be a sloth and lessen the reaction towards food. You will easily notice that they will stop sucking the surface of the fish tank.

2. Physical symptoms

It will fade in color, turning into greyish white or discoloration. It will start to lose its healthy outer layer. Besides that, your algae eater will stop growing. 

3. Microbial Infections

You will notice unusual white or fuzzy slime-like growth around the eyes and body of algae eaters caused by bacteria or mold attacks. 

4. Impaired breathing

Your algae eater will face shortness of breath and hard breathing if it’s facing any scarcity of oxygen or any other respiratory discomforts. 

5. Visible damage

Torn or damaged fins, tails of an algae eater can indicate other fishes are bullying it. It can be a sign of intense injuries. 

6. Ultimate symptom of death

Lastly, the fish will start to float on the upper surface of the tank. And after some time, it will die. As long as you see any of these symptoms, help your algae eater before it goes worse.

What Kills an Algae Eater?

It’s not prominent exactly what kills an algae eater. But there are a couple of factors that can impact the health and the lifespan of an algae eater. These factors can vary from tank to tank. Which are, 

A Lack of Food 

Natural algae grown from the leftover food in tanks is the main source of food for an algae eater though it needs to be supplied food. If your tank is crowded or the oxygen circulation is stronger, then it can retard the growth of algae. As a result, your algae eater is left unfed. 

Improper Nutrition 

With plenty of food available, your algae eater can still get malnourished. It can happen from lack of eating caused by monotonous diet, depression among your algae eater, low quality of food and so on. 

Fungus or Bacterial Infection 

White or black mold in fuzzy texture can appear on your fish tank wall. Also, improper maintenance, distorted pH balance of the water can elevate such bacterial and fungal growth. As a result, your algae eater and other fish will be affected if left unattended.

Ich or Respiratory Issues

Algae eaters love to roam around the bottom surface of the fish tank. They can easily suffer from oxygen deficiency if the supply is inadequate, leading these algae eaters to Ich, shortness of breath and other respiratory complications. 

Apart from these primary causes, some other factors can be threatening for an algae eater. 

  • Your fish tank is too big or small for an algae eater. A big tank will suppress the fish with immense water pressure. On the other hand, a small tank will limit its activities. 
  • If you are keeping aggressive fish like Fighter, Red Shark with an algae eater, they will rage on your algae eater for sure. 
  • Multiple numbers of algae eaters in one tank can raise survival distortion among the fishes. Like scarcity of food, competition, and fights. 
  • Low quality of fish food can be another reason for the undernutrition of algae eaters. 
  • Species with a low lifespan or infection will lead your algae eater to sudden death. 
  • Using aquarium salt or other fish tank chemicals in rough amounts can affect the life of algae eaters. 

How to Save Your Algae Eater From Dying? 

Death is inevitable, but early death is preventable. Take these measures accordingly whenever you notice any of the symptoms mentioned above in your algae eater. 

  • Move the algae eater in a separate tank if you are not sure why it’s not active. Provide food, especially algae and veggies. And record the improvement.
  • If you notice any fungal or bacterial growth on algae eaters, quarantine them before affecting other fishes. Check the water parameters like ph and microbial growth. Use the antibacterial solution as per the need.
  • For breathing issues, ensure proper oxygen supply. Move them to another tank and circulate oxygen if possible. 
  • If an aggressive fish attacks the algae eater, then transfer any of them to provide a proper environment to both. 
  • For utmost satisfaction or any other complications, you can call a vet. Take expert suggestions and implement the solutions accordingly. 


Algae eaters are the best participant in your fish tank. They help you to keep your tank clean and maintain the harmony of the particular ecosystem. They deserve a special reward, care and attention. 

So, whenever you notice any unusualness in your algae eater, please don’t leave them unattended. Now you know if your algae eater is dying or suffering from anything. Spot the symptoms, help your algae eater, and terminate the problems. Wish your algae eater lives long and healthy!

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