How Do Plecos Eat?

Plecos mainly rely on their teeth to eat. These teeth are arranged in a specific pattern that makes it easy for the fish to scrape off food particles and algae film from surfaces like substrate, rocks, and driftwood. They can also use their teeth to munch on veggies.

If you want to learn more about Plecos’ feeding habits and what they can eat, this guide will come in handy. So without further ado, let’s dive right in!

How Do Plecos Eat?

Plecos, also known as “Plecostomus” or “Suckermouth Catfish”, are a group of tropical fish that are commonly incorporated in fish tanks due to their docile nature towards other fish species.

They’re also low maintenance, easy to breed, and aren’t picky eaters. However, a lot of people are curious about Plecos feeding.

Although Plecos come in a wide range of species, they all have the same base anatomy when it comes to their mouths.

According to a study by Cornell University, the mouth of the Plecos is fully ventral. This means that their lower jaw is larger than their upper one, giving them the characteristic mouth that is common among different species of catfish and other bottom feeders.

This unique mouth adaptation serves a great purpose when it comes to the Plecos diet. Since these fish mainly feed on algae film and particulates that are found at the seabed, this design will help them secure their mouths and use their teeth to scrape off the pieces of food.

Bushymouth Pleco

The teeth are mostly flat and not sharp with a uniform pattern, except for the tip teeth, which are relatively sharp and flattened. The tip teeth are the ones responsible for securing the grip of the fish on the particles during scraping.

With that being said, you should know that the shape, type, and pattern of the teeth can vary from one species to another.

In fact, Plecos of the same species can grow slightly different types of teeth depending on their environment and the food available.

How Different Types of Plecos Eat

Most Plecos are omnivores, which means that they eat both plant and animal matter. However, many of these omnivore species are either predominantly herbivores or carnivores.

For example, two of the most popular Pleco species out there are Bristlenose Pleco and Common Pleco.

These two are mainly herbivores, as they like to graze on algae and biofilms created on rocks. For that reason, they usually have fine teeth with relatively smooth edges.

On the other hand, species that are more likely to eat shrimps, snails, and bloodworms, such as Zebra Pleco and Queen Arabesque Pleco have larger and sharper teeth that help them bite and cut off the meat.

These teeth are also found in omnivorous species that are more likely to eat meat occasionally, such as Leopard Frog Pleco, Candy Striped Pleco, and Sunshine Pleco.

How Often Should I Feed Plecos?

As previously established, most plecos will happily graze on algae and biofilms on rocks and substrate at the bottom of the fish tank.

However, you should know that algae alone isn’t enough for some Pleco species, as they may not have all the necessary supplements to sustain a healthy fish.

For that reason, you should also consider feeding your fish some supplemented algae wafers and Pleco pellets around once every day or every other day.

Additionally, if you want to mix up your fish’s diet, you can also feed them vegetables like zucchini, carrots, cucumber, kale, garlic, or lettuce once every week.

In addition to the high moisture content in some of them, plecos may also enjoy the crunch of some of them.

What Are the Best Food for Plecos?

Although different Pleco species may have different preferences when it comes to feeding, there are some food items that are more popular for Plecos than others.

For example, algae wafers are among the most popular foods for Plecos out there. In fact, you can find plenty of great pleco-specific wafers out there, such as Tetra Pro Pleco Wafers and API Algae Eater Wafer

In addition to algae, a lot of Plecos actually feed on driftwood and it’s considered an essential food item for them. Grazing on driftwoods provides the fish with essential nutrients that are important for healthy digestion.

For carnivorous and omnivorous Plecos that eat a lot of meat, shrimps, snails, and worms are usually the best options.

You can feed them both live and frozen feed. However, live feed keeps the fish more active, which makes it healthier for them.

Tips to Keep in Mind While Feeding Plecos

Now that you know more about the Plecos diet and how they eat, here are some essential tips to keep in mind while feeding them for a healthier Pleco:

Wash the Vegetables Before Serving Them

Plecos are prone to infections due to contaminated food, and they can’t tolerate insecticides on vegetables. For that reason, it’s usually recommended that you wash the veggies properly before feeding them.

Plecos Won’t Eat Floating Food

Any food items that float in water aren’t suitable for bottom dwellers like Plecos. If the veggies float, you can microwave or blanch them to make them sink.

Don’t Overfeed Plecos

Although Plecos are bottom feeders, too much food remains can create a lot of algae in the tank, which makes it an unhealthy environment for the fish to thrive.

Ideally, you should observe the fish after feeding it. If they don’t eat the food immediately, it should be a sign that you need to give them food more often.

Final Thoughts

With that said, our guide about Plecos feeding and how they eat comes to an end. As you can see, Plecos have a diverse diet and they eat different food in their own way.

The most common way Plecos eat is by placing their mouths on the food source and scraping them with their teeth. Plecos’ teeth are not jagged or sharp, and they rarely use them to bite, so you don’t have to be afraid of them.

You can feed your plecos a wide variety of food items. However, different species will have specific preferences, so make sure that you choose the foods that your fish will enjoy!