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Why Is My Pleco Not Eating?

With plecos being one of the most common bottom dwellers within the fish keeping community, it is easy to understand why we see so many questions each month about how you are able to care for your pet pleco.

One of the more frequently asked questions that we have noticed people asking recently is about their pleco not eating and for ways that they are able to get their pleco eating again.

There are a few common mistakes that we see people making with plecos and their food supply so we wanted to publish this dedicated article on why your pleco may not be eating.

Our hope is that we will be able to help as many of our readers as possible get their pleco eating again as quickly as possible.

We have noticed a number of related questions being asked about plecos not eating normally and wanted to answer as many of them as possible.

We have added our table of contents below to make it as easy as possible for our readers to quickly navigate to any specific questions that they may want the answers for.

Why Is My Pleco Not Eating?

The most common reasons that your pleco may not be eating is due to it being full, unsuitable food sources, poor water parameters, and sickness.

Plecos are nocturnal and usually eat most of their food at night so it is common that plecos are eating normally but you are simply sleeping when they eat.

Due to your pleco eating while you sleep, it will be common for your pleco to be full or sleeping when you wake up. This is a very common thing that we see many fish keepers of all levels of experience making mistakes with.

One way to test is to put food near your pleco and then see if it is still there when you wake up but keep in mind that some of your plecos tank mates may eat the food.

Another common problem that we see time and time again is that people do not have suitable food sources for their pleco. Different pleco species will eat different food sources too making it confusing if you keep different types of pleco in the same tank.

Some eat only algae and detritus, some eat plants, some will be carnivorous, and some are omnivores and eat everything.

“pleco” by Genista is licensed with CC BY-SA 2.0. To view a copy of this license, visit

Can I Feed My Pleco?

You can feed your pleco a number of different types of food if you wish. It can be problematic to get the food to sink down to your substrate without the other fish in the tank eating the food.

If you have a pleco that likes to primarily eat algae and detritus then you will not have to actively feed it though as most tanks will have plenty of available food.

If you are having problems with your pleco not eating and you want to try and manually feed your pleco while it is in a community tank then you can try a coral feeder.

It makes it very simple to load the coral feeder up with various types of food and then get it to the substrate of your tank to give it your pleco.

Keep in mind that your pleco will often try to be sleeping through the day so it may not be awake when you try to feed it so try to feed your pleco just before you go to bed.

Plecos don’t actually have eyelids either so it can make it difficult to work out if your pleco is awake or sleeping.

How To Get My Pleco To Eat!

The easiest way to get your pleco to eat is to give it the foods that they prefer. Some of these foods that plecos really enjoy include earthworms, bloodworms, brine shrimp, and daphnia if the pleco is still small.

The majority of healthy plecos will go out of their way for these types of food giving you an idea if your pleco is sick and not eating due to a potential illness.

If you do have a coral feeder then you are able to quickly and easily get some bloodworms or brine shrimp down the the bottom of your aquarium for your pleco to eat.

If your pleco is awake then there is a very high chance that it will try to eat the bloodworm of brine shrimp as quickly as possible.

If your pleco is moving around indicating that it is awake and does not try to eat the bloodworms or brine shrimp then there could be a potential problem with your pleco.

One quick way to check is to try and look for its poop, if the poop of your pleco is white then it can indicate a possible parasite infection and something like No products found. may be able to help.

How Long Can A Pleco Go Without Eating?

Although a healthy pleco can live for up to two weeks without food, the majority of plecos who are not eating are not healthy and have something wrong with them that needs treating.

If your pleco is not eating due to a parasite infection then it is unlikely that it will be able to last for two weeks with no food.

There are a number of other potential issues that could be effective your plecos general health too causing it not to eat which will also have an effect on how long your pleco will be able to last without food.

If you do think that your pleco is not eating due to a health issue then booking a short video call with a veterinarian is definitely the best option to take.

The vet will be able to quickly give your pleco the once over and ask you a few questions to get a better idea of the potential issues.

They will then be able to offer you specific advice to the situation of your pleco and give you a treatment plan for moving forward to get your pleco eating again as quickly as possible.


That brings our article going over why your pleco is not eating to an end. As we touched on earlier in the article, it is very common for people who have plecos in their tank to panic and think that their pleco is not eating simply because they are sleeping while their pleco is active and scavenging for food. There are a number of other issues that we have covered above on why your pleco may not be eating though with most of them being easy to treat.