I get commissions for purchases made through links in this post. Learn more.

What do Plecos eat? Best Food for Pleco Fish Reviewed

Pleco is a group of armored catfish, named for the longitudinal row of scutes covering the upper parts of their head and body.

They belong to the family Loricariidae. They are the most popular catfish among fish keepers and hobbyists.

The most in-demand kind is the Common Pleco or Hypostomus Plecostomus. It grows to about 24 inches long and has a lifespan of 10-15 years.

Plecos have a sucker-like mouth which points down, making them bottom feeders. They are usually very dark in coloration, possibly with some light brown spots.

Are you planning to get a Pleco for your aquarium?

Even though they are usually recommended for beginners, you should still prepare before getting one. First among this is to know the proper diet and feeding for Plecos. So let’s dive in into our guide to the best food for pleco fish!

[amazon table=”7929″]

Best Food for Pleco Fish – Top 4 Reviewed

Pleco Fish

Here are some of the best food for Pleco fish that are commercially available.

1. Tetra Pro PlecoWafers

[amazon box=”B0017JAPMQ”]

A large 2-in-1 sinking wafer ideal for herbivorous bottom grazers. State-of-the-art extrusion technology allows a staple diet outer ring and a concentrated algae center to be melded into one wafer.

This formula utilizes Tetra’s proprietary ProCare formula to enhance and prolong health.

Using the patented Tetra Optimal Health blend, these PlecoWafers also contains a stabilized source of vitamins and nutrients for the fish’s immunity, which makes them a contender for the best food for pleco fish!

The PlecoWafers are quite large and readily sink to the bottom of the tank. They are not messy, as they do not flake off or dissolve. The wafers stay together until consumed.

Make sure to follow package instructions to only give as much as your fish can eat in a single feeding every few days. The bag is easy to store with a lock top seam which also ensures freshness.

While this is a bargain for the size and thickness of the wafer (about the size of a penny), this may be too big for Plecos that are still small. In that case, break off the pieces to feed smaller portions instead.

In some cases, it can also turn the water a bit cloudy until it is completely eaten. Never fear, the cloudiness leaves within a day or two.


  • Specially formulated and nutritionally complete all-vegetable sinking food
  • Contains fiber to simulate advantaged of having driftwood
  • Clear-Water formula to avoid clouding your tank’s water
  • With algae meal and supplemented with zucchini


  • May be too big for Plecos that are still small
  • Can also turn the water a bit cloudy

Check Price and Reviews on Amazon

2. API Algae Eater Premium Algae Wafers

[amazon box=”B005XDCNBS”]

A complete and nutritionally balanced food that contains API’s breakthrough formula for enhanced protein.

Allows easy uptake of your fish’s much-needed nutrients that also cause up to 30% less release in ammonia, leading to cleaner and clearer water and healthier tank environment.

API’s Algae Wafers include alfalfa as a source of fiber to enhance digestion as well as Omega-3 fatty acids for better health. The wafers are large, thick and do not crumble or fall apart. Feed twice a day, as much as can be consumed in one feeding.

If your tank has a higher pH issue, some caution is recommended when giving these algae wafers as some users report this fish food to result in or cause an unpleasant odor.

Despite the odor, however, there are no reported cloudiness or ill effects to the fish.


  • Includes Omega-3 fatty acids for better health
  • Do not crumble or fall apart
  • One of the best food for pleco fish


  • In some cases cause an unpleasant odor

Check Price and Reviews on Amazon

3. Zeigler Premium Fish Food Spirulina, Algae & Veggie Wafers

[amazon box=”B01BESTLJ2″]

It contains a variety of plant sources such as pure cultured spirulina, marine products, and California blackworms to build a complete and well-balanced formula for algae feeders like Plecos and snails.

Made in the USA and also one of the best food for pleco fish.

The discs come in varying sizes, from 1-, 2- and 3-mm and are not guaranteed to immediately sink. Some buyers report the need to soak and soften them in water before feeding.

But some discs remain floating at the top of the tank. This might work out for community tanks where some fish feed above. But if you’re exclusively feeding a Pleco, this is a distinct disadvantage. The spirulina also increases the tendency of water to become cloudy during and after feeding.


  • Made in the USA
  • Contains a variety of plant sources
  • Well balanced  sinking diet


  • Increases the tendency of water to become cloudy

Check Price and Reviews on Amazon

4. Omega One Veggie Rounds

[amazon box=”B0037LT5H8″]

Another Contender for the best food for pleco fish. Nutritious 14mm rounds loaded with superfoods like fresh ocean kelp that has been hand-harvested in Alaska, salmon, shrimp, and herring rich in Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids and spirulina which eliminates pathogens and internal bacteria. Made in the U.S.A.

Contains no fish meal, digests or hydrolysates, only raw and unprocessed proteins. By cooking only once, the proteins bind naturally together making these rounds insoluble, leading to a cleaner tank.

Compared to other fish food, Omega One Veggie Rounds also contain less wheat products, reducing fish wastes.

By using Alaskan seafood rich in natural pigments called beta-carotenes, this fish food restores natural and true colors to your fish. The pellets are properly weighted and sink well with no floaters.

However, these pellets are quite thick, round and hard. If you have small Plecos, it’s harder to break it up using only your hands like how you would a thin and flat algae wafer.

Comes in 2, 2.75, 4.2 and 8.1 oz packaging.


