Clown Pleco fish: complete care

Panaqolus maccus which is also called as clown pleco is one of the small, striped loricariid species most commonly found in the fish keeping hobby. This species is well adapted to life in aquariums. They aren’t too hard to spaw. 

As it is a wood-eating fish, it should always be provided with enough driftwood in the tank. 

However, it is recommended that fresh vegetables, spirulina, and frozen foods such as bloodworms be given occasionally as well. They are very quiet fish 

suitable for the average community tank. They are a hardy catfish species, and they can tolerate different water parameters but prefer softer, more acidic water.

All about clown pleco

Clown plecos are a popular freshwater fish which can be found all over the world in aquariums. In fact, it looks like in recent years they might get even more sought after! 

Clown pleco care is something which can be managed by any dedicated aquarist as long as they are aware of the proper conditions the fish needs. This makes them a relatively low-maintenance fish to keep, something loved by a lot of people. 

They ‘re also a neat-looking fish which can spruce up your tank bottom. Even if you’re somebody who isn’t getting too much into aesthetics when it comes to fishing, you’ll probably enjoy it!

And finally, their behaviour is something that any aquarist can appreciate. Not only are they fun watching moving around the bottom and nibbling on driftwood (more on that below), they also get along with a lot of other species well. 

For this reason they are one of our favorite bottom feeder fish. We get to recommend them quite often! 

We’ll give an overview of clown pleco care in this guide, and everything else you need to know about this fish. If you want to get one for yourself, you’ve come to the right place!

Naturally clown plecos (scientific name: panaque maccus) are found primarily in Venezuela but are also documented in Columbia.

The most condensed areas where they live are in the Caroni and Apure River basins that cover a considerable amount of land across the country. 

Because of the combination of trees and vegetation along the shore of fast-moving water these river basins are packed full of driftwood and other pieces of wood.

Because clown plecos are so used to this natural habitat, they find places to hide and eat among the woody bottom.

These fish are quite good at dealing with low-visibility and slightly dirty water because of the amount of decaying vegetation in their natural habitat. This hardness is something that many species of aquarium catfish have and the pleco of clowns is no exception. 

These are generally among the most popular types of plecos in the aquarium scene. They are found everywhere in tanks they are quite good looking too!

Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Actinopterygii
Order: Siluriformes
Family: Loricariidae
Genus: Panaqolus
P. maccus


It’s very much important to take care of your fish to make sure it is leading having a healthy life span.

The typical pleco lifespan for clowns is between 10-12 years if proper care is taken. This is one of our favorite parts of owning this fish because you’re going to have a lot of time to build a bond. 

Just like any other fish, if you don’t provide them with the proper living conditions, you can drastically shorten the lifespan of your clown pleco. Poor diet, poor quality of water and constant stress will quickly shave years off their lives. 

Don’t let the hard nature of theirs trick you into thinking they can handle subpar care!

Clown plecos’ Looks:

The clown pleco appearance is pretty gorgeous. These fish have a series of distinct patterns that make them stand out no matter with whom they share a tank! 

The primary base of this fish is black with brighter, colored bands stretching in different patterns around their entire body. Usually, these bright sections are either whiteish-yellow or orange. 

In addition to the health of the fish (especially during development) the vibrancy and patterns of their coloration may vary depending on a number of genetic factors. Wild clown plecos also very commonly have brighter colors than those in captivity.

These fish’s bodies fit into the standard pleco mold. That means a large, thick head and body from their dorsal fin upfront.

You’ll see around the beginning of their dorsal fin that they’re starting to slim out quite a bit all the way to the caudal peduncle.

They’ve got a very tall and pronounced dorsal fin that fans a bit out. They also have very large pectoral fins and will often rest behind them when laying on the substrate or on top of some driftwood.

In terms of surface area, the caudal fin of a clown pleco is about the same size as its dorsal fin. Sometimes you will see that splayed out completely and sometimes they will compress it a bit.

Size of clown pleco:

The average clowns’ pleco is about 3 and a half inches long. Their max size is in the 4-inch range somewhere, but that’s very rare. 

A number of factors (both controllable and non-controllable) can influence clown pleco size. Genetics are the primary two and the level of care you provide.

