Fish to Avoid #4: Common Pleco

Once your tank is all set up and ready to go, the hardest and most fun thing to do is pick which type of fish to put in there.

Most people just go to the local fish store and find stuff that looks cool. They do not do much research (especially in they days before the internet) and basically rely on the people working in the fish section for advice or they just take a glance at those little cards on the fish tanks that tell you how big the fish is and how aggressive the fish is and what kind of food it eats. 
The problem? A lot of workers at fish stores are fucking morons. And some of the owners are just looking to make a buck and could give a damn about the animals they sell. So they tell you false information or put bad information on the little cards and you go home with a swimming disaster waiting to happen in your little plastic bag. 
These series of posts is to warn you about the common fish that prowl the waters at your local fish store that look cute and awesome but are actually fish you need to really avoid.

Previous Installments:

Red Belly Piranha
Red-Tailed Catfish

Today’s Fish: Common Pleco

Common Pleco (or suckermouths or algae eaters or sailfin plecos or Hypostomus plecostomus) are at every single fish store in the world. The reason is simple: they are cheap and they eat algae and everyone hates algae. The problem, as I am sure you guessed…

They get BIG. They poop BIG. And they SUCK at eating algae.

Common plecos will easily reach about 1 foot in a decent sized tank. And they bulk up considerably and are pretty strong fish. So, your 30 gallon tank isn’t holding one of these full grown buggers. Once again, you are heading into the triple digits to keep a full grown common pleco. There size, mostly bulk, makes it so they will root up and knock over plants, rocks, heaters… if they get spooked for some reason your decorations are getting trashed.

Well over a foot. 

Big fish = Big poop and the pleco is famous for its gigantic dumps. Most giant plecos create more algae than they eat due to the excessive amount of poop they create, leading to bad water quality and algae loves sub-par water quality. I have constantly seen plecos cruise the tank with a long piece of stringy poop hanging from them longer than the length of their body.

The last thing is the biggest tragedy of them all. They aren’t even good algae eaters. The older they get, the lazier they get. They will just start eating whatever you feed the other fish. So their algae eating will slow to a crawl and they will continue to poop a ton… creating more and more algae. If you have algae issues, this is not the fish for you.

Luckily, replacements for common plecos are numerous. Not only are there 100’s of species of plecos, but most look 1000 times better than commons. But, for most people, Bristlenose/Bushynose plecos or clown plecos will be their best bet. Both stay under 6 inches and actually eat algae. BNs are also pretty cheap (got mine for like 6 bucks) and somewhat easy to find. Both are great options for people with tanks under 50 gallons.

Albino Bristlenose

There are tons and tons of exotic plecos that are prettier and much smaller than commons, but that would make this post 200 pages long. So head over to Planet Catfish and just browse.



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