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View Full Version : "I need a pleco to keep my tank clean"



Brhino
11-16-2012, 11:13 PM
Lately I've been seeing a few threads in which people have purchased or are looking to purchase a pleco because they think it will "clean the tank". Some people have even been under the impression that plecos and other bottom feeders eat fish poop. I wanted to set the record straight with some photographs.

http://i31.photobucket.com/albums/c376/starmike82/DSC_0427-1.jpg
This is my pleco. He's a sailfin pleco - similar to the common plecos that you most often find in stores. Like them, he was available for purchase at a small size - about 3" - but he'll soon be getting much, much bigger. If you notice the white specks on him don't worry - it's not ich, it's the white sand that I have mixed in with the black in this tank.

This tank is not for display, so I haven't bothered removing any algae growth. This little pleco has done a great job of that. He cleans the glass and the decorations, and there is no longer any visible algae anywhere. He will become less interested in algae as he gets older for what it's worth.

So, on one hand, you can say that this pleco is cleaning my tank. But on the other hand, consider this:
http://i31.photobucket.com/albums/c376/starmike82/DSC_0428-2.jpg
This is what all that algae (plus zucchini and regular fish food) has been turned into: pleco poop. This tank's substrate was completely cleaned three days before this picture was taken. There are other fish in the tank but everything you see here is from the pleco - and that's just one end of the tank!

http://i31.photobucket.com/albums/c376/starmike82/DSC_0426-2.jpg
In fact, he was busy making more poop while I was taking pictures!

Now, none of this is a complaint. I have two plecos and they're two of my favorite fish. I wish I had more of them. But I didn't buy them expecting them to be something that they're not. They do take care of algae to some degree but in return they give you massive amounts of poop. As always, the responsibility of keeping the fish tank clean and maintained belongs to the fish keeper, not the fish.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm off to find my gravel vacuum...

Aeonflame
11-16-2012, 11:27 PM
Good point. Plecos are poop machines. And while algae is unsightly, its better for an unplanted tank than poop.

steeler58
11-16-2012, 11:33 PM
Glad you posted these pictures, now we have proof to show people how much waste the can produce.

Knightia
11-16-2012, 11:48 PM
Very good post!

I bought 10 otos to take care of a brown algae outbreak in my tank, and JEEZ did they poop! Every day, literally, piles of it to hoover out...such was the scale of my brown algae issue. They effectively took all the algae off everything, recycled it inside their bodies, and pooped it out on the substrate (which was easier for me to clean up than the algae). thumbs2:

They certainly don't reduce/consume waste, they just repackage it. :11:

Orion5
11-16-2012, 11:52 PM
I'm glad you made clear that plecos don't eat poop and "clean the aquarium." I am sure I'm not alone in overhearing pet shop employees tell people this is exactly what they do. On a couple of occasions I confronted the same customers outside the store and told them the truth.

Shidohari
11-17-2012, 12:14 AM
god even if i wanted an algae eater for my ten gallon tank, which i don't, this is totally turned me off plecos, at least for tanks smaller than 20 gallons or unplanted tanks.

chocological
11-17-2012, 12:25 AM
Plecos seem to be good for planted tanks. Poop being fertilizer and all.

Zander
11-17-2012, 12:37 AM
There seems to be a misconception among newer fish owners that "every tank needs an algae eater".

Plecos do a solid job keeping the walls clean but they do a mediocre job on decorations, lousy job on plants (eating/nibbling them on occasion), and they actually make the gravel much dirtier. I like the photograph you posted it really drives that last point home.

I don't care how bad your algae is, you don't "need" one. At least not for the algae. There are about a dozen things you can do to decrease your algae, and you could even get every type of algae eater in addition to that and you would still need to clean your tank sometimes. You should buy the fish because you like it, eating some algae should be a benefit.

