10 Different Tropical Aquarium Plecostomus - Rare & Common
Plecostomus, or Plecos, are a group of armoured catfish that belong to the Loricariidae family, the most prominent catfish family globally. Plecos are the most popular catfish amongst fish keepers ranging from small to large and peaceful to aggressive Catfish.
They can range in size with the biggest reaching as much as 60 cm in length. Most of these species have a lifespan of up to 10-15 years. They are characterized by heavy armoured plates on their bodies and sucker-shaped mouths. This is what makes them great at cleaning algae. Many plecostomus can breathe air from the surface due to modifications in their digestive tracts.
Plecos do best in a tank on their own due to size constraints. The majority of Plecos are brown; however, individual species' colouration depends on their environment. The majority of them also have sandy-coloured spots or patterns.
Scientists use L or LDA numbers to identify the different plecostomus species, and at this present time, there are over 500 numbers with more being added each year. Like the L177 Gold Nugget and L046 Zebra Plecos, some species are brilliantly coloured and have a hefty price tag.
The majority of Plecostomus are endemic to South America, although you can find a few in Costa Rica and Panama. Although several species have minimal ranges and are only found in certain parts of specific rivers, they occupy a wide range of habitats.
Most Plecos live in fast-moving shallow streams and rivers, while others inhabit acidic black water, and others favour quiet, brackish estuaries. Their habitats tend to be rocky and littered with driftwood and plants where you will find them hiding amongst them during the daytime. They use their suckermouths in high flow areas to attach themselves to rocks and submerged trees to keep from being swept downstream.
It would help if you remember that each species is unique and no two require the same tank setup or habitat; therefore, you should thoroughly research the needs of the specific breed you're interested in keeping.
Typical Pleco Behavior
Plecos generally have a friendly temperament, and the first thing to know about this fish is that they are nocturnal. This means during the daytime; you will not see much activity. In the day, they can appear timid, and you will likely find them hiding amongst the plants and any caves inside your aquarium.
When Plecos are active, you will notice that they are a bottom-dwelling fish and will move slowly across the aquarium floor. While they are moving slowly across the floor, they make a superb job cleaning up algae within the tank.
Plecos are generally found in soft waters with low pH in the wild; however, the majority of species sold today are commercially raised and can tolerate a much more comprehensive range of water chemistry.
A pH anywhere between 7.0 and 8.0, alkalinity between 3 and 10 GH (54 ppm to 180 ppm) and a temperature between 74 degrees Fahrenheit and 80 degrees Fahrenheit will be adequate for most captive-bred species. If you have to keep the aquarium in a room below 74 degrees Fahrenheit, it is advisable to use an aquarium heater to maintain the proper temperature.
Wild-caught fish may require a temperature in the mid to upper 80's, pH of 5.5 to 7.0, and alkalinity below 3 GH (54 ppm), so it is best to research fish you are unfamiliar with before purchasing.
Sustain good filtration and do a 10 per cent water change every week or 25 per cent every two weeks. Please make sure you do not forget to treat tap water with de-chlorinator before refilling your aquarium.
Plecos are compatible with most aquarium fish, although it would be better if the tank mates are roughly the same size as them. Large predatory fish may consume smaller pleco's or Otocinclus, ending in the catfish becoming stuck in the larger fish's throat. Large plecos can be mixed safely with smaller fish as they will not usually try to eat them.
With so many suckermouth catfish species to choose from, no matter what size aquarium or type of fish you own, there is one perfect for you. Here is an example, the Common Pleco, Hypostomus Plecostomus, can grow to over 30 cm and will ultimately need an aquarium of at least 250 litres. At the same time, Otocinclus will be perfectly content in a 40-litre tank.
Plecos tend to be reserved, so caves, hollow logs or other size-appropriate hiding places should be readily available in the aquarium. You should provide moderate to good circulation to simulate the fast-moving rivers that many species inhabit in the wild. Make sure you place some driftwood in the tank, this can be used as a shelter and a source of food for some Pleco species.
While Plecos and other suckermouth Catfish are typically sold as algae eaters, some species are carnivorous, feeding on carrion in the wild.
Others feed almost exclusively on wood, so it is best to research the dietary needs of any species you buy.
Algae Wafers, sinking tablets, tropical granules and shrimp pellets are all excellent foods for these Catfish. However, many experienced hobbyists will target feed their plecos once or twice a week with a tablet or disc foods given at night because of their nocturnal habits.
For best results, feed a variety of high-quality dried foods and rotate your fishes' diet daily.
While there isn't much information about many rarer species of Plecos' spawning behaviour, most suckermouth Catfish have been successfully bred in captivity.
Plecos usually spawn in caves, with the male taking care of the eggs until they finally hatch.
The fry is greedy and must be fed continually on a high protein diet such as brine shrimp nauplii, micro worms, sinking tablets or wafers.
For intentional spawning, you should set up a separate aquarium and breeders should be fed frozen or live foods for several weeks to condition them.
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