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Kelly and her Pleco

     Olga wrote: 
     "Kelly, It is nice that you are kind-hearted but it seems that you are
     making one error after another. This giant pleco will eat all your 
     plants unless you keep him constantly supplied with zucinni, lettuce, 
     cucumber, algae tablets etc. It is possible that he will also be 
     aggressive with other fish. (Why do you think they sold him cheap?!) 
     There are many MUCH better algae eaters to get for a planted tank.  I'm 
     sure there isn't anyone who would recommend a giant pleco for a planted 
     tank. You will have to be strong and return the pleco. Get some 
     Otocinclus, Siamese algae eaters, farowellas instead. Or you can set up 
     a tank for just the pleco. I have a friend who did that. Anubias and 
     Java Fern could probably survive him."
     Olga - I don't think Kelly is making *that* many errors. With a bit of 
     persistence and forethought plecos make a fun addition to a big tank.  
     I have had about a dozen big plecos (a couple up to 2 foot) in a variety 
     of tanks, including heavily planted tanks with hygrophila sp., nymphea 
     sp., various crypts, val sp, java fern and java moss etc etc. I have not 
     found your claim re: supplemental feeding to be necessary, although my 
     tanks usually contain a large amount of wood - as someone else has said, 
     Loricariids will tend to spend much of their time looking for cellulose. 
     Certainly, this can be a problem for some plants i.e., it can be 
     difficult to establish java moss. However, I have not found that plecos 
     eat plants. I am also yet to see them chew up the leaves of plants in 
     search for algae. It may happen, but I've not seen it, and I've had a 
     number of different Loricariid cats, big and small. 
     Bigger fishes in general are difficult to keep with plants unless 
     they're particularly sedentary (the fish, that is). The challenge is to 
     plant the tank in such a way that the plants are spared as much 
     mechanical damage as possible. Val spp. are good, for example, because 
     they're sufficiently flexible, while smaller plants like crypts and the 
     smaller annubia can be protected with rocks, wood etc. This is also a 
     useful practice when planting tanks that will contain diggers i.e., 
     Tandanus Tandanus. Contrary to Olga's advice I have not found big 
     annubias to be that great for tanks with sizable fishes; they are rigid 
     enough to be torn up if the fishes get excited - like when the Simpsons 
     are on :)  
     If there's a fiar bit of wood, and a dark place to hang, the pleco will 
     be fine.
     Finally, I have not found Loricariids to be aggressive, but I'm 
     measuring this against things like Lutjanus Argentimaculatus etc. If any 
     of the Americans or Canadians on the list think Plecos are aggressive, 
     find yourself a Channa spp. ...
     So here's one person with big plecos in planted tanks. BTW I have never 
     had any problem with algae on any hard surface in any of the tanks with 
     the big plecos. I run them with ancistrus spp and SAE's, who do the 
     fine-detail algae removal.
     Cheers, Chris.