Caring for Your New Plecostomus
The inside scoop from Aqualand Pets Plus on Plecostomids

 
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Plecostomus Factoids

Origin

South America

Sex Difference

Bumpy pectoral fins on males

Maximum Size

18" +

Breeding Age

Not sure -- probably a year old

Breeding Comment Breed in holes in bank

Attitude

Loafs days.  Works nights.

Foods

Algae plus any food

Water

Flexible


LA Pic
Bristlenose plecos will stick in your net.  They can pop out those hooks at will.  Handle carefully.

LA Pic
Plecos actually look pretty good when they feel like coming out of hiding.


Origin.  Plecostomids hail from South America where the weather never gets cold.  This means they need a heater when we keep them in our tanks.  In our outdoor ponds, they can handle only the warmer months.

Heavy Armor.  Their heavily armored body protects them from all but the fiercest aggressors.  African cichlids will eat their eyeballs.  Piranhas learn to flip them over and eat their soft underbellies.  Big oscars can whip them back and forth and “snap them.”  But in general, not too many fishes can hurt a plecostomus.  

LA Pic
When you pick plecos up, they're ALL sailfins.  Look out for that side fin.

LA Pic
Especially if it's a huge one.

Netting Plecos.  Rather than net the biggies (which crawl out of nets), we catch them by hand.  Make sure you hold down their pectoral fins.  Plecos try to wiggle away.  In the process, those pectoral fins will clamp on your fingers.  Plecostomus can get you pretty good -- especially the big guys.

LA Pic
Nice pleco mouth for algae scraping.  

Sucker Mouth.  With their sucker mouths they eat algae and other vegetation. Special rasping lips enable the plecostomus to tear holes in driftwood, delicately strip the top layer off the green leaves of an Amazon sword plant, and polish the glass walls of your aquarium.  Most people keep them for their latter attribute. Bristlenoses stay smaller than the econo plecos.

 

LA Pic
The big plecos can destroy anything organic.

Grows Large.  In a large tank some species can grow to 18 inches and become quite destructive.  In addition to breaking off your filter stems, a big pleco can literally strip the scales off a large oscar or koi at night.  Smaller plecos usually remain harmless.  Slow moving fishes such as angels and goldfishes occasionally get pestered by plecostomids.

LA Pic
Little guys, like the otocinclus can't harm anything.

LA Pic
Here's a bunch doing what they do best -- hanging out.  In herds they could eat plants.

LA Pic
They love canned green beans.

LA Pic
The clown plecostomus stays small but not as small as the otocinclus.

LA Pix
Long-time resident plecos learn to eat at the top.  Some also learn to poke their heads out.

Nocturnal.  Plecos like to hide during the day in caves or behind your filter stem.  After a few weeks most learn to eat during the day.  Although plecostomids prefer to dine fashionably late in the evening, many soon learn to cruise the water surface belly up and wolf down their share of the floating flakes or pellets.  

LA Pic
Two-inch rhino plecostomus.

LA Pic
Maybe you can see the "horns" better on this guy.

LA
You can see his horn here.

LA
10-inch rhino -- nice dorsal.

New Plecos.  You need to give your new plecostomus extra rations once he polishes off your algae. He prefers the night shift.  Just remember that your other fishes usually eat all the floating food before your pleco “wakes up.”  Give him some extra flakes in the late evening.

New Tanks.  New tanks starve plecos to death.  Nothing, absolutely nothing, grows on the glass walls of a new tank.  The other fish eat all the food before your newly recruited pleco gets off his duff.  Add some food for him just before you turn off the lights.  He doesn’t need much but he does need something to eat.  Plecos do very well in established goldfish tanks.  

LA Pic
Plecostomus really love the vacation feeder blocks.

LA Pic
Little plecos munching on a vacation block.  They like 'em.

LA Pic
Medium plecos really love the vacation blocks.

LA Pix
They also like slices of blanched (to make them sink) zucchini.

Special Foods.  As pleco foods go, algae wafers work exceptionally well.  These are specifically made for plecos.  Plecos also love the “vacation blocks,” but devour them so fast you won’t believe it.  Under normal conditions plecos will eat any type of fish food you feed, IF the other fish don’t polish it off before you turn the lights off. Just don't add your pleco to a new (bare) tank and expect it to survive without food.

The Sexes.  Small ones all look alike.  Mature males sport tiny bristles and when breeding look more orange in the “sticker fins” on their sides .

LA Pic
Too bad this farlowella can't clean the outside of the glass.

LA Pic
Much larger farlowella.

LA
Whiptail cats usually just sit there all day unless hungry.  They get active at night.

LA
Another whiptail catfish.

LA
Younger whiptail with0.75-inch Badis badis in front of him.

LA
Whiptails are just kind of cute.

LA
Nice looking with that dorsal fin upright.

LA
Some whiptails have those "stabbers" on the side of their mouths.

LA Pic
Albino regular plecostomus.

LA Pic
Adult albino sailfin pleco.  Nice looking 10-inch specimen.

LA Pic
His working mouth.

LA PIC 
His working anus.

LA Pic
Still at work two months later with healed dorsal fin..

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Albino sailfin plecostomus.

LA Pic
Little rubbernose plecos -- two inchers.  L 187A

 

LA Pic
Three-inch "cherry plecos."  Really dye injected albino chocolates.

LA Pic
More cherry plecos.

LA
Albino chocolate pleco.  Dorsal view.

LA
Albino chocolate pleco.  Ventral view.

Types.  Dozens of different species make it to the marketplace.  Most people get the regular ones grown on pleco ranches in Florida because they do the job and cost very little.  Other usually available Loracariadae (armored catfishes with a sucker mouth) plecos include:

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Bristlenose and Bushynose

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Clown and White-Spot

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Yellow and Albinus (widemouth)

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Butterfly and other Hi-Fins

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Farlowellas and Whiptails

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Otocinclus (under two inches) plus lots of others

LA Pic
Lots of very attractive plecos out there -- sailfin plecos.

LA Pic
Sailfin plecos mangiaing green beans.

LA Pic
Ditto once they caught on.

LA Pic
Albino bristlenose plecostomus.  Four-inch male.  Also with "stabbers."

LA Pic
L-200.

Deutsche Plecos:  The Germans print a book of plecos that assigns them “L” numbers.  In this book you’ll find plecos you never heard of (and may never see).  It helps if you sprechen sie Duetsche kleine bissel.  Great book  Some of these less common plecos appear from time to time.  To see some, go to ’Spensive Plecos.

LA Pic
Look real close to the right and behind this two-foot koi.  You'll see a two-foot pleco.

LA Pic
Hefty sized "chocolate" pleco.

Last Word:  We like plecos better than Chinese algae eaters.  Chinese algae eaters get mean fast.  Small ones suck hickeys on your fish.  Big ones kill your fish.  We’ve even seen Chinese algae eaters kill African cichlids.  On the other hand, we’ve also seen African cichlids kill plecostomus.  They start by plucking their eyes out.  LA.

© 1998, © 2004, © 2006  LA Productions

Expensive Plecostomus

Expensive Plecostomus II

Expensive Plecostomus III

Expensive Plecostomus IV

3600 Sixth Avenue

Corner of Sixth & Euclid Avenues

Des Moines, IA 50313

515 283-0300

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