Pitbull Pleco – Parotocinclus jumbo

March 11th, 2008

A few weeks ago, I stopped by my local fish store on the way home from work, looking for some regular Otocinclus to help eat some algae in my 40G tank. Unfortunately, the store was out of Otos, but the owner recommended a curious little fish called the Pitbull Pleco, or Parotocinclus jumbo.

Pitbull Pleco

Of course, with the reputation that pitbulls have, I wanted to be sure that this little fish would not be a mean killing machine if let loose in my aquarium. So, the owner kindly helped me lookup more information on the fish, and as it turns out, the name is a bit of a misnomer. The fish was originally named after a pitbull due to the fact that its eyes are more on the top of it’s head, rather than on the sides, similar to the canine.

Pitbull Pleco

Satisfied, I promptly bought a half dozen of them, and brought them home. Once accustomed to my heavily planted 40G aquarium, these plecos are really quite attractive fish. They’re roughly the same size as an Otocinclus, and according to many sites only, they will not grow too much larger. In fact, they really look like a different colored Otocinclus, especially when hoisted on the glass, as seen below.

Pitbull Pleco

So, the next important question was whether they would actually eat any algae. Fortunately, it didn’t take me long to find the answer to this question, as they went straight to work, clearing the glass, rocks, and leaves of any of the spot, dust, diatom, or similar algae. They seem to leave alone the hair and fuzz algae, but that’s what I have Amano and cherry red shrimp for.

Pitbull Pleco

All in all, I would recommend the Pitbull Pleco to anyone looking for a similarly sized, but different algae eater, than the Otocinclus. They’re attractive, peaceful fish, that seem to group together, and do a fine job keeping the glass and hardscape clear. They seem to tolerate similar water parameters as most corydoras, making them ideal for 90% of the aquariums out there. Highly recommended!

19 Responses to “Pitbull Pleco – Parotocinclus jumbo”

  1. Rob Says:


    What LFS did you get these at? They are awesome little fish.


  2. guitarfish Says:

    I got them from SCALES. On the tan pebble gravel that’s in the store tank, they’re really hard to see, but against the green of a planted tank they’re great looking.

  3. Rob Says:


    How much were they? Did Andrew say whether they were going to be a regular item?


  4. guitarfish Says:

    Rob, I don’t know if they’ll be a regular item or not, but I hope they will be.

  5. Pit Bulls » Blog Archive » Pitbull Pleco - Parotocinclus jumbo Says:

    […] Stacie wrote an interesting post today onHere’s a quick excerptOf course, with the reputation that pitbulls have, I wanted to be sure that this little fish would not be a mean killing machine if let loose in my aquarium. So, the owner kindly helped me lookup more information on the fish, … […]

  6. Holy G Says:

    How big does it grow, and how fast?

  7. guitarfish Says:

    They are very similar in size to Otos, so not more than 2-3″ from head to tail.

  8. Colleen Says:

    Nice site! I just got a pitbull pleco and a couple of sailfin mollies for my 30g tank – it also has 7 carinal tetras and 6 cory cats (julii)…

  9. me123 Says:

    These fish are incredible I have had them for about a month now. They are great characters and really active for catfish. when I first got them my tank was full of algae but now it is all gone mine even eat fuzz algae in fact the only algae they don’t eat is green spot but I suppose that ‘s to be expected. They are also great as they eat any left over flakes that fall to the floor of the tank. Great alternative to Otos and much more hardy.

  10. guitarfish Says:

    I’m glad to hear yours are doing well, me123. I definitely think they’re prettier than Otos, too. 🙂

  11. Bonnie Tyler Says:

    Found your site very interesting, full of informative articles, added to my favourites.

  12. Chad Says:

    Thanks for the advice! My LFS suggested these instead of oto’s due to my fake planted tank. Looks like a good fish for me!

  13. LFS New York City update... BETA 1.0 - Page 45 Says:

    […] Pitbull Pleco….$5 each…Read further here http://www.planetcatfish.com/cotm/co…article_id=164 http://www.guitarfish.org/2008/03/11…ocinclus-jumbo Looks bit fatter otos. __________________ Cheers!!! […]

  14. randy0319 Says:

    thank god!I’ve been looking for a small algea eater that is not as touchy and sensitive as otos. I like the one that I have dearly but the other two in the other tank died. I was looking for some other fish that would do the job and stay small and this advice has sold me on them. thanks again—R

  15. Alex Says:

    Hi, i just brought a Pitbull pleaco, & i relly dont no wat to feed him! I have tropical fish, guppy’s & one pitbull! I feed them daily in the mornin , but the pitbull just stayes on the glass! Do i have to feed him smthin else? Help please!!!!

  16. Alex Says:

    Do they just feed on algea??

  17. Alex Says:


  18. guitarfish Says:

    Alex, yes, you need to feed your pleco. That’s a common mistake. They will graze on algae in your aquarium, but if that runs out, they will starve. Look at their belly. If it’s round, and popping out slightly, they’re eating well. If it’s not, feed them. That said, you should at least give them an “algae wafer” that you can buy from your local fish store or online.

  19. Hayley Says:

    Love these little dudes. I’ll be getting a little troop when we get the big tank set up and established(only got a planted 25g set up atm with a clean-up crew of snails and shrimps and just restocked on tetras, alas no room for a pittie.)

    I always thought they were called pit bull plecos as they kinda resemble marine dogfish sharks. Pit bulls used to be a very well thought of breed before the media led the way to their bad reputations(they were the dogs of America, like British bulldogs for the UK, during WW2 and featured in many moral-boosting posters and cartoons) so maybe they were named then?