Beyond that, people should not keep algae eaters in 10 gallon tanks. Only Otocinclus cats are small enough for them and they should be kept in schools. You could probably keep some in a 10 gallon but you wouldn't be able to get very many and that would be an issue. Having only one or two isn't ideal.

Knightia
11-17-2012, 12:40 AM
I found it impossible to keep plecos and plants successfully together. They grow so big and strong that they would just tear through everything and uproot the lot (mine were 10 inches and 12 inches when we had our 6 foot tank). :hmm3grin2orange: They did keep the glass clean...but that's about it!

Goes to 11!
11-17-2012, 01:04 AM
Excellent thread Brhino [I rated it a 5 :-D].

Yep, Plecs are poop machines, 'Nuff said.

Firefly there are plenty of smaller plecos that coexist with plants just fine, Just not the ones you had :-P.
:22:

Knightia
11-17-2012, 01:17 AM
Firefly there are plenty of smaller plecos that coexist with plants just fine, Just not the ones you had :-P.
:22:

No, I don't believe it. They're all plant-shredding monsters in my eyes. :hmm3grin2orange: I'm having enough trouble stopping my cory cats plucking out my hair grass.

Goes to 11!
11-17-2012, 01:23 AM
Lol - I have had a pair of L144s in my planted 90 for a few years with no issues - The truth is out there :-P.

And they are cute rascals too:
http://www.aquariumholgen.nl/vissen/images-shop/1166182466-L144.jpg
:22:

Knightia
11-17-2012, 01:38 AM
That looks like a character from The Muppet Show! :biggrin:

Dennis Bissett
11-18-2012, 09:09 AM
Lol - I have had a pair of L144s in my planted 90 for a few years with no issues - The truth is out there :-P.

And they are cute rascals too:
http://www.aquariumholgen.nl/vissen/images-shop/1166182466-L144.jpg
:22:
What a magnificent fish!

fishfreak123
11-26-2012, 08:43 PM
my clown pleco i think that pooping is his hobby!!!!!:hmm3grin2orange: :hmm3grin2orange: :hmm3grin2orange: :hmm3grin2orange::

Taurus
11-26-2012, 08:52 PM
CUTE? LOL...that's a face only a mother could love. Oh, and 850Rrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr.


Lol - I have had a pair of L144s in my planted 90 for a few years with no issues - The truth is out there :-P.

And they are cute rascals too:
http://www.aquariumholgen.nl/vissen/images-shop/1166182466-L144.jpg
:22:

Goes to 11!
11-26-2012, 09:09 PM
:1luvu: He is easily a 12 point buck in the pleco world:hmm3grin2orange: That is not my fish btw, My boy looks the same but both are too camera shy to catch on film lol.

I wish his girlfriend liked him enough to get cozy, To be honest I am not sure who is turning off the Barry White cd at night but they are staying annoyingly 'unbusy'. They are monstrously huge, both nearly 5" long! thumbs2: so I guess something is being done right lol.
:22:

Taurus
11-26-2012, 09:18 PM
You need to have that Father and Son talk with the Lad. He probably doesn't even know who Barry White is. :ssuprised:

Goes to 11!
11-26-2012, 09:29 PM
:hmm3grin2orange: Every time I try he gets really embarrassed and hides under his log. :help:

LOLOguppy
11-27-2012, 12:05 AM
I finally found a home for my plant murdering poop-factory! My common pleco will have a new home at the LFS tomorrow.

I was playing around on aqadvisor.com and my pleco takes up 300% of my filteration. My weekly water changes go from 14% to 54% just from him!

Its ironic that people get these for the sole purpose of keeping their tanks clean...

Goes to 11!
11-27-2012, 12:42 AM
The worst part is that they are SO easy to get, Anybody with a 10G tank can walk into essentially any big box pet store and get one.
{Don't EVEN get me started on the size tanks that usually welcome Balas, Irredescents, Oscars, and clown loaches}
:cussing: :banghead: :oldtimer::nono: