Genus name: Plecostomus Punctatus
Also known as: Common Pleco, Plec, Suckermouth catfish
Distribution: Southern Brazil
Length: up to 12″ (30cm)
Water Temperature: 66-79F (19-26C)
Diet: Worms, dried food, plant matter
Water: not critical
Community Tank (large aquarium only)
The pleco is a very popular catfish, which is mainly kept in aquariums for their ability to keep the sides clear of algae. They are also very good at eating any food which drops to the bottom and is missed by the other fish in the aquarium.
Most plecos are sold when they are about 3″ (7cm), but they can grow relatively quickly, and can end up as much as 12″ (30cm) long. If a pleco is going to be kept, the aquarium must be large enough to accommodate it. If your aquarium is not large enough, consider instead getting a Bristlenose catfish, as it will do the same job, but only grows to half the size, and grows a lot slower.
The pleco also needs plenty of hiding places, so it is best to have rocks and bogwood for the pleco to hide behind, particularly during the day as plecos are nocturnal.
The pleco is covered in bony plates everywhere except on the belly, which is soft. Take care when trying to remove a pleco from the aquarium, as it holds on tight to the side with its suckers, and can get caught up in the net because of its armoured scales.
As plecos get older, they can get a bit cantankerous, especially with one of their own, so it is recommended to only have one pleco in an aquarium, and ensure it has enough space to move around.
It is almost impossible to tell the difference between male and female plecos, and they are not known to breed in captivity.