Necessary Care:

A Clown Pleco which is given exceptional care and adequately fed will survive for about 10-12 years. Their temperament is calm by themselves or with other fish. You do not have to spend a lot on feeding them and taking good care of them.

As we saw earlier, these species are nocturnal and become super-active during the night. Because of this, you may not see them as active during the bright hours as during the dark hours.

They entertain themselves during the daytime by playing hide and seeking in the caves of driftwood.

Under the hardy species fall the clown Plecos. The fish’s Ph range is 2.0-30.0. The water in the tank must be from 72-degree f to 86 degrees F.

The pH values have to be set between 6.5 and 7.5. To give them a feeling of natural habitat, a strong water current should be sustained inside your Clown Pleco aquarium.

Although it is a freshwater fish, the water in the tank must be slightly alkaline as it originally belongs to the waters of Amazon, which in nature is a bit alkaline.

The minimum tank capacity to feed a Clown Pleco is 20 gallons, keep adding 10 gallons to each fish that you add to the tank.

No matter what the fish tank should always be hygienic. Fishes grown in clean tanks rarely get illnesses.

Use efficient biological filters in the tank to remove produced wastes. Furthermore, don’t forget to include lots of plants in your aquarium.

While selecting plants to make your tank innovative, select stiff plant species as the softer ones are prone to being devoured by your Clown Plecos.

Some say Plecos is too shy to make friends when added to a new tank. While some others report that when they guard their territories Plecos can become more aggressive.

Clown pleco care is simple and very low maintenance. Aquarians of all levels of experience maintain these fish successfully without any problems. 

As long as you provide the right environment for them and stay consistent with monitoring the water, you’re going to be fine.

Size of tank:

For clown plecos, the recommended tank size is at least 20 gallons. These are small fish and don’t swim around for a ton, so you won’t need to get a massive tank to make them comfortable. 

If you are planning to keep multiple clown plecos in the same aquarium you will have to increase this. Just tap on an extra 10 gallons for each new clown pleco you want to keep!

Even though clown plecos are hardy fish, the recommended water parameters should always be maintained with hard work.

Keeping levels consistent really isn’t that tricky once you get the hang of it, and making sure they ‘re happy and healthy will go a long way. 

The temperature of the water: 73 ° F-82 ° F 

The pH levels are ideal: 6.8 to 7.6 

Water toughness: 10 dGH

Structure and design your tank:

When it appears to come to set up a clown plecos habitat you want to imitate their natural habitat as much as you can. That means quite a lot of driftwood in this case! 

Clown and driftwood plecos are like peanut butter and jelly. These fish love to hide in driftwood, explore and even snack.

You ‘re going to want to throw some rocks and plants to mix things up too. Not only will these provide great hiding spots for your clown pleco, but they will also serve as effective algae growing surfaces. 

Lots of standard plant choices like hornwort are going to work with those fish. So long as they don’t dominate the tank you ought to be fine.

Beware of these diseases:

Clown plecos have no specific disease which plagues their species. That is a big advantage to owning one! 

That being said, some of the other common aquatic illnesses can affect them. These include ich and a variety of various infections or parasites. 

Fortunately, all of these are very preventable if you maintain the quality of the water in their habitat. Poor quality of water dramatically increases your clown pleco’s chances of getting sick. 

If you make regular changes to the water, monitor parameters and feed them with a well-balanced diet they’ll probably be fine!

Food and Diet:

The Clown Pleco ‘s primary diet includes plant matter such as wood, specifically driftwood and algae. Allowing them to molt on wood would catalyze the digestion process. Compared to the large ones, infant fish eat more algae, which are so fascinating.
Not to forget, feeding them with algae-based food is equally important, rather than making them dependent on the natural algae only. In addition to algae, several vegetables such as mashed potatoes, zucchini, shelled peas, lettuce, and cucumber may also be supplied.

The ideal clown pleco diet will consist of many things they eat in the wild and will supplement that which is not convenient.

The name of the game is to shoot and avoid overfeeding them when it comes to nutrition for balance. 

Algae will be one of the most important pieces of their diet. Although they can’t live off algae as their only food source, they will get a lot of nutritional value from it. 

