Foods and Feeding
Not all Pleco’s are vegetarians there are omnivores and carnivores among them so it is important to know which fish you have so you can feed it appropriately.
Commercially Prepared Quality Foods
There are a wide range of specialty algae and vegetable based dry fish foods available for pleco cats these days. Close attention to ingredients lists shows that a lot of the so called ‘vegetable based foods’ actually have very little vegetable or algae content. The following foods are the ones I use myself, based on ingredients and the fact that my plecs actually eat them.
My Preferred / Recommended Commercial Foods
JBL – Novo Plec Tabs – My number 1 plec food, these are great, they last a long time (up to 24 hours) before dissolving giving even the most timid of fish ample chance to find them. These are also available in an XL sized tablet for larger fish.
JBL – Novo Fect Tabs – Fast sinking general vegetarian tablets that start dissolving immediately, these are good for general bottom feeders and plant eating fish but don’t last nearly as long in the water which can lead to other fish cleaning them up before timid plecs get a chance.
JBL – Novo Tab – General mixed flake in a tablet form for omnivorous bottom feeders, great for corydoras cats and plecs that need a more protein based diet, they start to dissolve immediately.
JBL – Novo Vert Flake – Excellent general flake food for algae eaters, I sift it through a tea bag strainer and pre-soak before feeding to baby bristle nose and whiptails. Also great for livebearers and African Cichlids.
Omega One – Shrimp
Omega One – Vege Tabs
Repashy (Soilent Green – Community – Morning Wood)
Being predominantly vegetarians a range of vegetables are eagerly devoured by most plecs, zucchinis (courgette) are a favorite but they also eat peas (shelled), pumpkin, sweet potato (kumera), broccoli stalks and green beans.
Zucchini (courgette) – My plecs just love these, I grow them during the summer and freeze excess for winter feeding. Slice them about 1 inch or so thick and push a teaspoon through to hold them on the bottom. Interestingly some fish prefer to eat away all the skin first while others just eat the fleshy inside. All my plec tanks get Courgette at least once a week.
Pumpkin – Raw pumpkin (Skin removed), cut into thick wedges and sunk to the bottom of the tank with a teaspoon, little bright orange poop strings the next morning are evidence the fish do eat it ok.
Sweet Potato – Raw (Skin left on), lasts a long time in the tank before needing to be removed.
Peas – Boiled peas left over from the dinner plate, shelled and dropped straight into the tank. My whiptails especially seem to like them, coming out of their caves for a feed within a few minutes. I probably have the only house where the children are not told off for not eating all their peas…. never mind the fish will eat them.
Broccoli Stalks – Boiled. I hate the stalks of broccoli but fortunately my fish don’t, so after I have eaten the heads the fish often get the remaining stalks.
Live & Frozen Foods
Not all plecs are vegetarians, some need more protein in their diets (hypancistrus for one) these I feed a variety of frozen foods.
Bloodworms – Available from most Pet Stores in packs of small frozen blocks, all fish like bloodworms plecs included.
White worms – Small white worms very high in fat and protein, I feed these to my discus in both live and frozen form, they should be fed very sparingly to plecs if at all.
Blackworms / Tubifex
Brine Shrimp – I feed frozen adult brine shrimp to my corys and plecs occasionally (maybe once a month). I occasionally hatch a few baby brine shrimp for baby corys.
A general rule for fish of all types, if it comes from the water its probably safe to feed to your fish, if it comes off a paddock it probably isnt. So provided they haven’t been marinated or smoked just about any seafood is worth trying, Prawns, Shrimps, Muscle, Cockles, Strips of fish meat are all good options for carnivorous Plecs. Chicken, Beef (Heart), mince etc should be avoided, fish have not evolved to eat animal proteins.
Shrimps and Prawns – Buy these from the supermarket, larger meat eating plecs will devour them in no time. My Leopard Cactus especially likes a shrimp dinner now and again. (about once a week).
Yes wood. Studies have shown that some species of plecs (notably the Panaque ) are actually able to eat and digest wood, not only are they able to but they need it in their diet. My big Panaques have certainly polished the wood in their tanks smooth over the years of gnawing and anyone who has ever kept one will know they produce a lot of sawdust from their constant rasping. Bacteria in their gut is actually able to break down the wood fibers and convert it to energy, amazing. Also most plecs will happily graze on the algae and microorganisms that invariably grow on any wood submerged in water, so any tank containing a plec should have some driftwood or bogwood. Most pet stores have suitable wood. If you have any Panaque (Royal, Maccus) you MUST have wood in the tank for them or they will waste away over time.