Plecos are great at eliminating algae and decaying plant matter. However, many omnivore plecos eat both meat and vegetables. So, what vegetables can plecos eat?
Plecos can eat most vegetables, like broccoli, zucchini, carrot, cucumber, peas, romaine, squash, and sweet pepper. Most pleco species enjoy eating plant-based food items. However, make sure that you buy only organic vegetables to avoid feeding your plecos vegetables sprayed with harmful chemicals.
Let’s now understand why plecos need vegetables in more detail.
Why Do Plecos Need Vegetables?
Most pleco species are omnivorous, which means they eat meat and plant matter.
So they eat various food like algae, biofilm, plant material, snails, and shrimp in the wild.
Fresh vegetables have high nutritional value and contain the required fibers and vitamins.
The essential nutrients also benefit the digestive system of plecos.
So it’s essential to feed vegetables to plecos in addition to the manufactured and live food that’s rich in protein.
Vegetables are also low in fats, high in fibers and nutrients, and make the fish feel full and satisfied.
11 Types Of Vegetables That Plecos Can Eat
You can feed most vegetables to plecos that are suitable for human consumption.
It’s essential to clean the vegetables before feeding them to the fish so that they don’t ingest any pesticides.
Given below are some vegetables that have nutritional value and will benefit the plecos.
Cooked broccoli is a favorite food for many algae eaters, including the common pleco.
Boil the broccoli until it’s soft but still has some crunch left. Allow it to cool down entirely before feeding it to the fish.
Cut the stems of the broccoli into small pieces and put them in the tank for the fish to enjoy.
It’s recommended to remove the leftover pieces from the tank to avoid fungal growth.
Cucumber is one of the most popular food to feed pleco catfish.
It’s an inexpensive vegetable which makes it a good choice. Plecos also relish cucumbers.
Blanch the cucumber so that it’s easier for the plecos to eat it.
You can use a fork to sink it to the bottom so that most of the plecos can consume it.
Zucchini is an excellent alternative to cucumber.
It has a similar shape making it easier to feed, and it’s more nutritious than cucumber.
Zucchini also has a better nutritional value, is easy to feed, and doesn’t create a lot of mess.
Both boiling and peeling are unnecessary as both methods reduce its nutritional value.
Carrot is rich in fiber and is an excellent food for plecos. It can be boiled or fed raw.
In the case of young plecos, it’s best to boil the carrot to make it softer and easier for the young ones to eat.
Boiling the carrot will cause it to sink to the bottom of the tank, within reach of your bottom-feeding plecos.
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5. Brussel Sprouts
Brussel sprouts are healthy food for plecos and other algae-eaters.
They will eventually sink to the bottom of the tank, and the plecos will eat them if you leave them there overnight.
6. Canned Green Beans
Canned green beans are an effortless and inexpensive food item to feed the plecos.
They will immediately sink into the tank as they’re already prepared, making it easy to feed the pleco catfish.
They’ll fall apart and get messy if you feed them too much. So don’t feed high amounts of canned green beans to plecos.
7. Sweet Potato
Sweet potatoes are often considered one of the healthiest vegetables.
Sweet potato is an excellent source of dietary fiber, vitamin C, and potassium that are essential for the development of plecos.
It also contains low levels of toxins, making it a nutritious and safe snack for the pleco fish.
One of the advantages of sweet potatoes is that you can leave them in the tank for up to two days without them falling apart.
Peas can be frozen or canned, but plecos will enjoy munching on both options.
Peas sink to the bottom of the tank, making them perfect for the plecos to eat.
Squash is an excellent choice for herbivorous plecos. It contains dietary fiber, vitamin A, and potassium.
Plecos also have a liking for squash and will devour this vegetable.
Put some chunks of squash in your fish tank.
If you have hungry plecos, you can also serve them boiled or mashed squash instead of fish pellets.
Plecos will eat it in no time.
10. Sweet Pepper
Sweet pepper is easy to feed your pet fish.
However, you need to remove the seeds and wash the sweet pepper to avoid your plecos from consuming any pesticides.
Romaine or lettuce is another vegetable that you can feed to plecos. You can feed it by clipping or weighing it down.
However, remember that lettuce will fall apart quickly and mess up the tank. So you’ll need to clean it up after a few hours.
How To Feed Vegetables To Plecos?
Plecos are bottom feeders, and so they eat the food that sinks.
Most fresh vegetables will not sink and should be anchored to the bottom of the aquarium for the fish to eat them.
Below are some ways to sink the food to the bottom of the tank so that plecos can eat them.
1. Use A Pleco Feeder
This device is designed specifically for feeding vegetables to plecos.
It’s an elongated metal tool on which you can securely fasten the vegetable pieces to feed them to your plecos.
2. Use Veggie Clips
You can secure vegetables to the bottom of the tank by using specialized clips.
You can attach these clips to the glass with the help of a suction cup or add weight to lower them to the bottom of the tank.
3. Use A Spoon Or Fork
Another way to feed your bottom feeding plecos is by using a spoon or fork.
Attach a wire or fishing line to the spoon or fork to sink the food.
Once your fish have eaten the veggies, you can pull the spoon or fork out of the tank.
However, ensure that the wire isn’t sharp as it can harm the fish inside the tank.
How Often Should You Feed Vegetables To Plecos?
You can feed vegetables to your plecos twice or thrice per week.
Feed your fish a serving equivalent to the size of a silver dollar, such as a slice of zucchini, small broccoli, or a small piece of cauliflower.
It’s recommended to feed them organic vegetables.
Although they’re not more nutritious than non-organic ones, they’re not sprayed with chemicals that can harm the plecos.
The best way to feed veggies to plecos is by cutting them into small pieces before putting them in the tank.
If you add weight to the vegetables, they’ll sink to the bottom of the tank, making it easier for the plecos to eat them.
Alternatively, you can attach them to the side of the aquarium near the bottom.
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What Vegetables Can You Feed Pleco Fry?
You must feed infusoria or spirulina to pleco fry that are only a few days old. These food are small and easy for the fry to eat.
After a week, you can feed pleco fry any food containing algae.
At this stage, they will begin to eat the algae growing in the aquarium. You can also feed them algae wafers.
Pleco fry are hardy and don’t need much attention while feeding.
Plecos are scavengers in the wild. So the fry also exhibit similar scavenging characteristics right after birth.
However, pleco fry depend on the fishkeeper for food in captivity.
So you need to feed the pleco fry with algae present in the tank, algae wafers, and veggies that sink to the bottom of the tank.
You can feed vegetables to pleco fry that are fed to adult plecos.
However, you have to slice the veggies into smaller pieces for the fry to eat them comfortably.
As a rule of thumb, you should feed a variety of food but don’t overfeed the fry.