Do Plecos Eat Algae?

Every aquarium owner has one problem in common – algae in their tank. Some owners use fish to help control the algae growth in their tank. With that in mind, do plecos eat algae?

Yes, plecos eat algae. However, they will not eat all the algae in your fish tank. They also produce a lot of waste, which minimizes the impact of their algae eating.

A common misconception with plecos, and algae-eaters in general, is that they will eat every last piece of algae in your aquarium.

That’s really not the case.

They eat some algae and do a decent enough job of keeping the tank a little cleaner. But you will still have to clean the tank periodically to prevent an overgrowth of algae.

Even worse is that plecos have a reputation for pooping a lot. So, you might solve the algae problem only to have a poop problem in your tank.

What Type of Pleco is Best for Cleaning Algae?

We strongly recommend going with a Bristlenose pleco if you want an algae eater in your tank. You definitely do not want a Hypostomus plecostomus as they can grow up to two feet (~60cm) and will give off too much waste, which will wreck the nitrogen cycle in your tank.

Bristlenose plecos only grow to about 4 inches, which makes them perfect for even a 10 gallon tank.

You should be warned, however, that they still give off a decent amount of waste. It’s not nearly as much as their larger relatives, but it’s still enough to cause some headaches.

Recommended Further Reading:

Can Plecos Eat Carrots?

Do Plecos Eat Wood?


That covers it for whether or not plecos eat algae. Plecos do eat algae, but it’s not a staple of their diet. You should certainly not rely on a school plecos to clean all the algae in your aquarium.

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