"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
75 gallon community tank
: tetras, danios, corys, platies, otos, pearl gouramis, bristlenose and bulldog plecos, assassin snails, red cherry shrimp, bamboo 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.
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"There is no right way to do the wrong thing." - KingFisher "Only bad things happen fast in this hobby" - Cliff
Glad you posted these pictures, now we have proof to show people how much waste the can produce.
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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 -3 paskai's rainbowfish (neons and blue eyes), 8 rasbora het, 1 nerite, 2 pc driftwood 1 with narrowleaf java fern, 1 anubias, grasslike background plants, star shaped foreground plants, 2 mossballs
10 gal shrimp tank planted with java fern on driftwood, star shaped foreground plants, mossball, dwarf baby tears. cherry, ninja, algae eating, and ghost shrimp. And Cherry Shrimp babies
Cinnamon = 9 year old Siamese Cat
1 Rat - Domino aka Domi