Did you know that there are currently over 600 known varieties of plecos!
Most of these fish are known by common names, but they also have an allocated L number to help distinguish the different species from one another.
You can find many of the smaller pleco species for sale in your local fish or pet store. However, if you want a rarer example, you’ll most likely find more choices of plecos online.
Read this guide to discover the best places to buy pleco fish online!
What Are Pleco Fish?
Plecos, or plecostomus as they are more correctly called, are members of the Loricariidae family.
Plecos are armored suckermouths and are part of the largest catfish family in the world. The fish have heavy armored plates all over their bodies and sucker mouths that they use to rasp algae from smooth stones and wood.
What Are “L” or LDA” Numbers?
There are over 600 known species of plecos. The fish have common names, such as the Green Phantom pleco and the Blue Phantom, but they are identified by scientists by a system of “L” or “LDA” numbers. Currently, there are 500 numbers, and more are being added every year!
Popular species that you’ll find for sale online are L046 the Zebra pleco and L177 the Golden Nugget pleco. These fish are more brightly colored than many of the other smaller pleco species, and they are, therefore, more expensive.
Most plecos come from South America, although there are some in Costa Rica and Panama.
Although some species of plecos have limited ranges and are only resident in a few specific areas of particular rivers, most plecos occupy a broad range of habitats. Some plecos inhabit fast-flowing rivers and shallow streams, whereas others prefer slow-moving acidic black water or brackish estuary areas. The fish that live in fast waters use their strong sucker mouths to cling to submerged wood and stones to avoid being swept away.
Water Parameters For Plecostomus
All Loricariid catfish share similar water requirements.
The captive-bred specimens that you can buy prefer a water pH range of between 7.0 and 8.0, a water hardness of between 3 and 10 dKH, and a temperature of 74° and 80° F. However, it’s worth doing some research to make sure that you give your plecos the ideal water parameters.
Are There Any Plecos That Stay Small?
Yes, there are a few species of suckermouth catfish that stay relatively small, including:
- Bristlenose pleco (3.5 inches)
- Clown pleco (3 to 4 inches)
- Pitbull pleco (1.5 to 2 inches)
- Rubber lip pleco (4.5 inches)
- Zebra pleco (3 to 4 inches)
However, do your research when buying plecos, as some species, such as Hypostomus plecostomus, can grow to over 12 inches in length!
What Tank Setup For Plecostomus?
The size of a tank that you choose depends on the species and size of the pleco you intend to keep. Smaller species are generally happy in a tank of 20 gallons or thereabouts, whereas larger ones need at least 75 gallons to be happy.
Plecos are rather secretive fish that like to have hollow logs, caves, and other hiding places to creep into. Include plenty of driftwood where algae can grow as a food source for the fish. Interestingly, some plecos, including the Clown pleco, ingest wood by rasping it with their abrasive sucker mouths.
As plecos are nocturnal fishes, you won’t see much of them during the daytime. However, the fish will emerge to feed once the tank lights go out, and some do adapt to aquarium life and will come out during the day.
Are Plecos Carnivorous?
Although there are a few species of carnivorous, scavenging plecos that feed on dead uneaten fish, most are omnivorous.
Some plecos are exclusively herbivorous, feeding on algae. Some species eat wood fiber and also feed on the tiny crustaceans that live on the surface of the drowned logs and driftwood that they find in their natural habitat.
As you can see, there isn’t really one diet that fits every pleco species. So, before you go ahead and order your pleco online, do some research so that you know what foods the fish needs to keep it healthy and thriving.
What Fish Make Good Tank Mates For Plecos?
Loricariids are peaceful fish and get along fine with most of the popular aquarium fish species. However, it’s best to choose tank mates that are roughly the same size as the plecos. For example, Corydoras catfish and invertebrates, such as aquarium snails, make suitable tank mates for plecos.
Avoid keeping large, predatory fish that might make a meal of the smaller plecostomus. Unfortunately, plecos can be very territorial and aggressive with other plecos once they are fully grown. So, you can only keep one pleco unless you have a very large tank with plenty of hiding places.
5 Best Places To Buy Pleco Fish Online
Here are our five favorite online places where you can buy pleco fish online.
- Monthly offers
- Online and terrestrial stores
Petco is a popular pet store that sells all things pet-related, including fish and a range of aquarium supplies, including what you’ll need to put together a fish tank cleaning kit. There are high street stores you can visit, as well as an online order service.
The store offers a few different pleco species, but be sure to check what size the tiny juvenile fish they sell will reach once they get to full maturity. Petco offers a next-day delivery service, and they will replace any fish that arrive in less than perfect condition without a problem.
2. Live Aquaria
- Unusual pleco species stocked
- Based in Wisconsin, US
- Online store only
Live Aquaria offers a nice range of pleco species, including common species and a few unusual and rare ones, such as the Gypsy King Tiger plecostomus. Prices are reasonable, depending on the species.
This reputable supplier also sells general supplies for your tank, live plants, and a good selection of fish foods. Live Aquaria provides an “Arrive Alive” guarantee and a 7-day returns policy to give you peace of mind.
On the website, you’ll find an information-packed blog, as well as a resource center with articles on aquascaping, fishkeeping, and lots more.
3. The Wetspot Tropical Fish
- Excellent range of pleco fish
- Based in Portland, US
- High street store and online service
The Wetspot Tropical Fish offers a very impressive range of reasonably priced pleco fish for sale both in-store and online. As well as fish, the supplier offers a good choice of live plants.
If you reside in the Portland area, the guys here offer a unique service in that they will come to your home or office to handle fish tank cleaning and maintenance tasks for you. It’s a dirty job, but…
4. Aquarium Fish Depot
- Impressive choice of unusual species
- Based in San Diego, California
- Online store
Aquarium Fish Depot is an online operation that has a massive warehouse in San Diego that contains no fewer than 750 tanks! As well as a huge selection of unusual fish that you won’t find in your local fish store, this supplier carries wood, rocks, live plants, substrate, and general aquascaping supplies.
With over 100 years of experience in breeding and raising tropical fish, AFD is the place to go to find that rare pleco you won’t get anywhere else.
- Buy and sell pleco fish on this popular auction platform
- Online auction site
For an exciting, enjoyable fish buying experience, check out the online auction site, Aquabid.com.
This platform is basically eBay for fish keepers! Here, you’ll find breeders offering many different species of fish, including plecos. The site is very easy to use, and buying and selling fish is pretty straightforward.
However, before you enter into a bidding war for your desired fish, find out where the breeder is located. A lot of the suppliers that use Aquabid are based in Asia, and that can be problematic depending on where you live. Some regions in the US do not permit the importing of any species of livestock from overseas without reams of paperwork. Also, the cost associated with importing fish from abroad can be more expensive than the actual fish!
I hope you enjoyed our guide to buying perfect pleco fish online. If you enjoyed this article, please remember to share it with other fishkeeping enthusiasts!
These days, it’s pretty straightforward and safe to buy fish online, as long as you use a reputable supplier, such as those we’ve featured in this guide. However, I would urge you to check that the site you’re using offers secure payment facilities, and check reviews left by other users.
If you found the plecostomus of your dreams online in one of the stores we’ve included in our guide, share your story with us in the comments box below.