There is a lot of amazing tank-cleaning fish. But plecos are one of the best fish for cleaning the tank. 

They are excellent fish for keeping the tank clean and people love to keep them because they are easy to care for.

In this article, You’ll learn more about plecos caring such as their Diet, temperament, water parameters, and more. So follow till the end to get complete knowledge about plecos caring.

This article was a care guide that was made for beginners, So they can learn from the zero if you have any doubts about the plecos care guide, Feel free to comment.

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Without wasting time let’s start with a quick intro to plecos.

Quick Introduction chart of Plecos

Information ChartHypostomus Plecostomus
Scientific NameHypostomus Plecostomus
Care LevelEasy
ColorSand, brown, gray
Lifespan10 to 15 years
Size12 – 19 inches
DietShrimps, worms, greens
Minimum Tank Size40 gallons
Temperature20 to 30 degrees Fahrenheit
Water ConditionspH should be around 6.0 to 7.5
Tank Mate CompatibilityGuppies, Mollies, Gouramis, etc

What are plecostomus and where do they originate


Plecos are also known by different names such as suckerfish, and common plecos. But do you know the original name of the plecos?

Hypostomus plecostomus is known as the plecos. It was a fresh aquarium fish, but they are mostly founded in rivers. Plecos are tropical fish that belongs to the family of Loricardiidae.  

They are mainly found in vast river basins of the Amazon and they can survive up to 12 years.

There are a lot of varieties of pleco breeds such as Common Pleco (Pterygoplichthys pardalis) 

  • Bristlenose Pleco (Ancistrus sp.) 
  • Clown Pleco (Panaqolus sp.) 
  • Rubber Lip Pleco (Parancistrus aurantiacus) 
  • Butterfly Pleco (Dekeyseria picta) 
  • Galaxy Pleco (Leporacanthicus galaxias)

There is a lot of misconception about the plecos such as they are very hard to keep, They make the water cloudy and dirty, etc. As a beginner, It’s very important to care about the plecos because sudden changes in the water parameter make the fish stressed.

How is their Appearance


Common plecos have the shape of a catfish that you have seen before. The mouth was underturned, with expansion fins, and a flat belly. They will expand their fins when aggressive fishes attack them.

The base color of common pleco is brown and several black splotches cover the body. There are some varieties of colors like white, black, etc.

The coloration of the fish varies according to the environment they come in. On the top body, you can see an armor plate for protection.

Another thing is that plecos are bottom dwellers. They stay more time at the bottom side of the aquariums and eat fish poops and other wastes from the bottom side.

That’s all about the appearance of the plecos.

What is the average size of common plecos?


The plecos can grow between 12 to 24 inches.

But the average size of the common plecos is 15 inches. But in the early year, people found plecos of 30 inches(30 inches according to Burgess 1989).

But the maximum size of the plecos can grow about 24 inches. That was the only record in 2022. There may be a chance of big size plecos that can be founded in rivers.

As a beginner, You need to buy small plecos for understanding the basics and they need to be suitable for the tank. 

If you bought large-size plecos, then it would be hard to keep them in a small tank and will not be easy to care.

How To Care Plecos as a Beginner

Plecos can adapt to any environment as they originated as tropical freshwater fish. They are suitable for any environment and you can put them in a tank or pond. These plecos can be found in many rivers because the fish owners will release them into rivers.

As a beginner, You need to care them well for their health.

The first thing to keep in mind is to keep the water parameters correct. Sudden changes in the water parameters will make the fish stressed. It will hard to overcome the stress in any fish.

Don’t overfeed the fish without any proper schedule. You need to keep a feeding schedule for fish.

Clean the water once every week and change the water once a month. Changing water is good for the healthy growth of fish because freshwater contains a lot of oxygen content to boost the immunity and growth of fish.

Provide them with an aquatic environment with suitable live plants, driftwood, substrate, etc. That’ only thing you need to care as a beginner and if the fish have any health-related issues, you can see the fish showing some erratic movements.

What are the Tank size & water parameters?


The minimum tank size required for small plecos is a 40-gallon aquarium tank

But for an adult, the average tank size is 80 to 90 gallons as a minimum size.

According to my opinion, I recommend keeping at least a 150-gallon aquarium for adult plecos. Large-size aquariums are always better for plecos because they can search for a lot of food and there will be more chances for hiding.

When the aggressive mates start attacking they can swim in a lot of places as the tank is big. 

As a beginner, you can use a 40-gallon aquarium with small-size plecos. Many people are not aware of the tank size while purchasing the wrong size plecos.

If the fish start to grow faster, you need to change the aquarium. Otherwise, the fish gets stressed.

Now let’s look at the water parameter that plecos required.

