What Care Does a Pleco Need?


Quick Answer

Plecostomus, more commonly known as a pleco, is an aquarium fish that prefers warm, soft water, a balanced pH level and algae as food. It is native to the rivers of South America, and proper care entails recreating this habitat as closely as possible in the home aquarium.

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What Care Does a Pleco Need?
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Full Answer

Plecos are often used as beginner aquarium fish, but that can be misleading, as they need fairly high water quality to survive, as well as a well-cycled, established aquarium. Therefore, a pleco should not be among the first fish introduced into an aquarium. A water temperature between 73 and 82 degrees Fahrenheit, a pH level between 6.5 and 7.5, and a water hardness of 5 to 19 German degrees are optimal for plecos. More important than specific levels, though, is maintaining stable water chemistry overall. Drastic changes to these parameters, even within the preferred ranges, can cause shock in plecos and other aquarium fish and are common causes of fish death in the home aquarium.

One of the reasons plecos are such popular aquarium fish is their diet. They eat algae and can often be seen cleaning the glass of aquariums. Once they get bigger, or if algae does not grow fast enough, they may need to be fed algae pellets or other supplemental food.

Plecos are native to rivers and are at home in currents and oxygen-rich water. Adding a power head, an air pump or both to a pleco’s environment is a great way to simulate this effect. Pleco owners should keep in mind their tank sizes; while the common pleco is often sold as a 2- to 4-inch fish, it grows fairly quickly and can get 1 to 2 feet long in the home aquarium.

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