Did You Know?
Plecostomus fish are nocturnal and prefer to take rest and hide during the day.
Plecostomus (popularly known as plecos) is an umbrella term for fish that belong to the Loricariidae family of catfish. Plecostomus are commonly sold as aquarium fish and with proper care, they do well in captivity. Here, we will be telling you about the 'Common pleco' (Hypostomus plecostomus), the fish known for its relatively large size. Popularly known as Sucker fish or Sucker mouth catfish, it can easily live for 10 to 15 years in a home aquarium.
Tips to Care for Plecostomus Fish
If you are planning to keep the Common pleco, make sure you have a large tank. This is because the fish can grow up to a length of 60 cm (2 feet) but in most cases, they are around 46 cm long. For such a massive size, you will need a 75 to 100 gallon tank. These tanks are large enough to allow your fish to roam about comfortably.
The aquarium that will be used for keeping the Common pleco should mimic its natural environment, particularly the water conditions. This helps in promoting its health, despite living in captivity.
The water should be warm with a temperature between 73 degrees F and 82 degrees F (23 degrees C to 28 degrees C). But the fish is highly adaptable and can easily tolerate a significant variation in temperature.
The aquarium water should be soft and a bit alkaline since the natural habitat of the fish - the Amazon river basin - is slightly acidic to slightly alkaline in nature. The pH value of water can vary from 6.0 to 7.5.
While some say that the Common pleco can easily get along with other species, there is no guarantee that it will not attack them. However, if you want to add a new fish to your tank, make sure to use aquarium decorations, which will allow them to make their own territories. This in turn will substantially alleviate the risk of fighting and injury. Use flower pots, stones, and artificial plants as aquarium decorations.
Considering its large size, the Common pleco is a voracious eater; hence it poops a lot. So in order to keep the tank water clean, it has to be vacuumed as and when required to remove the feces. Also, in order to maintain water quality and health of the fish, the tank water has to be changed partially when the need arises.
The Common plecos have a strong reputation of being algae eaters, hence vegetables form the mainstay of their diet. That they love to eat algae doesn't mean they can easily survive on algae that grows in the aquarium. As Common pleco start growing, it is essential to meet their nutritional requirements.
Since algae have a low nutritional value, vegetables like cucumber, zucchini, beans, broccoli stems, green peas, lettuce, and sweet potato should be included in their diet. Make sure you first blanch and then the cut the vegetables into slices before feeding. You can also feed fleshy fruits like melon, papaya, and cantaloupe. Algae wafers can also be a great addition to their diet.
Shrimp are tiny creatures and have long been a source of food for the big fish. So, occasionally, you can feed your adult pleco with earthworms, cherry, or ghost shrimp.
Also make sure that the tank has a few pieces of driftwood. The fish chews on these pieces of wood, which act as a roughage, in turn promoting digestion. The drift wood essentially acts as a digestive aid, absence of which can make the fish sick.
As adult Common plecos are infamous for their territorial fights, they are not easy to breed. In order to create a favorable environment for breeding, you need to have a very large tank (at least 200 gallons). Also, to emulate their natural habitat, make sure the tank has plenty of natural stout plants that can withstand nibbling from the fish and provide hiding spots for the two Common plecos.
This species also requires a cave to breed in. So the tank should have a hollow place (cave-like structure), where they can breed. If the male finds the hollow structure ideal for breeding, it will clean the area thoroughly and seek the attention of the female. In case the female is drawn towards the male, it will deposit eggs on the side of the cave. Once the baby fish come out of the eggs, you may feed them infusoria. You can also give spirulina powder, which is highly nutritious. Commercially prepared fry food can also be introduced into their diet.
If you find that the Common pleco is too big for your tank, you can go for its smaller cousins such as the Bristlenose pleco, Zebra pleco or the Clown pleco that can easily accommodate in an average house aquarium.