If you have a new pleco (Hypostomus plecostomus) in your home, the more knowledge you have on the family Loricariidae fish, the better. Whether it pertains to life expectancy or diet, knowing what to expect can go a long way in promoting successful pet tropical fish ownership.
As pets, plecos are often celebrated for their tranquil and relaxed temperaments. In most cases, however, fully mature plecos do not mix well with other specimens from their species. Some exceptions do exist -- particularly in the case of plecos who were reared closely together since their tender days as youngsters. Plecos generally grow to lengths of between 12 and 18 inches, and because of that they require spacious aquarium environments that can accommodate a minimum of 75 gallons. Out in nature, they can sometimes surpass 2 feet long.
Plecos who live in captivity tend to have slightly briefer lifespans than those out in the wild. Pet plecos often survive from 10 to 15 years, according to Rosamund Gifford Zoo. Those that live on their own in natural settings, however, often exceed 15 years in age.
A balanced diet is essential in encouraging a pleco's lengthy, content and healthy lifespan. Although "free roaming" plecos follow herbivorous diets without any meat, those kept as pets often eagerly take in meaty forms of sustenance -- think diced tubifex worms, earthworms, brine shrimp and bloodworms. Despite their appreciation of meaty foods, it's important to keep those feedings minimal. The basic structure of the pleco diet should center around commercial foods that are specifically designed for catfish, like pellets. Sinking algae wafers also are a good foundation. Vegetable supplementation is key, too, with suitable options including romaine lettuce, cucumber, broccoli, split peas, kale and spinach.
A healthy living environment can go a long way in assisting pleco longevity. Make sure the water temperature in your pleco's aquarium is in the range of 75 to 82 degrees Fahrenheit. Make sure to always keep the water temperature consistent. If your pleco is in good health, he'll have a strong appetite and bright eyes. Plecos are predominantly nocturnal creatures, usually eating when it's dark out.