Do Plecos Dig in Sand? Here’s The Truth

Are you excited to get a new set of Plecos for your aquarium but worried that they’ll start digging in the sand?  Don’t worry; most species of Plecos do not dig in the sand for the most part. In fact, many Plecos enjoy swimming in the sand or rooting through it for food. 

So, do Plecos actually dig in sand? There are quite a few species of Plecos that dig through the sand at the bottom of the fish tanks. For instance, the Bristlenose Plecos are notorious for digging up sand to clear space. This is fairly common among the older and large-sized Plecos.

In this article, we take a look at the different types of Plecos and whether they enjoy digging in the sand or not. We’ll also look at the reasons why they do it. So, without any further ado, let’s begin! 

Why Do Plecos Dig in Sand?

There are a few reasons why Plecos might dig in the sand. Here’s a rundown of the top reasons as to why your  precious Plecos might be digging in the sand: 

1. To Search for Food  

One reason is that they are looking for food. Plecos are omnivorous fish and will eat a variety of things, including algae, insects, and small fish. They may also scavenge for food on the bottom of the tank.   

2. To Find a Place to Hide 

Another reason they might dig is to create a place to hide. Plecos are often targeted for other fish in the tank, and they may dig a hole to hide in to avoid being eaten.

3. To Help with Tank Cleaning  

Finally, one possibility is that they are digging to help clean the tank.

Plecos are known for their ability to scavenge for algae, and they may be digging in the sand to help get rid of any algae that might be growing on the bottom of the tank.

As a side note, both Pleco and Otocinclus are well-known as cleaning crew for fish tanks. Learn which fish is better for your fish tank by reading my recent article on Pleco Vs. Otocinclus.

4. Other Reasons  

There may be other reasons that your Pleco is digging in the sand. For instance, they might be feeling agitated.

But, these are the most common reasons. If you’re not sure why your Pleco is doing it, you can ask your fish store for advice.

Do Pleco Fish Bury Themselves?

Yes. Plecos usually wedge themselves under pebbles and rocks, within clumps of plants, even bury, and behind or under decorations.

Sometimes they also bury themselves in the substrate. They do it to hide from predators and to conserve energy. 

It’s a fairly common instinctive behavior for them. And they can stay buried for quite some time until they need to come up for a breath of air. 

So, it’s not unusual at all to see a pleco swimming around with only its eyes and dorsal fin sticking out of the water.

Do Plecos Bury Themselves In Gravel?

You wouldn’t want to keep your aquarium barren and devoid of any decorators. Such a tank will stress your Plecos and make them feel bored and agitated.

It’s mandatory to have hiding spots inside the tank if you intend to keep Plecos in it. That’s because they need a secluded place to stay during the day as Plecos are nocturnal creatures.  

So, to answer the question, Plecos do bury themselves in gravel. It’s in their nature to comb over the sediments and the sand at the bottom of the tank to search for food.

And that’s why you should create a substrate made out of pebbles and gravel in your fish tank.

Which Plecos Dig In Sand?

Having the ideal kind of substrate is a must for your Pleco’s health. And that’s why you should create a substrate made out of soft sand or fine gravel.

Having a sandy substrate allows the Plecos to filter through the substrate in order to find food.

There are quite a few species of Plecos who dig through sand. And a great example of such a species would be the Bristlenose Pleco.

These plecos are notorious for being voracious eaters, and they comb through the substrate in search of food particles to eat. Other species include the Sailfin Pleco and the Zebra Pleco.

Related Questions: 

Can Plecos Burrow?  

Yes, Most species of Plecostomus love to burrow through the substrate of the tanks. These little fellas love to live and spawn in crevices and caves.

For instance, in the wild, the Plecos from the Pterygoplichthys genus typically dig deep burrows near the river bank so that they can hide during the daytime and emerge at night.

Sometimes, Plecos use burrows made by other creatures they have abandoned. But, in most cases, they burrow through the sand by themselves.

Can Plecos Jump Out of The Tank?

Yes, there’s always a possibility that your Plecos might jump out of the aquarium, which is why I cannot emphasize the importance of testing the water enough before placing Plecos in it. 

Plecos sometimes jump out of the tank if the water condition is adverse. They could also jump out because of the bullying of other creatures in the tank. 

Plecos might also jump out of the tank if there’s an electric short circuit somewhere on the tank and they are receiving mild zaps.

How Do You Deal With Plecostomus Fish Waste?

One way to deal with plecostomus fish waste is to install a biological filter in your aquarium. This will help to break down the waste and keep your tank clean. 

Furthermore, you can also clean your tank regularly to remove any excess waste.

Why Can’t I Find My Pleco In My Tank?

There are a few reasons why you may not be able to find your pleco in your tank. One possibility is that your pleco has buried itself in the sand or become hidden somewhere in the tank.

Another possibility is that your pleco may have died and decomposed. If you have lost your pleco, you may want to consider adding another one to your tank.

Final Thoughts

That marks the end of our discussion about whether Plecos can dig in the sand.  Now that we have answered this question, it is important to keep in mind that different species of Plecos have different abilities when it comes to digging. 

For example, the common Pleco (Plecostomus plecostomus) is known to be able to dig in sand effectively to search for food or to make a hiding spot.   

This ability is quite necessary for this particular species, as it is a scavenger that mainly feeds on detritus and algae.

On the other hand, the Bushy Nose Pleco (Ancistrus dolichopterus) is not known to be as effective at digging in the sand as the common Pleco.  

Thank you for sticking with us till the end! If you have a minute, check out our article on, What Plecos Can Live In a 10 Gallon Tank?

Sifatul Shohan

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