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Royal Pleco

(Panaque nigrolineatus)

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 Quick Care Facts

• Care Level: Easy   • Temperament: Peaceful   • Maximum Size: 16"
• Minimum Tank Size: 125 gallons   • Water Conditions: 74-82° F, KH 6-10, pH 6.5-7.5
• Diet: Omnivore   • Origin: South America, Amazon   • Family: Loricariidae
• Species: Plecos   • Aquarium Type: Community

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Species Information

Royal Pleco native habitat, distribution, behavior & aquarium compatibility.

The Royal Plecostomus "Royal Pleco" is a very popular large species of Pleco that has been a hobbyist favorite for a long time due to its unique striped pattern and attractive coloration. The Royal Pleco also exhibits an interesting body type that features a bulky top heavy appearance. While they appear stubby due to their large bulky looks, they actually attain sizes upwards of 16 inches in length within the aquarium environment.

Their body shape and color pattern is a direct result of the environment in which they live in the wild. The fast flowing streams and rivers of their South American origins have dictated that they have a body shape that allows the quickly flowing river waters to pass over them while they feed on submerged drift wood and plant matter. However, for aquarium hobbyists the unique body shape and overall appearance of the Royal Pleco make for a solid contrast from many of the other Pleco species commonly available within the hobby.

Royal Pleco's have a peaceful demeanor and can make excellent additions to any large freshwater community aquarium or semi-aggressive New World Cichlid aquarium. Due to their large size, they may not be suitable for community aquariums with intricate aqua-scaping or densely planted tanks that do not have adequate room for a fish that reaches the large size of the Royal Pleco.

Aquarium Care

How to successfully keep Royal Pleco in the home aquarium.

When aquascaping an aquarium to accommodate a Royal Pleco, it is best to replicate their natural surroundings as best one can. Royal Pleco's come from briskly flowing rivers and tributaries of South America, which provides them with an abundance of clean well oxygenated water flow, large amounts of submerged drift wood and root structures and fairly dense areas of vegetation.

An ideal aquarium setup would replicate all aspects of the Royal Pleco's natural river habitat, but it is only truly necessary to provide them with some key aspects of their wild habitat. It is important to provide plenty of submerged driftwood and root structures, some areas of the aquarium shaded by vegetation or rock formations and clean well filtered water with at least moderate water flow.

Large Plecostomus produce large amounts of biological waste products, which means that it is very important to have very good mechanical and biological filtration to effectively process this waste. Pleco's prefer to have areas of the aquarium where they can retreat from the bright aquarium lights; as well as, areas like rocky caves where they can hide when startled.

They do well with most any community or semi-aggressive fish species and can even tolerate some of the more aggressive Cichlid species. Their large size makes them somewhat destructive to less hardy plants, so it is recommended to keep them with large, sturdy and hardy plant species that can handle the bulk of the Pleco hanging on it or brushing up against it.

Lastly, the Royal Pleco attains a relatively large size and will need plenty of room to move about the aquarium, this means that a minimum of a 125 gallon aquarium should be used to keep an adult specimen. Aquariums of 180 gallons or more (24 inches from front to back) are even more suitable as they provide a better layout for the long body of the Royal Pleco to move about.

Feeding & Nutrition

How to properly feed Royal Pleco and provide a healthy diet.

Royal plecos and others of the Panaque species have evolved to feed on submerged wood and the various organisms and detritus that are found living on the wood. Their teeth are shaped to cut or shave off thin pieces of wood, which is then consumed.

It is important to note that the Royal Pleco will not simply flourish by eating wood alone, but instead needs the nutrition provided by the fungus, algae and various organisms found living on submerged wood in the wild. Thus plenty of submerged wood needs to be provided; however, will also need their diet supplemented with other foods as well.

Royal plecos will eat algae-based foods such as wafers and flakes but will also accept meatier foods in the form of pellets, tablets, wafers, frozen, and flakes. Offering a varied diet is one of the real keys to success over the long haul with royal plecos.

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