7 Common Saltwater Fish that Eat Hair Algae (With Pictures)

Saltwater fish that eats hair algae

Hair algae are a nuisance and can quickly spread in a marine aquarium.

Getting rid of these algae is challenging and time-consuming.

There are several methods to eliminate hair algae.

However, introducing algae-eaters in your marine aquarium is the best and safest option.

So let’s learn more about the different saltwater fish species that eat hair algae.

1. Blennies


There are over 900 species of blenny fish, each differing in appearance.

Their coloration also varies widely depending on the species.

Blenny fish primarily inhabit the tropical regions of the Indo-Pacific Ocean.

Most blennies have elongated bodies with large eyes and heads.

Many species of blennies are known to feed on different types of algae, including hair algae.

Some of the blenny species that eat hair algae are mentioned below.

A) Lawnmower Blennies

Lawnmower blennies or Sailfin blennies are popular among aquarists for their unique appearance.

They’ve slender brown bodies with bushy eyebrows, bulging eyes, and a single dorsal fin extending the whole length of their body.

These fish have a reputation of eating different types of algae, with filamentous algae as their favorite.

They also eat hair algae, but in moderation.

The only problem with lawnmower blennies is that they can get territorial toward similar species and other algae grazers.

So their tankmates must be chosen carefully while housing them in a community aquarium.

B) Starry Blennies

Starry blennies inhabit the Pacific and Indian oceans, near Australia and the Philippines.

They prefer coral reefs or shallow rocky areas where they can safeguard themselves from potential predators.

These fish are peaceful and can be an excellent addition to a marine aquarium.

Starry blennies do eat hair algae but not as much as they prefer other types of algae.

In captivity, you can feed them fish flakes, pellets, veggies, live and frozen worms, shrimp, etc.

Along with supplement food, they need ample algae in their daily diet to meet their nutritional needs.

C) Combtooth Blennies

Combtooth blennies are popular marine fish belonging to the Blenniidae family.

They’re found in the tropical and subtropical waters of the Indian, Atlantic, and Pacific Oceans.

Their colorful appearance and high activity levels make them one of the most popular fish in the marine aquarium hobby.

Combtooth blennies have comb-like teeth lining their jaws. These teeth help them scrape hair algae from glass and rocks.

They also eat microalgae, blue-green algae, filamentous green, and detritus.

D) Other Blennies

Some other blenny species known to eat hair algae are:

  • Shortbodied blenny,
  • Marbled blenny,
  • Bicolor blenny,
  • Two spot blenny,
  • Linear blenny, etc.

2. Flame Angelfish

Flame angelfish

Flame angelfish, popularly known as flame angels, inhabit the tropical waters of the Indo-Pacific ocean.

They’re bottom-dwellers that reside on the slopes of lagoons and coral reefs.

Flame angelfish are popular among aquarists for their stunning colorful appearance and docile nature.

These fish primarily feed on algae in their natural environment.

They’re also known to consume tiny animals living inside the algae.

In captivity, they prefer to eat algae on substrate and crevices. They also like to eat hair algae growing on live rocks.

Feeding flame angelfish a varied diet consisting of different types of marine algae, spirulina, algae tablets, algae-based flakes, and pellets, is recommended.

You can also feed them meaty food to meet their protein requirements.

3. Coral Beauty Dwarf Angels

Coral Beauty Dwarf Angel

Coral beauty dwarf angels are commonly found in shallow reefs rich in corals. They primarily inhabit the Indo-Pacific ocean.

These fish have a basic dark purplish-blue body marked with irregular orange vertical bars on their flanks.

As the name suggests, coral beauty dwarf angels are tiny, reaching up to a maximum length of 4 inches.

Although tiny, these fish need a large tank of minimum 70 gallons capacity to curb their aggression.

They can be a great addition to your aquarium as these fish are hardy and easy to keep without special requirements.

Moreover, they also like to eat hair algae on live rocks and can help contain algae overgrowth.

Coral beauty dwarf angels prefer a mature tank with established algae growth.

4. Gobies


Goby is a common name for many ray-finned small to medium-sized fish.

They belong to a large family Gobiidae, which comprises of more than 2000 different species.

Most gobies inhabit the marine environment. However, some inhabit fresh and brackish waters too.

