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Common pleco

Common pleco
(Hypostomus plecostomus)

Very common in our aquariums, it is often mistaken for Ancistrus, which leads to poor maintenance conditions. Discover in this page how to tell the difference between a Pleco and an Ancistrus, as well as many other tips to take care of this giant with a strong character!

Scientific name

Hypostomus plecostomus
Acipenser plecostomus

Common name

Common pleco
Suckermouth catfish

Origin

what are its countries of origin?

Origin: South America
Biotope: Amazonian

Dimorphism

what are the physical differences between males and females?

The male has more developed pectoral fins. The female is usually lighter than the male

Group

Group

Loricariidae

Volume

what is the minimum volume for this species?

400 L / 88 imp gal / 106 US gal

Water parameters

what are the water parameters for the maintenance of this fish?

T°: 20 à 28°C or68 to 82°F
pH: 6 to 8
Hardness: 1 to 15°dGH

Difficulty

Difficulty

Easy

Size

what is the maximum size of this fish?

35 cm (14")

Life expectancy

what is the average life expectancy of this fish?

15 to 20 years

Living zone

in which area of the aquarium does this fish live?

Depth

Individuals

sociability of the species

2

Food

How to feed the Common pleco?

Food

How to feed the Common pleco?

The common pleco is omnivorous, essentially vegetarian. It will accept without difficulty bottom pellets based on spirulina but a contribution of fresh food will be a real plus: salad, cucumber, green beans, zucchini, spinach... Vary its diet by offering worms or shrimps.

Behavior

What kind of behavior does the Common pleco have?

Behavior

What kind of behavior does the Common pleco have?

The Suckermouth catfish is a rather peaceful fish that evolves mainly at night. Sometimes it can pursue its roommates to defend its territory, especially other Loricaridae. As it gets older, the Pleco becomes more and more aggressive and territorial. Therefore, think carefully before adopting it!

Cohabitation

Who can live with the Common pleco?

Cohabitation

Who can live with the Common pleco?

Because of its large size and peaceful nature, associate the common pleco with large species such as Scalars or Oscars. It is also one of the only fish compatible with piranhas.

In contrast, avoid cohabitation with other bottom species like Corydoras that could be hurt by this depth giant.

Cohabitation with goldfish is impossible.

Breeding

How to breed the Common pleco?

Breeding

How to breed the Common pleco?

Breeding is quite difficult to achieve in the aquarium (most farmers use ponds provided for this purpose). The Suckermouth catfish lays clusters of hundreds of eggs (200/300) in recesses or cavities. Roots or PVC pipes can be used as laying surfaces. Opt for a pH of 6.5 and a good brewing.

It is the male who takes care of the eggs by ventilating them and sorting them (it removes the moldy eggs). At birth, the fry measure 5 mm (0.2 inches) and their growth is very slow (count several months for a few centimeters).

The young feed on the algae of the aquarium, so you need a good reserve!

Its aquarium

Which aquarium for the Common pleco?

Its aquarium

Which aquarium for the Common pleco?

As for all bottom species, install a non-cutting substrate, if possible large enough grain size (otherwise your sand will be scattered in the water each time the fish moves). Provide enough free space for it to move around at its ease.

Also add big roots and flat rocks to the aquarium because the Suckermouth catfish likes to rest in the shade or in cavities during the day (make sure however the stability of your decoration, even if you stick the rocks between them).

Plantation side, you do not risk anything until the Pleco reaches 10/15 cm or 4/6 inches. Once this size is reached, it may be difficult to maintain proper planting because the Pleco tends to be destructive. You can in this case pass on a vegetation composed of tough and very firmly anchored plants (as the Anubias for example).

The common pleco produces a lot of waste. Regularly vacuum excrement and change 30 to 50% of the water a week.

Good to know

Good to know

Find all additional information!

Its mouth in the shape of a suction cup allows it to fix itself to the windows and the decoration. It scrapes the micro-algae found on these supports. It is for this reason that it is often sold as a «cleaner». Yet, nocturnal, territorial and huge, this fish is poorly adapted to most aquariums. In addition, its ability to scrape algae fades with age. Indeed, it will eat seaweed only during its youth.

As with all fish, its purchase should be motivated by interest in its species, and not for their so-called «function», which is in most cases quite limited. Nothing will replace the maintenance work of the aquarist!

The common pleco is a fairly robust fish and accepts a wide range of water parameters.

There are golden and brown forms of this species.

As it is sold rather small, it is often confused with the Ancistrus. Indeed, it is quite difficult to differentiate between these species when the individuals are young. Plecos do not have the spines found on the Ancistrus’ heads. They are also much bigger. Other differences are at the tail, dorsal fin and head shape:
difference between pleco and ancistrus

Alternative species

Alternative species

Discover the similar species

None (for the moment!)

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