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More on SAEs

     Hi Everyone,
        I have had several people ask me why their SAE(s) are not 
     controlling the algea in their tanks. Rather than continue to respond 
     on an individual basis, I thought I would post a few of my 
     observations in the hope that we can all benefit.
        SAEs are schooling fish. My recommendation is a minium of four, six 
     is better. Adult size is approx. 5.5 to 6.5 inches, so plan 
     accordingly. Groups less than four are skittish, shy, and inactive. 
     Yes, I'm sure that there are exceptions. Mixed groups of True & False 
     SAEs are fine. SAEs seem to accept False SAEs as part of the group, 
     thus achiving the minium number needed. 
        SAEs will eat anything. They are a very effective scavenger. If you 
     are a heavy feeder of your other fish, or the fish are sloopy eaters, 
     the SAEs will gourge themselves on fish food, and eat far less algea. 
     SAEs seem to show a preference for fresh algea growth, the newest 
     tips, sprouts, etc. If you have a fair amount of algea, you can watch 
     the SAEs graze on the rocks, leaves of plants, glass, filter sponges, 
     etc, and semmly not decrease the existing algea. But if you continue 
     to observe for a period of days/weeks, you will notice that the algea 
     doesn't seem to be growing/spreading, and in some cases dying back. I 
     attribute this to the fact that the old part is dying off naturally, 
     and the new, or replacement, growth is being eaten by the SAEs.
        I have noticed that the green/brown algea that grows on the glass 
     of your aquarium ( the type that requires a scraper to get off ) is 
     the least desirable type for SAEs. They will eat it, but it seems to 
     be the last choice. That is the reason I use Panaque N. and Farws in 
     conjunction with SAEs. Their sucker type mouths are better adapted to 
     this type of algea.
        For that long, green filament algea that many people have problems 
     with, the best (IMHO) fish at controlling it are baby Chinesse Algea 
     Eaters. BUT, as many of us have found out, the undesirable habits of 
     this fish far outway its benefits. As pre-adults/adults the CAE's 
     appetite changes to other food types and it will only eat quanities of 
     algea if there is no other choice. It becomes aggressive, and will 
     prevent timid fish from obtaining food. It is a VERY poor choice for 
     the community tank, and is only an effective algea eater when young.
        For those that are interested in breeding SAEs, you will have to 
     have a moderatly planted tank, high water flow, and, to use the term 
     coined by someone on this list, be an 'Algea Farmer'. Abundent algea 
     growth seems to be a requirement for conditioning the breeders. Green 
     water and infersoria (sp?) are an absolute for the survival of the 
     young. A Daphania breeding tank is perfect for the young to survive 
     and grow in.
        I hope these observations are of help.
                        Doug Underwood