How to Care for a Plecostomus Aquarium Fish

By Erin Ringwald

Plecostomus are catfish that originally came from Peru, Bolivia and Paraguay. They are also called plecos. They are one of the most common species of fish bought to keep an aquarium clean since they will eat the waste of other fish. They also use their sucker mouths to clean the glass of the tank as well as the ground and tank decorations. Plecos are hardy fish that can live for 10 to 15 years. They are easy to take care of if you follow a few simple steps.

Ensure you have ample room for your plecostomus. Most species can grow up to 18 inches. If you find your fish is getting too large for his surrounds, you will want to move him to a larger tank. Alternately, choose a species like the Bristlenose plecostomus, which generally do not exceed five inches when they are fully grown. It is also best to keep only one pleco per tank since they can become territorial to other plecos.

Keep your water temperatures mild. Plecos like waters that are in the mid-seventies. Although they can survive water temperatures that are lower or higher than this, they do best in moderate temperature. Attach an aquarium thermometer to the outside of the tank and check the temperature every few days to ensure your temperature is correct. If needed, place an aquarium heater in the tank and adjust it as needed.

Provide shelter. Plecostomus like to hide and burrow, especially during the day when they sleep. Keep rocks, driftwood and bogwood, which is preserved wood similar to driftwood. Using soft substrates such as sand instead of gravel also gives them a hiding space.

Feed your plecostomus at night. Plecos are nocturnal fish. Before you head to bed, turn out the aquarium lights and feed them. Wait until you have turned out the lights to feed the fish. This can help prevent the other fish in your fish tank from eating the food before your plecostomus can reach it.

Give them a variety of foods. If a plecostomus eats only animal matter it can cause digestive problems. They will enjoy eating romaine lettuce or boiled spinach. The Bristlenose variety enjoy cucumber, zucchini, peas and green beans. You can also try food supplements such as algae wafers or shrimp pellets.

Keep the tank peaceful. Plecos prefer mild-mannered fish, such as mollies or angel fish. Avoid aggressive varieties, such as cichlids.