Gobies have tapered bodies with large heads and can be distinguished by their morphed pelvic fins.

Gobies are an excellent addition to a tank for controlling algae bloom.

Given below are two goby species that you can keep to control hair algae.

A) Court Jester Gobies

Court jester gobies are a popular species of goby fish native to the tropical reefs of the western Pacific Ocean.

These fish can be housed in a nano tank as they grow only up to 3 inches in length.

Their docile nature and vibrant color make them one of the most desired fish for a community aquarium.

Court jester gobies are also an excellent addition to a tank that has algae bloom.

These fish eat hair algae in abundance as it forms their primary nutrition source.

Apart from algae, you can feed them flakes, pellets, and meaty food in captivity for optimum growth.

B) Hector Gobies

Hector gobies are native to the Indian Ocean. They’re found in sheltered coral reefs.

Hector gobies are similar to court jester gobies when it comes to consuming algae.

These little creatures are reef-safe and an excellent addition to small tanks.

These fish are active swimmers that love to be in groups and hence are favorites among aquarists for a community aquarium.

Hector gobies feed on hair algae while they dig into the substrate in search of worms and detritus.

Along with algae, they readily accept small dry and frozen food in captivity.

They’re also non-aggressive toward other fish and don’t bother invertebrates in the tank.

5. Spotted Scats

Spotted Scat

Spotted scats are popular aquarium fish belonging to the Scatophagidae family.

These fish are found in Indo-Pacific, New Guinea, Japan, and southeastern Australia.

They mainly reside in muddy coastal areas, including lower courses of rivers, mangroves, estuaries, and mangroves.

Spotted scats have rectangular bodies with small heads, horizontal mouths, and moderately large eyes.

In the wild, these fish feed on algae, detritus, insects, worms, and other tiny crustaceans.

Another interesting fact is that these fish are known to eat the feces of other animals.

6. Tangs

Yellow tang

Tangs are marine aquarium fish popular for their colorful appearance and aggressive behavior.

They’re native to the Indo-Pacific region and are primarily found in coral reefs and inshore grassy or rocky areas.

Algae form the bulk of their diet in the wild. Hence, you can often find them grazing algae off the rocks, substrate, or tank glass.

Besides algae, tangs also feed on plankton in their natural habitat.

You can feed them fish flakes and pellets in captivity for optimal growth.

There are numerous tang species, and most of them eat algae in abundance.

Many tang species in the genus Zebrasoma eat hair algae, though not in abundance.

Given below are some tang species that eat hair algae:

  • Purple tangs,
  • Hippo tangs,
  • Kole tangs,
  • Chevron tangs,
  • Red Sea Sailfin tangs,
  • Yellow tangs, etc.

7. Rabbitfish


Rabbitfish are popular saltwater fish native to the shallow waters of the Indo-Pacific ocean.

They inhabit the inshore tropical and subtropical waters, where they reside in reefs, mangroves, seagrass beds, and lagoons.

Most rabbitfish are herbivores that need plenty of green vegetation in their daily diet.

One of the distinctive features of these fish is that they lose their color when the sun sets and regain it back when it rises.

Among the many recognized rabbitfish species, the following two are the most popular for consuming hair algae.

A) Scribbled Rabbitfish

Scribbled rabbitfish is a marine ray-finned species belonging to the Siganidae family.

They’re native to the western Pacific Ocean and are mainly found on reefs and lagoons.

These fish have yellow bodies with fine blue lines and markings covering their face and sides.

Scribbled rabbitfish are excellent algae eaters and can help control hair algae bloom.

Moreover, their tiny size makes them an ideal choice for medium-sized tanks.

B) Foxface Rabbitfish

Foxface rabbitfish are famous for getting rid of algae from marine aquariums. They happily devour hair algae and macroalgae.

These fish are pretty hardy as their thick slime coat makes them resistant to ich and other bacterial infections.

A large tank is ideal to house these fish as they grow very fast.

However, there are certain drawbacks to housing these fish in captivity. They’re venomous.

Their spikes can leave nasty stings. However, their stings aren’t as fatal as those of scorpions or lionfish.

Foxface rabbitfish are also not ideal for reef aquariums as they can eat some corals and invertebrates, specifically clams, once they develop a taste for them.

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