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SAE dietary preferences

To address the question about whether SAEs will continuously eat algae, or 
will ultimately develop a taste for flakes or other things I can say that 
they will develop a taste for other things.  Those other things include 
just about anything you feed your fish with as well as your fine-leaved 
plants.  I have seen them nibble on Mayaca fluviatilis and they decimated 
my Rotala wallichii; I had to pull the latter out.  I would add that mine 
(which are "real" SAEs so far as anybody can tell) ignore what we commonly 
call hair algae, much to my dismay since this species of algae grows 
inconveniantly at the base of Echinodorus tenellus in the foreground (and 
so is hard to get out with a toothbrush).

Personally, I am not that impressed with the algae-eating behavior of SAEs 
and wish there were more other alternatives.  I also use Otocinclus and 
ghost shrimp (which do eat hair algae to some extent), but they feed 
differently than SAEs.  Someone's comment that one needs to have a variety 
of algae eaters is well taken.  

The other thing I don't care for about SAEs is their tendency to get 
territorial toward their own kind.  I had three in a 20gal tank and the 
slightly larger, and therefore dominant, one always chased the other two 
away from food.  They actually starved to death.  Now the dominant one is 
alone and will remain that way.

To say something nice about SAEs - they seem to graze very delicately over 
the surface of leaves and perhaps they stop the adherence of algae from the 
start; this would be impossible for the aquarist to see and is a very 
useful thing since algae is stopped before it starts.  So, I keep them 
around.  I do regret the demise of the Rotala though; it was a very nice 

Roxanne Bittman

Please note new email address:
Roxanne Bittman, Botanist                    Natural Diversity Database
Phone: (916) 323-8970                 __o    CA Dept of Fish and Game
Fax:   (916) 324-0475               _ \<_    1220 S St
Internet rbittman at kirk_dfg.ca.gov  ( )/( )   Sacramento, CA 95814