Now I have never been one for getting a fish to fix a problem - too many people have one poor sad clown loach living in a 3ft tank because they were told by the fish shop that they eat snails, and I think that's really sad. However, my tank became overrun by black beard algae while I was pregnant and couldn't reach into the tank to maintain the plants. I started dosing with flourish excel and removing the affected anubias leaves but it didn't do much.
I was starting to feel miserable about the state of the tanks which were usually so beautiful. It was then that I read about Siamese Algae Eaters, the only fish that actually snack on the black stuff! As long as you get the right species, they are peaceful gregarious little guys who grow to about 12cm and are suitable for most communities as long as there is space and the tank is big enough. They're also pretty cute. However, they are frequently confused with other species such as flying foxes, and false SAEs which are not peaceful and do not eat algae, so I think they get a bit of a bad rep.
Anyway after much deliberation and studying of photos, I decided to get some. My LFS only had two and they were labelled as Flying Foxes, but I took my phone in and studied them, and compared them to pictures (what smartphones were invented for). As soon as I got them in the tank I knew they were the right fish as they started snacking straight away on all the unsightly black algae.
I now have seven of these little guys altogether, three in my 200l and four in my 240l, and WOW what a good job they do! The hair algae disappeared from both tanks in less than a week. They cause no problems to any of the other inhabitants and you can always see them mid tank, grazing on the plants. For me, I would say they have not only fixed a problem but added to the character of the tanks and I am so glad I gave them a try!
Here are some really rubbish pictures of some of my little friends!