Peaceful and easy to keep, plecostomus fish, or plecos, make a great addition to almost any community freshwater tank. Plecos are a type of catfish with mouths facing downward, perfect for skimming the bottom of the tank for algae and leftover food. Several varieties of plecos, with a range of sizes and colors, can make themselves at home in a tank of almost any size.
The common pleco is found in many pet store tanks, sucking itself onto one of the walls. In the store they’re small, usually only a couple of inches long. While you may see them being sold in small tanks, it’s better to keep this guy in a significantly larger tanks, at least 50 gallons. These little guys can easily reach up to 2 feet long when full grown. Common plecos can live for a long time, too, between 20 and 30 years in captivity. While they’re pretty relaxed with other breeds of fish, keeping two large plecos together can lead them to become territorial with one another.
Bushy Nose Plecostomus
Bushy nose plecos, also called bristlenoses, are so named for the short “whiskers” on their faces. They don’t grow as large as the common variety, reaching a little more than 4 inches full grown. A 30-gallon tank is plenty of room for a bushy nose pleco. These plecos can be mottled brown, orange or albino. The albino long-fin variety has long, flowing fins and red eyes.
The zebra pleco has striking black and white bands along its body. It doesn't grow very large, maxing out at around 3½ inches long. Zebra plecos aren’t much on munching algae, and need to be fed meaty foods that sink to the bottom of the tank. Zebra plecos come from the tributaries of the Amazon River in Brazil. To protect the zebra pleco population, transport form Brazil has been banned. Due to their popularity, they are tank-bred and can be pricey if you’re looking to add this stunning fish to your tank.
Gold Nugget Plecostomus
The gold nugget plecostomus is black and covered in brilliant yellow dots. Gold nugget plecos grow to up to 6 inches long, so a tank of 50 gallons or more is necessary to give them enough room. Like most plecos, gold nugget plecos will happily munch on algae and food left on the bottom of the tank, but sinking pellets can be added if your other fish don’t leave much behind. Gold nugget plecos will appreciate some driftwood to explore on the bottom of the tank.