Plecostomus Species Care Guides – “Pleco Catfish”

The Pleco fish is super popular due to it’s scavenging hunger. Mainly an algae eater but the Pleco will also feed on meaty foods. They are sometimes called the ‘garbage disposal’ due to the wide variety foods and clean up process they due on the bottom of fish aquariums. These bottom feeders are going to eat all of the uneaten food that the other fish leave behind. It’s important to research your tank’s variables before just adding one of these catfish.

You can join our facebook group here and ask more personal questions. Remember that ridding your fish aquarium of uneaten food is one of the best ways to keep it clean. Hence, why the Pleco fish is so popular amongst aquarists.

Plecostomus

**Note – Top 20 Questions Asked found Below

The Plecos are popular aquarium fishes and many Pleco species can be successfully kept even by novice aquarists. In addition to being sturdy and adaptable, the Plecos can also aid the beginner aquarist by consuming excessive algae growth.

Pleco is the common name used for a group of catfishes in the family Loricariidae. One of the species in the family is named Hypostomus plecostomus, and since this species is highly popular in the aquarium trade all the other related species is today referred to as Plecos in everyday language. Another name for the fishes in the family Loricariidae is “Armored catfishes”. Armored catfishes look as if they are carrying old fashioned armour, since the upper parts of the head and body is decorated with longitudinal rows of scutes.

pleco bristlenoseIf you find a fish in your local pet store that is sold as “Common Pleco” is can be any of the many Pleco species. Chances are however that it is either a Bristlenose Catfish (Ancistrus dolichopterus) or a Suckermouth Catfish (Hypostomus plecostomus), since these two are among the most frequently kept Pleco species. Two other examples of popular Pleco species are the Sailfin Catfish (Liposarcus multiradiatus) and the Liposarcus pardalis.

Wild Plecos are found in freshwaters in Central American and South America. The temperature in the aquarium must therefore be kept in the 23-27° C (73-81° F) range. All Plecos species are night active. You can make them less shy during the day by dimming the light in the aquarium and including floating plants in the set up. During the day, the eyes of a Pleco are protected by a specialized omega iris. As a Pleco grows older, it can sometimes become highly territorial and start displaying aggressive tendencies towards other fish. Sometimes it is necessary to move an old Plecos to its own aquarium to avoid stress and injury.

Before you purchase a Pleco, it is a good idea to find out how large that particular species can grow. A small 8 centimetre (3 inches) Pleco from the fish store can eventually turn into a 60 centimetre long (2 feet) fish that needs a very large aquarium to do well. Different Pleco species will have different colorations, and some of them can also be recognised on special anatomical features. The Bristlenose Pleco (Ancistrus dolichopterus) can for instance be recognised on its protruding “horns”.

pleco eatingThe Bristlenosed Pleco (Ancistrus dolichopterus) is often the first type of Pleco encountered by novice fish keepers and you can find it in many community aquariums kept by beginner aquarists. This is a very sturdy fish species that will adapt to most conditions, as long as you keep the water in the 23-27° C (73-81° F) range.

Wild Bristlenose Pleco is found in the Amazon River (including the tributaries) and the ideal aquarium for a Bristlenose Pleco is therefore one that resembles the Amazon habitat. It is not uncommon for a Bristlenose Pleco to reach an age of 10 years or more in a well cared for aquarium.

As mentioned earlier in this article, the Pleco will help remove excessive algae growth from the aquarium. In most aquariums, the Pleco will however need more food than just natural algae. Algae wafers from the pet store are usually highly appreciated. Since wild Bristlenose Pleco feed on plant material, it will also like vegetables in the aquarium. You can for instance feed your Bristlenose Pleco boiled peas, cucumber and squash. (sourced: aquariumforum.info)

Top 20 Questions Asked Regarding Plecos:

What is a Common Pleco?

Pet stores will refer to their plecostomus catfish as “common plecos” a lot of the time. This is just a generalized group of pleco catfish that are so similar in traits that they categorize together. There are around a dozen types that are referred to as “common plecos” like the Sailfin Pleco, Bristlenose Pleco, and so forth. That generalized term doesn’t get used much around here for more in-depth catfish owners. We use the “L-number” parameters to name these species. Because they are so many types.. the number system works easier. Read more on the common pleco on this page.

Benefits to My Fish Aquarium?

