Plecostomus Care Guide, Facts & Species Profile

Plecostomus, or plecos, are a group of armored catfish that belong to the Loricariidae family.

They are by far the most popular catfish amongst fish keepers, and in total, there are well over 150 species.

The most in-demand member of this family is called the common pleco and can grow up to 24 inches long.

In this article, we will discuss the various species, care, tank mates, aquarium requirements, and much more.

Want something extra? Download your free Plecostomus guide to learn all about their dietary needs, tank conditions, and more.

Plecostomus Facts & Overview

CategoryRating
Care Level:Medium
Temperament:Peaceful
Color:Brown, gray
Lifespan:10-15 years
Size:Up to 24 inches
Diet:Omnivore
Family:Loricariidae
Minimum Tank Size:30 gallons
Tank Setup:Freshwater: driftwood and caves
Compatibility:Limited due to size constraints

The plecostomus catfish, or pleco for short, is a name used for the catfishes that belong to the Loricariidae family.

In total, there are more than 150 different species; ranging from small to large and peaceful to aggressive catfish.

You may have seen the naming system the includes the letters “L” or “LDA”, followed by a string of numbers, which is used to identify the various members of the Loricariidae family.

Many beginner fish keepers think that common pleco refers generally to the Loricariidae family, but it actually refers to a specific member of the family, the Hypostomus plecostomus.

The common pleco is the most popular freshwater catfish among fishkeeping enthusiasts, and is a type of armored catfish.

It is found in the freshwater streams and rivers of South America, can grow up to 24 inches in length and have a lifespan of 10-15 years.

Pleco

Typical Behavior

Plecos are naturally nocturnal. This means during the daytime, you won’t see much activity.

In the daytime, plecos can appear timid, and you will likely find them hiding among the plants and caves inside your tank.

When they are active, you will notice that they are a bottom-dwelling fish and move slowly across the floor of the aquarium.

It’s important to note here that while they will eat some algae, their diet should not be made up of algae alone. Additionally, you should not expect your plecos to clean your tank.

Many pet stores advertise them as algae eaters, which is dangerous as they are omnivores and require other nutrition.

Plecos tend to use their suckermouth to attach themselves to the glass or rocks within the aquarium.

Plecos generally have a friendly temperament, and they do best in a tank on their own due to size constraints (read the tank mates section below for more).

Appearance

Plecostomus Overview

Most plecos are brown in color. However, the colors of some species are dependent on their environment. Most plecos also have sand-colored spots or patterns.

They are referred to as “armored catfish” because they have large boney plates that cover their bodies.

Plecos are unique because of their mouthparts, which look like a suction cup and allow them to attach themselves to smooth surfaces in your tank. Their mouths also allow plecos to eat up some (but not all) of the algae on the sides of the tank.

In the wild, common plecos will grow to around 24 inches in length, but in an aquarium, they tend to only grow to around 15 inches. The sizes of other species of plecos will vary.

Like other members of the pleco family, common plecos have elongated bodies which are covered with four rows of bone plates. The bone plates are not present on their abdomen.

They have well developed dorsal, pectoral, and tail fins. The dorsal fin has one coarse ray and seven soft rays. The anal fin has one coarse ray and between 3-5 soft rays.

Plecos have large heads with small eyes that are high up on their heads.

Interestingly, plecos have membranes covering their eyes which allow them to control the amount of light their eyes are exposed to.

One of the most interesting things about this fish is its tail fin. Pleco tail fins are moon-shaped, with the bottom part being longer than the top.

Types of Plecos

There are more than 150 different species of plecos. However, not all of them should be kept in an aquarium.

Below is a list of the most popular plecos for aquariums:

Habitat and Tank Requirements

Bristlenose Pleco
A Bristlenose Pleco

Most plecos are native to South America. They can survive in a wide range of habitats, with the majority of them living in fast-flowing streams and rivers with a rocky substrate. However, some can also be found in brackish estuaries.

