Freshwater Fish Facts: False Siamese Algae Eater Becomes An Excellent Copycat in the Planted Tank

False siamese algae eater or Garra cambodgiensis is a freshwater fish that is native to Mekong and Chao Phraya rivers. This stone-lapping minnow belongs to a particular species of sand-digger that used as a name for soft-finned fish.

Furthermore, its physical appearance is closely similar to Crossocheilus oblongus. Both have almost all features of siamese algae eaters, so it is quite difficult to identify each species.

Here, we present some facts about false SAE. This fish is good at copying the siamese algae eater. However, the following detailed description will show the differences. Therefore, you can identify and differentiate between other similar species.

Physical Appearance of False siamese algae eater

the picture of False Siamese Algae Eater
Source :

False siamese algae eater has a dark lateral stripe that extends to the caudal stalk but stops at the base of the tail. The black band will turn into light gray when it is frightened.

The pectoral fin is white, but the other ones are yellowish. There are dark signs on the dorsal fin that has black rays and dark band in the upper part.

Thus, its dorsal fins feature two black bands. Instead of the dark hue, they also come with colorful tones such as red and yellow markings. There is a gold stripe on the top part of that smooth pattern. The broad mid-lateral line’s width is about two scale rows.

Moreover, the caudal fin has dark or plain margins. There is a lighter line as an additional dorsal border of the body. Then, this area has grayish brown colors without dark scales. The top part is darker than the real Siamese algae eater.

This striped species has a mouth that adapted to rasping river stones, scraping off algae, and bacterial film to feed. Bright pink or red hue usually appears near the mouth.

However, this color will disappear if the loaches are getting stress. You can also find four whiskers on the mouth. Whereas, two tubercles present on the top of the snout.

Compared to Siamese algae eater size, this fish is shorter. This black band Garra is about 120 to 150 millimeters of the length.

Habitual Nourishment

habitual nourishment of False siamese algae eater
Source :

False siamese algae eater is not a pure herbivore even though it will feed on the vegetable matter. Garra cambodgiensis often eats meaty foods like bloodworm, chopped prawn, Artemia, and Tubifex. This colorful loach also consumes some algae, artificial food, and small animals in the aquarium.

Homemade gelatine-bound recipes, dried fish food, blanched spinach, and pureed shellfish are the alternative diets. Also, fresh vegetables and fruits such as zucchini, cucumber, and melon are the best for false siamese algae eater.

Additionally, false siamese algae eater feeds on pellets of spirulina, flake, and shrimp. Thus, fake SAE will consume anything such as phytoplankton, periphyton, and some insects in nature.


Habitat of False siamese algae eater
Source :

False siamese tend to inhabit in small and medium streams rather than larger rivers. This black band Garra likes swift-flowing of headwaters and tributaries.

It requires a region that has clean and oxygen-saturated water with full sunlight exposure. This small loach likes dwelling in the biofilm carpeting area.


False siamese algae eater behaviors
Source :

False siamese algae eater is very active and solitary. In wild habitat, boisterous fish will be the territorial prey. Adults’ behavior is aggressive toward them and other smaller animals. Its aggression is shown by harassing and chasing the fish.

Garra cambodgiensis is not a great wall-cleaner, although it feeds on algae. Therefore, this stone-lapping minnow is different from other suckerfish that can cleave to the glass surface.

Moreover, color-changing happens at night when the lights out. The red or yellow markings will appear as a solid brown or gray hue.

False siamese algae eater also has a peculiar way of resting. This species keeps propping up with the tail and fins instead of lying flat on its belly.

Gender Identity

Gender identity of false siamese algae eater
Source :

Both genders have tubercules near the snout and head. However, you can notice the difference between male and female gender during the spawning process.

When breeding occurs, the female’s body will look thicker. On the other hand, the male fish elaborates bright red mouth segments.


When it comes to breeding, false siamese algae eater has simple propagation
Source :

When it comes to breeding, false siamese algae eater has simple propagation. This species is spawning over coarse gravels. The sexual hormones take the roles in reproduction. Keep the temperature about 25 to 29 degrees Celcius to hatch the eggs.

The black band Garra’s eggs take 16 hours for hatching. The juvenile fishes are fed with Moina and rotifers to survive in their first month.

Identification of Algae Eaters: True or False?

true siamese algae eater vs false siamese algae eater
Source :

Sometimes, it is getting confused to differentiate between Garra cambodgiensis, Crossocheilus, and Epalzeorhynchus kalopterus (the flying fox). Those species have almost the same black stripe patterns of the body.

