A few years ago, I dug a pond into my backyard, with a dandy little waterfall, and a few goldfish. The next year, algae was clogging the pond filter on a weekly basis, and I decided a pair of tiny pleco's might just help out a little. All summer long, they worked and worked at keeping the little pond from turning green. As fall approached that year, I started noticing movement along the edges every time I fed my goldfish. It was the Pleco! They had started taking koi pellets off the side of the pond! I pulled the two 18 cm plecos out of the pond that year, and over-wintered them in my 98 L aquarium. Now winter is almost over, and after watching these guys eat and play, they have a new 470 L home in my living room. At 25 cm each, these personable fish have become my favorites, hollowing out split zucchini, and snuffling koi bits off the side of the tank. Not a fish for the lazy though. Copious amounts of waste need daily cleaning, and boy can those pleco poop. Also, at 25 cm, these fish are only half grown. But if you have time, if you're willing to work at it, if you give em driftwood to munch on, you'll be rewarded with some of the brightest, most personable tankmates in the wet. They even share a cave with my normally shy Royal Panaque!
I have a similar story about my Pleco. I woke up the other morning and did my normal check of the tank to see how all the fish were doing. After a quick pass, I noticed the Pleco was missing. Since I have a number of rocks and plants in the tank, I assumed he was hiding around them. After passing through all the decorations, I noticed he was gone. I checked everywhere for the fish but couldn't find him. I thought maybe he had jumped out of the tank and my dog ate him. After about 20 minutes I was walking in my living room and found him lying on the floor about 3 meters from my tank. I picked him up to throw him out and he started thrashing about! I quickly ran him to the tank and dropped him in. He still had the fuzz on him but slowly cleaned off and resumed his sucking on the rocks. It's been a few days now and I am still amazed he survived the ordeal.
They ate my driftwood! I have 2 small plecos, and in a matter of months they have greatly reduced the size and shape of my mopani wood. Nearly all the lighter colored wood is gone, but the darker inside has been left fairly untouched. I guess their special food wasn't good enough for the little buggers.
Having a Pleco in your tank is no excuse to abandon proper tank maintance! I seriously wish experienced aquarists would quit telling newbies to the hobby that the Pleco is the ultimate cleaner fish. Nobody should own a Pleco until they have a full understanding of the responsiblity of clean water quality, proper feeding, light management, and have enough manual labor experience to know what healthy detritus levels are, and what a dirty tank is. Plecos are not the solution for a poorly maintained, overfed tank! Too often these lovely, tempermental and personable fish do not reach their full potential because people think they never have to do a water change or gravel vac when they own one. Then the Pleco "doesn't work" and they get angry at the poor sale clerk of their LFS for selling them a fish that doesn't do what it's "supposed to." But everyone "has to have a Pleco" because somebody told them to get a Pleco to clean their tank since they're too lazy to do it the proper way. Please, for the sake of the hobby and some Pleco lives, don't give this advice to a newbie hobbyist! Make them work for the honor of owning one of these rewarding little suckers. I've seen Plecos chase Pacu off of sinking algae wafers! I've met Plecos with enough personality that you'd think they actually had an opinion of you. These are more than just "scum suckers," they are truely a beautiful fish in their own right, and should be maintained just as you would your prized Discus.
Talk about hearty, I have had 2 Plecos that lived through a termite fumigation awhile back. Recently, we had a fire at our house. You could see the nails on the studs in the wall glowing red, it was so hot. Everything was ruined. The fish tank with the Plecos survived. Just had to wipe off the black ash. That was 2 months ago, and they are still going strong. These two fish are about 14 years old already...wondering how long they'll live.
I've had my pleco for six years now. I've come to the realization a few years ago he has a personality of his own. It started when I was watching TV or picking up the house, I felt like I was being watched. I looked over and he was watching me, I went to one side of the room to the other and he shifted his whole body to watch me. We usually put a chair next to the aquarium so our cat can watch them and my algae eater will practically play hide and seek games with him. He'll dart behind plants and rocks and quickly swim up to where our cat is and then quickly hide away, and he'll do this for hours! Plecos can open and close their eyes which is the sweetest thing and they love company, mine usually opens and closes his and watches me while I visit the aquarium. It's like having a dog or a cat, kind of like having your own little algae sucking dolphin. I love my little guy so much. He's getting older now and I'm afraid of loosing him because he's been such a joy.