Common Plecostomus

Common Plecostomus: ( Hypostomus Plecostomus)

Eats algae, grows huge.

Size: 16-24 inches

Aquarium Size: 100-300 gallons

Ah, good old plecos. You see many at the local fish store, anywhere from two inches to a foot. They are generally great algae eaters. But are they really the fish for you? You may not know it, but common plecos grow quite large. They can reach up to two feet long!

Plecos are generally lazy, relaxed, bottom dwellers. They like to hide in caves or near rocks, or maybe cling to the glass. They have armor clad scales, which protect them from predators and machine guns. If you have ever purchased a plecostomus, you will remember that when the pet stores employee put the net into the tank to catch  the fish, the pleco immediately zooms out of sight and goes crazy! That’s right, if alarmed, plecos will dash away very quickly. All plecostomus need hiding spots, such as rocks or driftwood. (Beware that driftwood can alter your aquarium’s pH). Those cool rocks with holes in them also work great. You can buy them in most/all lfstores. At this point I think it is a good idea to tell you that Common Plecos are territorial against each other. They might even “spin” at each other, ramming against each other’s armor plating. One will become the dominant pleco, and the subordinates will therefore get less food, and you know what that means.
Now you are probably saying that I am wrong because you see many plecos coexisting in one tank in the lfs. But things are totally different in the local fish store. They keep dozens of fish together in stuffed conditions. For instance cichlids. If you see that they are getting along at the store, you might buy some, but when they come home, you will be wondering why they are fighting. So please, NEVER use the local fish store as a role model! Now then. It’s possible to keep common plecostomus together. But it’s risky, especially as the grow large. Some get along, some don’t.

Another concern I would like to address is plecos not being able to get their food. It’s simple; other fish may reach their food before they do. Not to point any fingers, but goldfish and large cichlids are some typical culprits. Make sure your Plecostomus is getting his or her food! But what do Common Plecostomus eat? Algae wafers are great. But a diet made purely of these will make your pleco very bored. So throw in some cucumber, or blanched lettuce or spinach. For the cucumber,  cut it vertically so that your pleco doesn’t end up with a ring of cucumber around himself!
Yes Plecos eat algae. They CANNOT live on algae itself. It is only feasible as  a supplement. Nevertheless, they are good at eating it. It’s just that it isn’t enough for them.

Plecos may live well over 10 years with proper care.

Breeding: Documented in captivity, but not likely to happen. You can’t really even sex them :p
If it happens, it will most likely be an accident. If you do, though, good luck!

Plecos do well near a neutral pH, and a temperature between mid 70s and low 80s


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28 Responses to “Common Plecostomus”

  1. Elnora Kavin Says:

    You have some really good posts on here, however it took me a while to find this blog, why dont you promote this blog more often?

  2. PiterJankovich Says:

    My name is Piter Jankovich. oOnly want to tell, that your blog is really cool
    And want to ask you: is this blog your hobby?
    P.S. Sorry for my bad english

  3. Fishleaper Says:

    Thanks for your kind words Piter. I do have a hobby of keeping fish, as well as reptiles. If you have any questions or suggestions feel free to ask.

  4. Ashley Says:

    That was very helpful!!

  5. Sunaabh Says:

    Now that was some information I needed. My tank aquires unsightly algae every few days and I thought I’ll put in a couple of Plecos to do the cleaning job. I bought a couple of them and was wondering if only algae would suffice for their food. The pages here have provided me some addl imp info too. Nice job Piter and thanx for all the info.

    • Fishleaper Says:

      Hey Sunaabh, thanks for your kind words.

      As I have written in this article, algae alone will not be enough to feed your plecos. Algae discs will suffice, just make sure they are eating, and you can also treat them to some veggies.

      Snails are also a good option for removing algae if plecos grow too large for your tank. In fact, I might make an article about algae soon.

  6. sunaabh Says:

    Oops there was a bloomer in my post… 😉 Actually, Fishleaper needs to be thanked too for making these posts and pages available…. Thanx a ton Fishleaper!!!

