Fish: Plecostomus or Algae Eater

The Plecostomus, or Hypostomus plecostomus, is better known as an “algae eater”. This is a fantastic starter fish and there are many different kinds of Plecostomus to choose from. The “pleco” as its known, has countless subspecies with a huge variety of colors and sizes.

Some basic types of Plecostomus:

  • Common Pleco or “Hypostomus plecostomus
  • Sailfin Pleco or “Pterygoplichthys multiradiatus”
  • Gold Nugget Pleco or “Baryancistrus spp.”
  • Bristlenose Pleco or “Ancistrus spp.”
  • Zebra Pleco or “Hypancistrus zebra”

There are many more types of Plecostomus fish. These are just a few members of this large family.

What do Plecos eat?

Plecostomus is an omnivore but it prefers vegetation. These fish are voracious eaters and require a good supply of food at all times. These fish love green vegetables such as zucchini and lettuce. These fish will also eat pretty much any kind of fish food but I suggest that you stick to feeding them vegetarian food.

Some people have noticed that their pleco is attacking their other fish. It is true that the pleco can attack your other fish, but they only do this when they are starving. If you aren’t feeding your algae eater or there isn’t enough algae in the tank, your other fish better watch out!

How do Plecos get along with other fish?

Plecos are generally peaceful, but they prefer to be the only pleco in the tank. These fish may grow territorial as they start to grow in size so its best to keep them alone. As a rule, just one pleco is enough unless you are keeping some of the smaller species. Plecos are very hardy fish and they may be kept with some of the more aggressive predatory fish as long as they are large enough.

Keep in mind that the common Plecostomus can grow extremely large! If you’re starting a new 10 gallon tank I suggest you go with a smaller species of pleco such as the dwarf pleco.

For more information about starter fish and aquarium setup Click Here! This guide has everything you need to start up a beautiful tank.

  12 comments for “Fish: Plecostomus or Algae Eater

  1. Donna
    January 28, 2012 at 2:48 am

    I got a 45 gal tank from a friend it came with a large pleco. Not sure if he is ok, he seams to up side down at the top of the tank, but sometimes at night I see him on the side of the tank. Is this norm for this kink of fish?

    • admin
      April 30, 2012 at 3:12 pm

      Donna- Upside down on the top of the tank is a bit odd but I wouldn’t rule it out. On the side of the tank is very normal for a pleco, they love to hang around. If he looks physically healthy, I think you’re A-OK!

  2. Melissa
    April 24, 2012 at 1:12 pm

    Is Freshwater Goldfish food enough to keep this type of fish healthy and happy? Also can you tell me how often I should change the tank or vaccum the gravel if Ihave such a fish in my small aquarium.

    Thank you

    • admin
      April 30, 2012 at 3:11 pm

      Melissa- Your pleco can live a decent life eating goldfish food but I suggest you supplement with green veggies. They have big appetites and there’s nothing better than fresh food! As far as vaccuuming, As long as you feed your fish just enough food to keep them full and your tank clean, you can do cleanings rarely and get away with it. I would say a 25% water change a month with a gravel vaccuum is enough. Just don’t overfeed!

  3. Michaela
    August 2, 2012 at 8:33 pm

    I am thinking of getting one of these how many small fish can go in the tank with it?
    I got a 65 litre tank.

    • Ken
      August 18, 2012 at 12:04 am

      If you have a 65 litre fish tank you should have plenty of room for many more small fish. Maybe 6-10.
      Be careful to keep your pleco fed though or he might snack on them!

  4. October 29, 2012 at 12:16 pm

    My placostomus is getting this white stuff on it, is it ick? We have been treating the take with ick treatment for about a week, and he just dosn’t seem to get any better. We also have always feed him algea waffers.

    • Ken
      May 13, 2013 at 7:05 pm

      This may be ick, or it could even be fungus! Fish fungus looks like long strands or fluff. Ick is tiny white spots. If you have ick you can try raising your water temperature to around 84 and treating with ridick. Keep your water clean!

  5. Brandon
    January 15, 2013 at 7:45 pm

    I have 2 large koi ponds one being 18×10 and the other being 13×6 would these fish be fine to put in there or do I need to find another option

    • Ken
      May 13, 2013 at 7:06 pm

      Depends on where you live. If it gets cold and freezes over winter, these will most likely not make it. If you are in a warmer client you can definitely add a couple plecos to a pond that size.

  6. michael
    May 30, 2013 at 8:40 pm

    my pleco scales are coming off is he ok?

  7. August 4, 2013 at 3:13 am

    Hey I was wondering what species the pleco at the top of the page is. I adopted one that seems to have a striped print on its belly an looks identical to the photo otherwise but I have no clue what he is or how big he will get. The person who had him kept him in a 5 gallon for years. I have worked him up to the 15 and today he joined the community tank which is a 30. I was wondering if his growth will be permanently stunted or if he will grow now that he has more space. And yes, my son and I already have plans to build our first tank this winter to house everyone. Also in my tank is a very dark colored pleco, i would call him black. He has an amazing sale fin and loves all food, including the occasional guppy that gets in the way. His belly is spotted whereas the other Pleco has stripes on his belly. Thanks for any information you can give me. I just want whats best for them. :) My goal is to get the striped one into the indoor pond until we get a bigger tank but he is a jumper who is sllllowwwwly coming around! Thanks again!

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