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Thread: Crossocheilus siamensis (Common name – Siamese Algae Eater) (黑线飞狐)

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    Lightbulb Crossocheilus siamensis (Common name – Siamese Algae Eater) (黑线飞狐)

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    Disclaimers: These are what I've gathered by doing mostly scholarly research and limited observations. I may be very wrong.
    References will be cited where applicable and any contributions will be credited but I may miss certain things as some are recalled from past readings and the sources are lost.


    Commonly short-formed to just SAE in the LFS, the Siamese Algae Eater is one of the most mixed-up fish in the trade. Not only are they not from Thailand, they’re routinely confused with 2 other completely different fishes; the Flying Fox and the totally worthless Chinese Algae Eater. Legendary for being the only weapon against Red/Black algae, these fishes are in demand by folks waging a losing battle with BBA. They may achieve 15cm or more in length although they’re normally sold as young 3-4cm long fishes.


    According to legends, its a very hardy fish, not fussy about pH, hardness and temperature as long as extremes are avoided. They will school if kept in groups and are very active and entertaining to watch.
    Effective against almost all algae except maybe the hard green-spot. Supposed to be good against the dreaded Black Beard/Brush Algae.


    Pros
    Eats Black Beard/Brush Algae. That alone makes it valuable.
    Cheap. Can be had for as little as 50 cents a piece
    Very hardy and hardworking.


    Cons
    Confusing to find. Besides mixing up with the Flying Fox and the Chinese Algae Eater, there are actually many other fishes of the Crossocheilus genus being caught and sold in LFS (details under notes)
    Jumpy. I’ve lost almost all my SAE from them jumping out of the tank.
    Lazy when they grow up. May choose to compete for fish food than eat algae.
    May not be shrimp safe.
    May chase or frighten other tankmates.
    Not possible to breed in captive conditions.
    May eat moss and chew on new plant growths.



    Notes
    Amost the entire thread will be devoted to “How to find the REAL SAE”, so please bear with me as I had invested quite abit of time and energy into this.

    Firstly, many articles out there had already been written about the 3 most common fake SAEs. The Flying Fox, the Chinese Algae Eater and this thing called Garra cambodgiensis. So far, I had only encountered the first 2 of these fishes being mis-sold as SAEs in LFS. They’re not too hard to tell apart after reading a few articles and comparing some pictures, especially the CAE with its suckermouth.


    Armed with a printout of the (supposedly) SAE, the Fox and CAE, I confidently set off to search for this fish. However, the search was not over yet, as I ended up with lazy, moss eating, jumpy "SAE"s that does not even touch the algae. Thats when I went all out to find out more...


    Despite my nights of combing the net for a consistent picture and anatomy of the SAE, I found none. There are many images of slightly different looking SAEs all over the net, with as many varied claims.
    In fact, it was even suggested that the real siamensis is not even sold in the trade! Even worse, the legendary red algae eater may be a close relative of the SAE rather than the real deal itself!


    According to a rather detailed website,
    http://math.muni.cz/~niederle/tabulka.html (most pictures also taken from this link)what we’re getting from our LFS as SAE, minus the Flying Fox and other rubbish, are possible the following:


    Crossocheilus oblongus – Flat snout and reddish fins with absence of a black ventral (anal) blotch is the giveaway. Algae eating abilities unknown. Behavior unknown. Presence of maxillary barbells unknown.


    Not very common, although I believe I saw one as I stared hard at the SAE tank at Polyart.

    Crossocheilus Langei – The one which is supposed to eat red and black algae and hence, what we should aim to acquire. Pointed snout, slightly brownish transparent fins, maxillary barbells and a black ventral (anal) blotch should be what we should look out for.

    This is EXTREMELY difficult at the LFS though, as stress, lighting conditions and the quickness of these fishes make catching them a chore as it were, let alone trying to ID.
    So far, my best tries were at NA, where the SAE tank is rather free of plants/hiding places. Polyart is also good, as the lighting is great and you can get up real close to the tank (but they tend to mix CAE with SAE...)



    Even at home, the fish rarely displays the underbelly long enough for me to tell if it was the blotch, or just a piece of dropping about to be expelled


    Crossocheilus atrilimes – The monster to avoid. Eats moss, grows big and fights over fish food. The absence of a black ventral (anal) blotch, lack of barbells, slightly curved lateral black line and a “fatter” tummy (which makes the bottom of the fish less “flat” looking) gives this guy away.