You should remember that each species is unique, and no two pleco species will require the exact same habitat or tank setup. For example, smaller plecos such as the otocinclus catfish can survive in a 10-gallon tank, whereas larger species like the bristlenose need a minimum of 25 gallons.

Common plecos are usually only 2-4 inches long when first bought, but they grow very large, very quickly. Therefore, they are only suitable for more advanced aquarists in tanks of at least 80 gallons. As the pleco grows, you’ll need at least a 150-gallon tank.

Like most plecos, the common pleco’s natural environment consists of shallow streams and rivers that flow through tropical forests. This water tends to be fast-moving and littered with driftwood and plants. Plecos can be found hiding amongst these logs and plants during the daytime.

In order to set up a suitable tank for a common pleco, you should make sure that you add plenty of hiding places, as they will sleep in these places during the daytime. You can create these hiding places by adding caves and hollowed logs. You can also use upturned flower pots.

Plecos also prefer a tank that is heavily planted. You should make sure these plants are hardy, because your plecos and other fish may like to nibble on them.

Faster growing plants such as java moss are ideal. You should also make sure they always have access to driftwood to nibble on.

This combination of dense debris and vegetation helps to make plecos feel safe and secure.

Tank Conditions

Plecos are fairly hardy fish, so the water parameters aren’t as critical to maintain when compared to other fish.

The most important thing is maintaining a strong water current and keeping it well-filtered. To keep the tank well-filtered, you should use good-quality canister filters.

As for the water parameters, you should aim to keep the water temperature between 72°F and 86°F, with pH levels between 6.5-7.5.

The most important aspect of the water conditions is to ensure you keep your water clean.

What Size Tank Do Plecos Need?

The common pleco requires a huge tank. Once they reach their adult size, they will need at least a 150-gallon tank.

As for other popular species here are their minimum tank sizes:

  • bristlenose pleco (Ancistrus sp.): 25 gallons
  • gold nugget pleco (Baryancistrus sp.): 50 gallons
  • zebra pleco (Hypancistrus zebra): 30 gallons
  • clown pleco (Panaqolus maccus): 30 gallons
  • sailfin pleco (Pterygoplichthys gibbiceps): 125 gallons
  • snowball pleco (Hypancistrus inspector): 30 gallons
  • royal plecos (Panaque nigrolineatus): 125 gallons

Diet and Feeding

Plecos are often sold as algae eaters, which would indicate that they are herbivores and can survive solely on algae. However, most plecos are omnivores and will eat smaller fish, invertebrates, and crustaceans that they come into contact with at the bottom of the tank. While plecos won’t kill other fish for meat, they will scavenge dead or dying fish, making them opportunistic omnivores.

Certain varieties of plecos also feed on wood, so make sure you thoroughly research the exact species you are interested in to ensure you meet their dietary requirements.

Many people believe that the common pleco can live purely on algae. However, this is incorrect and will lead to unhealthy, malnourished fish.

The common pleco’s diet should consist of vegetables and algae, but also some meaty foods that contain protein. High-quality pellets can be used to form the basis of their diet.

You can also feed plecos lettuce, zucchini, spinach, shelled peas, and cucumbers.

For live foods, you can feed your plecos bloodworms, earthworms, crustaceans, and larvae. Worms are often the best choice for plecos because they sink, meaning they will still have a chance to eat in a community tank.

Plecos require lots of fiber, so feeding them a lot of vegetables helps them meet this requirement.

As plecos are nocturnal, you should try feeding them at night just before you turn the lights in the tank off.

Common Pleco

Tank Mates

Plecos are fairly peaceful and can be kept in community tanks. Some ideal tank mates include:

Even as juveniles, you should avoid placing plecos with discus fish and angelfish, as they are known to nip at plecos.

Additionally, make sure you don’t add any smaller tank mates that could fit inside your pleco’s mouth. Any fish that can fit in a plecos mouth may find itself getting eaten before long.

As your pleco ages, it will quickly outgrow other fish and should be kept in its own tank.

Can You Keep Plecos Together?

In theory, you can keep plecos together, but in practice, it’s near impossible due to their size constraints. Plecos just tend to get too big to be safely kept together.

