Why Plecos Are Fascinating

The Pleco is a breed of catfish that people commonly keep in aquariums. The species widely known by the name Hypostomus Plecostomus, but when people refer to a "Pleco," they typically mean the popular aquarium fish Pterygoplichthys Pardalis.

The Plecostomus is a member of the catfish family native to South America, primarily in Brazil and Peru. They belong to the family Loricariide and genus Hypostomus. The "L" in the name comes from "Loricariidae" which is the extensive catfish family these Plecos belong. This categorizing of the Pleco fish into L-numbers is not a formal scientific designation, but allowed people at the time to identify a common name for each species. The first official "L-number" appeared in 1988, by the German Aquarium Magazine DATZ. Some L-numbers were used for multiple species, so it is always best to check the scientific name if they now have one, or the common name of the species you are purchasing.




  • This fish has an underslung mouth with a tall dorsal fin and moon-shape tail fin. They are usually in light brown with dark blotches of spots or stripes. They have a hard armour-like plate exterior to protect themselves from other fish.

  • Interestingly, they can shut out light with its omega iris in their eyes which are situated high on their head. 

  • The lifespan of this fish is about 10-15 years.

  • ·Plecos are omnivorous – they eat both plant and animal matter. Their mouths have adjusted as a survival feature that allows them to attach to rocks in the swift-moving streams where they can be found. In captivity,

  • Plecos utilize their mouths to connect to the sides of the tank where algae collect sucking the walls of your tank clean. 

  • Plecos can breathe through their skin.

  • Plecos can go 30 hours outside water provided that they store enough oxygen in their stomachs; this is why Plecos gulp air at the water surface.

  • They can also wriggle on dry land from one water body to another in search of more favorable conditions



The plecos thrive within a temperature range of 22 to 26-degree Celcius. It is best to keep weeds in their aquarium as they like to hide in dense plant growth. During summer, Plecos can live in outdoor ponds, but they need to be placed inside instead of in outdoor ponds. Since they are excellent jumpers, it is recommended to have the tank closed. 



Some do not reproduce in an aquarium. However, in a natural habitat, or depending on the variety, the female Plecos can lay up to 300 eggs. The male Plecos fertilize and guard the eggs until they hatch for about four to eight days later. The baby Plecos eat the mucus secreted by the parents before being independent. These fish breed via spawning, where the female releases her eggs and the male fertilizes them outside of her body. Pairs breed in caves or similar sheltered areas and the male carries the eggs in his mouth to keep them safe. The population of eggs produced is dependent on the size of the female.