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The Royal Pleco : Everything you need to know!

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This article will give you Detailed information about the royal pleco including types of Royal pleco, its behavior, feeding habits and requirements, water parameters, diseases it may get, care and some tips on how to take care of your Royal Plecos!

Basics

  • The Royal Pleco, Royal Panaque, Royal Panaqolus is a beautiful fish that can be found in South America pacifically Brazil, Colombia, Venezuela and other places.
  • It’s technical name is Panaque Nigrolineatus. The Royal Plecos belong to the Loricariidae family.
  • They have been known as “suckerfish” for their tendency to hang out on the sides of aquariums and eat algae off rocks. However, there is much more to these fascinating creatures than meets the eye! Here’s what you should know about keeping royal plecos in your own tank.
  • The royal pleco, also known as the imperial pleco, is one of the most popular Plecos and is a great addition to any aquarium. It has the tag of being one of the most attractive freshwater pleco species around. They are also very hardy and are flexible.

The Royal pleco completely reminds me of zebra. This is because each royal pleco has a very distinct pattern of its own just like the zebras.

The Royal pleco is grey and black in with round orangish eyes adorned with a black pupil. This pleco looks regal due to the richness of its color and design.

One would want to wonder the Royal pleco has grey stripes or black stripes. So here is a picture and I would love to hear what you have to say.

Male And Female

  • The interesting bit about these plecos is that both the male and the female grew up to the same size.
  • It is pretty hard to differentiate between the male and the female but, female or a little more rounder than the males.
  • The females have lesser bristles than the male.
  • Males are more aggressive than the females.

Growth & Lifespan

  • These species grow pretty large so Royal pleco will need a lot of space. Royal Plecos can grow up to a minimum of 12 inches and go on to 16 or 17 inches. It all depends upon the conditions in which they thrive.
  • Royal plecos eat algae off the tank walls and other surfaces, which helps keep your aquarium water crystal clear. There’s no need for scrubbing or scraping when these little guys do all the work! However, they can grow quite large, so be ready to host them in a larger tank.
  • Royal plecos are a type of catfish that can live up to 10 years or more, making them one of the longest living fish species. To achieve this, ammonia levels must be controlled.

What do Royal Plecos Eat In Their Natural Habitat ?

In their natural habitat, these fish will eat just about anything from plant matter to dead fish but when kept as pets, they need special attention.

Royal pleco has a large appetite. Royal Plecos are found in slow moving rivers, they can be seen foraging on plants near the surface of the water, more so on driftwood.

Royal Plecos and Aquarium Plants

Royal plecos have a unique way of sucking up food by creating a vacuum with its mouth, so they tend to suck up any plant life near them. Hence, royal plecos are not plant friendly.

Pro Tip: Floating plants are a good addition to such tank because the Plecos are bottom feeders. They will also help dim the light in the tank and keep the Plecos comfortable.

Types Of Royal Plecos

  1. L203 – Panaque Schaeferi – Titanic Pleco
  2. L090 – Panaque Bathyphilus – Papa Lyretail Pleco
  3. L418 – Panaque Titan – Peruvian Green Royal Pleco
  4. L330 – Panaque Nigrolineatus Laurafbianae – Fully spotted watermelon pleco
  5. L027 – Panaque Armbrusteri – Tapajos Royal Pleco
  6. L027C -Panaque Armbrusteri – Thunderline pleco
  7. L191 – Panaque Sp – White Tailed Royal Pleco

Here are pictures of these plecos. Look at how they are different from each other.

Benefits Of Having Royal Plecos

  • Royal Plecos will keep your tank clean and healthy while providing hours of enjoyment watching these fascinating animals swim around your tank.
  • Royal plecos are often known as the vacuum cleaners of the aquarium world. They can keep your tank algae free.
  • Royal Plecos also eat up the dead fish. they are omnivorous scavengers.
  • They have a long lifespan and can live as long as 10 years which means it’s worth the buy.
  • They do not need any complicated maintenance skills and are easy to care for.
  • They keep the bottom of your tank clean reducing the need to frequently use a gravel filter.

Substrate For Royal Plecos

A dark substrate helps them feel more secure and hides their food from any sneaky predators lurking around looking for an easy meal.

Sand works well as do densely packed smooth gravel substrates like Eco complete by Seachem.

However, some owners may not know that they occasionally swallow small stones (stones smaller than their eyeballs), which can lead to major problems like blockages or even death.

