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Pleco dietary needs...

Discussion in 'Plecos' started by ChileRelleno, Mar 10, 2005.

  1. ChileRelleno

    ChileRelleno 500+ jumps-n-counting,SKYDIVE!

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    I'm seeing a really alarming oversight amongst alot of fishkeepers with Plecos.
    The trend is to just throw a few algae wafers in after lights out and think that that is enough supplementary food for'em.
    Its not! :mad2:
    Plecs may start off just fine eating algae in the tank and/or algae wafers as juveniles, but as they mature their needs change.
    Most Plecs are very opportunistic omnivores*, in other words they'll eat just about anything they can get a hold of but primarily subsist on vegetables/fruits.
    A plecs digestive system is designed for a diet high in bulk fiber and low in protein, they need large amounts of vegetable/fruit matter and occasional protein. Their digestive system is designed to handle alot of bulk material to attain a their nutritional needs, they need more than just a few low bulk/high protien algae wafers and whatever food they find leftover or a little algae growing in the tank.
    None but the largest tanks could support enough algae to feed even a medium sized Plec, and while enough algae would have bulk it is very low in nutrition.

    A Plec without fiber bulk (vegetable/fruit) in his diet, is a Pleco that feels like he's starving most of the time, even if he's getting enough nutrition to survive and grow.

    It'd be like be like you getting only a slice of bread per day that has enough calories, protien, fats, sugars and asst'd vitamins for you to survive and grow...
    But you'd be horrendously hungry the rest of the time.

    Excellent daily vegetable supplements are, romaine, spinach and other leafy green lettuces (Iceberg is very high in bulk but very low nutritionally.) that have been blanched* first, cut/sliced zucchinni, cucumber, sweet potato, broccoli stems, peas and beans (blanched and skinned), and others. Fleshy fruits of various types can be fed too, Plecs in the wild feed on fruit fallen into river from overhanging trees. Papaya, breadfruit, cantalope/honeydew melon are a few examples, experiment and find what your fish likes.
    It takes most Plecs a few feedings to discover and realize these are food, but after that there is no keeping them away. Some fish will even guard these foods to keep other fish away.

    I found it very hard when housed with other fish to get such delights as worms and small scraps of cut fish/shrimp, shrimp pellets and other sinking food tablets/pellets down to the plecs.
    Other fish can be sooo greedy :rolleyes: .
    My solution was to load their zucchinni or cucumber with shrimp pellets, carnivore sticks and so on, like cloves on a ham.
    Just attach it to clips or rubberband to a rock or wood, makes it easy for your Pleco to find it and eat it.

    *As stated above "Most Plecs are very opportunistic Omnivores", but some are primarily carnivore (e.g. Zebras etc) and others (e.g. Panaque ect) require bogwood (Yes, wood!) in their diet to survive.
    *Blanching; too quickly prepare a food by placing it in or pouring boiling water over it. Leafy greens 5-30 seconds, or longer for other vegetables, the idea is to wilt or soften the food so its easier to eat.

    There are hundreds of different Plecos, please research your specific Plec and its needs thoroughly.
    I implore all of you with plecos who do not currently regularly supplement their diet with veggies and/or other appropriate food sources to do so, please!
    I guarantee you will notice a increase in growth and improved physical appearance :)
     
    #1 ChileRelleno, Mar 10, 2005
    Last edited: Nov 2, 2005
  2. Watcher74

    Watcher74 Senior N00b

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    I vote this for a sticky. A lot of people have misconceptions about Plecos. Not only the diet they need but seemingly that there is no need to consider a pleco as part of the biomass of a tank.
     
  3. downloader

    downloader AC Members

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  4. ChileRelleno

    ChileRelleno 500+ jumps-n-counting,SKYDIVE!

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    Reading without comprehension is a waste of time...
    Its in there ;)
     
  5. Holly9937

    Holly9937 AC Members

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    Great post, do you know of any links for more specific info. on common plecos?
     
  6. RTR

    RTR AC Members

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  7. ChileRelleno

    ChileRelleno 500+ jumps-n-counting,SKYDIVE!

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    Two of the best sites on the web for Plecs, by utilizing the Cat-elog at Planetcatfish you can search for info on almost any Plec or Cat using its common or scientific names. Both have excellent forums and ect...
    http://www.planetcatfish.com/
    and
    http://www.plecofanatics.com/
     
  8. Mr Fish

    Mr Fish AC Members

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    I have a bristlenose pleco (black), a clown pleco and a baby gold-banded pleco.

    I love plecos, I wish they were more aggressive coming out during the day. I've found that if I leave a zuchini slice in my tank it's shredded within 24 hours. I also house many ottoclinicus catfish and they seem to enjoy eating it as well.

    I think I'll try loading some cucumber with shrimp pellets, thats a sneaky idea!

    One question: What exactly do you need to do to spinach and other leafy greens to prepare them? I didn't understand... what more than washing them off would you need to do?
     
  9. OrionGirl

    OrionGirl No freelancing!

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    Many people blanch (put in boiling water for 30-60 seconds, or microwave in a wet paper towel for 30-45 seconds) leafy vegetables prior to putting them in. This softens them, meaning they last less time, but are often eaten sooner. It also makes them sink easier.
     
  10. Must4ng s4lly

    Must4ng s4lly AC Members

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    What a great POST! Thank you! I have lots of plecs and I feed them different things so that they get a balanced diet. This is interesting, but my syndontis cats LOVE spinich too. I have to put in plenty for everyone...
     
  11. Roan Art

    Roan Art AC Members

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    GREAT! I feel like I've bearded dragons all over again :)

    We've had our Molly Maid (whom I THINK is a Trinidad plec) for about a month and I wondered if s/he was getting enough to eat. Followed the advice in this article somewhat: I boiled a bowl of water & garlic in the nuker, cut a zucchini*** into 4 pieces, lengthwise. Cut off a 3" chunk of that and re-zapped it for 45 seconds in the boiling water, stuck a fork in it and threw it in the tank.

