Pleco dietary needs...

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ChileRelleno

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Feb 10, 2005
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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 :)
 
Last edited:

Watcher74

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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.
 

ChileRelleno

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and others require wood (Yes, wood!) in their diet to survive.
don't forget driftwood! plecos eat driftwood
Reading without comprehension is a waste of time...
Its in there ;)
 

Holly9937

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Jan 20, 2005
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Great post, do you know of any links for more specific info. on common plecos?
 

ChileRelleno

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Holly9937 said:
Great post, do you know of any links for more specific info. on common plecos?
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/
 

Mr Fish

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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?
 

OrionGirl

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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.
 

Must4ng s4lly

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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...
 
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