August 30

Sarah Robertson

Meet the Clown Pleco: Everything You Need to Know About This Lovable Fish

Plecos are catfish with sucker-shaped mouths, bony plates, and spines to protect them. They come in a variety of forms and sizes, but the Clown Pleco is one of the most common that you’ll encounter in the aquarium trade.

Named for their distinct patterns that make them stand out no matter who they are sharing a tank with, Clown Plecos are between three and four inches long when fully grown. These bottom-dwelling fish has a lifespan of 8-12 years, although some have been known to live much longer in the right conditions.

Clown Plecos are peaceful fish that do well in community tanks. They are nocturnal, so they prefer to hide during the day and come out at night to forage for food. To know more about keeping Clown Plecos in your aquarium, read on.

Clown Pleco Care Table

  • Scientific Name : panaque maccus
  • Diet : Omnivorous
  • Care Level : Easy-Moderate
  • Compatibility : Peaceful
  • Ph : 6.8 to 7.6
  • Temperature : 79 °F – 88 °F (26 °C – 31 °C)
  • Water hardness : 2-6
  • Minimum Tank Size : 20 gallons
  • Tankmates : Ember tetra, Cory catfish, Shrimps, Rasboras, Minn,ows and Snails
  • Breeding : Egg Layer
  • Size : 3-3.5 inches
  • Life expectancy : 10-12 years

Clown Pleco Origin

These amazing fish species are native to Rio Xingu, Brazil. The construction of dams has endangered this species in the wild due to their habitat being affected. However, they may be cultivated safely in captivity and are made available in almost all fish stores.

Therefore, buying captive-bred Clown Pleco s is the best way to ensure that you are not contributing to the decline of wild populations. In fact, these are attractive fish that can be an excellent addition to aquarium fish collection.

Clown Pleco Size

Clown Plecos are tiny fish that only reach around 3.5 inches long when fully grown. The size of a pleco fish is determined by several elements, including the quality of care, diet, and genetics.

Clown Pleco Lifespan

The average lifespan of a Clown Pleco is 10-12 years. This is one of our favorite aspects of having this community fish because you'll have plenty of time to grow attached.

Poor living conditions, such as a too-small tank or crowded aquarium, can harm your clown pleco in the same way that they would any other fish. If you don't provide your clown pleco with adequate living space, nutrition, or water quality, their life expectancy will be significantly shortened.

Clown Pleco Behavior

When it comes to their personality, they're a great example of how wonderful fish can be. They're not only entertaining to watch go round and nibble on driftwood (more on that later), but they get along with a wide range of species. Clown Plecos are not an aggressive species. Rather, they are a laid-back species that get along well with other tank mates.

Clown Pleco fish are nocturnal creatures that hide during the day. You'll discover Clown Plecos huddled in nooks and crannies at night. If they sense danger, they will shrink and hide. It is critical to provide them with several hiding places in their aquarium. They'll go out at night to forage for food. These plecos are also known to be good jumpers, so make sure your aquarium's lid is secure.

clown pleco

Clown Pleco Appearance 

The clown pleco is quite stunning in appearance. These fish have a variety of unique designs that set them apart from others no matter where they are kept!

The majority of this fish is black, with colorful bands that span their entire body in various designs. These brilliant areas are generally whiteish-yellow or orange in color. The coloration of wild clown plecos can vary based on a variety of genetic and health factors, as well as the fish's health, particularly during development. It's also quite typical for wild clown plecos to have brighter hues than those kept in captivity.

The bodies of these fish are similar to those of other plecos. This implies a large, thick head and body from the front of their dorsal fin forward. They begin to slim down considerably near the start of their dorsal fin and all the way to the caudal peduncle around that time.

The second feature that distinguishes them from other catsharks is their very large and prominent dorsal fin, which spreads out considerably. Their pectoral fins are also rather big and will occasionally drape behind them when they're resting on the ground or atop driftwood.

In terms of surface area, the tail fin of a clown pleco is roughly the same size as its dorsal fin. It's occasionally fully spread out and other times they'll compress it a bit.