    I had certainly seen a rather large specimen that looked like this at Seaview, in one of the medium size display tanks full of hairgrass. This guy was happily nibbling on the grass tips and was certainly very bottom heavy and of a more copperish shade. The shop person claims its an SAE (although, at that point in time, the tank labelled flying fox was actually full of SAE+lookalikes)

    Crossocheilus citripinnis – The closest looking to the Langei as it also has barbells. Algae eating abilities unknown. Behavior unknown. The absence of a black ventral (anal) blotch, slightly curved lateral black line and a “fatter” tummy (which makes the bottom of the fish less “flat” looking) is the only way to tell this apart.

    I could find no pictures of this fish and it could very well be confused with the langei or the atrilimes. In fact, I half suspected that the "atrilimes" spotted at Seaview could very well be a citripinnis instead.



    This paper from Bleeker claims and cited from another paper:
    Crossocheilus langei (Bleeker, 1860)
    Materials: Sungai Kahang (ZRC 42748, ZRC 42804).
    Remarks: This is the 1st record of this species from the Endau drainage. Crossocheilus langei can be differentiated from C. oblongus in having more lateral-line scales (33-34 vs. 30-31) and the presence (vs. absence) of a large black spot on the ventral surface between anus and anal fin (Alfred, 1971)”

    Despite searching the Ejournals at both NUS and NTU libraries, plus Google scholar, I cannot locate the paper by Alfred. It is likely to be a hardcopy-only publication. However, this picture shows the 2 fishes side by side:



    Even this website,
    http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebindex/saes.htm
    trying to show the different false SAE, had 2 very different looking fish under the "true SAE" box.


    Hence, I concluded that the C. Langei
    http://www.jjphoto.dk/fish_archive/aquarium/crossocheilus_langei.htm
    is the fish to source for and the best way to tell would be that black spot on the ventral part of the fish. However, in younger specimens, which are the commonly sold size, this spot is so tiny it would be hard to see. Furthermore, some of the claims I had came across during my search reported red algae eating SAE that do not have this spot. Whether those are the real siamensis is unknown, as the siamensis may also be eaters of such algaes.

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    Re: Crossocheilus siamensis (Common name – Siamese Algae Eater) (黑线飞狐)

    Strangely, according to the chart comparing these different sub-species,
    http://math.muni.cz/~niederle/tabulka.html
    the real Crossocheilus siamensis looks very different from the Langei.
    The slightly curved lateral black line do not start at the snout but at the opercle (gill cover). It also lacks barbells and has greenish fins. But it was all just text in a table/chart, no pictures to back up the claim that such a fish even existed.
    Should anyone come across such a specimen, please take a picture!

    I’ve personally tried using CAE (worthless and killed themselves jumping out of the tank) and a few “SAE” that I could not ID conclusively. However, given their aggressive behavior, lack of algae eating habits and missing young leaves on my plants, I suspect they’re Crossocheilus atrilimes/citripinnis. Most died from jumping out of the tank as the largest one kept chasing them.
    I now have a tiny army of unknown “SAEs” in the tank. Will update once they grow big enough to ID. Already I can see moss being nibbled and a few fat looking C. atrilimes/citripinnis suspects.
    A good friend also reported that the "SAE" obtained during one of our trips to NA was taking care of some of his BBA patches.
    I had also taken note of a very large (more than 10cm) specimen at Bioplast that seems to be the champion algae cleaner there which looks very close to a langei.

    For now, I'm no more enlightened other than to try and obtain only SAEs with the black blotch.
    For the folks lamenting that their SAE's are lazy, fat, moss nibbling and fish food grabbing good-for-nothings, look again for the black blotch...

    Other References
    http://www.aquariacentral.com/forums/showthread.php?t=192330
    http://math.muni.cz/~niederle/crossocheilus_siamensis_page.html
    http://www.aquaticcommunity.com/aquariumforum/showthread.php?t=33198
    http://issuu.com/john_n/docs/asw_issue7_september2008 (page 16-21)
    The Fishes of the Endau Drainage, Peninsular Malaysia with Descriptions of Two New Species of Catfishes (Teleostei: Akysidae, Bagridae)
    Heok-Hee Ng and Heok-Hui Tan Department of Biological Sciences, National University of Singapore
    Phylogeny and Zoogeography of the Cyprinid Genus Epalzeorhynchos Bleeker (Cyprinidae: Ostariophysi) Jun-Xing Yang and Richard Winterbottom Copeia, 1998(1), pp. 48-63
    Last edited by Navanod; 12th Feb 2010 at 18:48.