It’s important to keep an eye on these little suckers and make sure they aren’t eating any unwanted things! So, it is important that you are cautious about the type of substrate used.

Nature Of The Royal Plecos

  • Royal plecos are not aggressive fish, but they will attack other fish if they have to defend themselves. They usually spend their time on the bottom of the tank and eat algae off rocks or plants. They are hence known as bottom feeders.
  • The best way to keep them happy is with an aquarium where there are plenty of places for them to hide. These fish also need some hiding spots in your tank because without this, they can get stressed out easily. This stress can lead to aggression towards other inhabitants in their tank.
  • If you have a larger aquarium, then it may be okay for you to have more than one royal pleco together as long as each has its own space that it feels safe in. This is because these plecos can get territorial.
  • Royal Plecos are slow creatures and fast predators can kill them. They have a hard time escaping from their tank because they rarely swim unless they’re hungry or threatened. This makes it easy for a fish to sneak up on them.

Feeding The Royal Pleco

  • Feeding them isn’t difficult either. They eat most types of prepared foods including pellets, flakes, and frozen food like bloodworms and brine shrimp.
  • The best part? Royal plecos make great companions with other species because they will clean up any leftover food.
  • They’re omnivores, meaning they’ll feed on both plant material as well as small invertebrates like shrimp pellets.
  • No need to worry about overfeeding either; one or two pods twice a week should be great. Green peas are great for royal plecos because they have lots of protein, vitamins, minerals and fiber which is what these types of fish need in order to survive. They also have a lot of good bacteria that helps with digestion. It’s always nice when we can give our pets some healthy snacks.
  • Royal plecos must be given blanched vegetables in order to survive! Blanched vegetables are a staple part of the diet for many fish, but this is especially important for royal plecos because they have a very unusual digestive system. Royal plecos eat algae off of rocks and other surfaces using their sucker-shaped mouths. They don’t ingest the slime that coats most aquarium rocks with any gusto, so must be given blanched vegetables to supplement their diet. The reason why these veggies need to be blanched is because the pleco’s digestive system does not support raw vegetables.
  • It’s important to remember to feed your Royal pleco vegetables 2-3 times per week for best health results. Some common veggies are zucchini, peas, carrots, lettuce or spinach. Blanched vegetables should be prepared by cutting them into small pieces and boiling them until they are soft enough to eat. This will create a better environment for the fish in your aquarium! 

Do Royal Plecos Need Driftwood?

  • Do Royal Plecos need driftwood because they use as it shelter from predators, for breeding, or just because they like it? Here is what you should know.
  • Driftwood is an important part of their diet so you should always provide some for them so they don’t eat your plants! Driftwood provides the necessary minerals and other nutrients royal plecos need in order to survive.
  • Royal plecos will spend time chewing on the wood, which helps keep their teeth sharp for eating algae off rocks. Royal pleco has teeth to chew driftwood. This shows how much they need driftwood in their diet.
  • Driftwood also acts as a place to hide from predators. Driftwood also is important because it provides them with hiding spaces for when they are breeding or scared. Since driftwood is available in their natural habitat it makes them feel safe in aquariums too.
  • Driftwood works perfectly as a substitute for their natural habitat while breeding in your tank. Royal plecos use driftwood while breeding in order to feel safe and secure. The wood provides them with a sense of security which is why they choose it over any other type of material available for nesting purposes. When royal plecos breed, they lay eggs on the wood and then hang out there until the eggs hatch into little baby fishes or larvae.
  • One thing to remember is that Royal Plecos chew on driftwood thus allowing new layers of driftwood release tannins into the tank. This may alter your pH. However, this can be a cause to worry if you have too many Plecos. In any event, with or without this, regular checking of pH is always good. If you want to know how to handle your aquarium pH click here.

Water Requirements Of A Royal Pleco

  • Having a royal pleco in your aquarium is an exciting time, but it can also be very stressful. These fish are sensitive and will become ill if the water quality isn’t to their liking. 
  • Royal plecos need clean water to survive. Royal plecos need water that is soft and slightly acidic.
  • They are not very tolerant to changes in pH, so it’s important for the tank ph to be stable . It would be best if you left the filtration system running all day long because these fish produce a lot of waste.
  • Royal plecos also prefer warm waters between 75 – 80 Degrees Fahrenheit. So, make sure that you have the proper aquarium set-up before buying this type of species because it is not easy to maintain them in poor water conditions.
  • Royal Plecos should be kept in a pH range of around 6.5 to 7.5.
  • Gh must be only between 5-10.
  • Having the proper filtration is very important for these fish because of their size and appetite. They grow pretty fast, so you’ll want to be prepared with the right equipment! You should also make sure that your filter runs constantly to control the ammonia spike.
  • Check the nitrate levels every week. Royal plecos also emit a lot of waste, so they themselves can cause the ammonia spike which can lead to higher nitrate level. Nitrates must not go beyond 60 ppm.