You can facilitate the algae grown in their habitat by including driftwood, rocks and plants. Anything that you can rest on the ground where algae can grow is considered good!

A good clown pleco diet will also consist of diverse plant-based food that sinks. Algae wafers are a great choice as are vegetables such as lettuce, zucchini, cucumbers, and peas. 

Finally, their diet should include some meat to help them get enough protein. Bloodworm and daphnia are the two more common choices. You want these to be an occasional snack (2-3 times a week), not a daily meal.

Clown plecos Behaviour and Temperature:

Clown plecos Behaviour and Temperature

Clown plecos’ overall temperament is very mellow and peaceful. At the bottom of the aquarium, they are quite happy to do their own thing, and will rarely show interest in other fish

You will observe this fish hunkering down near their driftwood a lot of time, or slowly moving around the bottom as they scavenge. 

Another thing that surprises many new owners is the amount of driftwood these fish are going to snack upon.

Since this is a behavior not exhibited by many other fish, it can look really strange until you get used to it!

When you have more than one male in the same tank, the one situation where their kind temperament can change is.

Definitely, two or more male plecos are capable of exhibiting aggression over territory. 

It will reduce the chance of this happening if you give them enough space, but it’s no guarantee. If there are two males like the same piece of driftwood that could be a rumble.

Clown Pleco tank mates

Clown plecos have a host of compatible tank mates. This is another reason why it’s so easy to keep those fish. It is a luxury not to have to agonize over tank mate pairings and just rely on some general guidelines instead. 

  • Ember tetra
  • Cory catfish
  • Dwarf gourami
  • Small Rasboras
  • Minnows
  • Gouramies
  • White cloud mountain minnows
  • Pygmy Corydoras
  • Cichlids
  • Harlequin rasboras

Clown Plecos do incredibly well as being of a community. Most of the time, they live peacefully with other fish.

Except in some cases where they seldom become aggressive and lock horns with other fish to protect their territory.

It’s good not to keep two different Plecos varieties in the same tank so that they don’t have the situations to turn aggressive.

Do not keep them along with big fish, as they are more likely to be eaten up. Here are a few fish that go well with Clown Plecos.

If you’re looking for a fancy fish that adds radiant and amazing colors and mood to your tank and stays small until the end, then the right choice is Clown Pleco.

Breeding of Clown pleco:

A Clown Pleco fish that is superbly cared for and adequately fed will survive for about 10-12 years. Their temperament is calm on its own or with other fish. You don’t have much to spend on feeding them and taking good care of them.

As we have seen before, these species are nocturnal and become super-active during the night.

For this reason, you might not see them as active during the bright hours as they are during the dark hours.

They entertain themselves through playing hide and seeking in the driftwood caves during the daytime.

Clown pleco breeding is full of polarizing views among aquarists. While some people say it is easy to breed, others say it is too hard to even try! 

So to set the record straight, clown plecos can definitely be breed. It does require a bit of setup, though. 

You ‘re going to want to set up a breeding tank that follows many the same rules as your normal aquarium.

Lots of driftwood and hiding places are a must as this is where they spawn. A common tactic is to place a simple wooden cave in the tank, as these will usually be used. 

It is also recommended that the water temperature be lowered a bit, leading to the breeding process.

This is going to mimic the rainy period of the year when they tend to spawn in the wild. Also during this period, you should raise the pH levels just one tad. 

Another good trick that will help stimulate breeding is to increase your diet’s amount of protein-rich food. Bloodworms and other go-to choices are going to do the trick. 

Once the eggs are in the cave, the male guards the area quite seriously for a couple of weeks until they hack.

If this happens you can separate them and start feeding the newborn clown plecos with a protein mixture. Seaweed and driftwood.

The bottom Line of clown pleco:

Anybody, new or experienced, can do clown pleco care. These fish are about as little maintenance as they could possibly get! 

Stick to the recommended water parameters and keep them with other non-aggressive species as long as you set up the proper tank habitat. 

Despite the ease of care, the pleco clown is a very gratifying fish to keep. Their beauty and unique attitude make them stand out in every tank.

Their long service life means you’re going to have them for quite a while too! If you’re someone on the fence about getting your own clown pleco, go for it.

We really can’t recommend enough of those fish.

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