If you want to keep two or more together, you will need at least a 300-gallon tank, making this unreasonable for all but the most experienced fishkeepers.

Breeding

Unfortunately, not much is known about breeding plecos, and even less is known about breeding them in an aquarium. However, one thing we know is that it is very difficult to breed them in captivity.

Plecos are egg-layers, and in the wild they generally spawn in caves, laying large volumes of eggs on flat surfaces.

The male pleco will then guard the cave until the eggs have hatched. Pleco fry are known for being demanding eaters that require large amounts of protein.

Is a Pleco Right For Your Aquarium?

If you’re looking for a unique, but large, addition to your tank, a common pleco might be just the thing your tank needs.

They are easy to keep and don’t have any complex care needs, but due to their size and the size of the aquarium they need, plecos are unsuitable for all but the most experienced fishkeepers.

Because of the maintenance efforts and costs required to keep a pleco, make sure it’s the fish for you before you decide to get one.

Plecostomus FAQs

About Robert 386 Articles
Robert Woods is the creator of FishKeeping World, a third-generation fish keeper, and a graduate in animal welfare and behavior. He is also a proud member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, the Marine Aquarium Societies of North America, and the Nature Conservancy.

60 Comments

  1. Wilhelmina S. says:

    Hello. We have had an aquarium for, it seems, forever. Our son started it when he was a teenager, is 42 now. Anyway, we have grandchildren now who loved the aquarium when they were small and are now teens as well though don’t come around as often anymore or pay attention to the aquarium. I have taken over the duty of caring for these fishies, which I love doing btw. However, it has been a chore and worry for a while because there were two goldfish which grew to be about 10 inches and about an 8 inch. Also two Cory catfish, three hatchet fish and a pleco, very small at the time. I decided to bring the goldfish to a pond, which was sad because they were like pets, owned by a friend and they are thriving, thank goodness. Now the pleco has grown to be enormous, about 10 inches long. I read that it needs, at least, a 125 gallon n tank, but our is a 30 gallon tank. I can not have a larger tank though… the pleco seems to be doing very well though. Will it be all right to keep it. I would hate to get rid of it, he’s used to me now, I can tell when feeding time comes around.

    • Robert says:

      Hello Wilhelmina,
      It’s nice that so many of your family have been able to enjoy the aquarium. As we mention in the article, these fish are all too often sold to customers with smaller tanks. I always recommend opting for the minimum size tank for a species.
      Robert

      • Wilhelmina S. says:

        Thank you, Robert. The sad thing about the pleco is that he/she can not be put into a pond like the goldfish, which are cold water fish. I’ll make sure to take good care of him/her. He/she has a beautiful, large cave and plants. The two Cories have their own small cave and the 3 small hatchet fish swim at the top. All seem to be happy…so far.

      • Cathleen Smith says:

        Hello. I recently found one of my fish (goldfish) had died. I removed him, did a 25% water change after finding the ammonia
        was way to high, and added the special water conditioners. My other fish (also a goldfish) and my Pleco are still acting lethargic. The goldfish is the worst right now, hes just sitting in one spot and getting pushed around by the bubbler. But I’m just as worried for my pleco as hes usually more active. Is there anything else I could be doing to help save these guys?

        • Fishkeeping World says:

          Hi Cathleen, sorry to hear this. As you’re probably aware, any trace of ammonia in the water is dangerous for fish. Here are a few suggestions: carry out another 25% water change, remove any uneaten food and clean the gravel. If you have any plants, remove any dead leaves or parts of the plants and reduce the amount you feed over the next few days. Thanks, Robert

  2. Leah says:

    I have a 70 gallon upright cylinder aquarium, and am the proud owner of a beautiful leopard sailfin pleco. I am realizing though that the gallon size does not really matter as much as the dimensions of your aquarium. With an upright cylinder shaped aquarium, you are really limited by the amount of floor space you have. (24” diameter). So, I am facing the realization that I will need to be rehoming my beautiful fish sometime in the near future as it is about 8” now. I am considering another aquarium, but am also considering a stock tank. But the bottom line is… a lot of pet shops and pet owners really only discuss aquariums in gallons when they should also discuss sq feet. Not all 70, 100, 125 gallon aquariums are created equal and provide the optimal living space for such large fish.

