Many aquarium hobbyists introduce algae eaters, such as plecos, into their aquariums to help control the growth of algae. Plecos, or plecostomus, include several kinds of aquarium catfish species. Algae eaters are freshwater aquarium scavengers and actually require a more diverse diet to survive.
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While algae eaters subsist mainly on algae and decaying plant matter, in order to be healthy, they require a vegetable supplement to their diet. In addition to offering algae eater food such as spirulina flakes or algae wafers, offer your algae eaters fresh, boiled, or blanched vegetables once in a while. Slice vegetables into small pieces, and you can even mix greens to create a salad plecos will love.
Zucchini for freshwater aquarium scavengers
Many algae eaters, especially the Oto catfish, enjoy the occasional slice of zucchini. Before putting the zucchini into the tank, blanch it briefly in hot water to soften the vegetable and to remove any germs or dirt. Sink the piece of zucchini in the tank, after letting it cool completely.
Place it in the aquarium somewhere your algae eater will find it quickly. To give your fish the maximum amount of time to enjoy their algae eater food supplement, leave the zucchini in the tank for at least one day but no longer than two days otherwise it will rot.
Lettuce as algae eater food
Many types of fish, not only algae eaters, enjoy the addition of lettuce to their diet. Lettuce is a fairly inexpensive vegetable and most grocery stores sell several varieties. Keep in mind, though, that some varieties, such as iceberg lettuce, have fewer nutrients than romaine lettuce or green leaf.
Blanch lettuce briefly before placing it in the tank and secure it with a vegetable clip. Remember, plecos are bottom feeders so weigh sprig of lettuce down with something allowing it to rest on the bottom of the tank where algae eaters can get to it.
Broccoli for aquarium catfish species
Cooked broccoli is a favorite of many algae eaters, especially the common pleco. Prepare fresh broccoli by boiling it until it is soft but not mushy, then strain it and let it cool completely. Slice the stems of the broccoli and sink them in the tank for your algae eaters to enjoy.
You can use the tops of the broccoli if you choose, but that can be messy because the tops of broccoli break apart easily once cooked. Never feed or eat yellow broccoli florets, because this vegetable is toxic once it flowers.
Green Peas and beans for fish
Green peas are not only a great vegetable for supplementing the diet of your algae eaters, they also can help to regulate the digestion of your other fish. Goldfish in particular can benefit greatly from the fiber in green peas. Before serving peas to your fish, boil them in water and allow them to cool.
If you are using snow peas, you will need to split them after cooking and putting them into the tank. Similarly, green beans must be boiled, cooled then split before putting them in the tank. If you are using snails as algae eaters, green beans are a good vegetable choice. Snails love green beans.