Plecostomus Care Guide – Diet, Breeding & More

Plecostomus zebra isolated

Plecostromus is a type of catfish that has become very popular for those who keep fish. 

They do require a good amount of care, which means that beginners should think twice before getting any. There is a lot to learn about these fish, and it’s crucial that you get the facts before making a decision.

Plecostomus Appearance

These “armored catfish” have mouths that are engineered for eating up algae, which is one of the reasons why so many people keep them as pets. They can grow up to 24 inches long in the wild, or about 15 inches in captivity.

The elongated body and lack of bone plates are two characteristics of Plecostromus. They also have a grey body with brown spots, which makes for a fairly interesting overall look. These fish are also known for their beady eyes, which is in stark contrast to their massive body.

It is not uncommon for these fish to live up to 15 years in captivity, but only if they are properly taken care of on a daily basis.


You will need to consider the fact that these catfish are nocturnal, so you won’t see them a lot during daylight hours. They spend much of their time hiding away in caves, behind rocks and in vegetation. When these fish do swim around, they spend most of their time at the bottom of the tank.

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Natural Habitat

Plecostromus are naturally found in brackish water in the rivers of Costa Rica and South America.

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Plecostomus Care Guide

1. Tank Setup

Fully matured Plecostromus fish require a tank that has a minimum 150-gallon capacity. This is due to their sheer size, which is considerable.

There are some sub-species of Plecostromus that can be kept in smaller tanks. For example, the Zebra variety can be kept in a 30-gallon tank, while the Sailfin needs a tank that is at least 125 gallons. It is important to consider the type of fish before you go shopping for a new aquarium. If your fish doesn’t have enough space to swim around, it will not do well at all.

A strong current is required for this fish’s tank, which means that you’ll want to get a powerful filter that has a solid overall design. It is imperative that you keep the water flowing cleanly and consistently. This will keep your fish healthy and comfortable so they live as long as possible.

2. Water Conditions

You need to make a point of keeping the temperature in your fish’s water between 72 and 86 degrees Fahrenheit. It must also have a pH level of 6.5 to 7.5 at all times.

Plecostomus sucks in an aquarium

3. Plecostomus Tank Mates

Some of the best tank mates for these fish include Gouramies, Tetras and Cichlids. You should not keep them with any angelfish or Discus, as they will most likely act too aggressively. Once Plecostromus has fully matured, it should have its own tank. It is generally not a good idea to keep fully grown adults with any other fish.

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4. Plecostomus Food

It is crucial that you consider the precise species of Plecostromus that you have selected so you know what to feed it. These fish generally eat a lot of algae as well as vegetables. You can also give them some live food, including brine shrimp and Bloodworms.

Some of the best vegetables to give these fish include shelled peas, zucchini and lettuce. This will help to balance out their diet so all of their nutritional requirements are met. They also love insect larvae and various crustaceans.

One of the other really important things about this fish’s diet is fiber. This is why it’s so crucial that you give them veggies once in a while. A fiber deficiency can have a seriously negative overall impact on your fish’s health.

Common Health Problems

Ich and Cloudy Eye are two of the most common health problems that Plecostromus are known for developing. If you notice signs of either illness, you’ll need to make a point of improving the overall quality of their water. Any fish that have Ich should be put in their own tank for quarantine purposes. 

It is imperative that you treat them before putting them back with the other fish in the main tank. You can get a medicated solution that takes approximately three weeks to clear up this particular condition.

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Plecostomus Breeding

There isn’t a whole lot of information when it comes to breeding Plecostromus, so it can be quite a challenge. These fish lay many eggs and once and tend to spawn in caves. The male watches closely over the eggs until the point of hatching.

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If you are going to attempt to breed these fish, you’ll want to make sure that there are plenty of caves, rocks and other places that provide shade and cover. This is largely a matter of luck, so you shouldn’t go in with high expectations. You will need a very large tank as well, which can get expensive. This is not easy to do, but it’s also not impossible by any means.


  • Plecostromus is a type of catfish with over 100 different sub-species.
  • These fish are known for being fairly peaceful and docile overall.
  • The size of the tank you will need depends on the species of the fish. Many of these fish require a tank that is at least 125 gallons.
  • Keep the water of the tank between 72 and 86 degrees at all times.
  • Cichlids and Gouramies make for good tank mates for this fish.
  • You should not put in any Angelfish with these fish, as it can spark aggressive behavior rather easily.
  • Vegetables and algae make up a large part of most of the Plecostromus’ diet.
  • You can also give these fish insect larvae and crustaceans once in a while.
  • Ich and Cloudy Eye are two common health problems associated with Plecostromus.
  • If you notice any signs of either disease, you should quarantine the sick fish until they have been treated.