    • Fishkeeping World says:

      You’re very right! It’s a sad truth that unfortunately, many staff who work in pet stores are just not properly trained. I’m glad you had the foresight to research for yourself and make the best decision for your sailfin pleco! Robert

  3. Barbara Fisher says:

    I purchased our Pleco named “PLuTO” from Wal-Mart nearly 3 years ago, as a pet for my young son.
    Since our living space is limited, 1 gallon classic fishbowl was seemingly a good choice;) Although I purchased algae wafers, fresh spinach, couple of peas & cucumber, but our pleco (Aka. PluTo) refuses to eat those this food. PluTo diet consists Tetra Goldfish flakes 2x per day, ever since the 1st day I brought him home. ? I also, purchased dried shirmp food,to add some pritein, but suddenly it turned a completely different color (strange light tan color) and so I haven’t fed it shrimp eVer agAin; within a few hours, the condtion reverted & it was back to looking “normal” again.
    [As for it’s living environment…] I replace the “tap-filtered” water/& clean the glass bowl about once a week; rinsing everything with hot water + a small amount of white vinegar. That’s it.

    Our pleco seems “Happy”, never been sick and has out-lived 5 goldfish & a Chinese Mystery Snail, amazingly!
    My only worry has been, if it’s getting enough food each day, because it hasn’t grown at all… I feed it couple times per day (morning when I wake/& the same at night, before I go to sleep). It never seems ravenous, but nevertheless it’s remained the same size ever since the day I brought it home.

    • Fishkeeping World says:

      Hi Barbara, what type of Pleco is it? A one gallon tank is too small for any breed of Pleco. At the bare minimum, they need around 10 – 25 gallons depending on the species. You might find that the tank size is whats preventing it from growing. Thanks, Robert

      • Dorothy says:

        What will happen if the place is kept in this 1 gallon bowl? Dye? I have 5 gallon and little place, no sure which type. Have had him about 6 months. No growth, but seems happy. No room for bigger tank. He is my favorite. Also have a rabbit snail and 3 tetras, adults, according to pet store. Considering taking place back to pet store because was told inwards will grow even if outside body size doesn’t. If this true? If my “guy” is the smaller variety could I safely keep him in that 5 gallon? I would rather get rid of the tetras I just bought if that is the case. Actually I have a 7.5 gallon tank that isn’t as suitable for the place, low water flow and not as good filtering that I could set up somewhere for the tetras if I had to. Please respond, I hate the thought of me putting harm to this little guy. He is dark in color with tiny round spots that are tan in color, and had a single “whisker” on each side of his mouth. When I see his underside he is not attached by the mouth to the glass, his whole body is. I seen pictures of another fish , think it was called Fishkill that I thought looked like him.

    • Theresa says:

      Your pleco needs algae wafers.

  4. Steve says:

    Hi,
    Just thought I’d share with you that our Plecos have bred. We have circa 15 young ones in the tank now and they’re great! I’d post a photo but don’t seem to be able.

    • Fishkeeping World says:

      Fantastic! I’d love to see a photo if you send them to [email protected] Thanks, Robert

  5. Schneider says:

    I have two plecos and a Raphael catfish in a 55-gallon tank. I have to bring city water from a friend’s house because we have well water which is heavy in iron. When I first moved here, I set the tank up with well water and my poor fish, all cherry barbs, died overnight. Since then, for ten years I have filled and changed the water in my tank with city water. It’s a major chore. I recently moved the tropical fish to a 10-gallon tank, which is more manageable. I need to know if I can use well water for my plecos and catfish. We have shubunkins, goldfish, and a koi in pre-water softener well water, all thriving. Will the water, either pre- or post softener, kill the plecos and or the catfish?
    Robert: Would you please send a response to my email in case I can’t find the website again?