Clown Pleco Varieties

  • Mega Clown Pleco(LDA019): These species are smaller in size (3.1 inches), and the orange color and the well-marked eye junction are good ways to identify this species. They can be confused with more strikingly marked Hypancistrus debiliterra.
  • Meta Clown Pleco (L448): In the Llanos drainages south of the Rio Meta, L448 replaces Panaque Maccus. They appear to be two distinct species rather than regional color variations, as both may be found in proximity where their ranges overlap. When juvenile, L448 has stripes on its face that are only seen in adult Panaque Maccus.
  • Pucallpa Clown Pleco (L206): Found only in the Ucayali drainage, this species was formerly confused with both L258 and L262. It is most similar to L262 but can be distinguished by its broader head and smaller eyes.
  •  Three-striped Clown Pleco (L140): As juveniles, these have a more elongated body shape and three dark stripes that run along the length of their bodies. These eventually fade as they age until they're completely gone in adults.

Gender Differences

Clown Pleco males and females are easy to tell apart owing to their distinctive looks. The following are some key differences between the two genders:

  • Like all members of the genus, males grow elongated interopercular odontodes during the breeding season.
  • Small, pointed genital papillae are found in males, whereas mature females have big, rounded, swollen papillae.
  • Females are also larger than males. When viewed from above, gravid females have notably wider bodies between the pectoral and pelvic fins when compared to males.
Clown Pleco Tank Setup

Clown Pleco Tank Setup

It is easy to set up a Clown Pleco tank. These plecos aren't fussy about the water's quality. They can survive in a wide range of pH levels and temperatures. Nonetheless, to ensure that they flourish, it is still essential to provide them with adequate attention and care.

Here are some helpful hints for setting up a Clown Pleco tank:

Tank Size

A Clown Pleco's tank should be at least 20 gallons. A larger tank, on the other hand, is always preferable. These plecos can grow up to 3-3.5 inches long, so you'll need plenty of swimming area and hiding space for these active fish. Keep in mind that these plecos are jumpers; as a result, the tank should have a closely fitted lid.

They are relatively peaceful fish, but they may still squabble with each other from time to time. If you're keeping more than one Clown Pleco in the same tank, it is best to give them plenty of space to avoid territorial disputes.

Tank Water Conditions 

The Clown Pleco has no specialty when it comes to water conditions. They may adapt to a wide range of pH levels and temperatures. To guarantee their safety, though, it is still essential to give them the appropriate care and maintenance. The optimum temperature for Clown Pleco s is between 73°F and 82°F, with a pH of 6.8 to 7.6.

Pleco colonies are generally made up of one or more species, and they prefer a hardness level of ten degrees. They survive in water with a hardness of 10 dGH. Water hardness and pH should be adjusted appropriately. Always make sure no nitrate or ammonia is present in the water.

These minerals can be harmful to plecos and other aquarium denizens if they are present in significant quantities. To eliminate any potentially hazardous substances from tap water, use a water conditioner when filling your aquarium's water.

Tank Decor 

Decorating a Clown Pleco tank is relatively easy. They're not fussy about what they live in, as long as it's a replication of their natural environment. To make sure they're comfortable, provide them with the following:

Hiding Places

Clown Plecos like to have plenty of hiding places in their tank. They're shy fish that spend most of their time lurking in the shadows, so make sure there are lots of dark areas for them to hide in.

Driftwood caves, rocks, and plants all make good hiding places for Clown Plecos. Artificial caves and other similar structures are also good options. However, make sure that these structures are well-secured so they don't fall and injure the fish. It should have any sharp edges sanded down, as well.


Aquarium plants are a great addition to any Clown Pleco tank. Not only do they provide the fish with hiding places, but they also help oxygenate and filter the water. Live plants are the best option, but plastic plants can also be used. Just make sure they're securely anchored in place so they don't uproot and float around the tank, injuring the fish. Some good plant options for Clown Plecos include java ferns, hornwort, and Anacharis.


Clown Plecos are not fussy about the substrate in their tank. They can live in tanks with gravel, sand, or bare-bottom. If you do choose to use a substrate, though, make sure it is a dark color. This will make the plecos feel more comfortable and help them blend in with their surroundings.