False siamese algae eater has a lateral black line that ends at the base of the tail, whereas the true SAE and the flying fox have similar stripes that continue to the caudal fin. However, Epalzeorhynchus kalopterus has a more specific continuation of the dark band than the others.

The flying fox has a nice and smooth black line pattern that is similar to the false siamese algae eater. Meanwhile, the true SAE features an irregular edge with zig-zag shape without the gold band.

False siamese algae eater and the flying fox have four barbels on their upper jaws, whereas the true SAE only has two small whiskers near the mouth.

Then, while observing the color, the real Siamese comes in blandish brown, gold, or silver. Both flying fox and black band Garra have more colorful hues such as red and yellow.

Moreover, true siamese algae eater size is about 152 millimeters, while the false SAE is only 120 millimeters long. The average length of the flying fox is 119 millimeters. As a peaceful fish, Crossocheilus oblongus prefers swimming in a small group of four or six.

False Siamese Algae Eater  or Garra cambodgiensis

False Siamese Algae Eater  or Garra cambodgiensis
Source :

The main features of the false siamese algae eater consist of the black horizontal line with a straight edge, a narrow lighter stripe above the dark one, and grayish-brown dorsum.

The loach also has dark upper and dorsal rays, yellowish fins, the mouth with a pink ring, and two sets of slender tactile.

True Siamese Algae Eater or Crossocheilus siamensis

True Siamese Algae Eater or Crossocheilus siamensis
Source :

The real siamese algae eater has a slender gray or brown body with a black lateral band that continues to the tail. Its fins are transparent without a colorful bright surface. The top of the body looks reticular, and the bottom part comes in silvery white.

The Flying Fox or Epalzeorhynchos kalopterus

The Flying Fox or Epalzeorhynchos kalopterus
Source :

Among the Cyprinids, the flying fox is the most colorful fish. Therefore, it is more popular than the false siamese algae eater and the true SAE. This loach is also known as Trunk barb.

The overall body has warmer brown and goldish hues with a black horizontal line. The stripe goes from the nose to the tail. Its dark band is broader than the pattern on the lateral.

Similar to the false siamese, this fish has a narrow golden band above the dark lateral stripe. Moreover, anal, pelvic, and dorsal fins have black lines with bright white color on the tips.

Tank Mates of False siamese algae eater

Tank mates of False siamese algae eater
Source :

False siamese algae eater can share the same place with other types of loaches. Some species that will be the best tankmates for the black band Garra are Pangio and plecos. They are better in singletons and large groups of more than six.

Pangio Fish

pangio fish hide between the rocks
Source :

Pangio is a peaceful loach that can share the same aquarium with a false siamese. Although it may eat fry and eggs, this fish will not be a harmful tankmate. It has colored half-belt patterns on the body.

Pleco Fish

Pleco Fish lay on the glass of tanks
Source :

Pleco is another peaceful species that can be paired with false siamese algae eater in the freshwater aquarium. This omnivorous bottom-feeder fits smaller companion fish. It helps cleaning algae from the tank surface.

Care Guide of False siamese algae eater

Care Guide of false siamese algae eater
Source :

A 20-gallon aquarium is the minimum tank size for false siamese algae eater. Therefore, a big aquarium will prevent the fish from annoying other small bottom-dwellers. This loach needs clear water with sufficient oxygen supply. Also, setting up the pH should not be under 7.

Mature stone-lapping minnows are easy to maintain since they feed on standard fish food instead of algae. Also, the fry does not need any brood care since adult females can spontaneously spawn in the aquarium.

Put in mind that this fish loves aquatic plants, driftwoods, and hardscapes. They can support weight while resting. For example, sword plants are perfect for this species. The black band Garra can use them as enjoyable hiding places.

Human Benefits

Human Benefits of  false siamese algae eater
Source :

False siamese and other rock-scraping species are often used as a fish spa. They utilize the rasping mouths to flake off the skin and clean the dead cells. You only need to put your feet into a tank of the stone-lapping minnows, and they will clear away the callouses.

The exfoliation via fish will not cause any irritation. The thicken hands and feet can be softened and polished. As a result, your skin will be more radiant and smoother.

Finally, those are some similarities and differences among false siamese algae eater, the true SAE, and the flying fox. Hopefully, you will not misidentify the species if you choose this stone-lapping minnow for your aquarium.


Leave a Comment