    *** (Green squash, hope it was zucchini but the store only labels them as "yellow" or "green" squash. Looked like zucchini)

    I waited a while but, s/he didn't even look at it and its not a shy plec. I left it in the tank and went about my business. About ½ a day later I looked and s/he was stuck on the veggie. Cool! I looked the next morning and all that was left were a few crumbs and some of the peel.

    S/he ate that 3" piece in 1 day??? OMG I've been starving the poor thing!

    The platies were also pecking at the zucchini and I saw one of them down a small seed. That good or bad?

    Will corries and loaches eat it? I threw a piece in another tank but a Mystery Snail is all over it :)

    Roan
     
  12. Mudfrog

    Mudfrog AC Members

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    Excellent post, I'll deffinitely start feeding my pleco's better. I also love the tip on microwaving the food in a wet paper towel. I was having trouble getting the food to sink, now it does everytime.

    One question, my new Pleco has awesome coloring, red stripes everywhere, are there any foods that will bring out the color more?
     
  13. pophead

    pophead back from the dead.

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    great post! shame on me for my ignorance! :p: you should put that in the article corner, maybe.
    great info.
     
  14. Bortass

    Bortass AC Members

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    Interesting. We have a Pleco that is over 13 years old. I think it's over 12 inches long( not including tail fins). I remember when it used to hide under a rock propped in the corner of a 20 long. Now it's in a 135 gal tank and it can come close to reaching from substrate to surface when it hangs out on the glass.

    It's always been in a tank with driftwood. The normal tank diet is flake food, shrimp pellets and sometimes algae wafers. I may have to check out some other foods to suplement it's diet now.
     
    #14 Bortass, Nov 12, 2005
    Last edited: Nov 12, 2005
  15. mysis

    mysis AC Members

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    i got a plec and every week i give him a bit of lettuce, i just make sure that the tank has algae for him to graze on, a few plants incase he get peckish and then i throw in some spirulina tablets, he gobbles them up no probs, is this idet ok?
     
  16. ChileRelleno

    ChileRelleno 500+ jumps-n-counting,SKYDIVE!

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    Is this enough? Well it depends on how big the Plec is, what type of Plec, maturity and other variables...
    If he's not more than a baby or young juvenile it may be sufficient for him to survive, BUT, is he thriving?
    That is the question.
    IMHO, he would do better with more foods, a varied diet is a healthy diet.
    I've educated myself and passed good solid facts and wisdom on to you...
    Read, comprehend and make educated choices.
     
  17. Tekslave

    Tekslave Registered Member

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    I'm trying to figure out why I have been the grim reaper of Plecos lately :-(

    I bought a Gold Nugget Pleco a month a go and put it in my 20 gallon tank with a few rainbow sharks, double swordtail guppies, a dojo, and a common swordtail. He died within a day. The fish store gave me another one a few days ago and it died in a day. The tank temp is running between 74 and 78 degrees fahrenheit and the pH is 7.5. Amonia and Nitrites are negligable and no one is picking on him. There is a large piece of driftwood and several hidey holes. They last 1 to 1.5 days... what am I doing wrong?
     
  18. ChileRelleno

    ChileRelleno 500+ jumps-n-counting,SKYDIVE!

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    Hmmmmmm...
    OK, some Plecs a can be very unstable, especially wild caught specimens, rough handling/shipping, lack of food, bad water, disease and int/ext parasites and shock are all too common when arriving at the LFS.
    Gold Nuggets can be condsidered Prima'Donnas for the care they'll need.
    Much care must be taken when picking a Plec at the LFS or where-ever. Choose a plec with a full rounded stomach and clear alert eyes, not a sunken belly and/or eyes (Fish with sunken eyes is a dead fish, just doesn't know it yet.) Check the gills for good color and no ICH, normal respiration and
    whether the coloration and fins are normal?
    Have they fed the fish, did they see it eat?

    You need a qaurantine tank and the water/tank/filters need to be mature/established.
    Water quality needs to be perfect 0-NH3, 0-NO2, 0-30ppm NO3, and a neutral PH is best, slightly acidic.
    You said that NH3 & NO2 was negligble? Negligble is not acceptable, 0ppm are the only acceptable readings.
    Temp should be stable, not a 4'f variable, 76'f is a good number.
    Test the LFS water and slowly acclimate to your water.

    Its all just ordinary everyday common sense, responsible animal husbandry/fishkeeping.
     
  19. mysis

    mysis AC Members

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    yeah, sound to me like it could be stress, to eliminate this you may want to try a different method of introducing him into the tank. i am guessing that you float the bag for 15 mins, put a bit of water in and float for another 10 mins. well this is what i would do. get a bucket and start a drip, let the drip last for about 1 hour and make sure most of the water in the bucket (around 70%) is from your tank, put a tea towel over the bucket, gently remove the plec into the tank.

    the benifits of this are the fish is not getting stressed, when other fish come to have a look at the plec in the bag it will be stressing it and may cause it to die, also the rainbow sharks may be causing some harm, you will not know what they are doing all the time and may be bullying him at night, you never know.

    Make sure the fish isn't caught with cyanide, better yet buy captive bread species or go to another lfs and if the fish there lives then you know the First Lfs had a bad supply of fish.
     
  20. CharlieV

    CharlieV AC Members

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    just my .02

    My plecs (except the Rio Jari Zebra) go mental for raw potato with Algae wafers place inside it.
    I put it in 1hr after lights off and remove it the next evening, sometimes place it in darker area of tank incase they want a snack during day.
     

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