FAQs on Loricariids, South and Central
American Suckermouth Cats: Peckoltia, Clown
Related Articles: Loricariids, Otocinclus, From Pan-ack-ay to Pan-ack-zee, A
Detailed Look at the Bizarre But Beautiful Panaque
Catfishes by Neale Monks
Related Catfish FAQs: Loricariids 1, Otocinclus,
Other Loricariid Genera: FAQs on: Ancistrus, Baryancistrus, Genera Farlowella, Loricaria, Sturisoma,
Rhineloricaria: Twig Plecostomus, Genera Glyptoperichthys, Liposarcus, Pterygoplichthys, Sailfin Giants
among the Loricariids, The Zebra
Pleco, Hypancistrus zebra, Hypostomus, Peckoltia: Clown
Pseudacanthicus, Scobanancistrus, L-number catfish,
Loricariid Identification, Loricariid Behavior, Loricariid Compatibility, Loricariid Selection,
Loricariid Systems, Loricariid Feeding, Loricariid Reproduction, Loricariid Disease, Catfish: Identification, Behavior, Compatibility, Selection, Systems, Feeding, Disease, Reproduction, Algae
Clown Pleco substrate safety question
I've found myself in a dilemma after following the advice of a local
fish supply store (with a good reputation) and purchasing a Clown Pleco
for my ex-Betta tank.
<Do double check what species you actually got. The "true" Clown Plec is
a Panaque species called Panaque maccus (sometimes called Panaqolus
It's a herbivore more than anything else. It isn't fussy about the
substrate because it prefers to spend time on rocks and especially
However, a lot of aquarists (and some older books) use this Clown Plec
name for a Peckoltia species, Peckoltia vittata. Like all Peckoltia,
this species is a micro carnivore that roots about for worms and such.
This species will be more upset by the substrate if it can't dig easily.
PlanetCatfish.com has nice photos of the two species if you need help
telling them apart.>
My Betta had passed away after 4 years and I hated to get rid of the
mature 5 gal tank, but wasn't ready for another Betta so soon. The store
convinced me Clown Plecos stayed small and would do fine in a small
tank. Ha! I now
know this size tank is inadequate for him for many reasons, so I want to
move him out of there before it stunts his growth.
<Understood. Both the catfish mentioned are relatively small, around 8
cm/3 inches or so in length. The Panaque species is marginally bigger
perhaps, but there's not a lot in it. Anything upwards of 20 gallons is
fine, and you could probably get away with a 15-gallon tank at a pinch.>
The problem is I only have one other tank option and I'm not sure the
substrate will be ok for him. I've read some conflicting information
online. The current 5 gal tank has a nice sandy bottom (smooth sand, not
the sharp kind I've read about) with driftwood and he really seems to
<Panaque species are wood-eaters, and will spend all their time, if they
can, on bogwood, rasping away. They also consume vegetables like
courgette/zucchini, as well as algae wafers and the odd bit of something
My other tank is a 75 gal planted tank with large pieces of driftwood
with lots of places to hide from the 2 goldfish occupants. But the
substrate is Seachem's Fluorite gravel.
<Not a major problem for Panaque maccus. As noted, this catfish prefers
to stay on solid surfaces, especially bogwood, and rarely comes down
onto the substrate except to eat things like algae wafers put out for
It doesn't seem sharp to the touch, but it's not really as smooth as
other traditional gravels, so I'm worried it isn't a safe fit for the
Pleco. I hope I'm wrong because otherwise I think he'd really love the
tank. I'd appreciate any advice you can offer. Thank you in advance for
<Hope this helps, Neale.>
Re: Clown Pleco substrate safety question
Good evening, Neale.
Thank you very much for the reply. It has helped ease my worries! After
researching the two species you mentioned on PlanetCatfish.com, I found
I do indeed have the true Panaque maccus Clown Pleco. Although I don't
little guy much during the day, when I do glimpse him, he's always
rasping on the driftwood. And he leaves numerous piles of "wood dust"
all over the sandy bottom. It still amazes me how much debris such a
tiny thing can create so quickly!
<For the last 20 years I've looked after one of his bigger relatives,
Panaque nigrolineatus, a truly wonderful fish. But this thing poops like
it's an Olympic Sport! Absolutely standard for the genus, as you've
seen, but since it's mostly wood chippings, the effect on water quality
Probably a useful soil improver too, but can be unsightly, and easily
siphoned out, or "spot cleaned" with a turkey baster. Do have a read
Plenty of info on this really interesting group of catfishes.>
We are undergoing a renovation project (hence the reason for my delayed
reply), but as soon as that is over, I will be moving him to the 75 gal
tank where he will hopefully enjoy many happy years.
<Should do. Panaque are notoriously sensitive the first few weeks, and
getting them feeding well is crucial. But once settled they are VERY
hardy and long-lived.>
Thank you, again!
<Most welcome! Neale.>
Angelfish and small Pleco 10/21/13
I have a 75 gallon with six angelfish that are about three inches. Would
it be safe for them to get one Clown Pleco for the algae on the glass?