Common Health Issues In Royal Plecos

Royal plecos can get sick too if their needs aren’t met or something goes wrong with your aquarium’s quality.

Royal Plecos are sensitive fish and will become ill if they’re not in ideal conditions. If you notice any signs of illness (discoloration, laying on its side), it might be time for this species make an appearance at your local vet.

Royal plecos are prone to contracting the ich and so it’s important you maintain the water quality and quarantine new fish and plants.

Since they belong to the pleco family they are prone to eating more than required and can end up having a bloated stomach. A bloated stomach is very obvious and you will find that the calico has stopped eating.

Owing to the fact that they eat anything in the tank, the pleco is prone to internal bacterial infections. Although this is not a very frequent incident it is not something that you should be oblivious of.

Tank Size For A Royal Pleco

Do you have a 120 gallon tank? If not, don’t even think about getting one of these fish. Royal plecos are the largest species in their family and need plenty of room to swim around. The minimum tank size for a royal pleco is 120 gallons with a length of at least 36 inches, depth of 18 inches and width of a minimum of 24 inches. This can hold two adult plecos.

Make sure your filter is also strong enough to handle large amounts of waste from this fish. These guys will be happiest when they’re able to explore all corners of your aquarium, so make sure there’s plenty of space for them to roam around and some caves to hide too.

If you purchase your Royal Pleco and then realize that you don’t have the room for it, i recommend returning it to the store or trading with someone else. These fish can like to swim around in the water column and in the absence of space, they may even jump out of their tank.

Lighting For Royal Plecos

The Royal Pleco is a large, nocturnal fish that spends its days hiding under rocks and logs. It is best kept in a tank with subdued lighting, as it prefers to come out at night. 

As if their name wasn’t cool enough, royal plecos are native to the dark waters of South American rivers. These fish like to live in areas where there isn’t much light.

Because of this they aren’t used to bright light and can become stressed when exposed to it. This is why it’s important that you give them a tank with plenty of hiding places that will allow them some relief from the direct light hitting their eyes. 

Don’t worry though, they’re very curious fish and will come out every once in a while for some food!

Copper Sensitivity

Royal plecos are sensitive to copper, but you can keep them happy by using a water conditioner with zero copper. Copper will bind with essential proteins inside their cells, causing irreparable damage and eventually leading to death from organ failure or suffocation as their organs fail one by one.

A new product on the market is called “No Copper 10” and it’s perfect for aquarium owners who want to make their fish happy.

Remember to check for copper in the ingredients of medicines when you use any.

Breeding

  • It is generally advised that you refrain from trying to breed Royal Plecos. I would however say that you should allow nature to take its course and provide them with the right conditions.
  • That would include providing them with spacious hiding spots which can host both the male and the female.
  • Mainly slightly acidic water. This is because the Royal Plecos breed during rainy days.
  • The male always approaches the female.
  • Post breeding the male fertilizes the eggs and protects the eggs from getting attacked by fungus. So it is not a good idea to separate the eggs from the father.
  • The male also ensures that water keeps flowing near the eggs and not stagnate.
  • Separating the fry after they hatch is okay.
  • Crushed algae wafers and shrimp based feed will be a good feed for the Royal babies.

Wrapping Up:

The awesome Royal Pleco is not only easy to maintain, but also live long and keep your tank clean! They are a great fish for beginner aquarists that want something simple yet beautiful.

They can be hosted in a community tank as a peaceful cohabitant. With just a little knowledge about their needs, they can be the perfect pet in any home aquarium. Who knows? You may even become an expert yourself one day!

Since I know you reached the bottom, which fact surprised you ? Do let me know.

How Much Can A Royal Pleco Cost?

Royal plecos are available in the fish stores and may cost you from $25 to as much as a $270. The cost is based on the size of the pleco, its type, and if the variety is rare etc. Since breeding this fish is not so easy, the cost is on the higher side. Of course, its royal, and it can’t come cheap. !lol!

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