The Pleco is mainly an algae eater and that means good news for your aquarium. That annoying algae that grows everywhere is now a tasty meal for the Pleco. They are on a constant feeding frenzy of finding their next snack. There is realistically small algae particles everywhere in your tank, so the Pleco has it’s work cut out.

To make things even better, the Pleco is a true bottom feeder and will eat almost anything it can. They commonly get blamed for killing fish, but the truth is the fish died and sank to the bottom and the Pleco took action on its next food source. They will eat all those uneaten food particles that are bad news for nitrate levels too. They don’t eat poop but really help keep a tank clean.

leapord frog pleco

Tank Size Requirements?

Smaller Plecos do perfectly fine in smaller aquariums but as they grow, they demand larger surroundings. Within their 15-20 year lifespan, they can sometimes grow up to 2 feet long. It’s pretty easy for your Pleco to outgrow smaller tanks in the 30-55 gallon range. Their growth does take some time and some may not grow outside of what their tank size allows for. If you get on YouTube, you will find a plethora of videos where aquarists have Plecos that are 16 inches long in 30 gallon aquariums. It’s important to note that these fish have the power to out grow their aquarium in certain scenarios.

How Large do They Grow?

These bottom feeders can easily reach 1 to 2 feet in length. Most aquarium owners have no idea of this when they purchase this bottom feeder. These fish also live 20 to 30 years in captivity and that makes for a decent size aquarium that is needed. Anywhere from 50 to more gallons will be adequate size.

It is completely fine to have one of these in a smaller aquarium if they are in their youth of age. Must be aware though that this fish is going to need an upgrade in aquarium size as soon as it starts to grow. I personally see these fish in 20 gallon tanks all the time and I try to stress that you need a bigger aquarium. People just fail to realize that these fish need larger living environments.

Tank Mates and Roommates

Plecos are very territorial towards others of the same species. Do not keep two Plecos in one tank or you will have issues. It may work out right away but keep a close eye on them at all times. Their attacks are very abrupt and sudden.

plecoAs far as other fish species you have a very large spectrum of choices. Other fish have a tendency to leave them alone just because they said on the bottom and don’t really do anything except feed. To mention that their skin is known as an armor in the fish species habitat. It really doesn’t seem like a fish that you would want to fight with (to other fish). The stories you do read one Fish actually come after them and set up in a bad scenario. The top dorsal fin of the Pleco is very pointy and fish will have great deal of issues trying to eat it.

The only fish that we hear of having issues with the Pleco are unusually aggressive fish. Species that come to mind quickly might be.. Piranhas, Oscars and such. Some fish you might want to stay clear of our very flat fish to where the bottom feeder can get it sucker stuck on the side of fish and possibly kill it. You have to remember that this fish love sucking on things and will do so all day long!

Nocturnal Lifestyle

It should be known that this fish is entirely nocturnal and has a special eyelid that protects its vision during sunlight. If you have a light on during the day it will use a special eyelid and cover its eyes but when the lights go out that’s when the eyelid arises and it starts its day.

You should know that the best time to feed these guys is right before you turn your light off this way that the other fish cannot feed on the special food design for the Pleco. This works out the best because they are the only ones I can see at night and while the other fish are sleeping it can do its own thing and feet on the food you gave it.

Food and Nutrition

You should realize that these fish eat plants and they are algae eaters. When setting up your tank around this fish you need to realize that they may wreck some species of plants that are very delicate. Air commonly known to rip up plans and take out the routes from within the ground. Stick with plants that are super sturdy and durable that can withstand some force of the Pleco.

A good way to save a lot of your plants is to use some treats like zucchini and lettuce or just special tablets designed for them. You keep their appetite fulfilled it is less likely that they are going to tear apart your life plants just because they have something that is a lot easier and right in front of them. Are a lot of different vegetables that you will find that your fish walls. Zucchini is one of the most popular and you can check out this thread on giving them a treat of zucchini.

What Do You Think?


Posted by Jim:
I am considering plecostomus for an outdoor pond in Livermore CA. The pond is a 150 gallon Rubbermaid tub. Will plecostomus survive here? The summer highs average about 92 *F and winter lows about 25-40*F

Here is the climate report: Annual high temperature: 72.8°F – Annual low temperature: 47.8°F


Reply from Chris W:
As long as you have a “common” species from your pet smart or petco you should be completely fine. Actually these common plecs are taking over the swamps of florida water holes becuase some aquarists have been letting them go and they are now breeding and taking over in the ponds. Lots of people keep them with goldfish tanks and goldfish are considered “cold water” fish so you should be fine.


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