What is the Best Algae Eater for an Axolotl Tank?

What is the best algae eater for an axolotl tank? We look at the best algae eaters and their feeding guide with an axolotl.

Algae eaters that are carefully selected, such as minnows, guppies, large apple snails, can be added to the tank.

This article looks at what algae eaters are safest to add to an axolotl tank, what things to avoid, algae-removing alternatives, and how to feed algae eaters in an axolotl tank.

Can Algae Eaters Live With Axolotls?

If safe guidelines are followed and the tank inhabitants are carefully observed to ensure they’re getting along, algae eaters can live with axolotls.

Axolotl looking at you

What are the Axolotl Water Parameters that Algae Eaters Have to Match?

Like the axolotl, your algae eater will need to be compatible with 60-75 degrees Fahrenheit water temperatures, no direct sunlight, and have a disposition towards aged tap water with an amphibian-safe water conditioner remove chlorine. 

Your algae eater should also be able to live in a tank with a water pH of 6.5-8 and in water without ammonia, nitrates, and nitrites.

How Do You Know If an Algae Eater Will be Compatible with an Axolotl? 

Here is how to know if an algae eater will be compatible with your axolotl:

  • Axolotls have very soft membranes, so any fish or snail with boney spines or small exoskeletons may pose a choking hazard or cause impaction, leading to your axolotl passing away.
  • Any too aggressive fish may see your axolotl’s gills or fins as something to eat and may nip at your axolotl, causing stress and injury.
  • Any tank which becomes overpopulated may cause too much activity for axolotls, as they are mainly sedentary amphibians who enjoy solitude, and the overpopulation may cause chronic stress.
  • Any fish you add to an axolotl tank may eventually end up as axolotl food as axolotl are hungry carnivores, so this possibility of being eaten should be kept in mind when adding anything in your tank.

What Algae Eaters are Incompatible with Axolotls?

Here is a list of algae eaters that are harmful to axolotls:

  • Goldfish: They are known for being fin nippers, which means they may nip at the fins and gills of your axolotl, causing stress and injury. Goldfish are also impactful waste producers, which can be detrimental to your water parameters that axolotl need to be at a high level of cleanliness.
  • Small snails (Bladder snails, Ramshorn snails): Any small snail put into the tank with an axolotl may get swallowed and eaten, which can cause choking or impaction and can be dangerous for your axolotl.
  • Cory Catfish: Coming with sharp spines on their top and bottom fins, these catfish are hazardous and can cause injury if swallowed. And as they also enjoy scavenging on the bottom of the tank floor, they will also be in direct competition with you axolotl.
  • Otocinclus Catfish: Similar to the cory catfish, it also has harmful spines if swallowed. They are also quick swimmers who enjoy fast-moving water, not slow axolotl water, and it may swim around the tank at high speed, disturbing your axolotl.
  • Freshwater Shrimp, Amano Shrimp, and Ghost Shrimp: These shrimps are excellent tank cleaners but are typically used as treats for axolotls and will get eaten over time.

What Algae Eater can Live with Axolotls?

Here is a list of the best algae eaters that can live with axolotls:

  • White Cloud Mountain Minnows: These are small, peaceful, cool-water algae eaters that make fair axolotl tank companions. They do not have spines or shells, making them safe to eat if they are swallowed. Minnows are fast swimmers but may be caught off-guard and get eaten now and again.
  • Guppies: Swimming slower than minnows, guppies will get eaten more frequently. If you have several guppies, they reproduce quickly, and guppy fry is often fed to axolotl as a treat. Be aware that the high overpopulation of guppy fry can lead to axolotl stress.
  • Zebra Danios: These are agile algae eaters that like to keep their shoals away from axolotl. They may also be eaten if caught off-guard, so you may notice some disappear every once in a while.
  • (Adult) Apple Snails: An excellent, albeit slow-moving source of algae-cleaning, these snails are large enough that your axolotl won’t be able to fit it in its mouth to eat it. Ensure that the apple snail’s shell is wider than your axolotl’s mouth.

For more information on types of compatible axolotl tank algae eaters, check out this article by Aquarium Store Depot.

How Do You Feed Your Algae Eater Along With an Axolotl?

Here is a list of feeding guides to help your algae eater thrive in an axolotl tank:

  • White Cloud Mountain Minnows: They can be supplemented with a variety of living, frozen, or flake food on top of cleaning the algae.
  • Guppies can be supplemented with insect larvae and high-quality fish flake food.
  • Zebra Danios: Able to eat various foods, they can be supplemented with flake food, bloodworms, algae wafers, and vegetables like zucchini, cucumber, and spinach.
  • (Adult) Apple Snails: These snails can be supplemented with cucumber, spinach, lettuce, fish food, and other live food like brine shrimp.

What Are Some Safe Algae-removing Alternatives Other than Algae Eaters?

Here are some safe algae-removing alternatives for your axolotl tank:

  • Food Reduction: When feeding your axolotl, you will learn their ideal portion size and over-feed them less, leading to less food waste left in the tank, leading to algae growth.
  • Low or Dim Lighting: Algae needs a large amount of light to facilitate growth, so a reduction in lighting will inhibit this. It will also mimic your axolotl’s preferred lighting, dimmer than average.
  • Increase Water Changes: Changing the frequency of water changes, so they’re more frequent will clean the water and give your algae less to grow off of. It is best to keep these water changes small and frequent, as axolotls are sensitive to large water changes.
  • Ensure Your Filter is Working: An axolotl tank should have a filter with a drip outlet to keep the current to a minimum. Check the filter and make sure it’s working correctly, as a functioning filter can clean the water and significantly reduce algae growth. 
  • Manual Cleaning: Taking a chemical-free scrub pad or razor and manually removing the algae can be the most effective way to remove it and works for quick algae fix.
  • Aquatic Plants: A planted tank with plenty of plants does an excellent job at helping keep the water clean and works well in step with a mechanical filter.
  • Liquid Carbon Solution: As a worst-case scenario, a liquid carbon solution can be used to spot algae treatment.

For more information on algae alternatives, this article by Axolotl Nerd goes in-depth on the topic.


Axolotls are an enriching pet to take care of. However, due to their delicate nature, some species of algae eaters will and will not work with axolotls. As long as algae eaters are carefully selected before being added to the tank, you’ll be able to enjoy a cleaner tank worry-free with your axolotl.


My name is Jaap, and I am a passionate shrimp and fish enthusiast. I rediscovered my love for this hobby with my son and want to share our knowledge and tips with you on this aquarium blog. We cover topics such as setting up and maintaining an aquarium, feeding and breeding your shrimp and fish, and creating the perfect environment for them to thrive.

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