Why Does My Plecostomus Poop So Much? {9 Pleco Poop Hacks}

Are you seeing way too much pleco poop in your tank? I see it too. Why does my plecostomus poop so much?

Are plectostomus supposed to poop this much or is your pleco sick? How do you manage so much pleco poop?

In this article, we’ll cover the topic of plecos that poop so much.

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Why Does My Plecostomus Poop So Much?

Your happy and healthy plecostomus will eat and poop all day and night. Their digestive system allows for an almost immediate passing of waste that is long, heavy or frequent.

Plecos carry a massive bio-load and it’s quite normal. Stringy poop without eating could be a sign of illness.

If your plecostomus is eating well, the poop you see is normal, healthy and quite common. Let’s see what we can do about it.

How Often Should Plecos Poop?

All the time! A plecostomus carries one of the heaviest bio-loads out of most marine life. As they grow larger, they eat and poop constantly.

Strings of poop end up looking like rope or necklaces. These strings are lying on the sand, gravel or next to planted areas. Expect to see it daily. Perform more water changes at least twice weekly and vacuum the gravel.

Continue reading to find out some pleco poop hacks!

Is My Plecostomus Healthy?

A healthy plecostomus will continue to eat and poop more than you imagined. If you see these signs below, you know you have a healthy plecostomus:

  • big appetite
  • big poops
  • swimming and exploring frequently
  • gill movement is strong and rhythmic 
  • vibrant or strong colors with no patches or spots
  • not always hiding
  • peaceful and not aggressive

You want your plecostomus to be eating often. Ideally we wish for them to eat more algae, but we also care to keep our tanks clean. The meals should contain more vegetables, algae wafers and other plants or vegetables made available at the bottom of the tank.

Plecos can remain motionless for hours, but their gill movement must be regular and rhythmic. Panting or difficulty breathing could indicate illnesses like Ich. Look for smooth, vibrant skin without patches, discolorations or white spots.

You will have to put up with the poop, but don’t surrender to it or give up on your pleco too soon.

Are Plecos Tank Cleaners?

Yes. Plecos, corydoras and otocinclus tend to make many lists of tank cleaning fish. They also leave behind a lot of waste. Algae blooms will be kept at bay, but a well-functioning filter must work overtime to suck up the excess debris from their ultra fast digestive systems.

A plecostomus is an algae cleaner, but not necessarily a tank cleaner. The waste adds up to more mass than the algae they eat. You must continue to feed your plecos every 1-3 days depending on their size and the amount you are offering per meal.

A diet consisting of mostly vegetables and algae needs more volume of food. If you don’t see copious amount of poop, your filter is working really well or your plecostomus is not eating enough.

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How Do I Manage Pleco Poop?

The Top 9 Pleco Poop Hacks

  1. Stargrass
  2. Gravel vacuum
  3. Water changes
  4. Powerhead current
  5. Substrate diggers like loaches and corydoras
  6. Gravel jets
  7. Rock cave near filter intake
  8. Switch from sand to gravel
  9. Larger tank

1. Stargrass

There are plenty of plants that help to trap the poop for easier cleanup. Stargrass is our personal favorite with pleco poop. It makes it easier to find, scoop or vacuum up.

2. Gravel Vacuum

Vacuum the substrate weekly. Your bottom dwellers aren’t going to do enough to ingest or eliminate this waste. It’s easier to see the poop on a sandy substrate for easier vacuuming, but the excretion is also more unsightly.

3. Water Changes

Increase water changes to twice a week. Keep in mind that many plecos get stressed during water changes. Perform 25% at a time, as slow as possible.

4. Powerhead

The powerhead will help deliver a stronger current to push the poop towards the filter. It gets sucked in and you do less work. The powerhead could be oriented near the bottom of the tank to move waste to the direction you want them to go.

5. Substrate Diggers

Cory catfish and loaches help to stir things up in the substrate. They will not eat the poop. Once they stir up the gravel or sand, the waste can travel with the help of the powerhead or current towards the filter.

6. Gravel jets

You can build one with a powerhead and pvc pipes. The jets can spray from left to right along the bottom of the tank. The sandy substrate works better for this and keeps things pristine.

7. Rock Cave

If your plecos like to hide or relieve themselves in a spot that is shaded and away from the center of the tank, then a rock cave might be just the spot. Position it near the intake of the filter. If they poop there, most of it will get sucked up into the filter.

8. Sand to Gravel

Switching the substrate from sand to gravel may not be a way to remove the poop, but it will be less visible until your next cleaning session. Continue to vacuum weekly, but you might be less bothered by unsightly long poops.

9. Larger Tank

It’s time to consider whether you can handle the size of your plecostomus. 12+ inches of fish in a 50 gallon or smaller tank may not suffice. Poop will build up and ammonia levels may spike. Get a larger tank or decide on smaller types of plecos for your community aquarium.


Your pleco is healthy because you are seeing so much poop. Algae that naturally blooms in your tank is not enough food. Cutting back on meals might solve your poop problem for now, but it’s easy to malnourish a plecostomus.

Keep the food coming because vegetables require more food volume than meaty foods or pellets. There are many ways to take care of the large amount of pleco poop. We hope this article helps with some hacks to make things easier for you to take for your plecostomus.


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Brian Arial

Brian Arial has kept fish for leisure and worked with fish stores for most of his life. He enjoys writing and caring for aquariums and ponds.