Diet of the Chinese Algae Eater

JustAFishServant

Hey all! So, a quick backstory. Around 4 years ago I kept two young CAE's. They were highly personable and seemed quite intelligent! I very much enjoyed their silly personalities but, unfortunately, I was going through hard times at that moment and decided that it would be best to rehome these two (don't worry, they found a home with somebody who had a 250 gallon aquarium)! But then around 1 year ago I decided that I am now interested in keeping them again! I setup a heavily-planted 60 gallon dirted tank that has been establishing for the last 5 months (I prefer watching the tank grow and thrive before adding inhabitants!) The tank is looking lovely with vibrant plants, new shoots forming on a near daily basis, botanicals littering the bottom, and even a slight tint of the water! The tank is currently moderately stocked with shrimp and snails in preparation for the CAE, although the inhabitants will be removed beforehand. Sadly, the first CAE's were rehomed soon after receiving them (they were surrenders) so not much information was collected. I've done research over the past year or two and feel as if I'm finally ready to take on one of these large, long-lived beasts! But there's a problem...I have no idea what he should eat! I feed high quality homemade gel foods to each of my fish including the Goldfish, Bettas, and others, only difference being I know which ingredients to use and how much protein, fiber, and fats should be included. And although online resources are usually helpful in this hobby, this time I try to search online for nutritional requirements, which unfortunately provided no answers. I know that, as juveniles, CAE's feed primarily on vegetable matter and algae, but as they grow, they need to be supplemented with plenty of protein! With both herbivorous and predatory fish, I'm lucky enough to have the ingredients required for making a protein, veggie, or omnivorous diet, but I need to know the percentage of protein needed as he grows.

*When are CAE's considered adults, and when should I switch over from a veggie-based diet to protein-based?*

I decided that I will be feeding my 'Goldfish Diet' for when the little guy is young. This consists of wheatgerm for necessary carbohydrates, greens such as blanched zucchini, spinach, and kale, shelled peas and pumpkin for digestive health, blueberry for antioxidants, bell pepper and salmon skins for an improvement of color, garlic for taste and to promote a healthy immune sustem, as well as silkworms, tubifex, and the white of a hard boiled egg. Once everything is blended and left to set it tends to have about 65% fiber, 30% protein, and around 5% fat. I have been using this diet for YEARS and it's always super effective with the Goldfish and other primarily herbivorous fish!

My diet for the Bettas is completely different since they're primarily insectivorous and includes blackworms, earthworms, mosquito larvae, black soldier fly larvae, fruit flies, raw salmon, the yolk of a hard boiled egg, watermelon just because they like it (for whatever reason lol), pumpkin and shelled peas for digestive health, bell pepper and salmon skins for a burst of color, and garlic for taste and immune health! Once this is made it usually has about 85% protein, 5% fiber, and 10% fat or so. I've also been using this diet for a very long time and it always has the same effect; a long, luxurious life!

Between these two diets, should I "mix them together" to make an omnivorous diet or should I feed the Goldfish Diet while he's a juvenile and the Betta Diet when he's an adult? Sorry if this is a long post and these are a lot of questions, but I always want to provide the best care I possibly can! Thanks everyone
 

Redshark1

I don't think these fish are difficult to feed and think they will eat most things.

Knowing that there are plentiful unwanted Chinese Algae Eaters available (they are not from China) I investigated whether these would be a satisfying and unusual fish to keep.

One of the first sources of information I came across was the article by Seriously Fish which answered all my questions.

I rejected the idea of keeping these fish as unlike my Clown Loaches they are not social fish and it may not be easy to keep a good number together.
 
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JustAFishServant

I don't think these fish are difficult to feed and think they will eat most things.

Knowing that there are plentiful unwanted Chinese Algae Eaters available (they are not from China) I investigated whether these would be a satisfying and unusual fish to keep.

One of the first sources of information I came across was the article by Seriously Fish which answered all my questions.

I rejected the idea of keeping these fish as unlike my Clown Loaches they are not social fish and it may not be easy to keep a good number together.

Thank you for your answer! I would rather only keep a single CAE. I enjoy their personality, intelligence, and their spunk, but for me, one is enough! He will be kept in a 29 temporarily (it's dense with foliage), then once he reaches around 4-5", I will then move him to his own 60g. One thing I forgot to mention is that he will be living ALONE, and with no other tankmates unless he decides to get along with freshwater clams or large snails. Otherwise, he'll be a loner

As for the diet, I understand that they're easy to feed, but I don't want to just throw him the typical "algae wafers" and walk away. I admire their pattern and coloration, and would like to eventually hand feed him like the others. I've been steering clear of store bought fish foods for about 6 or 7 years and the results of feeding a high quality homemade gel food are fascinating! Hand feeding gel food is fun and easy, and most of the fish enjoy taking pieces from my hand! But my question is at what age CAE's are considered adults, and when should I switch from my herbivorous diet to the carnivorous? Two years? Three? Should I conjure up an omnivorous diet and feed this for his entire life, or should I switch off between the two? Frozen live foods and blanched veggies/fruits would be fed two to three times a week, so would a variety diet be necessary? Sorry if these are a lot of questions, but I want to ensure that I have everything together before purchasing, adopting, or rescuing him. Thanks!
 
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Redshark1

You might be overthinking things. Its a flowing water fish right so feed stuff that you get in such an environment.

I'd construct a hideout that I could at least partially see into so I could monitor the fish. I gather they hide from their owner and dash for cover when you enter the room.
 
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JustAFishServant

You might be overthinking things. Its a flowing water fish right so feed stuff that you get in such an environment.

I'd construct a hideout that I could at least partially see into so I could monitor the fish. I gather they hide from their owner and dash for cover when you enter the room.

Yes, I apologize. I tend to overcomplicate a lot of things because I just want what's best for the animals. I guess I'll just construct a gel diet with foods they naturally find in the wild. I know they eat algae and plant matter when they're young, then once they're big enough it moves to invertebrates with less and less vegetable matter. Problem is, I don't know when they start eating more protein. I would assume when he's over 4" in length but I can't be sure.

Thanks for the advice. I think I'll just make it up as I go. I'll feed mostly vegetable matter (blanched zucchini, lettuce, spinach, shelled peas, garlic, spirulina, and bell pepper) with only a small amount of animal protein (river shrimp and tubifex, probably) for when he's young. Once he's around 4" in length, then I'll then gradually add in more protein (adding earthworms, daphnia or moina, and blackworms, probably). Thanks again for your help!
 
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Redshark1

Sounds like a plan. Good luck!
 
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