Common plecos can be lived in any environment that can be suitable for their habitat. They are mainly found in rivers, so they can adapt to any kind of weather. But they love to stay in warm water because warm water contains high oxygen content.

Here are the water parameter of plecos.

  • Water temperature: Between 72°F and 86°F 
  • pH level: Neutral pH balance between 6.5 and 7.5
  • Water hardness: Up to 25 dGH

These are the water parameter that plecos like. Another important thing is, you need to check the water parameter once a week.

If the water temperature becomes lower, then you need to provide them with a heater for controlling the temperature. 

What kind of filtration do plecos like

Plecos like all types of filtration such as biological, mechanical, and chemical filtration.

I prefer to use a canister filter for my plecos tank because it was good enough for cleaning the entire tank.

As a beginner, you can use an internal filter or small canister filter for a small plecos tank. The filter is an essential piece of equipment in every aquarium for removing debris and ammonia from the tank.

Without the filter, the water becomes cloudy and dirty. So you need to clean them every day. I know it will be a hard task.

Don’t worry, you can use a filter and clean the water once a week.

That’s all about filtration.  Here are list of things that Plecos likes in tank.

What are the Behaviors & Temperament of Plecos


Plecos are peaceful fish as they were young. They will get along with any fish in the tank.

When they reach adulthood, they will start to show aggressive behavior toward other fishes. After some days, they will create their own territory. When other fishes go near the territory, the plecos will start to attack them.

That’s why people release adult plecos into the rivers. It will be hard to keep them.

Generally, Plecos prefer to stay alone and will not attack fishes, but if they see fishes with bright colors and long fins, they will attack them.

We cannot see the plecos attacking because in the daytime, the plecos will rest and at night time they will start doing their job.

We can see them staying on driftwood and glass at night time.

Common Diseases


Plecos can be affected by any disease that other fishes have and many people think that plecos are more sensitive to disease. 

There is some common disease that will affect the plecos such as Ich. It was caused due to stress.

The other common disease is dropsy, the fish body will be swelling fluid that makes them tired while swimming. It will be harder to swim with dropsy diseases.

Plecos can be also affected by bacterial and fungal infections. 

Mainly these diseases are affected due to poor water conditions and overfeeding.

What are the Compatible Tank mates For Plecos?

Plecos are suitable for all types of fishes, But don’t make monster fish as the tank mates of the plecos such as alligators, arapaima, etc.

Plecos are peaceful fish in the younger ages, but in adulthood, they will become aggressive and start attacking fish.  

As we already know in the beginning. You can keep the plecos with fish that have been listed below.

  • Guppy Fish
  • Molly Fish
  • Platy Fish
  • Swordtail Fish
  • Corydoras
  • Gourami
  • Otocinclus Catfish
  • Cory catfish

These are the tankmates that I have in my Plecos tank. 

If you see any attacking tendency between the plecos and other fishes, You need to immediately separate the plecos into another tank. When I was a beginner, I had done a lot of mistakes, So you need to avoid mistakes.

That’s all about the tank mates of plecos. Now let’s look at the diet of plecos.

Best Food and Diet that Plecos Loves


Plecos make a lot of variations in their diet. They spend more time at the bottom eating uneaten foods and algae.

Algae is the primary source of their food. They love to eat it and plecos make the tank clean from the cloudy algae.

Many people use plecos for controlling the algae spreading in aquariums. So they think plecos only eat algae and will not provide any food for them.

You can feed plecos food that you feed to bottom dwellers. The best food for plecos are sinking pellets and algae wafers. You can feed them once every day and if you see the food at the bottom then wait for 24 hours to feed them.

Feeding is important for every fish, but many people are not aware of the feeding schedule and overfeed them.

You need to make a schedule for feeding your fish, otherwise, the fish may affect health issues like ich.

How to Breed Plecos


For breeding plecos, you need to set up a separate tank. It was a little difficult to breed the plecos due to the following reasons.

You can only breed the plecos when they reach the adult stage. So you need to set up a separate tank of 250 gallons. That will be a massive one. 

The second reason is that adult plecos are aggressive, so there may be a chance of attacking the female fish.

Breeding of plecos is simple, You need to choose a perfect bond pair of plecos for breeding.

You need to provide a breeding environment for plecos, There should be a cave in the tank for breeding.

The male fish will clean the cave and invite the female plecos to lay eggs and the male fish guard the eggs until they hatch. 

That is only about the breeding, I have not breed the plecos, so I can’t tell about the success.


Now you have finished the detailed guide for plecos. As a beginner, you might have a lot of questions and problems while fishkeeping the plecos.

Don’t worry.

You can comment on the question and feedback about the guide below. Also, subscribe to the newsletter for news guides and tips on fish keeping.

Let’s grow our fishkeeping together with grateful knowledge.

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