    • Fishkeeping World says:

      Hello,

      I don’t have much experience in using well water but I’d imagine if its heavy in iron it won’t be suitable for any of your fish. I’ll leave your comment here in case someone with experience of keeping fish in well water stumbles across it! Thanks, Robert

      • Sonja says:

        I use well water in my tank all three of my Plecos are fine. I use the water before it goes through the softener

    • Torey says:

      You could do some research into plants that contain red coloration. I know that certain plants require an extra dose of iron in the fertilizer you use, so I would assume if you were to get plants that will pull out and utilize that iron and other trace minerals you could use your own water. Definitely worth testing out.

  6. Michelle says:

    Hello, I have two tanks I run with well water. One is a 37 gallon with Electric yellow cichlids and a ten gallon community tank. I use a water conditioner when I do water changes. The ph in my water is a little high (7.4) but I haven’t had any problems in my community tank which has 8 guppies, one gourami and ghost shrimp. Cichlids prefer a high ph so also no problems there. I would highly recommend taking a water sample to your local fish store. Also, running your tap for a few minutes before using the water will keep the levels down of any metals present. I hope this helps!

    • Alison says:

      I’ve kept Plecos in my 55g tank for 20 years (Slinky x9 yrs, Scribble X10+ yrs) and have always had well water. The old house had a water conditioning system. My new house is also well water (from the same underground aquifer) but no conditioning system. My fish have done fine at both places, without any treatment needed.
      Well water varies by location, so it’s likely your high iron is due to your locale. Here may be a treatment available to remove iron and make it safe for your fish, not sure about that though. Have your water tested by a pond store or a reputable aquarium supply store for the best result.
      I must applaud your devotion. Importing city water to clean your tank must be a hassle. I wouldn’t want to do it, and I really love my fish.

      • Melissa says:

        I have city water live in Florida i.e. had my place for 5 years now big boy is his name and one thing I learned quickly was be careful bc some city water has chlorine in it ours does I mean i rem when I filled up my 50 gallon tank omg I was like wow I had to use actually quite a bit more water conditioner than m I normally did with my 10g I always measure and if I didn’t end up adding 3x more about give or take my babies almost died well they s all did but big boy and ironically some dam tough gummies I’m about to cry just re telling this I know big boy survived bc of his size abs bc of the plates not knowing what chlorine on water can do tip them and hew did lose some skin bc it just almost me lm ts it off I just keep dumping more n more stud in until I knew I could no longer smell the chlorine and just prayed for the best my angel fish I had for 3 years gone ghost knife fish gone they’re just as my babies as well my baby lol

  7. Kathy says:

    The Pleco I have now is kinda nuts. He is very active during the day and less at night. I have kept fish my whole life and never had one so active, especially during the day. He is well fed with a variety of food. Loves the part sand bottom on one half the tank and regularly demolishes my live plants. He is up to about 8” now. A beautiful fish.

    • Alison says:

      My current 10 yr old pleco is fairly active during the day too. The pleco I had before him was definitely nocturnal.
      Recently, my pleco has been aggressive with my Angelfish on two occasions. It really shocked me because they have been tank mates for several years without any issues. Not sure why he went wacko, but the angel stays away from him now.

  8. Elizabeth says:

    We have a thirty-gallon tank that includes two plecos. One day, we were admiring the fish, and we noticed in the corners of the tank were a total of six baby plecos! After lots of ooohing and awwwing, we settled back with our coffee and thought how lucky we were! After checking on them multiple times during the day, today we noticed that all six seemed to gone. Oh no!! What happened? Should we have removed them from the tank? Please advise if you know anything about baby plecos. Thanks!

    • Fishkeeping World says:

      Hi Elizabeth, Are you sure they are common plecos? The reason I ask is that they are notoriously hard to breed in captivity, in fact it’s pretty much unheard of. Is it possible that they are Bristlenose Plecos? Thanks, Robert

  9. Peach says:

    Hi, me and my partner are about to buy a 200L aquarium tank. About 3ft 3 by 16inches. Would a fully grown common pleco manage in that tank?

