How to Choose the Right Plecostomus (Pleco)
There are many plecostomus (pleco) species in the world. Pleco is the common name for catfish species in the family Loricariidae. There are all different types and colors of pleco, and they have all different personalities.
Plecos come from South American rivers and lakes. Depending on the species, they can range from 5 inches to 2 feet long. They can either be kindly and peaceful or territorial and need a whole tank on their own. They are useful for keeping unwanted growth out of the aquarium, since they eat algae and plants in the wild.
Choosing the Right Pleco for You
They are some of the most popular aquarium fish, and this article is about choosing the right pleco for you, along with the basics on what that pleco needs. Below, I have listed a few pleco species that are interesting and fairly easy to find, but there are many more species out there!
- Size: 5–7 inches (15 cm)
- Common Names: Busy Nose Catfish, Sucker-mouth Catfish
- Minimum Tank Size: 20 gallons (75L)
- Diet: Algae and plant growth in the aquarium. They also eat algae wafers.
- Setup: Any sort of tropical tank design, but preferably with a piece of wood and plants.
- Water Parameters: pH of 6.5–7.5. They love soft water that is slightly acidic or alkaline.
- Temperature: 70–79F (21–26C)
- Size: 1–2 feet (30–60 cm)
- Common Name: Common Pleco, armoured sucker-mouth Pleco
- Minimum Tank Size: 100 gallons (378L)
- Diet: Feeds on algae and plant material, use algae wafers too. These fish also accept vegetables willingly.
- Setup: These fish eat plants and love wood. Keep the aquarium decorated, with lots of cover or use fast-growing plants.
- Water Parameters: pH of 6.0–7.5
- Temperature: 68–82F (20–28C)
- Other: Even though it doesn't seem like it, these fish do jump! These fish can be kept with any fish except big fat ones of flat-bodied ones. These fish can also live to be 20–30 years old.
- Size: 15 inches (38 cm)
- Common Name: Sailfin Pleco
- Minimum Tank Size: 80 gallons (300L)
- Diet: Algae-based foods, meaty foods, and vegtables are all very important to its diet.
- Setup: Well-fed ones will not eats plants, but they may eat plants if they are hungry. This Pleco needs lots of hiding places and loves wood.
- Water Parameters: pH of 6.5–7.5. Moderate water hardness is good.
- Temperature: 75–86F (24–30C)
- Other: These fish cannot live with members of their own kind or species of pleco closely related to them.
Rubber Lipped Pleco
- Size: 7–8 inches (17cm)
- Common Name: Rubber Lipped Pleco, Rubber Lip Pleco, bulldog pleco
- Minimum Tank Size: 25 gallons (95L)
- Diet: algae, algae based foods, and vegetables
- Setup: Most set-ups but preferably with hiding places. They can live with live plants.
- Water Parameters: pH 6.5–7.5
- Temperature: 70–78F (21–25C)
- Size: 17 inches (43 cm)
- Common Name: Royal Pleco, Royal Catfish
- Minimum Tank Size: 90 gallons (340L)
- Diet: Vegetables, algae-products, algae, a rare meaty treat
- Setup: Must use wood in the aquarium
- Water Parameters: pH of 6.5–7.5 with soft water
- Temperature: 72–86F (22–30C)
- Other: Should not be kept with members of its own species or similar species.
Golden Nugget Pleco
- Size: 8 inches (20 cm)
- Common Name: Golden Nugget Pleco, Gold Seam Pleco
- Minimum Tank Size: 50 gallons (190L)
- Diet: Plant-Based and Meat-Based foods. It may munch on driftwood. It likes left-over food and will eat algae on the bottom of the aquarium.
- Setup: Wood is a must-have. You should also have hiding places and plants.
- Water Parameters: pH of 6.5–7.5. These fish need high water quality and a high current.
- Temperature: 77–86F (25–30C)
- Other: These Plecos are rare and expensive ($50), but very pretty.
- Size: 4 inches (10cm)
- Common Name: Clown Pleco, Clown panaque, and Ringlet Pleco.
- Minimum Tank Size: 20 gallons (75L)
- Diet: It eats wood, sometimes algae, meaty foods, vegetables. If hungry it may eat plants.
- Setup: You must have wood in the aquarium, ideally you should keep several types of wood.
- Water Parameters: pH of 6.8–7.6
- Temperature: 73–82F (23–28C)
King Tiger Pleco
- Size: 5 inches (12cm)
- Common Name: King Tiger Pleco, Gypsy King Tiger Pleco,
- Minimum Tank Size: 30 gallons (112L)
- Diet: Flake Food, Meaty Foods, algae, algae-based products, Left over food
- Setup: This fish may eat plants. Keep hiding places.
- Water Parameters: pH 6.5–7.4
- Temperature: 77–84F (25–29C)
- Other: Expensive ($100) and hard to find.
- Size: 5–7 inches (13–18cm)
- Common Name: Butterfly Pleco, Flunder Pleco
- Minimum Tank Size: 35 gallons (135L)
- Diet: very good algae eater. They also eat algae-based food, vegetables, rare and small servings of meaty foods.
- Setup: Stay away from dark substrate so it is more colorful. Have hiding places. Plants will be eaten if hungry.
- Water Parameters: pH 5.6–7.0. Must have tons of oxygen in the tank! Current for them is nice.
- Temperature: 77–82F (25–28C)
- Other: Can change color to camouflage.
Most pleco species are able to be albino, especially bristlenose and common plecos. Albino plecos need just as much care as the rest of their species requires. They do have red eyes, but instead of being pure white, they tend to be more light pink or tan.