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Dichotomous Key for Algae Eating Cyprinids (and Look-Alikes)
I recently acquired 5 SAE's for my tank, and I am kind of surprised by their
appearance... I think it would be beneficial to have an easy-to-follow
dichotomous key for SAEs those looking for SAEs! Below is a proposal with
just a few species, but feel free to contribute your improvements and any
I've personally observed all the species in this Key except "False
siamensis." I included "False siamensis" in this Key because I had found
some high quality pictures of them. If you've seen any other "SAE
mistakables" (like Garra sp. or Epalzeorhynchus sp., please change the key!)
1A. Mouth is in the form of a clinging suckermouth
1B. Mouth is not in the form of a clinging suckermouth
2A. Horizontal stripe is well defined
2B. Horizontal stripe is irregular or "checkered"
Chinese Algae Eater, Gyrinocheilus aymonieri (Tirant, 1883)
3A. Dorsal fin has dark top, with white edging
Flying Fox, Epalzeorhynchus kalopterus (Bleeker, 1850)
3B. Dorsal fin does not have distinct dark top, with white edging
4A. Lower rays of dorsal fin are dark
"False siamensis," (Epalzeorhynchus sp. or Garra taeniata)
4B. Dorsal fin clear
Siamese Algae Eater, Crossocheilus siamensis (Smith, 1931)
Other Characteristics of above species:
Otocinclus sp.: Color above horizontal stripe is dark, and below is light.
Small. Often seen clinging to aquarium glass.
Chinese Algae Eater, Gyrinocheilus aymonieri: Color is a brownish-grey.
Large distinct scales.
Flying Fox, Epalzeorhynchus kalopterus: Boldly colored fish. Horizontal
stripe continues on into tail. Horizontal stripe edge smooth. Distinct
yellow stripe over dark horizontal stripe.
"False siamensis," (Epalzeorhynchus sp. or Garra taeniata): Horizontal
stripe does not continue on into tail. Horizontal stripe edge smooth.
(NOTE: Any personal observations of "False siamensis welcomed!)
Siamese Algae Eater, Crossocheilus siamensis: Horizontal stripe continues
into tail, but it is no as bold or thick through the tail as it is through
the rest of the body. Horizontal stripe edge somewhat grainy or "zig-zaggy".
Sometimes possesses lighter stripe over horizontal stripe. The light
stripes in the specimens I have observed were not so distinct as in the E.
kalopterus. Assumes peculiar resting position, raised off of the floor on
its dorsal and tail fins. Nose has a somewhat "rat-like" appearance.
Thank you Liisa Sarakontu and Neil Frank for you article "Algae-Eating
Cyprinids from Thailand and Neighboring Areas." Available Internet:
http://www.thekrib.com/Fish/Algae-Eaters/ . What an awesome article!
And thank you Aquatic Gardeners Association for your "Cyprinid Photos" page.
Available Internet: http://www.aquatic-gardeners.org/saephotos.html