  7. PreawCeaw Says:

    Just want to say what a great blog you got here!
    I’ve been around for quite a lot of time, but finally decided to show my appreciation of your work!

    Thumbs up, and keep it going!


  8. Ellyn Wilkoff Says:

    I had to refresh the page 2 times to view this page for some reason, however, the information on here was worth the wait. I loved that it is also really easy to read for the eyes.

  9. Marianna Says:

    Hey My Plecostomus is acting very strange, He Hides in his little rock, then will randomly swim (scramble) to the top of the water and then dive right back down, like he coming up for air, I have on little angelfin goldfish in there with him, I am thinking of moving him though.. Do you have any idea about why he does that, It is randomly done and he splashes the water at the top, He does it throughout the night used to be done around 1 hr. intervals, sometimes, more.. Help? Thanks

    • Fishleaper Says:

      Marianna, your plecos behavior is probably normal; they will do that from time to time in order to “refill on air”, if you will. However, doing this every hour is rather frequent, and your tanks oxygen might be low. You can get an air pump or an air stone to help oxygenate your water.

      I’m not familiar with the Angelfin Goldfish variety, but either way, your plecostomus will probably want the temperature higher than your goldfish prefers; however, you’ll probably be fine keeping the temperature in the low 70’s. Goldfish usually will hog up all the food, and while fancy goldfish aren’t as fast as the common variety, I would still make sure your plecostomus gets enough to eat. Thanks for asking!

      • brittany Says:

        Incredible. Mine is doing the exact same thing. And my oxygen thingy isn’t giving off as many bubbles as it was before. Maybe its broken. I was thinking the oxygen is low too. I’m gonna go to the fish store and find out what to do

  10. Erasmo Rathrock Says:

    Whoa! will be incredible giving. Thank you excellent!

  11. Charlene wicker Says:

    I have a question about my fish. I got the plecostomus to eat the algae in an old Beta/Peace Lily vase. He is doing pretty good. I got the algae wafers for food and also give him a little bit of Tropical Fish food. I don’t have an aquarium of air filter and I am worried about trying to change the water out. What do I need to do about fresh water for him?

    • Fishleaper Says:

      Hey Charlene, thanks for your question. I really recommend you get your plecostomus an aquarium with a filter and a heater; in a vase, waste is going to collect, and in addition to water that isn’t warm enough, your plecostomus might become sick, and will probably have its growth stunted.
      In the mean time, it is possible to do partial water changes with a small cup-be sure to dechlorinate the new water-you can remove some dirty water with this method.

      Again though, an filtered and heated aquarium is going to be mandatory for any plecostomus. Bowls and vases generally make poor habitats for fish, especially for something that is going to poop as much as a plecostomus. Good luck.

  12. Sunaabh Says:

    Fishleaper is very correct. I guess an understanding the nitrogen cycle in fish tanks other important factors which are responsible in porviding ideal conditions for fishes to thrive in aquariums and tanks will go a long way in in helping us provide our fishes better environment for them to live in… wished if Fishleaper could put in some information on these issues for the benifit of newbies in fish keeping. Thanx in advance Fishleaper. 🙂

  13. mang0 Says:

    This was a real quality post, thanks for the information!

  14. Mark Says:

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  15. Sarah Says:

    Thanks very much for sharing this great content! Looking forward to seeing more posts.

  16. June Emshwiller Says:

    Thank you very much for sharing all of the great information! Looking forward to seeintg more.

  17. Taramdol Says:

    I’ve been visiting your fish blog for a while now and I always find a gem in your new posts. Thanks for sharing.

  18. Angela Says:

    Our algae eater has been floating on his side for 2 days now. we feed him properly and the water is right. My baby girl is very upset because she thinks he is dying. As of now he is still alive because we can see him breathing. Please let me know if you can think of anything I should do. Thanks

    • Fishleaper Says:

      It could be a swim bladder infection. Make sure the nitrates and nitrites are at zero and that the temperature isn’t too warm or cold. It might also need more oxygen-for that you can get a bubbler or an air stone.

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  23. kornel Says:

    i cant get my common pleco to eat!! just got him today

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