Complete Guide for Royal Pleco Care, Diseases, Growth and Feeding

Suppose you’re an aquarist, lookout for growing attractive-looking fishes in your home aquarium. In that case, the Royal Pleco is a perfect choice for you. This fish has a royal tag attached to its name.

The Royal Pleco is a freshwater herbivorous fish, mostly found in native areas of Venezuela, Brazil, and Colombia. You can find the Royal Plecos commonly within the Amazon’s basins and Orinoco Rivers. 

The scientific name of the Royal Pleco is Panaque nigrolineatus. This species belongs to the catfish family. They can digest wood.

Unlike other fishes that are just one of their kind, Royal Plecos are of the many types. They will differentiate by changes in their physical appearance and the areas where they find.

Royal Pleco

Genera of Royal Plecos

When Royal Plecos offered on sale, they gave unique numbers starting with L for their identity. A number of the common genera of royal plecos are the following:

  • L27a or L190 – Panaque Nigrolineatus, which is the type that we are speaking about, during this article
  • L27 – the regional counterpart of the Panaque Nigrolineatus, also referred to as the Panaque Armbrusteri; natives of Rio Tocantins and Rio Xingu.
  • L27c – referred to as thunder line royal pleco and thought of foremost attractive among all the kinds 
  • L191 – From Columbia, also mentioned as the white-tailed royal pleco, because the juveniles (which are imported) have white bands on their caudal fins. Another name for this fish is a full-eyed royal pleco.
  • L330 – One more royal pleco from Columbia, commonly referred to as the spotted royal pleco or watermelon royal pleco.
  • L418– From Peru, Peruvian Green Royal Pleco or shampupa pleco
  • L90 – Papa Royal Pleco, one more variety from Peru. Its caudal fins have unique, long extensions at the upper and bottom, making it quite attractive.
  • L203 – From Peru, Peruvian Black Royal Pleco. The juveniles of this sort contain a white patch on their caudal fins. This royal pleco is also the most important of the pleco family, earning itself the Volkswagen Pleco’s nickname.

As you’ll see from the above list, there are quite a few genera of royal plecos that you simply got to remember. Suppose you propose to urge yourself a royal pleco fish. In that case, it’s important to know the characteristics, country of origin of every species before you buy the one that suits you.

You’ll not only provide a secure environment for the fish at your home, but you equipped with the facilities to care for the fishes within the absolute manner.

Physical Characteristics

The striking difference is often found within the Black Royal Pleco from Peru. Most of the opposite royal plecos grow to a mean length of about 16 inches long. Some of its species grow up to a size of 24 inches.

These are colorful fishes with light grey bodies that match well with their dark grey-colored squiggles. Their red eyes, including golden dorsal fins, make them very attractive fishes.

However, once you decide to get one for yourself, you ought to remember the very fact that these fishes don’t swim well. They’re very large; therefore, they don’t have the flexibility you would normally notice in other fishes.

One of the strange things that you will simply notice within the royal pleco’s body is the heavy armor of skin that protects its body. This armor offers an entire covering to the whole body of the fish, except the belly region.

Their teeth are sharp and shaped within the shape of a spoon to easily dig wood. Their huge and boldly-colored bodies make them a delight for aquarists trying to find colorful fishes in their aquarium.

Royal Pleco Feeding
Royal Pleco Characteristics

Royal Pleco Feeding

The royal plecos have tons of gut bacteria in their intestine. Because of this feature, they will easily eat wood and digest them too.

Once you put them in your tank, you’ll notice that they feel very comfortable settling towards the tank’s rock bottom. Munching on the rocks and wood flakes that you feed them. When you are fixing the aquarium for the royal pleco, make sure it’s enough driftwood in the water. 

  • It’s highly recommended that you include driftwood pieces because these are the common foods that the royal plecos enjoy tons. 
  • You can feed algae-based foods to your royal plecos. 
  • Wafers, pellets, and flakes are some options for foods for these.
  • Vegetables like zucchini, peas, and cucumber should be included in minimal amounts.

Royal Pleco Breeding

Unlike other catfishes and plecos, it’s not common or easy to follow the breeding process in your aquarium. It’s been hard done for expert aquarists. Sometimes, they even took the assistance of other professionals.

We don’t want to discourage you by telling you that you cannot do the breeding process yourself. To achieve success, you’ve got to require care of various factors like aquarium conditions, climate, and water quality.

You have to vary the aquarium’s climate to dry, followed by a season because of the process’s action.

Aquarists who were successfully breeding royal plecos term their exercise as purely “accidental”. They aren’t ready to pinpoint a specific element that helped them within the process.

However, they are suggesting certain changes that you could neutralize your tank to aim breeding royal plecos. 

Constant Water Change: 

It eliminates all kinds of pollution and dirt from the tank. It’s highly recommended to vary the tank water once every week.