  • Contains less wheat products, reducing fish wastes
  • Restores natural and true colors to your fish
  • Rounds are insoluble


  • hard to break the pellets up

Check Price and Reviews on Amazon

My Pet Patrol Teddy Bear Cholla Wood

Since Plecos’ natural habitat is the tropical waters of the Amazon River, they are used to fast-moving shallow waters that flow through forests. As such, Plecos love having driftwood in their habitats.

They eat wood, using it as aid for digestion. Smaller Plecos can also use driftwood as hiding spots, especially during the day. If you’re interested in using some driftwood in your tank, you can try one like this:

[amazon box=”B074V17PHR”]

Compared to regular cholla, Teddy Bear is thicker and provides a greater surface area. This driftwood is natural, organic and untreated. The extra hollow centers provide great hiding spots for your Pleco. Outside diameter ranging from 2 – 3.5 inches with an inside diameter of at least 1.25 inches. Available in lengths of 3 – 48 inches.

As these are free form, each piece may react differently. Although these have been power washed in 220 – 260 F water to remove dirt, debris, and tannins, the wood may still not sink immediately in which case you will need to boil and soak it yourself in order to remove excess tannins.

Some buyers report that the piece was already spoiled days after arrival. Others also noted that the wood turned their water brown.

However, top raters claim the wood has no sharp edges that might tear fins and that it added a nice, rustic look to their tank. Some also used the holes in the wood to attach live plants.

Keep in mind that Plecos do eat plants. If you want to keep them with live plants, choose ones that are hardy and quick to grow like Amazon Sword, anubias, java ferns and moss, or Jungle Vallisneria.

Check Price and Reviews on Amazon


  • Thicker and provides a greater surface area than regular cholla
  • Natural, organic and untreated
  • Power washed in 220 – 260 F water to remove dirt, debris, and tannins


  • In some cases it turned the water brown
  • Some buyers report that the piece was spoiled after a few days

SunGrow Bottom Feeders’ Food Dish

[amazon box=”B07QQ43B3N”]

A 2.5 x 0.5-inch feeding dish made of durable heavy-duty borosilicate glass. To prevent food spillage, you can place algae wafers, veggie rounds or pellets within this dish.

It is heavy and will not float. With a 0.5-inch depth, it can also be used when feeding your Plecos vegetables or the occasional shrimp, worm or other meat.

With a transparent design, you can easily see which fish are eating (if with other tank mates) and how much.

When housing multiple bottom feeders, you can more easily see which fish are being too aggressive or if there’s one that’s more likely to be harassed. If there is food leftover 3-4 hours after feeding, you’ll know that you are overfeeding your fish.

Keeping the food in one place will also keep your tank cleaner. Instead of having food floating around or caught in the substrate (causing problems already mentioned before), it is easier to empty or siphon a feeding dish.

That being said, make sure to move the dish around every time you feed your fish. Placing it in only one spot risks the formation of cyanobacteria or black beard algae forming on the surface below the dish.

If you leave the dish in the tank, it will also eventually grow algae. The best thing to do is to remove and clean it every week or two to avoid running into these problems.

Check Price and Reviews on Amazon

What do Plecos Eat?

Pet stores often advertise Plecos as algae eaters. This often leads new hobbyists and fish-keepers to think that algae is all they eat.

With their distinctly-shaped sucker mouths which allows them to attach to glass even on the side of the tank, you might think they are the “janitor” of the tank, only needing to feed on algae that accumulates naturally.

However, this is not correct. Originating from the Amazon jungle in South America, Plecos will eat just about anything.

Plecos are in fact opportunistic omnivores, scavenging for food and sometimes eating smaller fish, invertebrates, and crustaceans. They do eat algae most of all and should be given sinking algae wafers, but the best food for Pleco fish is high-quality pellets or wafers supplemented with vegetables and some meat.

To sustain their high fiber requirements, you can give them raw vegetables like zucchini, cucumbers, carrots, broccoli, lettuce, cabbages, kale, and even shelled peas and lima beans.

When giving raw vegetables, make sure they are cut into smaller pieces for ease of feeding.

Occasionally, about once or twice a week, you can also feed them meat or live food such as bloodworms, earthworms, shrimp and larvae.

Omnivore and nocturnal

Aside from being opportunistic omnivores, another factor that a Pleco keeper should consider is the fact that Plecos are nocturnal. This means the best time to feed your Pleco is during the evening.

You can make a habit to feed before you turn your lights off. Whether feeding with wafers or pellets, make sure that you only offer what they can easily consume in about 2 to 3 minutes. If food is left in the water, it may cause cloudiness, odor, slime or otherwise gum up into a sticky mass.

Another problem you might encounter if you are a beginner is overfeeding. Overfeeding can cause clogged up filters, increase the chance of algae bloom due to increased nitrogen and phosphate concentration in the water, and pest snail problem.

If your fish are being overfed, they will naturally produce more waste, thus your tank would need extra maintenance. Worse, overeating can be fatal to any kind of fish. Make sure to heed instructions in your fish food, monitor your Pleco’s natural behaviors and adjust accordingly.

[amazon table=”7929″]


Armed with more knowledge about the habitat and dietary needs of armored catfish, you will be quite ready to get one for yourself.

Provided with proper care, the best food for pleco fish, and other needs, you can watch your Pleco grow from a small bottom feeder hiding in logs or burrowing in substrate to an absolute monster of the tank at two feet long.

Aaron Boyd
Aaron Boyd

Hello, I’m Aaron Boyd, the proud owner and author behind Aqua Movement. I hope my article was able to answer your questions. If you want to learn more about me, click the home icon above.

Aqua Movement