Plecos are a hardy species of aquarium fish capable of surviving varying environments. It has a relatively long lifespan of about 12 years if they live under suitable conditions. However, they usually grow to full size before their first five years.
Common plecos grow fast in their first year, after which the growth rate slows down. It can grow up to 3-5 inches in its first year. After then the growth proceeds in an almost unnoticeable manner for a few more years until they attain full size. Common plecos usually grow up to 20-25 inches on average.
It is vital to keep the growth rate and the maximum size of plecos in mind while choosing your tank size. Larger tanks will favor the growth of these species of aquarium fishes. Likewise, what you feed them with and other water conditions can also affect their growth rate.
Different Types Of Plecos Species
There are different types of plecos species, and most of them vary in sizes. They also vary in their physical structures as well as their average life spans. Even though most of the species and aquarists often refer to them as common plecos, the term is non-specific and rather too general.
However, most of the species that are in the same category with ‘common plecos’ have a lot of features and characteristics in common. It is, therefore, essential to know the exact species you are buying and how large they can grow. The common types of plecos include; Amazon Sailfin Pleco, Sailfin Pleco, Bristlenose Plecos, and the Suckermouth Plceo.
You should understand the size range of each species of aquarium pleco before getting them. This understanding is because this significantly affects how large plecos can grow. While some of them can grow up to 15-25 inches long, some others cannot exceed the 2-4 inches limit.
To be specific, common plecos can grow up to 14 inches long over a relatively long period. Only their first few years of growth are rapid, and other years proceed on a steady level. Bristlenose pleco, on the other hand, can only grow within the range of 4-6 inches over the same period.
Factors That Can Affect the Growth Rate Of Plecos
Just like many other species of aquarium fish, several factors can affect the growth rate of plecos. These factors include;
- Genetic History: It is essential to know the genetic history of the plecos you want to get. Genes are one of the first things that can determine how big your plecos will grow. Even some common plecos might not grow as big as others because their genes are not programmed to do so.
- Tank Size and Water Conditions: Plecos grow best when you keep them under a suitable tank and water condition. Right water conditions will make your plecos live healthily, and consequently accelerates their growth. Similarly, plecos need enough space to maximize its growth range—the bigger the tank size, the better for your large plecos.
- Feeding quality And Feeding Schedule: How well and how often you feed your plecos can go a long way in determining how well they will grow. The feeding habit and feeding rate is particularly influential in the early stages of their growth. Plecos experience accelerated growth in the first couple of years before slowing down later on.
- Environmental Conditions: Plecos, like most other aquarium species, have their preference for ecological conditions. You should ensure you keep them under conditions that support their growth and make them happy. You should consider key parameters like pH, temperature, lighting, and even tank mates. You can even add plants to their tank to help stimulate their natural habitat and also provide places to hide and rest.
Caring for Aquarium Plecos
Plecos are one of the hardiest fish that best fit aquariums. They are easy to care for even for beginners, and this feature accounts for why they are one of the most common fish in aquariums. Plecos are freshwater fish, and they are one of the most common algae eaters, scavengers, and bottom feeders. Summarily, plecos can feed on anything.
It is important to avoid overcrowding in plecos’ tank if you intend to keep them safe and healthy. It is essential to create enough space that will allow each fish to have their territories. Enough space will also avoid negative interactions among the members of the tank.
It is also essential to keep plecos with only suitable tank mates. For instance, flat-bodied fish can cause damage to their mouth. Likewise, it is better to house plecos in glass tanks because acrylic tanks can scratch their mouth.
If you want your plecos to grow well and live healthily, you must add gravels or pebbles to their tank. The stones are essential because plecos spend time combing over debris for food. You can also include wood that the plecos can chew.
The temperature of the plecos tank should be between 72-82°F, and they thrive better in the pH range of 6.5-7.5. Before introducing any plecos to your tank, you should know that they require stable water quality. The temperature, pH, ammonia, and salt levels are also crucial to their health.
Finally, if you intend to add plants to the plecos’ tank, ensure you add only sturdy and live plants with fast growth. This choice is because plecos often uproot and eat them. To ensure the survival of these plants, make sure you bury the root deeply in the substrate. You can also consider artificial plants that are not edible for plecos.
Aside from some features that distinguish plecos from other aquarium fish, they also have varying sizes. Plecos have varying sizes that are peculiar to each species. Therefore, it is essential to know the growth pattern of the species you are getting for your aquarium.
Nevertheless, you can accelerate and ensure the proper growth of your plecos if you keep them under the right conditions and if you maintain an appropriate habit of feeding. You should also keep them in a large tank and design their aquarium to simulate their natural habitats.