Common Pleco – Pterygoplichthys pardalis

Common Pleco - Pterygoplichthys pardalis

  • pH: 6-7.5
  • gH: 5-10 dGh
  • Temperature: 21-26C
  • Maximum Size: 45cm
  • Minimum Tank Size: 650 litres, 180x60x60cm


Ptergoplichthys pardalis is one of several large loricariids labelled as a common pleco and also known as the Amazon sailfin pleco. The photo is of my own leucistic fish (known as a chocolate pleco). These are very large, hence the quoted minimum tank size.


Can be aggressive with their own kind, but generally compatible with most tropical fish although more nervous fish such as discus will not cope well with a common plec in the tank.

Housing and Feeding

This species appreciates some flow in the tank and prefers a sandy substrate, but apart from that and a suitable spot to hide out in is unfussy. Pterygoplichthys pardalis is often bought as an algae-eater or cleaner fish, but in reality is an omnivore which needs feeding in its own right.

Algae and leftovers from the other fish are not enough, and as they grow, many stop eating algae altogether. Fresh vegetables on a daily basis are ideal – courgette, cucumber, sweet potato, sweet pep[ers, melon etc along with algae wafers and catfish pellets.


Cannot be bred in an aquarium, though captive breeding in ponds takes place in warmer countries.


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