    • Fishkeeping World says:

      Hi Peach, no they would definitely not be OK in a tank of this size, they require at least 150 gallons (around 560L) when fully grown. Thanks, Robert

  10. Amy L Lerman says:

    Can a small plecostomus fit in a 20 gallon fish tank with a turtle (maybe two?) If not, can you recommend an algae eating fish that does? The turtle is not very big yet, maybe a 3 inch shell. I would like to get another small turtle as well. I do know that eventually I will need a bigger tank. Thanks!

    • Fishkeeping World says:

      Hi Amy, the minimum recommended tank size is 30 gallons for Plecos, and 40 gallons for turtles, so I certainly wouldn’t keep both in a 20 gallon tank. You can read our article here on turtle tanks for more suggestions on size and tank mates: https://www.fishkeepingworld.com/turtle-tank/

    • Becky says:

      Amy, I have a common pleco in a tank with a yellow bellied slider. The slider is now 5 years old, and the pleco was added to the tank at the end of 2015. They are the only two in the tank with minimal decorations to save space, and it is a 75 gallon tank. They seem to thrive well together, but they both grew quickly which led to me getting a 75 gallon tank a year and a half ago. I’m sure they need a bigger one though. I would imagine two turtles alone would need a large tank, nonetheless two turtles and a pleco. If they do not have enough space to grow, they will not grow or thrive.

  11. Thore says:

    First thanks for a great web page, lots of good information
    I am the owner of two “rescue” plecos that came from a 40 gallon tank, one is 12″ and the other 9″. The thing i like to add is, that Plecos are very adaptive, for example they now have a 180 gallon tank with “lots”(i still think the tank is to small for them) of places to hide, they don’t hide at all, they lie in the open or hang on the front glass most of the day, even with crayfish crawling around them. I like to think that they feel safe and therefore don’t need to hide.
    Even when i clean the tank i sometimes have to “shovel” them out of the way with my hand, and then they really only move just enough.
    So even though the information above is correct, there’s a huge difference in their behavior,
    depending on their environment, which only makes them more interesting to watch.
    I do recommend that when dealing with larger catfish, that you have a good spacing between the top glass and the water surface, or ( as i am forced to have) keep a lightweight top glass on your tank, mainly because like most catfish Plecos, occasionally like to make a small jump or surface turn grabbing a bite of air, So they don’t get hurt, this happens mostly at night so do keep a lid on, dont want a catfish on the floor to be the first thing you see in the morning:)

    • Fishkeeping World says:

      Hi Thore, thanks for sharing your experience. You’re definitely right about each individual fish having their own personality and behaviour. Thanks, Robert

  12. Tom Gochenour says:

    I have a 6000 gal outdoor Koi pond in the Austin, TX area. Would 2 Plecos help me keep the alge growth down? Would the common plecos survive and grow in this enviroment. My Koi are healthy and growing.

    • Fishkeeping World says:

      Hi Tom, the water temperature will need to between 72°F and 86°F, with pH levels between 6.5-7.5. Is the water in the pond likely to dip below those temperatures over Winter in your area? If so, you’ll need to rehouse them over the winter period. The size of the pond is more than adequate, and they are compatible with Koi. Thanks, Robert

  13. Tammie Reimer says:

    Thank you for a wonderful informative article. When I bought my daughter a 10 gallon tank for Christmas one year we went and got Glofish and of course a Pleco. Little did I know 3 years later I’d be purchasing a larger tank for this little Pleco. Store associates don’t tell you all this information. I purchased a 55 gallon tank for our Pleco (and believe it or not 2 glo fish from the original tank) who is now roughly 12-14 inches long. Since then I’ve started researching and learning a lot about Pleco’s. Again, thank you for the information. Do you know of any clubs or websites I could find more information?

  14. Ian says:

    My bristlenose plecos’ eggs recently hatched but my community neon tetras aggressively bully and eat them so i managed to put 4 of the newborns into a plastic ziplock bag(full of water of course). what should i do next?

