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My Experience with the Royal Pleco

Updated on December 21, 2014
Royal Pleco
Royal Pleco | Source
Busy can make out the abrasions on the wood from the constant grazing.
Busy can make out the abrasions on the wood from the constant grazing. | Source

I came across this juvenile Royal pleco in one of the many aquarium shops that I visit frequently. The shop-keeper had kept these juvenile places in a nano tank which had some old driftwood. I was wondering why the tank was looking empty,devoid of any sign of life and that's when I noticed some flicking movement under the driftwood as the plecos adjusted themselves to be out of my line of sight.

This Royal Pleco juvenile immediately stood out amongst the rest and I would be lying if I were to tell you that I immediately didn't get tempted to buy this beautiful chap. Now, I have been in to this hobby from my childhood and over 30+ years, but had never kept these rare places, so you can imagine my excitement, as I kept ignoring an inner voice that kept telling me not to give in to this impulse. No guesses for guessing whether reason or impulse won that day.

Even before I introduced him to my six footer planted aquarium, I knew this was not going to be a fairy tale ending. For one, I was aware that these places love to graze on wood and I had some amazingly beautiful pieces of driftwood with nice moss growing on them that gave the aquascape a real natural look. I was more interested in observing this beautiful fish in a natural environment. In the coming weeks, I got more than what I anticipated!

For one, these plecos mean business. They are constantly grazing on the wood, I read albeit a little late in the day as I looked for as much information that I could get on this fish, that they not only graze on the driftwood,they devour it...literally!

So,as I watched and clicked away with my camera, my little juvenile pleco kept nibbling at the driftwood day and night.Their mouth is well adapted to this purpose literally scraping off the wood. The nice green algal coat had long since disappeared and I noticed that the wood was having an abrasive appearance. The other thing that I had missed out was how large these cute little guys can grow up to...a whopping 22 inches!


In that one impulsive moment,with a temporary loss of reasoning, I had gone against one of my own tenets while purchasing fish! Never give in to temptation unless you have done your research on the said fish and it's compatibility,keeping in mind factors like it's dietary needs ( the Royal Pleco will feed on roots and pieces of wood, wood being an essential part of their diet), it's need for space,considering the overall size that this fish will reach, it's requirement for having pristine water,which means having an external filter that can take care of it's waste.

Over the next few days of some frantic posts, I was lucky enough to find a fellow hobbyist who loves keeping plecos and was more than happy to take this juvenile under his care.

Some additional stats:

  • This fish grows big,reaches up to 22 inches
  • Will need a big tank, at least 320 cms long, 60 cms in height and 90 cms in width, so unless you want to convert your study in to one giant aquarium, give this one a skip
  • Will need lots and lots of driftwood to eat,supplemented with green foods like cabbage leaves,lettuce leaves,etc
  • Will need an extremely efficient filtration system


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