"I need a pleco to keep my tank clean"
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.
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:
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!
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...
300 gallon mega tank
: sailfin pleco, clown loaches, silver dollars, roseline sharks, congo tetras, new world cichlids
125 gallon office tank
: Africian cichlids, synodontis catfih
75 gallon community tank
: bolivian rams, black skirt tetras, dwarf neon rainbowfish, corys, harlequin rasboras, otos, bristlenose and bulldog plecos, assassin snails, various shrimp
60 gallon goldfish tank: fancy goldfish
Good point. Plecos are poop machines. And while algae is unsightly, its better for an unplanted tank than poop.
<-- Click for journals
"There is no right way to do the wrong thing." - KingFisher "Only bad things happen fast in this hobby" - Cliff Boo train boo train boo train boo train woohoo
Glad you posted these pictures, now we have proof to show people how much waste the can produce.
Perfection is not attainable, but if we chase perfection we can catch excellence.
Once you learn to quit, it becomes a habit. -Vince Lombardi
“Be more concerned with your character than your reputation, because your character is what you really are, while your reputation is merely what others think you are.” ― John Wooden
Sandy Hook Elementary......Lest We Forget
See my profile for my tanks and what fish I keep
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).
They certainly don't reduce/consume waste, they just repackage it.
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.
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.
20 gal tall - Helios - HM Betta Male, 1 rasbora het, 2 rummy tetras, 1 glowlight tetra, 1 additional tetra, 1 zebra nerite, 10-15 cherry shrimp, Java Moss and crypto planted tank w/ Driftwood and Spider Wood