    • Fishkeeping World says:

      Hi Ian, I’d be tempted to buy another tank which you can raise them in or take them to your local fish store if you’re unable to raise them. Thanks, Robert

  15. Henry Solaven says:

    Should I be worried about my pleco and angelfish in a 10 gallon? My angel fish hasn’t really grown for a few months and he is the same size..

    • Fishkeeping World says:

      Hi Henry, these fish should be in a tank which is a minimum of 30 gallons so I would move them ASAP. Thanks, Robert

      • Henry says:

        Thank you so much

  16. Margaret Armstrong says:

    Hi. I am pretty new to keeping fish. All my fish appear very healthy so I guess I must be doing something right ?. I have 2 plecos in my tank, although I originally had only 1 I inherited another from my son when my grandchildren got bored with their aquarium tank. My tank is about 45 litres. I have 4 beautiful goldfish, 2 small guppy type fish and my 2 plecos in my tank. I have read your useful advice on keeping plecos and will be adding a few treats once a week for them. My question to you is how do you tell a male from a female pleco? Thanks Margaret Armstrong

    • Fishkeeping World says:

      Hi Margaret, it really depends on which type of Pleco it is as there are hundreds. Females generally have a plumper body, and males tend to be skinnier. Thanks, Robert

  17. Katie says:

    Hey Robert,

    I just got a common place from a coworker who didn’t want it anymore. Stupidly, I decided to look up the care after I said I would love to have him (I think its male..). Anyways, its about 1 foot long already.. I have a 65 gal. tank and I’m wondering if he will be ok in there or if I should start saving for a bigger tank lol… Also some info I read and watched in videos said they can grow a little over 1 foot or even up to 3 feet long??.. or do they stay small depending on the tank size??.. is that info correct for Common Plecos? I’m so confused and don’t know what info to believe! You seem to know Plecos well …so I thought id ask.

    • Fishkeeping World says:

      Hi Katie, Common Plecos require a minimum tank size of 150 gallons when they mature. It’s true than they can reach large lengths, and although keeping them in a smaller tank will stunt their growth, this is extremely damaging for them. Many thanks, Robert

  18. Jen says:

    Hi. I am very happy to read that many other fish keepers love plecostomus. I have three in my 100 gallon tank. Two are clown plecostomus and one of these two have been in my tank since 1998. This old plecostomus did have a mate but they were very territorial but one died about 10 years ago. I purchased a second plecostomus and was told he was a clown one but he didn’t look like the one I had and is now about 12 inches long. My third was purchased for my kids that wanted the little plecostomus to have a buddy. Needless to say they have all lived in my tank peacefully for over 10 years. I only know they are around when I clean my tank and they scut off to avoid being seen. I am wondering how long they live for as most literature says 15 years but mine have surpassed that and is over 20 years old?

    • Fishkeeping World says:

      Hi Jen, on average Clown Plecos live until around 18 years, however there lifespan can be extended with excellent tank conditions and a good diet. Thanks, Robert

  19. David Cox says:

    Hard breeders? I have a small 5 gallon desktop tank gravel base with just two hiding spots and some fake plants. Damn things must have been rabbits, I took babies to the pet store all the time to give them away in batches of around 20. I also keep 5 harlequin rasboras in the tank. I ended up giving the female away to not have to deal with them. My male is now over 6 years old and going strong. My oldest Rasbora is the same age as the male pleco.

  20. DOROTHY says:

    I have 5 gallon tank. I bought some kind of place from pet store and have recently been told by their staff my tank is too small. Am I killing my place because of tiny tank? This is a chain store sad that staff is not trained better. I was trying to figure out which place he is with no luck, even found pictures of skillfish that resembles my little guy. He is about an inch in size and I have had him for 6 months or more, not sure. He is black with light colored tiny spots. I could send pictures. I hate to give him away but do not want to torture him if 5 gallon tank is too small. He is my favorite fish. Please help me and “Hudini”, thats what i named him because he hides so well i have trouble finding him and he blends in well with his enviroment. Thank you! Dorothy

  21. Holly says:

    I have 23 Koi’s and goldfish in a 75 Gal tank. I’ve had fish all my life,since the koi’s and my goldfish live in cold water is it gonna be a problem to buy 2 Plecos since the water temperature is totally different,and do you think I need them? Also we have city water and all I do is clean it once a week and feed them every 4 days I’ve gone up to a week…I have 11 babies that were a year old in November 2019 and my BIG BEAUTIFUL ones are 7 plus years old.