<Ah yes; a good choice (Peckoltia sp.) for here. I might get 3-4
specimens "to do the job", and for your enjoyment>
I do know that they need their own veggie diet. It is one of those Clown
Plecos that is orange with dark stripes that only get to be about 4
inches in length. I read they have a reputation for eating driftwood.
<Cheers, Bob Fenner>
Re Angelfish and Bristlenose Pleco 10/21/13
I just took the Clown Pleco back this morning due to people saying they
love to eat driftwood which I have and want to keep.
<... eats very little; slowly>
The only other option I can think of is the Bristlenose Pleco. Do they eat
<To about the same extents, yes>
and are they dangerous to angelfish?
<... no; see WWM re>
One person on the internet said they had a Bristlenose that attached to a
gourami, killed it, and buried it under a piece of driftwood. I guess it
is that suction mouth that can be the problem. Thank you
<... likely the anabantid was dead already. B>
Otocinclus, L134 Peckoltia; compatibility,
I recently returned from a 2 week stint working out of town to find my
5.5 gallon over run with the soft green algae that Otocinclus fish are
supposedly fond of. The tank was intended for another project which
didn't pan out (my Australe Killifish pair was living happily in my
29 gallon awaiting transfer but couldn't compete for food in my
absence and died after the first week.) I had been contemplating adding
four Otos to my already cycled 29 gallon and now I'm wondering if
the 5.5 would make a suitable quarantine tank or if it is too small
even for the short quarantine period.
<5.5 gallons is really not much good for anything except for a Betta
and/or small shrimps, and as you've observed, they are
intrinsically unstable and can easily flip into problem mode. You might
use it to quarantine very small fish, up to 2.5 cm/1 inch, but other
than that, I'd not risk stressing community fish species in such a
I removed the majority of the algae with a toothbrush but there is
still a fair amount in the tank.
<Algae removal will reduce the problem, but you do have to research
why it happened at all.
Without fail, algae comes back if conditions allow.>
There are a couple small plants (Cryptocoryne and some Alternanthera
reineckii clippings just floating) and some natural wood decor which
have been in the tank for 3 or 4 weeks. The tank itself has been set up
for just over a month, I used water from my 29 originally which I dose
with aquarium salt as a tonic about every second water change or
<Why use salt? The use of "tonic salt" is old school and
provides no real benefits.
Is this a reasonable place to keep four Otos for a couple weeks,
considering the small size and minor presence of salt?
<Possibly. But Otocinclus require somewhat cool, oxygen rich water
with lots of water current. Their mortality in "Nano" tanks
is depressingly high, despite their wide sale for such.>
I also wanted to ask whether my leopard frog Pleco which lives in my 29
is indeed a suitable tank mate for Otos or if I have been mislead.
<In a big enough tank with cool (24 C), fast-flowing water and ample
green algae, a school of 6 or more Otocinclus affinis/vittatus should
coexist with your L134 Peckoltia sp. catfish. Peckoltia spp. feed
mostly on the bottom and consume bloodworms and soft vegetables, while
Otocinclus graze almost exclusively on green algae from plant leaves.
So there shouldn't be much overlap. But L134 prefers warmer water
than Otocinclus, so they aren't an obvious or ideal combination.
Almost all problems with Otocinclus come down to keeping them too warm,
without enough oxygen, or without enough green algae. I doubt 50% of
the specimens sold last even 6 months.>
Your time and advice is greatly appreciated.
Clown Pleco Skin Patchy-ness... medication poisoning,
Well, to start I have 9 Zebra Danios, 10 Neon Tetra's, 6
Harlequins, 2 Cory's, a rather peaceful Siamese Fighter, and a
Clown Pleco. My tank was recently infected with the Whitespot disease
which killed off all 6 or my Bleeding Hearts, my other Clown Pleco, a
male and female Dwarf Gourami's (I still have 1 other female Dwarf
Gourami but I suspect she won't make it) and all 7 of my Emperor
Tetra's. (The Emperor's where the ones to bring it into the
tank.) We used Exit
for the Whitespot and the treatment worked on the rest that didn't
die but its started to come back on the Neon's and Siamese (who is
dubbed Jackie Chan ^_^).
We're treating the Ick again
<I would be reading on WWM re... at least elevating temp. to bolster
a cure here: http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwichremedyyes.htm
and the linked files above>
but my main problem at the moment is my Clown Pleco. He's chocolate
brown with kind-of yellow spots and stripes.. So far he hasn't been
affected at all by the Ick but I've noticed he's gotten some
lighter patches on his skin.
<Is affected... more by the eSHa product likely...>
They seem to be crescent shape and go down his back (though this is in
a regular pattern). He's also gone very quiet (whereas before he
was quite active) and isn't eating as much. He's barely moved
at all day.
<Being poisoned... have you measured any ammonia,
I did a water test and the results came back fine aside from the pH
which showed between 5-6.
<Dangerously low... likely not well buffered either... Do you know
much re alkalinity AND pH? Please see WWM re, and possibly at least mix
in some source water with appreciable hardness>
I don't know if there is something wrong with the Pleco but I'm
quite fond of him and am not keen on losing any more fish. ^_^;
<Then... I'd be reading... Stat>
Any help would be much appreciated.
