Plecos are some of the most popular bottom-feeding fish to own. Many people buy these fish so that they can eat algae in their fish tanks.
Many types of plecos are good algae eaters, but they can also simply be fun to own. Many of these fish are pretty to look at, and they can also be great community tank members.
If you’re looking into buying plecos sometime soon, you might be concerned about the cost. Are these fish that will be practical to own or are they somewhat expensive?
Keep reading to learn more about plecos and the general cost of owning them. This should help you to decide whether owning plecos will be practical in your situation.
How Much Does It Cost to Buy a Pleco?
The cost of plecos will differ depending on which type of fish you’re trying to buy. You see, plecos come in many different varieties.
Some plecos aren’t too large, but others are absolute behemoths. In fact, some types of plecos won’t be practical for beginners to purchase since they’re so big.
For the most part, the plecos that are affordable to own will be on the small side. The most common type of plecos that you see being sold in pet stores are bristlenose plecos.
Bristlenose plecos only grow to be between four and six inches on average. They can be kept in 40-gallon fish tanks and are considered to be beginner-friendly.
These fish can cost between $5 and $30 depending on various factors. The cost will likely depend on the size of the fish and whether you’re looking for a variant such as an albino.
Larger types of plecos such as common plecos will cost a lot more cash when you buy them at mature sizes. These fish can grow to be up to 24 inches long at adulthood.
If you want to buy a common pleco, it’ll be less expensive to buy a juvenile fish that is only a few inches long. Buying a more mature fish will cost substantially more money.
Certain types of plecos are a little tougher to find as well. Some might be considered to be rare and will cost well over $100 for one fish.
You could spend anywhere between $5 and several hundred dollars on one fish depending on what you want. If you just want standard plecos that are somewhat small, it won’t be too costly to buy some.
The Cost of the Fish Tank
The cost of the fish tank is something that you must consider as well. As mentioned above, plecos come in many different varieties.
Some are a lot larger than others at maturity. Common plecos are truly quite big, and they’re going to require 100-gallon aquariums.
Many types of plecos need 100-gallon fish tanks or even larger environments. There are quite a number of different plecos that grow to be very large.
You can also find plecos that will stay fairly small. These plecos might be able to thrive in 40-gallon aquariums.
As you might expect, smaller fish tanks will cost less money than large ones. You might be able to get a 40-gallon fish tank for a little over $100.
A 100-gallon fish tank will cost hundreds of dollars. Some of the nicer ones will cost close to $1,000 when all is said and done.
Thus, you should expect to spend a pretty penny on a fish tank if you want to keep large plecos in your home. This is why it’s more practical for most people to stick with smaller plecos such as bristlenose plecos.
If you can’t afford to break the bank on buying fish tanks for your home, it’ll be better to go with smaller ones. Plus, you have to consider how much space you have in your home.
The Cost of Equipment
Equipment is another consideration that cannot be ignored. You’ll be spending a certain amount of cash on equipment for the fish tank.
You’ll need to buy several different things to get the tank set up. First, you’ll need a good filter that will help the fish tank to maintain high oxygen levels.
It’ll also be necessary to buy a heater, a thermometer, and lighting. You’ll then need to purchase hiding spots for the fish to utilize such as caves and logs.
These fish will need substrate that they can scavenge through as well. Generally, you’ll want to use sand as the substrate material to protect the fish.
Expect to spend hundreds of dollars on equipment for the tank. The exact price will depend on what you buy and how large your fish tank is.
A larger fish tank will require a more expensive and powerful filter. The same can be said for the heater.
It’s a good idea to ensure that you get good equipment for the tank. You want your plecos to stay in good health and these fish truly do need a filter that works well.
Plecos are susceptible to problems when placed in tanks with low oxygen levels. If you set the tank up properly, they should do just fine.
The Cost of Food
Food is going to cost a bit of cash, too, but it won’t be overly expensive. Different types of plecos will have different dietary requirements.
Most plecos are omnivores that scavenge for food. They aren’t generally picky about what they eat.
Many of the most popular types of plecos are known for eating algae. They can’t live entirely off of algae, though.
You’ll need to supplement their diets with normal types of food. Pleco owners feed their fish sinking nutritional pellets, algae rounds, bloodworms, shrimp, veggies, and many other things.
It’s also notable that some plecos don’t eat algae at all. You’ll need to research the dietary needs of the specific pleco that you choose to buy.
Some plecos such as vampire plecos are carnivores. These fish will only eat meaty foods such as bloodworms and shrimp.
You’ll spend a bit of cash each month to feed the plecos. Most of the common types of food will cost $10 to $15.
If you vary the diet of the fish as recommended by most enthusiasts, you might spend $30 or so a month to feed the fish. It depends on whether you buy expensive foods such as live foods for the fish.
The Cost of Maintenance
There will be regular maintenance costs to consider. You’ll be spending money on the upkeep of the tank as well as power.
The average cost of maintaining a small freshwater fish tank is usually close to $400 per year. If you’re keeping a large fish tank in your home, it’ll cost a bit more than that.
You might spend $600 per year or more to maintain the tank. The exact cost will depend on the size of the tank, the type of lighting that you buy for the tank, and other factors.
You’ll also be buying things such as pH balance testing kits every so often. Testing the water will be an important part of keeping the environment just right for the plecos.
Consider the cost of regular maintenance before purchasing a fish tank for your home. If you’re concerned that you can’t afford the tank, it’ll be better to avoid buying it until you’re more financially stable.
Is Owning Plecos Practical?
Is owning plecos practical for an average fish tank enthusiast? Yes, but it’s likely going to be easier to get smaller plecos.
You’ll spend hundreds of dollars less when setting up a small tank for bristlenose plecos. If you want to buy larger plecos such as royal plecos or common plecos, the costs will be much higher.
Consider whether you have enough cash to care for the larger fish properly. You’ll also have to dedicate a lot of space in your home if you plan to buy 100-gallon fish tanks.
Buying a 40-gallon fish tank will be a lot simpler for most people. You can easily find enough room for a tank of that size if you live in an average North American home.
If you feel that your finances are a bit too tight at the moment, it’d be better to hold off on buying plecos. All types of fish can be slightly expensive to care for when you’re on a strict budget.
You can always return to the idea of buying plecos or other types of fish when you have more money to spare. It’s good to buy fish when you know for sure that you can care for them properly.
You now know that caring for plecos will be something that requires a bit of cash. Setting up a small tank for modestly-sized plecos won’t be too expensive, but it’ll still cost you.
When you want to buy larger plecos, it’ll become a lot pricier. For most people, it’ll be easier to care for smaller plecos such as bristlenose plecos.
You must buy a fish tank and all of the necessary equipment to get started. After factoring in the cost of equipment, you should expect to spend several hundred dollars just to get a 40-gallon fish tank set up for the fish.
Yearly maintenance will likely cost you around $400, but it’ll be more if you have a larger tank. Setting up one of the big tanks could cost an exorbitant sum of money if you choose to buy a fancy tank.
Jeff has always enjoyed having pets, but as a child, he was drawn to his family’s fish tank. Being able to maintain a small ecosystem and observe the behaviors and interactions in the underwater world peaked his interest early on and has kept him hooked until this day. On Avid Aquarist, Jeff shares everything he’s learned about helping aquatic life survive and thrive in a home aquarium.