Clown Plecos don't need special lighting, but they do prefer dimmer conditions. If the tank is too bright, it will cause them stress. As a result, it is best to use subdued lighting in their tank. Fluorescent bulbs are a good option, as they provide plenty of light without being too harsh.


A good filtration system is a must for any Clown Pleco tank. These fish produce a lot of waste, so a filter is necessary to keep the water clean. A canister filter is a good option, as it will provide adequate filtration without being too obtrusive. Just make sure the flow isn't too strong, as plecos are not fond of fast-moving water.

Tank Care and Maintenance 

Clown Plecos are relatively easy to care for, but they do require some basic maintenance. Regular water changes are a must, as these fish produce a lot of waste. A 20% water change should be performed every week or two. If the tank is heavily stocked, though, more frequent water changes may be necessary.

In addition to regular water changes, the filter should be cleaned on a monthly basis. This will help keep the water quality high and prevent the build-up of harmful toxins.

When cleaning the tank, be sure to vacuum the gravel and remove any uneaten food or decaying plants. These can cause ammonia and nitrate levels to spike, which can be harmful to the fish.

Clown Pleco Fish Tankmates 

Clown Plecos are excellent pals for other peaceful fish. They can be kept with other non-bothersome fish in a group. Clown Plecos may be kept with a variety of tankmates, including:

  • Armored catfish species
  • Rasboras
  • Danios
  • Tetras
  • Guppies
  • Swordtails
  • Dwarf Shrimp, Cherry Shrimp, Ghost Shrimp, Amano Shrimp
  • Ornamental snails
  • Mollies
  • Platies
  • Barbs

Keeping them away from large fish is especially important. Also, keep them away from fin-nipping fish and other tankmates that are known to prey on others.

Some fish that should not be kept with Clown Pleco s include:

  • Dwarf Gouramis
  • Betta fish
  • Oscars
  • Angelfish
  • Discus
  • Goldfish

If you want to add them to your home aquarium, keep an eye on them for a few days. This will allow you to observe how they act and whether they might be a threat to your new fish.

Clown Pleco Diet

Clown Pleco Diet 

Clown Pleco s are omnivorous fish. In the wild, they typically eat a diet of smaller fish, insects, and plant matter. In the home fish tank, they can be fed a variety of foods, including:

  • Pellets: There are a variety of pellets available that are specifically designed for plecos. These typically contain all the nutrients your fish need and can be fed as the primary diet.
  • Algae wafers: Algae wafers are a good supplement to the diet, as they provide vegetable matter that plecos need. They are rich in fiber and help keep the digestive system healthy.
  • Vegetables: Plecos also enjoy eating vegetables. Some good options include zucchini, peas, and spinach. These can be blanched or steamed to make them easier to eat.
  • Fruit: Fruit is a treat that plecos enjoy. Some good options include melon, banana, and mango.
  • Live foods: Live foods, such as bloodworms and brine shrimp, are a good occasional treat. They should not be fed too often, though, as they can foul the water. These are best fed during the breeding season.
  • Frozen foods: Frozen foods, such as Mysis shrimp and krill, are also a good option. These are a good alternative to live foods and can be fed more often.

Clown plecos should be fed 2-3 times per day. They will usually eat what they need in a few minutes. Be sure to remove any uneaten food, as it can decompose and pollute the water.

Clown Pleco Diseases 

The Clown Pleco is a hardy fish that can withstand a lot of stress. They, like all other animals, are susceptible to illnesses. The following are the most prevalent health issues seen in Clown Plecos:

  • Hole in the Head Disease: Hexamita is the parasite that causes this illness. It causes sores and holes in the pleco's head. If left untreated, it can be deadly. Maintaining healthy tank conditions is the greatest defense against this illness. This entails regular water changes and keeping your tank clean. Quarantine new fish before adding them to your tank to prevent the spread of the disease.
  • White Spot Disease: It results in white patches on the pleco's body. It can be deadly if not treated promptly. You may use water changes and proper tank maintenance to prevent this illness from spreading. Antibiotics may also aid in the treatment of ichthyosis.
  • Swimbladder Disease: Swimbladder disease is an illness that affects fish and may be induced by a variety of factors, including incorrect food, infections, or genetics. Swimbladder disease includes symptoms such as bloating, buoyancy issues, and poor swimming ability. If it is detected early enough, medicine can be used to cure it; however, if left untreated it can be fatal.
  • Fin Rot: Fish fin rot is an illness that affects fish fins and tails. The disease causes the fins to broaden or collapse. Fin rot may be treated with a wide range of antibiotics, including one that attacks the infection.
  • Dropsy: Dropsy is a disease that causes fish to have an irregularly shaped, swollen abdomen and protruding scales. If left untreated, dropsy may be deadly. Antibiotics and anti-inflammatory drugs are two types of medication that can be used to cure dropsy.
  • Columnaris: Clown Pleco is vulnerable to columnaris, a bacterial infection that results in white or gray patches on the fish's body. This sickness might generate white or gray marks on the fish's body. Columarias may be treated with a variety of medicines, including antibiotics.


There are several signs that your Clown Pleco is unwell. The most prevalent are:

  • Loss of appetite
  • Listlessness
  • Clamped fins
  • White patches on the body
  • Gasping for air
  • Floating upside down
  • White patches on the body
  • Sores or holes on the head
  • Abnormal swimming behavior

If you notice any of these symptoms, isolate the fish as soon as possible to avoid the illness traveling throughout the tank.


It's always better to avoid an illness than to cure it. As a result, it is critical to take a few precautions so that your Clown Pleco may live a long and healthy life. You might accomplish the following:

  • A regular cleaning schedule for your tank
  • Water changes every 1-2 weeks
  • Remove uneaten food from the tank
  • Avoid overfeeding
  • Quarantine new fish before adding them to your established tank
  • Choose healthy, disease-free fish when setting up a new tank or adding to an existing one.
  • Offer your pleco a varied diet.
  • Check the water parameters.
  • Offer your pleco a varied diet.
  • Keep an eye out for early symptoms of the disease and act quickly.


If your Clown Pleco gets sick despite your best efforts, there are several things you can try to cure the condition. The most frequent therapeutic choices include:

  • Water changes
  • Proper tank maintenance
  • Antibiotics
  • Anti-inflammatory drugs
  • A varied diet
  • Medicine specifically for the disease

If you think your Clown Pleco is unwell, don't hesitate to take them to a nearby pet store for a checkup. By catching the illness early, you'll increase the chances of a successful recovery.

Clown Pleco Breeding

Clown Pleco Breeding 

It's exceptionally difficult to produce Clown Pleco fry for a beginner fishkeeper. Despite this, it is not out of the question. It necessitates a significant level of patience and dedication. If you're up to the task, follow these steps:

  • Choose a healthy pair of Clown Plecos
    It's critical to choose a male and a female of comparable dimensions. If you want to increase the chance of fertilization, it's usually suggested that you select a group of males and females that are in good health rather than choosing only one. Make sure they're all in the same age group as well. This will increase the chances of compatibility and reduce the risk of aggression.
  • Set up a breeding tank
    A 20-gallon breeding tank is ideal for breeding. The tank should include a sponge filter and several hiding places, as well as a heater. Driftwood, rocks, and plants are all good options. Provide multiple sizes of PVC or slate spawning cavities. The caves should be just big enough for the female (which is bigger) to fit into and no more than six inches long. The water temperature of the water should be between 70-72F degrees Fahrenheit. The pH should be between 6.8 and 7.6, which is ideal for freshwater fish such as kuhli loaches (Chromobotia scintillans). There should be no powerful water flow or current in the tank.
  • Condition the fish
    Before breeding, you need to get the fish ready. For about six weeks, feed them protein-rich food such as live or frozen foods such as brine shrimp, daphnia, and bloodworms. This will help to improve their health and increase their chances of successful breeding. Also, during this time, in order to trigger spawning, do water changes of about 20%.
  • Spawning
    When the time comes for the female fish to lay her eggs, she will do so on a flat surface such as a rock or piece of driftwood. The male will then fertilize the eggs. The female will pick up the fertilized eggs in her mouth and transport them to a safe location.
  • Hatching and Raising the Clown Pleco Fry
    In 3-4 days, the eggs will hatch. After another week, the fry should be able to swim on their own. There should be no strong current in the tank. For the first few days, you don't need to feed them since they will get all of their nutrients from their yolk sacs. Later, Live foods such as brine shrimp, bloodworms, and daphnia may be given to them. Pellets and flakes should be provided to them as they mature. It's preferable to keep a separate tank for the fry while they grow. They can be transferred to a larger aquarium or community tank once they reach 1.5 inches in size.