Presence of Wood:

Make sure the presence of vine tree wood pieces in reasonable quantities inside the tank. This kind of wood is incredibly soft and simple to digest.

Not Vacuuming the Tank Regularly:

It is a crucial factor, especially if you don’t see any food leftovers. The royal plecos have eaten their foods completely; you don’t have to be compelled to vacuum-clean the tank. 

Not Clean The Debris:

The royal plecos loved to get their eggs deep inside the debris present at the bottom of the tank. So, not cleaning the debris does seem like a practical solution.

Related Post: Black Neon Aquarium Fish

Royal Pleco Aquarium Care

Proper tank set up is one of the most effective ways. As we already told, these fishes are quite huge, and they require big tanks. Here are some requirements that you should keep in mind while putting in the tank.

  • The aquarium should be large enough to carry a minimum of 120 gallons. Because these fishes have the potential to grow quite long (on a mean, they get older to 17inches long!).
  • The water’s pH level should be within the range of 6.6 to 7.5.
  • The water-hardness levels should be within the range of 5 to 15 degrees.
  • The temperature inside the tank maintained between 22 and 26 degrees Celsius.
  • An excellent filtration system inside the tank must implant. When the filtration systems aren’t proper, this makes the royal plecos feel suffocated inside.
  • You need to make sure that you retain a sufficient quantity of wood inside the tanks. This will help in feeding and providing perfect hiding spots. It might be great if you’ll find vine tree wood.
  • Placing artificial plants inside the tanks is a strict “No-No” because they’ll fatal for the fishes when they ingest them.
  • You can adjust the lighting most simply that it is beneficial for the fishes and plays an enormous role in improving the tank’s visual appeal.

In short, it is often said that the ambiance of the tank should feel comfortable for the royal plecos to maneuver around freely.

Peruvian Green Royal Pleco

Today, most juvenile royal plecos are selling to their respective owners when they are quite small, about 4 inches long. 

These fishes grow quite fast before you realize it. It is time for you to change the tank and reset the conditions to accommodate the large fish. They will live up to 10 years at least.

It’s quite difficult to spot the gender of huge fishes. A general technique follows that royal plecos with round and blunt genital papilla are classified as females. With short and little genital papilla, they are classified as males. However, it’s still unsure if this identification process is true or wrong.

Royal Pleco Diseases

This fish belongs to the “royal” category and isn’t free from diseases. Their common counterparts are inflicting daily.


Itch is also called the white spot disease because the royal plecos develop Pieris Rapae spots on their fins and body. The specific reason for this disease is the poor quality of water inside the tank.

You have to instantly consult a doctor and obtain treatment. You can take an aquarium test kit and monitor the standard of the tank water at regular intervals. During the treatment, it’s highly recommended to put the royal plecos in a quarantine tank.

Dropsy and Tail Rot:

Though royal plecos don’t move about much, they’re not too idle. Once you notice a high level of lethargy among these fishes and quantities of leftover food inside the tank, you must realize that they are affected by appetite loss. Sometimes, the ailment is additionally called dropsy and tail rot.

Bacterial Infection:

A bacterial infection that causes bloating, loss of coloration, and lethargy within the royal plecos had shown. Feeding good quality wood to the fish and giving them medications with no delay are the most effective ways to treat this condition.


Constant monitoring will help you notice strange white-colored, ball-shaped growths on their bodies, resulting from a mycosis. This ailment, referred to as fish fungus, is caused by water molds. It can treat easily.

When you spot these cotton ball-shaped growth, you’ve to urge them treated immediately. These fungal infections can spread quickly. Medicines and excellent water quality should help your royal fishes get over this mycosis disease.

Swollen Eyes:

Sometimes, you’ll notice that the eyes of royal plecos are swelling. Don’t get scared; this condition is understood as pop-eye and is common among small freshwater fishes. Medications, frequent change of water, and feeding vitamin-rich foods should make them alright soon.

A hole within the head is another common ailment that the royal plecos are susceptible to. This is due to the erosion of the lateral lines. The specific reason for this condition isn’t known yet.

Improving the tank’s water quality, feeding nutrient-rich foods to the fishes, and reducing their exposure to activated charcoal can help the royal plecos recover quickly.

Royal Pleco Behavior

The Royal Plecos are very shy-nature fishes. They don’t move about freely within the aquarium. Their large bodies don’t give them enough flexibility to maneuver around actively, but that’s not the sole reason.

They like to stay in their specific territories and are comfortable underneath the tank, where they keep hiding or munching on the wood.

Royal Pleco Aquarium Mates

Royal Plecos are quite friendly with other non-catfishes. They don’t show social behavior towards their own species. Therefore, non-catfishes like Oscar Fish and Zebra Fish are perfect aquarium mates for these fishes.

The large fishes love the substrate; fishes that stay on the top level would complement them well.

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