Common Pleco - Too Common?

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Aquarium Advice Freak
Jan 16, 2011
WHY is the common pleco common to every LFS???

I'm willing to bet that 95% of patrons of every LFS don't own a tank adequately spacious for a common pleco (keep in mind that readers of this forum do not represent the average). Therefore, you'd think, that common plecos wouldn't be so common - don't sell something your customers won't buy, after all. Or, at least, the common pleco should be reduced to a specialty item at more competent LFS.

Of course, two factors contribute to this issue: ignorant LFS staff, and the fact that the common pleco is deceptively only ~3" when bought out the 5-10 gallon display tank at the LFS. I counted ~40 common plecos in my LFS (PetSmart) last week – divided between two 5-gallon tanks, and each common pleco was only 3”.

Shouldn’t there be some sort of grassroots campaign to remedy this? Either by way of widespread education of chain LFS staff, or asking chain LFS to stop stocking the common pleco?
they must be cheap and easy to get. and like you said, people will keep buying them. i know a lot of people buy them for their koi ponds around here. but the fact that the LFS puts them in with all the other tropical fish (that actually stay relatively small) is misguiding.

a friend of mine had like 8 of them in her 50 gallon tank with tons of convicts :( it's pretty depressing.
Chain pet stores don't display kittens in gerbil cages for obvious reasons. Don't common plecos get as big as some cats?!
I had a 20 gallon over 5 years ago and I had a pleco in it. Employees at petsmart told me that he would be fine in my tank so I bought him. He ended up getting to big so I had to rehome him. I agree that they don't provide enough info regarding these fish esp. at chain pet stores.
A common pleco can easily reach eighteen to twenty four inches if given the room to.

I agree that they must be very cheap and easy to get.

But, they should be sold only to people with a license that have a big enough area.
How do they end up so cheap aswell. It's virtually impossible to tell male from female and theyre very hard to breed successfully in aquarium apparently
your 75g should be ok for your Plec providing to don't have too many other fish in there. he/she could grow close to full size in there.

I of course purchased a Pleco as my first fish along with my 10g tank.
He was put into a 20g when he outgrew that, now I have a 40g which I will be upgrading. I am in talks with my husband about getting something much larger, Craigslist here I come.

However after digging around I came across this

It says they grow from 4" to 12"+ Mine is already at 10"
Their lifespan 'up to 2 years with proper care' Mine is 7 years

When I got my guy I was told he was very peaceful. Yeh.. He has eaten every shrimp, snail and was frequently chasing a large goldfish he took a dislike to.
(The chasing ended after the tank upgrade).

Either way, they need to be sold with caution, not as a beginners tank filler.
I agree that the easiest pleco to get seems to be the common pleco I was lucky enough to get a couple of bristle nose and a clown pleco. They are much smaller but their bio load is big for their size so I consider them twice their size when figuring out stocking ideas for my tank.
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