Pleco fish or pool cleaner: Care guide
Here we present a care guide for Plecos, so before buying them you can know their maintenance needs and you will be able to know whether or not they are the right pet fish for you.
What are Plecos?
Plecostomus is the common name given to the Loricariidae family of the Siluriformes order that comes from Central and South America.
The Common Pleco (Hypostomus Plecostomus) is often sold in pet stores as a cheap, clean fish. However, this small 6-7 cm animal grows into a beast of more than half a meter, with an incredibly voracious appetite and an equivalent amount of waste.
I strongly recommend that you do not want to keep freshwater fish that are going to grow to a large size unless you are willing to keep them for their entire lives, because it is almost impossible to successfully return them to their natural environment.
Furthermore, you should not release your Common Pleco into the wild because it is a highly invasive species and can do a lot of damage to both the environment and other species.
Fortunately, there are much smaller Plecos that are more suitable for the average home aquarium.
The Bristlenose, Rubber Lip and Clown Pleco are all beautiful catfish that are 10-15cm long. They may cost a bit more than the Common P., but their manageable size and lower food expense will more than make up for it in the long run.
Are Plecos easy to maintain?
In general, their water parameters are quite similar to those of other tropical fish. They prefer a heated aquarium between 23 and 27°C and can live in a wide pH range of 6.5 to 7.8.
As tropical fish, they greatly appreciate any kind of shade or cover you provide to keep them out of the light.
You also need to do regular tank maintenance to keep nitrate levels at 40 ppm or less.
As for the size of the tank, the 10 to 15 cm plecos that we mentioned above can be housed in 75 to 110 liters of water or more.
However, the Common P. should normally start in a 280 liter tank and gradually work their way up to 680 or even 1800 litres. These huge aquariums are not feasible for the average fishkeeper, so I strongly recommend the smaller species.
What do Plecos Fish eat?
Although Plecos are known as cleaner fish, scavengers, and algae eaters, they should be fed a regular diet consisting of high-quality fish food.
Think of it like having a pet dog. Yes, the dog will eat any debris that falls on the ground, but he should still have a daily meal that consists of proper dog food.
In the same way, these catfish need appropriate food that adequately meets their dietary needs. People tend to feed them only algae wafers, but most Plecos prefer well-balanced meals consisting of a wide variety of foods, such as freeze-dried bloodworms.
Do some research on your particular species because not all pool cleaners eat the same thing. Some graze on algae and vegetation, some like to scrape wood logs, and others crave more protein.
As most Plecos are nocturnal, a good practice is to feed them when the lights are off so they have a chance to feed while the other fish are less active.
A problem often heard from new aquarists is, «I don’t know why my fish died.» I gave him a seaweed wafer every night.
Let’s go back to our pet dog analogy. If you give your puppy a cup of food every day, he will likely need more than one cup when he reaches adulthood. Similarly, your adult plecostomus needs more food than a fry to support its larger body.
A good rule of thumb to know if your plecostomus is well fed is to look at its belly: ideally, it should be slightly rounded. If the abdomen is sunken and the fish is underweight, try increasing the amount of food.
Instead, if his stomach is too bloated, he could be overeating or constipated from an overabundance of leftover food in the tank. If you see a lot of long, stringy poop, the nitrates could be building up to toxic levels, so be sure to vacuum up the soil and do a water change.
Does plecostomus eat fish poop?
As mentioned above, Plecos vary in their food preferences, but none of them live solely on feces. Although they may occasionally eat something while rummaging through the substrate, there is not enough sustenance in the fish’s waste for them to survive.
Remember that plecos are not only cleaners, but also live animals that require proper nutrition.
What fish can coexist with the Plecos?
Plecos get along well with almost any peaceful, community fish that isn’t big enough to eat them. Likewise, don’t add any fish that are small enough to fit in your mouth.
These Catfish are generally scavengers and will not eat other animals unless they have already died. Cases of Plecos sucking on the slimy fur of other fish have been reported, but this seems to occur mainly with larger ones that do not get enough food.
To prevent this from happening, I recommend that you have a smaller plecostomus and make sure you feed it well.
Can you keep two or more Plecos in the same tank? Depends. Some species (especially males) can be territorial towards their own kind or other bottom dwellers, so study their behavior and ask your fellow hobbyists about their experiences.
Smaller species, such as the Bristle-Nose, can be kept in groups as long as you have more females than males, and plenty of caves and hiding places are provided for everyone to choose their favourite.
In short: buy the right pleco that, even in adult size, fits the size of your aquarium. We hope we have helped you with this care guide on P lecostomus fish. If so, please share this article on your favorite social networks so we can reach more people.