Loricariids, or plecs and are the suckermouthed catfishes which origionate from South America, especially the mighyty Amazon and its many tributaries. Most, but not all of them, are herbivores and feed on algae and small animals living within it, which they will rasp from the surfaces of rocks and bogwood as well as from the aquarium glass.
These fish are generally nocturnal, or at least prefer to search for their food at dusk, due to this they should be given an area in which to hide away during the day. When planning the layout of a tank which will incorporate a plec or similar fish, a improvised cave will allow the fish somewhere to hide from the strong aquarium lighting An old upturned plantpot or aquarium stones siliconed into a cave structue work wonders, also a peice of old drainpipe incorporated into the underwater scene and covered with rocks and plants is an attractive alternative which gives plenty of flat surface space for the plec to suck on to.
Unfortunately, it's really a bit of an old wive's tale that adding bottom-feeding fish such as the plec to your aquarium will make it a cleaner environment. Although most bottom feeders will eat scraps of food that have been missed by the other fish, they still need to be fed a diet of their own and will contribute as much dirt to the tank as any other fish.
There is a large range of commercially avaliable food for these amazing fish, dried sinking food such as tetra tabimin or veg nuggets should be placed in the tank just prior to lights out and a little time afterwards if possiable. There are also recent advances including algae tablets which you can stick to the inside of the aquarium glass, this allows excellent observation of the fish in a novel and unique way. (Have a look in my Ebay Shop for these items)
As well as this their diet should be supplimented with fresh veg such as cucumbers and blanched spinich, weighed down with lead aquarium weights such as those used for aquarium plants. Also good are cooked peas which have been squeezed between your finger so that they sink to the bottom of the tank.
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