    • arya says:

      that’s way overstocked 75 gallons isn’t enough for a single koi they are strictly pond fish get him to a pond asap

  22. Mel says:

    Hi! Just want to ask for advice as I have 125L tank and got 5 corydoras, 11 neons, 5 gouramis, 2 Amano shrimps in it also live plants. I want to add few more fish. Would that be advisable?

  23. Laurie says:

    Hi – I just purchased a tiny white bristle nose pleco. I have a 36 gallon tank with two 2″ goldfish. I’m afraid to drop the pleco in, will they eat him? He isn’t even 1/2″ long.

  24. Erin Mitchell says:

    Does anyone have experience with plecos other than bristle nose breeding? My zebra pleco & my golden nugget pleco recently had babies to my complete surprise. No idea what to expect other than what people whose bristle noses have bred are posting. They’re in a 150 gal long ish tank with a bunch of assorted African cichlids & one Multipunctatus catfish. Just wondering how long they will need to grow big enough to avoid getting eaten.

  25. Maria kesegich says:

    Hi, my pleco zoomy,that i bought at pet smart, lives in a 10 gallon tank with some other small fish. He seems very happy and while sometimes he’s slow moving, other times he zooms across the tank, which is why we named him zoomy. His colors have seem to become more vibrant, so take that as he’s healthy. There’s times he’s laying under stuff and I swear he’s watching me feed everyone or move whatever needs adjusted in the tank lol

  26. Debbie Roe says:

    I have to plecos in my 50 gallon tank. They are exhibitionists! Constantly out scouring away at my tank and flaunting their beautiful selves all over the tank! I’ve had them about 4-5 months now and they are about 6 inches long.

  27. Clara says:

    I just started my new fish tank and have had it for about 4 days and my pleco has been in the log for 3 days(it’s not a real log btw) I drop down like 2 pellets and a wafer down in the hole but I can’t tell if he or she is eating because they both dissolve after a little and I don’t want to reach in and pick up the log. I haven’t been turning off the tank light I just decided to do it tonight to see if that was the case. Is this normal? Or should I be concerned?

  28. Laurie Housholder says:

    Anybody know what kind of wood the pleco likes to chew on? Also that spell check wants to make pleco into place lol

  29. Margaret Massey says:

    My Place keeps lying on his back for long periods of time, halfway in his cave, He’s about 5 years old, is this a natural thing to do? He’s been doing this for about 3 weeks.

  30. Emilia says:

    I have a Pleco and is 20 year old.Live in a 100 gallon tank.Well water around 8.8 and 8.9 I add carbonated water to try to keep it at 8.7 .Lots of work for that.I have a pipe where he hides. Nothing at the bottom.Clean every day his poop,he gets lettuce almost every day,palette algae and shrimps. So far so good.He is alone in the tank.I am worry about the ph but he sims fine.Eats ,poops. When I clean the filter he doesn’t like it but after few days it is back to normal.

  31. I always have a hard time keeping plecos especially if I buy them small. they last awhile then all of a sudden there gone. I have one high fin that is big and loves zucchini . gold nuggets don’t last long. I would like to get a nugget but I don’t want it to die.theyre not cheap.

  32. Karel says:

    Hello, I was wondering if you could give some tips on what I can put in my 37 gallon aquarium. It has a wall bubbler and a waterfall decoration piece that is also a bubbler. It has a little Squidward house and regular aquarium gravel. I’ve never had an aquarium before so I’m finding it difficult to figure out what to put in it, and I’m interested in getting a fish that likes to clean the tank too. Thank you!

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