Frequent Questions

Do clown plecos need driftwood

Do clown plecos need driftwood?

Driftwood is not a requirement for clown plecos, but it is something that they will appreciate. Driftwood provides them with a place to hide and feel secure, as well as something to chew on. If you do not have driftwood in your tank, you can provide other hiding places such as rocks or plants.

How to breed clown plecos? 

It's exceptionally difficult to produce Clown Pleco fry for a beginner fishkeeper. Despite this, it is not out of the question. It necessitates a significant level of patience and dedication. If you're up to the task, follow these breeding requirements:

  • Choose a healthy pair of Clown Plecos that are in good health and of comparable dimensions.
  • Set up a breeding tank with hiding places, a sponge filter, and a heater
  • Condition the fish by feeding them live or frozen foods
  • It's important to keep track of the spawning. If it isn't happening, lower the temperature and then raise it.
  • Raise the fry in a separate tank. As they mature, they can be transferred to a larger aquarium or community tank.

Do clown plecos eat brown algae? 

Yes, clown plecos are known to eat brown algae. They will also consume other types of algae, as well as detritus and other organic matter.

Can clown plecos live with goldfish? 

Clown plecos are typically peaceful fish, and so they should not be kept with any aggressive or larger fish like a goldfish. They can, however, be kept with other peaceful fish such as guppies, mollies, and platies.

Do clown plecos hide?

Clown plecos are generally shy fish, and so they will often hide. This is why it's important to provide them with hiding places in their tank such as rocks, driftwood, or plants.

What is the best substrate for clown pleco?? 

There is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question since it depends on the individual fish's preferences. Some clown plecos prefer a soft substrate such as sand, while others prefer a harder substrate such as gravel. Ultimately, it's up to you to experiment and see what your fish prefers.

Are clown plecos aggressive? 

No, clown plecos are not aggressive fish. They are typically peaceful and shy, and so they should not be kept with aggressive fish.

Are clown plecos nocturnal? 

Clown plecos are primarily nocturnal, meaning that they are most active at night. However, this does not mean that they will never be seen during the day. They may come out to explore or to feed during the day, particularly if there is not much activity in the tank.

How fast do clown plecos grow?

Clown plecos grow relatively slowly. They can reach a maximum size of 3-3.5 inches, but this generally takes several years.

Do clown plecos need a filter? 

While clown plecos do not necessarily need a filter, it is generally recommended to include one in their tank. A filter will help to keep the water clean and free of ammonia and nitrites, which can be harmful to fish.

Do clown plecos eat plants?

While Clown plecos are not plant-eating fish, they may nibble on soft-leaved plants such as Java ferns. They are more likely to eat plants if they are hungry or if there is not enough food available.

Do clown plecos have teeth? 

Yes, clown plecos have small teeth that they use to scrape algae off of surfaces. They also have a small mouth that is adapted for eating algae.


The Clown Pleco is a beautiful social species that is perfect for the beginner aquarist. They are easy to care for, and they are a peaceful addition to any community tank. While they are not the easiest fish to breed, it is possible with patience and dedication.

Clown plecos are known to eat brown algae, so they can be a helpful addition to your tank if you have an algae problem. They are also nocturnal, so they may be more active at night. Clown plecos grow relatively slowly, but they can reach a maximum size of 3-3.5 inches. They have a lifespan of 10-12 years; however, a long lifespan can only be obtained with the proper care.

They must be fed a healthy diet, and the water must be kept clean and free of ammonia and nitrites. If taken good care of, clown plecos can be a fun and rewarding addition to your aquarium. Thanks for reading!

Sarah Robertson

I am a passionate blogger who also happens to be a fish keeping enthusiast. Writing about my hobby is something that I absolutely love to do, and it's no secret that my chosen topic is always centered around fish keeping.

Sarah Robertson

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