Plecos or short for Plecostomus fish are generally easy to care for, which is why they have become one of the most sought-after fish species by aquarium owners. When considering adding a fish tank at home, many people consider this Central and South American native species. Among their first questions is what to feed Pleco fish.
What Do Pleco Fish Eat?
It is not difficult to feed Pleco fish also known as sucker mouth catfish in tanks. It is important to consider, however, that these bottom-dwelling fish have a higher bulk diet than many other species of fish.
Owners or soon-to-be owners of Pleco fish should be aware that the fish tend to be omnivorous, consuming almost anything you put in front of them.
As opportunistic scavengers, Pleco fish tend to eat anything they find on their journey. If you want them to live longer due to their lifespan of 10 to 15 years, you need to consider the nutrition they receive.
Here’s what they can eat.
Algae are often eaten by Plecos when they are in their natural habitats. As algae-eaters, they help in cleaning aquariums easily, which is one of the reasons why they are so popular as pets.
Home aquariums do not typically produce enough algae to meet the needs of plecos. As such, owners must find alternatives such as algae tablets available in pet stores.
After algae, fresh vegetables are the staple food of plecos in captivity. You may want to consider these fresh veggies for feeding.
Green leafy vegetables: Lettuce and other green leafy vegetables are good food for plecos. Many recommend the dark leaf lettuces as well as the romaine variety due to their high nutritional value. These leafy vegetables can be blanched by placing them in boiling water quickly. Another way of feeding the pleco green leafy veggies is to freeze them before throwing them in the tank for feeding.
Lima beans and green peas: Many fish keepers also recommend feeding Pleco fish with lima beans and green peas. Make sure to remove the cover or shell on each pea or bean especially if you are feeding a delicate catfish.
Zucchini and cucumbers: Both are classic fresh vegetables that Pleco fish enjoy eating. These two can be sliced if you have bigger fish that need frequent feeding. Make sure to slice these vegetables according to the size of the fish you are feeding. For example, for bigger plecos, you may need to cut the whole vegetable into two to three parts and freeze the excess ones.
Some Plecos prefer eating meatier food. It is important to note that plecos’ diets change as they grow. Older Plecos prefer meat and usually would prey on weaker, slower, or smaller moving fish.
Aquarium owners who find half-eaten small fish or cannot find the smaller fish in the tank should look at the plecos as the culprit. Plecos, after all, go to every corner of the tank to hunt for food.
Pleco owners can offer occasional meat treats to their pets by giving them crustaceans, small worms, or insect larvae. These are high-protein foods and are highly similar to the small creatures plecos eat in the wild.
You can also give plecos cut-up shrimps or alternatives like shrimp pellets. Make sure to keep the amount of meat you give at a minimum daily given that Plecos are herbivores.
Wood is a dietary essential for plecos as they will suck and scrape the wood into little pieces, which are great for their digestion or gut health.
Pleco owners can also feed their pets with over-the-counter or already prepared and packed food. However, these products are not created equal as some have lower nutritional value than others.
When buying packed and manufactured food, here are the ingredients you should look for.
- Krill: Krill is highly similar to shrimps when it comes to nutritional value and even appearance or size. Krill is great for Plecos because of their high Carotenoids, or pigments that are beneficial to the pleco’s skin color.
- Worms: Worms are great sources of protein, and they are easy to digest as well.
- Whole Fish: Whole fish offers both omega-3 fatty aside and high protein content that is beneficial for fish’s health.
- Black soldier fly larvae: This is an excellent protein source.
- Spirulina: As a blue-green alga, spirulina is jam-packed with vitamins and protein, which helps in enhancing the colors of Plecos.
There are also some ingredients to avoid when purchasing already packed food for Plecos.
- Fillers: These are ingredients such as wheat and other non-aquatic products that are basically of little to no nutritional value to Plecos.
- Fish meal: These are usually a blend of fish waste such as guts, scales, eyes, and skin and should be avoided by Pleco owners at all costs. Aside from their close to zero nutritional value, feeding plecos with the fish meal can cause them to become ill.
- Soy: Soy is like fillers as it is an ingredient that can harm Plecos. Soy may contain protein but plecos are not adapted to eat this ingredient. Like fillers, they can cause considerable weight gain and even hamper their growth if they consume soy in big quantities regularly.
In the end, the health of your plecos and generally any other fish in your tank depends on good nutrition. Feeding Plecos with food that is nourishing and their digestive system can adapt to is necessary. Aquarium owners must be well versed on what to feed Pleco fish to ensure their good health and long life while under their care.