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Do Plecos Clean Your Tank? (Do They Eat Algae and Poop?)

Do Plecos Clean Your Tank? (Do They Eat Algae and Poop?)

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This post is written to the author's best knowledge and is not intended to be used in place of veterinary advice. In addition, this post may contain affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Plecos are common fish that people buy for their home aquariums. They can be a lot of fun to own, and they might even work well in a community fish tank setting.

If you’re looking for a good bottom-dwelling fish that will clean the tank, will plecos fit the bill? Are plecos capable of cleaning the fish tank?

Keep reading to learn about plecos and whether they’re good candidates for cleaning the fish tank. You’ll learn a lot about these fish and what they will and will not do in a fish tank setting.

Once you’ve learned all that you need to know, it’ll be easier to decide if plecos are the fish that you’re looking for. They’re definitely great fish to own, but you want to make sure they’re right for your situation.

Are Plecos Good Algae Eaters?

Plecos Eating Algae

Many people assume that bottom-feeders such as plecos will eat algae. There are many fish that live at the bottom of fish tanks that are known to eat algae.

Some types of plecos will eat algae, but that doesn’t mean that all of them do. You’ll find that some plecos won’t touch algae most of the time.

Generally, plecos are considered to be scavengers that will eat whatever food they can. There are certain types of plecos that live almost entirely off of algae.

Other plecos eat plants and other types of things. If you’re looking to buy plecos that eat algae, then you’ll need to seek out the right type of fish for the job.

Bristlenose plecos are going to be a good one to buy if you’re looking for fish that eat algae. They seem to really love eating algae.

It’s worth noting that plecos aren’t considered to be the best fish to buy for cleaning the tank, though. You’d be better off seeking out other fish if your goal is to keep the tank clean of algae and other things.

Do Plecos Eat Poop?

Plecos don’t eat poop on purpose. There are many types of bottom-feeding fish that will eat poop accidentally while eating other things.

For example, plecos might eat algae sometimes, and while they’re sucking the algae off of rocks or other things it might cause them to eat some poop. The poop isn’t something that they will actively attempt to eat.

If you see your pleco fish eating poop, then it’s almost surely being done by accident. Freshwater fish don’t seek out poop as a regular part of their diet.

That being said, plecos won’t be harmed if they happen to eat a bit of fish poop. The fish will just go about its business and everything will be fine.

You shouldn’t rely on plecos or other bottom-dwelling fish to eat fish poop in the tank. It’s necessary to clean the fish tank and do regular water changes to keep the water clean.

Why Isn’t My Pleco Cleaning the Tank?

Bristlenose Pleco Eating Algae Off of Rock

Understand that plecos aren’t really going to clean the tank for you. If you buy the right type of pleco, then it might help you out a bit by eating algae.

This means that the fish might clean the rocks or the side of the tank by eating algae. It isn’t necessarily going to ensure that the tank remains spotless.

Sometimes the fish aren’t going to eat all of the algae in the tank either. You should be cleaning the tank yourself and doing regular tank maintenance.

As a beginner, you might have thought that buying a fish that eats algae would keep the tank cleaner. This isn’t exactly the case.

Having certain fish in your tank can help to clean things up a bit. It doesn’t make it so that you won’t have to do anything yourself, though.

Plecos Produce a Lot of Waste

You should know that plecos produce a lot of waste. They’re going to poop quite a bit in the aquarium.

Now that you know that these fish don’t actively try to eat fish poop, it should be easier to understand that they don’t really “keep the fish tank clean.” You’re going to need to take care of the tank if you want it to remain in good shape.

Luckily, there are a lot of things that you can do to ensure that your tank stays clean. If you’re very new to caring for fish, then you might not know what you need to do yet.

Below, you’ll get a bit of information about the tank maintenance that you need to perform. If you do all of this, then you should be able to keep the aquarium clean and the water will stay safe for the fish.

Tank Maintenance

Man Holding PH Tests for Freshwater Aquarium

Regular tank maintenance is mostly about cleaning the tank and doing weekly water changes. You want to change out roughly 15% of the water every week to keep it clean.

If you fail to do regular water changes, the water will get dirty fast. If you skip one or two water changes, then the pH balance of the water will get thrown off.

You need to regularly test the water to ensure that the parameters are correct. This means using a pH balance testing kit to see how things are going.

Clean the fish tank once per month to get the best results. Doing this along with regular water changes should keep things safe.

Try not to overfeed the fish. Feeding fish too much will make them poop more, and this will make the water a lot dirtier than normal.

Installing a good water filter can help out a lot as well. Ensure that you buy a powerful filter that will help you to maintain good water quality.

Final Thoughts

You’ve learned that plecos don’t really help to keep the fish tank clean. If you buy the right type of plecos, then they might eat some algae for you, but that’s about it.

It’s important to clean the fish tank and do regular water changes. Failure to do regular tank maintenance will make the water quality poor.

Dirty water can make your fish sick, and some of the fish might die. Be sure to do what is necessary to keep the fish tank in good condition.

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