Chinese Algae Eater (Gyrinocheilus aymonieri)

The Siamese Algae Eater: A Guide to Gyrinocheilus Aymonieri

06/02/2020 Off By aquadiradmin

The Chinese Algae Eater, scientifically known as Gyrinocheilus aymonieri, is a fascinating freshwater fish that originates from various regions in Southeast Asia. This unique species holds considerable importance both as a local food source and as a highly sought-after fish in the aquarium trade. With various common names such as Honey Sucker, Sucking Loach, and Siamese Algae Eater, it is officially recognized as the Siamese Algae Eater by the FAO.

Habitat and Distribution

The Chinese Algae Eater thrives in diverse geographical areas, including the Chao Phraya basin, the northern Malay Peninsula, the Mekong basin (spanning Cambodia, Yunnan Province in China, Laos, Thailand, and Vietnam), the Mae Klong basin, and the Xe Bang Fai River. These fish are most commonly found in large rivers and occasionally venture into flooded fields. A fascinating aspect of their behavior is their ability to attach themselves to rocks in fast-flowing water using their uniquely formed inferior mouth. Local communities often sell these fish in markets as a popular food source, while smaller specimens are used in the preparation of prahok.

Serene habitat of the Gyrinocheilus aymonieri, nestled along the banks of Xe Bang Fai River. The crystal-clear waters gently flow, providing a perfect haven for these peaceful aquatic creatures. The lush green foliage creates a picturesque backdrop, adding to the tranquility of this idyllic ecosystem.

Physical Characteristics

The Chinese Algae Eater boasts an intriguing physical appearance. It can reach lengths of up to 28 cm (11 inches) and is distinguished by having 9 branched dorsal rays and 36-40 lateral line scales, making it the only species within its genus with these features. Its mouth is situated inferiorly and is specially adapted with a “sucker” mechanism, allowing it to adhere to smooth surfaces. Unlike some other fish, Chinese Algae Eaters lack barbels.

Introducing a captivating creation of man – the Golden Gyrinocheilus aymonieri fish. Its alluring golden strain, a testament to the beauty and artistry of selective breeding.

In its natural habitat, the fish showcases a wide range of colors, from pale grey to olive, with darker markings along the lateral line. These markings can take the form of solid stripes with alternating higher and lower extensions or appear as uneven dots. The belly typically exhibits a lighter hue than the base color. Some darker markings may also be observed on the back and caudal fin, but the pelvic and anal fins remain free of such markings.

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Breeding and Identification

Breeding Chinese Algae Eaters in home aquariums can be a challenging endeavor. While occasional fry have been found in overgrown tanks, the specific triggers for successful spawning remain unknown. Sexing these fish poses difficulty, although mature males may develop breeding tubercles on their noses, while females tend to appear plumper.

Diet and Behavior

The Chinese Algae Eater is highly regarded for its algae-eating habits during its early stages. Young individuals readily consume algae as a primary food source. However, as they mature, their dietary preferences shift towards meatier options, such as prepared aquarium foods, frozen crustaceans, and small fish. This dietary change is often accompanied by a shift in behavior, as they become more aggressive, especially towards their own kind and fish with similar colors.

The Mysis shrimp – a favorite delicacy for adult Gyrinocheilus aymonieri. Nutritious and irresistible, it keeps them happy and healthy!

Aquarium Care

To ensure the well-being of Chinese Algae Eaters in aquariums, providing suitable hiding places in the form of wood, rocks, and plants is essential. Adequate exposure to sunlight in the tank promotes the growth of algae, catering to their natural grazing habits during their younger stages. Occasionally, crushed lettuce or spinach can be offered as a substitute in their diet. Maintaining water quality through regular changes is crucial, given their origin in river habitats that require some water movement. Additionally, these fish are not well-suited for colder temperatures, and any drop in the aquarium temperature below 69°F (20°C) may lead to a loss of interest in consuming algae.

Gyrinocheilus aymonieri

Behold the Gyrinocheilus aymonieri, an elegant algae-eating aquarium dweller, diligently maintaining a pristine underwater world.


In conclusion, the Chinese Algae Eater (Gyrinocheilus aymonieri) is a captivating freshwater fish with a significant presence in Southeast Asia. Its adaptability to various regions and unique physical characteristics make it a desirable addition to both local cuisine and the aquarium trade. Understanding its natural behavior, dietary preferences, and habitat requirements is vital for successful care and conservation efforts. As you venture into the world of fishkeeping, incorporating this fascinating species into your aquarium promises to be an enriching and rewarding experience.