Plecoceramics approach for Feeding plecos, or Why we dont use branded food for our fish.

There are some reasons to consider this principle essential for sustainable pleco breeding. Those of you who have already read our article The basics of promoting fish maturation and spawning realized that there is no single trick, which will enable you to breed, for instance, L046 when you want it easily. There are various abiotic and biotic factors affecting fish maturation, its readiness to spawn, and stimuli for spawning. Proper food resources are among major factors that help to create favourable conditions for spawning. That way it is absolutely clear that if you attempt to make your fish diet natural, it will promote spawning.

Let’s find out what plecos eat in their natural habitat. As you know, we specialize in breeding Peckoltia and Hypancistrus species of plecos. Therefore, we will provide their natural diet. Well, it mainly consists of:

  •         zooplankton
  •         crustaceans
  •         freshwater algae
  •         insects
  •         mussels
  •         freshwater sponges
  •         detritus

We won’t dwell on the percentage of these ingredients, though it is rather important. 

So now you can take you pleco food pack and check are their ingredients from our list in your pleco food. 

Remember! that on the product label the ingredients with the biggest share are listed first. So we will specify only 5 first ingredients indicated on the package. These usually make up some 90% of the total fish food weight. 

fish food


I have divided the ingredients normally found in fish food into several groups.

Group 1 includes the ingredients that are least natural for pleco feeding. Using this food, the best you can do is to breed common Bristelnoses.

This group of ingredients includes:

  • Fish Meal
  • Dried Skimmed Milk
  • Dried Yeast
  • Potato
  • Wheat flour
  • Wheat germ meal
  • Cassava starch
  • Green peas
  • Soy flour
  • Wheat Rice Flour
  • Wheat Bran

These ingredients are cheap and thus most manufactures use them as the base.

Of course some ingredients as wheat flour could be use in a good pleco food as technical additive, which helps to bind other ingredients in a whole tablets or something like that. But definitely the percentage of wheat flour should be not more then 5-7% in a total matter content.

Although plecos enjoy eating this type of food, it doesn’t encourage them to spawn at all. The point is that, unlike natural diet, it doesn’t activate maturation in pleco hypothalamus and further spawning. More information on the processes of maturation and spawning were described in our article. 

We share below the examples of pleco food labels which contain such ingredients. Its pretty popular trade marks.

Group 2

 These are analogues of the ingredients that plecos eat in their natural habitats. 

  •         Shrimp Meal
  •         Krill meal
  •         Dried Seaweed
  •         Squid Meal
  •         Spirulina
  •         Chlorella

If you see at least 3 of these items in the top five ingredients, it means that you already use good quality fish food.

But still, if you set ambitious goals and seek to breed fish sustainably, for example, Hypancistrus Zebra, this food ingredients are not enough. For instance, Shrimp,  Krill, Squid meals and dried seaweed are produced in sea water and despite the fact that these are good sources of protein, these products are not typical of freshwater plecos diet.

Chlorella could be excellent for feeding as it has high protein and unsaturated fatty acids content, and it lives in fresh water. But there is one DOWNSIDE. Chlorella cell walls are rather thick, which makes it less digestible for the fish. In fact, all the Chlorella nutrients cannot be absorbed during its digestion. 

Spirulina is generally good as a dietary supplement since spirulina has high protein content, though it is not so rich in OMEGA 3-6-9 fatty acids as it could be. The main disadvantage of these algae is that manufacturers add it to their fish food formulas in low quantities, 3-5% maximum, which is not enough to be really beneficial for your fish. 


Group 3 

To my mind, these are the most useful ingredients

  •         Freshwater Algae
  •         Freshwater sponges
  •         Insects meal
  •         Fried blood worms
  •         Dried tubifex
  •         Dried gammarus

– all these are super ingredients if you keep Hypancistrus or Peckoltia species

Here we can also add spinach powder, dried pumpkin if you have Ancistrus plecos.

These are the ingredients that your plecos have been eating for centuries in the wild. This diet is ideal for them. Naturally, the proportions of the ingredients will vary greatly for Hypancistrus and for Ancistrus, but this is the task of the producer to develop the proper formula with these ingredients. 

My goal was to describe useful and useless ingredients for your pleco diet.

So now you can identify is it your pleco foos enough good for your plecos or not. 

And maybe now you can answer the question “ Why i cant breed plecos on a regular basis”.

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