Catfish Like Zucchini

February 20th, 2008

For many catfish, specifically “suckerfish” like plecos, it’s often stated that you want to keep wood in your aquarium as it’s an integral part of their diet. It’s also true that they ought to be fed other vegetable matter, such as algae wafers, veggie-based pellets, and so on. Well, fresh, clean vegetables are also a cheap and much appreciated treat for these fish.

Chinese Algae/Zuchchini Eater

We had zucchini as part of our dinner last night, so rather than throwing the ends down the disposal, I cut the stalk off, and set aside 4 small circles of the squash for my catfish. Now, these vegetables were certified organic, so I was fairly confident that they would be pesticide free. In the summer we grow our own vegetables, so we know their source as well. If there’s any doubt, at the least do a thorough washing, and at the best, don’t throw them in your tank. Also, if they’ve been contaminated with any oils, butter, or seasonings, don’t put them in the aquarium.

Chinese Algae/Zuchchini Eater

The problem with fresh zucchini is that it floats. Placing the pieces in a small dish with a bit of water, I microwaved them for 4-5 minutes, or until they stopped floating. This boiling process breaks down the cellular walls, allowing them to become water logged. Alternatively, you can tie them down to a heavy object. The last step is to slice a couple notches in the rind of the squash. The reason being that the catfish eat out the soft core, and could potentially get the “ring of rind” caught around their bodies.

Chinese Algae/Zuchchini Eater

At first, when I dropped the cooled zucchini into the aquarium, none of the fish took much notice. I was surprised that the cories didn’t seem to care for it at all. Then, my chinese algae eater (CAE) found one of the pieces, and started going to town. Two other plecos (Ancistrus sp. L279) took notice and latched onto the same piece. A rigmarole of back-and-forth swapping of the vegetable pieces ensued for 20 minutes before I let them continue on for however long.

Chinese Algae/Zuchchini Eater

Even when not scraping the inner core of the zucchini, the CAE sat over top of one of the pieces, claiming it as his own. While this was going on in my 54G, Red Lizard Catfish and some cherry shrimp were devouring two pieces in my 75G tank. Over the next day or two, I’ll pull out the rind once all of the “good stuff” has been eaten.

Bottom line, if you’re chopping squash for dinner, set aside a couple rounds for your catfish — they’ll love you for it!

11 Responses to “Catfish Like Zucchini”

  1. Tennessee Mom Says:

    I have a large pleco, he gets a half of raw zucchini a night. I don’t cook it, I just cut a slice in the bottom of the zucchini and stick a piece of slate in there. He also gets raw yellow squash, mushrooms and peeled grapes during the day. He actually comes out of his cave at around the same time each night to the “spot” and waits for me to put the veggie of the night in.

  2. guitarfish Says:

    That’s fantastic! It’s great when you have fish that become more personable, and expect you to be around at certain times. I imagine your pleco is quite large and happy with that diet!

  3. Rob Says:


    Another sucker favorite is bananas….mine absolutely crush them when I put them in the tank.


  4. guitarfish Says:

    And the bananas don’t just dissolve in the tank?

  5. Rob Says:

    They eat them well before they dissolve. Just like any food you will have to figure out what your fish can handle in one sitting. I think they fuzz up before they would dissolve which is worse but I slice them just like cucumbers and they demolish them.

  6. Rami Says:

    Aha, that’s nifty. Are there any known corydoras favorites? They go to town on algae wafers and the occasional shrimp pellet, but what other things will they enjoy as much as the plecos seem to be enjoying?

  7. guitarfish Says:

    Rami, my cories seem to love blackworms. But, as you suggested, these really like the pellets too.

  8. 54G - Low Tech Aquascape Filling In-- Guitarfish Says:

    […] do have one sad note regarding this tank. One of the two oldest fish, both chinese algae eaters, I had had since I got back into aquariums nearly 6 years ago passed away last weekend. All of the […]

  9. mum Says:

    i put a peice of zucchini in and it seem to starch up the tank…now what? Is there anything I can do beside change all the water again?

  10. guitarfish Says:

    Sorry to hear mum. Did you blanch the zucchini first before putting it in the tank? Also, how long did you leave it in? I’ve never had the problem of cloudy water, but if I did, yes I’d do a large water change. You said “change all the water again.” Does that mean you just did a 100% water change before adding the zucchini? If so, you may be experiencing bacterial bloom, which is unrelated, and can happen when you do huge water changes, particularly, if you clean your filter at the same time.

  11. mum Says:

    I think you might be right about that, I’ve been doing some reading and some testing. No change in the water though.