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Are Clown Plecostomus Good Pets? – The Truth Once and For All

What is a Clown Plecostomus?

Panaqolus Maccus is a dwarf Plecostomus or catfish species native to Colombia, Venezuela mostly clown-pleco-algae-eaterbut do venture into the calm freshwater rivers of surrounding countries in South America. The Clown Plecostomus can be found in areas where driftwood accumulates on riverbanks as driftwood is the Pleco’s main source of food.

Nicknamed the Clown Plecostomus because of the vertical lines that are found throughout the fish’s body. Colors found in these fish range from black, brown, orange, dark yellow among other similar colors. Their color will differ depending on food source and light exposure.

Are Clown Plecostomus Good Pets?

Clown Pleco’s are great pets and super interesting freshwater fish. Try thinking of it from the fish’s perspective. Have you place the fish in an environment condusive to good health and behaviour? Is the fish with tank mates that will get along? Is the eco system of the tank set up in a way that a Clown Pleco will thrive for a long time?

Sure a Plecostomus can be disruptive in a tank and will fight other Pleco’s so consider those things when purchasing one. A Clown Pleco enjoys being the only species of Pleco in a tank but if the tank is big enough will get along with another Clown Pleco.

If the tank is set up like a river basin with driftwood and larger rocks for substrate you won’t notice the fish rummaging around as much. Some owners report that these fish can make a mess in the tank which is the case when you have sand and small gravel for a substrate.

How Big Does a Clown Plecostomus Grow?

The fantastic thing about these dwarf species or Pleco’s is they only grow to a whopping size of approximately 3.5” to 4” long.

  • A four inch Pleco is better to own for most freshwater home aquarium enthusiasts as other species of Plecostomus can get quite large as much as 12” or bigger.
  • When these types of fish get to be over 8” or so that is when they start disrupting the aquarium decorations and substrate to a point where they are just as nuisance.

Are Clown Plecos Hardy?

Yes Clown Pleco’s are hardy fish. They will survive and thrive quite will as long as they have a nutritious diet along with the proper water levels and some hiding places.

  • They can live up to 10 years so make sure you are ready for that length of commitment when considering to purchase.

Are Clown Plecos Aggressive?

The short answer is no Clown Pleco’s are not typically aggressive.

  • It is not recommended though to have more than one male or more than one female in a tank together as sometimes they will be aggressive towards each other.
  • That is not always the case though, if they grow together and are placed in the tank at the same time they can become close tank mates or they will live in their own area of the aquarium not bothering the other.
  • So if you are interested in owning a couple of these fish do your best to bring them home and place them in the fish tank together.

Other fish larger than your Pleco can become aggressive toward them so be wary of that. Having large aggressive fish in a tank with smaller non aggressive fish is never a good idea no matter what type of species they are.

What Do You Feed Clown Plecos?

Do Clown Pleco’s actually eat wood? Yes. Clown Pleco’s enjoy nibbling on driftwood primarily however you will still need to include algae wafers if your tank is squeaky clean and there is no algae for your fish to snack on.

  • Dropping a thick slice of cucumber or zucchini into the bottom of the tank is a great idea as well. When you add vegetables to an aquarium make sure you have an easy way to retrieve any uneaten veggies, don’t just leave them in the tank.
  • Driftwood is where you will most likely see the Pleco lingering and rummaging around.
  • In addition to driftwood, algae wafers and vegetables the Clown Pleco will also require some meat once in a while.
  • You can drop frozen shrimp or tablets into the tank, just make sure the food makes it to the bottom for the Pleco fish as other inhabitants might eat it before it sinks to the bottom.

Clown Plecos Tank Requirement

Clown Pleco’s can be placed into small tanks around 20 gallons but as with most fish the bigger the better. I would prefer to see one Pleco in a 30 to 55 gallon aquarium and if you want more than one fish make sure your tank is larger than 55 gallons.

  • PH for the tank should be somewhere in the range of 6.8 to 7.6 and temperature range 73 to 82 Fahrenheit or 23 to 28 Celcius.
  • Having Driftwood with this species of fish I would consider a requirement.
  • If you need to purchase Driftwood and were wondering where to get driftwood surprise surprise Amazon carries it. I will drop a link for you here to check it out. driftwood in your aquarium
  • Have a cave made out of wood if possible and place it in the area next to the driftwood.

Good Tank Mates for Clown Plecos

Clown Pleco’s will do fine with just about any fish except fish that are larger in size and have a tendency to be aggressive as well any other species of catfish I would just pass on.

  • Any of the smaller more common fish even if they are schooling fish will get along just fine with your Clown Pleco.
  • Neon’s, Guppies and other similar fish will do fine together.

For some really great ideas for good tank mates check out my article on friendly community fish.

Are Clown Plecos Good Algae Eaters?

I think this one will be hit and miss depending on the fish and the state or your aquarium. As you have learned already that algae is not this fish’s primary source of food. They will nibble on algae in your tank.

If you want your fish to eat algae more regularly then don’t supplement algae wafers as much and possibly cut back on how often you offer vegetables to this fish. That way you increase the chances of the Plecostomus grazing on the algae more.

Will Clown Plecos Eat Live Plants?

They might and most likely will nibble a bit on live plants. If your tank has a nice size of driftwood and is supplemented with other foods there is a good chance the plants will be left alone. Of course just because one Pleco leaves plants alone doesn’t mean the next one will.

  • What you can do so you won’t notice much nibbling of the live plants happening is make sure you have quite a few in your tank.
  • Let’s face it just one or two plants doesn’t look that natural anyway so fill that aquarium up with enough live plants so the water looks as natural as possible.

Take my advice though on the driftwood and feeding vegetables and algae wafers, frozen meat or tablets and you should be ok.


If you have an aquarium that is 30 gallons or larger with no existing catfish or large aggressive fish then this would be a great addition to your tank. If you have a school or two of smaller fish the Clown Pleco would look like it was in its natural habitat.

Make sure you have driftwood in your aquarium either before you bring this fish home or make sure to bring driftwood home with you when the fish is first introduced to the tank.

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