<Read. Bob Fenner>
Re: Clown Pleco Skin Patchy-ness, Ich
Many thanks for your help, it is greatly appreciated. I read on your
site about raising the temperature to kill the Ick, and I've now
raised it to 80 F however I am concerned about raising the temperature
to the level required to kill off all stages of Ick as I know some of
the fish I have, such as the Danios, tend to prefer cooler
Would it be ok, bearing in mind the different species I have, to raise
<Yes... better by far than to suffer, perhaps perish from the Ich
itself... or more medicine exposure. If they were mine, I'd go
ahead and raise the temperature to 83-84 F.. This is not too high for
Danios in the short term>
What temperature do you consider tolerable for the different fish in
<For all the species you list (below) in your original email, this
temporary elevation will be fine... Do take care in a couple weeks
however to lower it slowly... no more than a degree per day or
I've done another water change. And another water test. The results
came back as:
GH - 180
KH - 180
PH - 7.0
Nitrites CNO2 - 0
Nitrates - 20
<Mmm, the Nitrates are borderline high... going forward I would read
re such on WWM:
and the linked FAQs file above... and do what you can to reduce this
Also, in the past week I have done two 50% water changes (leaving a few
days between each change) and another 25% earlier today.
I checked the Clown Pleco and I couldn't spy any patches on him. I
hope this is an improvement. Though he is still quiet and not moving as
Thanks again for your help.
Floating Pleco beh. 2/2/06 Hi Bob, <Kat>
Hope all is well with you and your finned friends. <Thanks> I
have a 65 gallon FW. Recently sized up from a
55. A very long time ago when I was having a slight algae
problem I bought a clown Pleco, not real fond of "common
plecs". Well he sure is cute but a waste of
money. Algae eater my fanny!!! My early
ignorance. <Mine continues unabated> About 3 months ago I was
getting the good old red bacteria, Cyanobacteria I have since
discovered, and bought a high fin spotted Plec. <Most animals
don't eat much/any Cyano> If I
don't feed my high fin he will clean the rocks but of course
he doesn't touch the plants nor do the Mollies, or the Gold
Gouramis. So about every third day I break up an algae wafer
and drop it around the tank. <Good> Now here is what I find VERY
interesting and hysterically funny. The clown Plec will
latch onto a piece of food, any piece of food and be fine.
However the high fin spotted latches on to any type of food and just
floats away. He will allow himself to float about half way
up the tank then drops what he has and looks for something else.
<Neat> Why in the Sam Hill does one float and the other
not? <Am tempted to go for the Monty Python "Witch
Test" hypothesis here...> When the high fin starts
floating some of the gouramis just stop and look at him, like what in
God's name are you doing? <Enjoying him/herself> FYI this is
what I have. 65 gallon, Emperor 400, Penguin 330 and two powerheads, I
know lots of current but all are fine. 6 Clown loaches, after I
accidentally boiled my beautiful Synos. Don't ask or you
can. The guys at the LFS laughed until they
cried. ( I am obsessive about water changes etc) 7 gold
gouramis. All about 3 inches. 6 mollies, three babies, two
adult females, one adult male. (One of the adult females I
have had for two years and I can tell she is just about ready to die of
old age, she was one of my original fish, and when she goes so will the
rest of the Mollies back to the fish store. Maybe They are more mean
than the Gouramis LOLOLOL, and the guys at the LFS were worried about
the Mollies, RIGHT) 6 various Cory cats, all original, and one I saved
from being flushed. 1 spotted Raphael, which I rarely see, unless I
sneak in there at night with my tiny flashlight. Ok so now I am writing
and can't stop. I know there are some snails or something to get
rid of the Cyanobacteria, and I have Phos ban in my filter, but snails
won't take care of the Cyano on the plants right? <Correct>
Anyway really want to know about the floating Pleco, if there is an
answer. Have a good one, Kat <Just a floater... in a good way. Have
thought re the "reasonableness" of animal actions? Why do
dolphins et al. cetaceans jump out of the water? Obviously because they
can... wouldn't you? Bob Fenner, who definitely would>
Bristle Nose Pleco versus Golden Clown Pleco Of the Bristle
Nose Pleco or a Golden Clown Pleco, <There are actually quite
a few of the former and at least two species of the latter. Likely you
have seen our scant presentation on Loricariids:
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/loricariids.htm> 1. Which would be better
at cleaning algae off the sides of the tank? <Probably one of the
Bristlenose Plecos. Please look on Fishbase.org for some idea of which
fishes this appellation applies> 2. Which one would be better at
leaving the plants alone? <The Golden Clowns or some of the smaller
species of Bristlenoses> 3. Which one is most friendly? I have a
community tank with two clown loaches and two Corydoras Julies and will
be getting four Otos. (the other fish are some guppies, mollies, a
tetra and a red swordtail. <Ahh, the Goldens.> Thank you.
<You are welcome my friend. Bob Fenner>