This Algae Eater Is Tired Of Being Called A Loach

Posted by Aquatropic Staff on May 12, 2022

This Algae Eater Is Tired Of Being Called A Loach thumbnail image

Garra flavatra is usually called the “Panda Garra / Algae Eater” and sometimes it is called the “Burmese Garra” based on its native range which was widely known as Burma and is currently called Either Myanmar or Burma depending who you ask (which, ironically, apparently mean the same thing) in a quagmire of politics. The Panda Garra has become a popular fish in the aquarium hobby because of its small size, interesting coloration (think Panda) and its propensity for eating algae (hence the Algae Eater part). They are also occasionally called a “Loach” and this one is just wrong.

This fish's wild range is heavily influenced by monsoon seasons. During the rainy season, the streams where Garra flavatra it lives are rapid, clear and highly oxygenated. During the dry season, these streams reduce to a trickle of nearly still, but very clear ponds. While they were discovered in during the dry season, they seem to do best in aquariums that mimic the monsoon; heavily overpowered filtration and extra flow mechanisms are appreciated by this species. Aside from that, this is an easy species to keep. They are omnivores and while they do a good job cleaning algae and biofilm off rocks and glass, they also appreciate meaty offerings. In aquariums that lack much in the way of biofilm, it becomes increasingly important to add some type of algal or vegetal component like spirulina or algae wafers to their feeding regimen.

They can be squabbly with each other, but generally not so much that they damage each other. We suggest keeping a few together and they will establish a hierarchy. This fish has been bred in captivity, both commercially and by hobbyists. For those of you interested in attempting this, Garra flavatra is a seasonal spawner, and can be brought into a spawning condition by careful selection of food and temperature. Males will develop little bony bumps on their head and lateral lines, and will be moderately slimmer than females. Pairs should be removed and placed in their own confines for spawning, eggs should be collected and reared separately. In regards to keeping them with other fish, they are fairly peaceful; best tankmates are those who enjoy the same higher flow scenarios the Panda Algae Eater does, things like Rasboras, Barbs and Danios are great choices.

Panda Algae Eaters are very active fish, moving about day and night. They are well adapted to living in the high flow environment monsoon season presents them. They have a suction cup like appendage on their lower jaw which helps them stay put in the current. However, they can also use this to “climb” the glass of your display aquarium. As such, they must be kept in a display with a tight fitting lid, or they will escape, to their demise and your dismay. Other than this one quirk, the Burmese / Panda Algae Eater is an interesting and straightforward fish to keep. They stay small, clean your aquarium and are colorful additions to your river community displays. For those of you interested in keeping a small group, ask your LFS to source you three or four of them from Aquatropic today!