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    Re: Crossocheilus siamensis (Common name – Siamese Algae Eater) (黑线飞狐)

    Interesting but you wouldn't see SAE eating BBA that's already a 'tuft'. They eat the tiny just started growing near invisible BBA.

    When you have SAE in the tank, you'll notice your tank is relatively free of BBA.
    But after getting BBA[the ones you can see], adding SAE doesn't solve the problem because it's not tasty to them.
    You can if you dare to fail - Stan Chung

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    Re: Crossocheilus siamensis (Common name – Siamese Algae Eater) (黑线飞狐)

    Quote Originally Posted by StanChung View Post
    Interesting but you wouldn't see SAE eating BBA that's already a 'tuft'. They eat the tiny just started growing near invisible BBA.

    When you have SAE in the tank, you'll notice your tank is relatively free of BBA.
    But after getting BBA[the ones you can see], adding SAE doesn't solve the problem because it's not tasty to them.
    Thats what I was afraid of
    I only see yamatos trying to stuff the turfs into their mouths...but the turfs are too stubborn and cannot be pulled off.

    So SAE is a prevention, not a cure?
    I've tried nuking plants with BBA and reintroducing the plant after the BBA is dead...even with SAE around, the BBA came back

    Going to redo everything and nuke the entire tank, plants and equipment. I'm of the opinion that BBA is an introduced pest algae and can be kept out.

    Still, that doesn't solve the problem of not being able to reliably obtain SAEs. Not being able to breed them means that even if we do come across working specimens, they're not able to replace themselves

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    Re: Crossocheilus siamensis (Common name – Siamese Algae Eater) (黑线飞狐)

    Yes SAE's are prevention not cure for BBA. They are cure for hair algae. 20 tails in a 3ft will make short work of any hair algae in two three days.

    You can possibly make BBA tufts tastier to SAE by using the Excel spot treatment.

    Anyway I believe the cause of BBA is dirty tank + filter. Too much rotting organic stuff.
    Anything that causes this such as fish/shrimp food, lack of WC, over stocking needs to be tackled.

    Other than that, BBA-
    on rotting wood is unavoidable/eventual-scrape.
    on equipment is your maintenance. remove and bleach.
    on plants- trim.
    on rocks- could be taken out to be bleached.
    You can if you dare to fail - Stan Chung

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    Re: Crossocheilus siamensis (Common name – Siamese Algae Eater) (黑线飞狐)

    Just bleached a BBA infested sponge for more than 24hrs using very strong combination bleach/disinfectant from my lab at 5X normal strength.

    The BBA all turned white but STILL CANNOT BE REMOVED, not even after another soak with boiling water.
    I think its not edible not because its not tasty...but because its too tough and cannot be chewed off!

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    Re: Crossocheilus siamensis (Common name – Siamese Algae Eater) (黑线飞狐)

    Getting rid of BBA is fairly easy. Just normal bleach diluted with water (maybe 1 to 10 parts for <1 min) or using boiling hot water (use only on driftwood, not plastics as it might warp them) and the BBA will die.

    The tufts will still be there but they are definitely dead. Sometimes they will turn pink/red when they're dead. Just put the driftwood/accessories back into the tank and they'll be gone in 2-3 days.

    However, this doesn't PREVENT the BBA from coming back. That is a totally different issue which I am not qualified to comment on as I'm still fighting the battle...haha...
    Cheers
    Boon Yong

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    Re: Crossocheilus siamensis (Common name – Siamese Algae Eater) (黑线飞狐)

    Yea, killing the BBA outside the tank is not difficult. I'm just trying to understand why the algae eaters cannot deal with it and now I know. Even dead, the darn BBA clings on like superglue!

    Preventing it from coming back is what I'm up to now. Hopefully, some SAEs in the new tank will help.

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    2 Siamese Algae Eater for free

    Hi

    Have two SAE to give away for free.

    aquoz :-)

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