They Say my Tank is Too Small for my 10 inch Pleco -Rant

meanddoxie

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Yeah, I know I am going to get a lot of flack for this but I seriously don't get why so many people are hating on people owning Pleco's with "too small" tanks. My tank is a 30 gallon, my Pleco moves around just fine and hides just fine. Yes, I have been planning to get him a larger tank sooner than later but after I think 2 years now of unexpected expenses it just hasn't happened and the only person in town with a tank "big enough" who could take him, has Cichlids which from what the LFS has said have torn previous Pleco's apart starting at the eyes. So while this certainly isn't the ocean or a river, I am trying.

My water parameters are good, I have enough filtration and my Pleco still puts up his sail fin, plays with the orange ball hidden in there somewhere, hides the thermometer on me constantly, turns around, cleans the glass, munches driftwood, eats algae, eats fruit and veggies, and even eats dying snails or fish. He leaves most of the plants alone and even lets them take root.

I am starting to feel like this is a case of people having 6 children thinking they all need their own bedroom when the family of 8 is happy in their 1000 square feet. Maybe my Pleco's life span will be shortened, I don't know, but no one else can say for certain either.

When I was a kid, a family friend had a Pleco 2 feet or more long, he BUILT tanks to fit the fish because he couldn't buy them back then. That fish could not turn around or even swim in his tank. It was like a holding cell and he got fed live foods and STEAK! That Pleco lived about 10 years in those conditions.

Anyway, I am not trying to start a debate, in fact it is the opposite, I am trying to get people to respect that my Pleco may in fact be enjoying his life regardless of the tight corriders. I am sure there are PLENTY of happy Pleco's in the world in too small tanks, especially since the LFS's sell them at a dime a dozen when they are only tiny little fish "great for cleaning algae".

Here is my tank right now The water is a bit messy as we just did a water change. Please, tell me my Pleco isn't happy!

they say.jpg
 

hampalong

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What makes you think there are "plenty of happy plecs" in tanks that are too small? How can you tell yours is happy?
 

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I would be one of those folks who would say that your tank is way to small for a pleco

1. You shouldn't take it personally, but folks here will always have the best interest of the fish. I will always advocate stocking your tank with appropriate size fish and not stocking for "my future tank" because life happens and it isn't always certain you will get that bigger tank....i.e. "you"

2. You didn't really give the right comparison when you using "6 children per room" argument It's more like "6 children in one room", I'm assuming you have a common pleco which grows to 18-24 inches, now I ask you, is a 30 gallon appropriate size for a 18-24 inch fish?

3. Just because when you were a kid who had a friend who kept a pleco who was 2 ft long in a small tank that lived for 10 years....doesn't it make it right? Some folks have kept their dogs in crates their entire lives but lived for 10+ years...does that make it right? No. It is just cruel IMO. Animals primal instinct is to survive.

4. You are right, there are many plecos in the world living in small tanks, but I don't know those folks. The only person I know at this moment who is keeping a pleco in a small tank is you. The fact you know that pleco requires a bigger tank baffles me.

5. Now, to answer your question if your pleco is happy or not living in a small tank....I don't know. I don't speak pleco...all I know are care requirements of plecos.

6. It isn't about water chemistry or how much filtration your tank is getting, it is about actual foot print of the tank. A comparison is...."I keep my dog in its crate for his/her entire life, but I keep it clean". Does keeping it clean make the crate bigger?
 

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I love the driftwood in the tank but where is the pleco? I can't see him, although I am old and getting blind as a bat. I just moved my Male abn Lucky to a 20 gal from his 10 gal which he has been in for almost a year. He also seems well fed and happy, out and about most of the time. Alison
 

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I agree with everything AmazonPassion just said. Also, remember that even six children in a bedroom won't psychically stop growing because they're too cramped, since even with them all sharing one bedroom they'd still all have room to move (barely) and grow. The pleco on the other hand can get stunted if he's in a tank that is simply too small for him.

Do I know if your pleco is happy? No, I don't. Maybe he is, maybe he isn't. Maybe he's happy now because he's never known any better.
 

aliray

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AmazonPassion said:
I would be one of those folks who would say that your tank is way to small for a pleco

1. You shouldn't take it personally, but folks here will always have the best interest of the fish. I will always advocate stocking your tank with appropriate size fish and not stocking for "my future tank" because life happens and it isn't always certain you will get that bigger tank....i.e. "you"

2. You didn't really give the right comparison when you using "6 children per room" argument It's more like "6 children in one room", I'm assuming you have a common pleco which grows to 18-24 inches, now I ask you, is a 30 gallon appropriate size for a 18-24 inch fish?

3. Just because when you were a kid who had a friend who kept a pleco who was 2 ft long in a small tank that lived for 10 years....doesn't it make it right? Some folks have kept their dogs in crates their entire lives but lived for 10+ years...does that make it right? No. It is just cruel IMO. Animals primal instinct is to survive.

4. You are right, there are many plecos in the world living in small tanks, but I don't know those folks. The only person I know at this moment who is keeping a pleco in a small tank is you. The fact you know that pleco requires a bigger tank baffles me.

5. Now, to answer your question if your pleco is happy or not living in a small tank....I don't know. I don't speak pleco...all I know are care requirements of plecos.

6. It isn't about water chemistry or how much filtration your tank is getting, it is about actual foot print of the tank. A comparison is...."I keep my dog in its crate for his/her entire life, but I keep it clean". Does keeping it clean make the crate bigger?
He is a 10 inch saifin pleco not a common according to the op's post. Alison
 

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Well on the children part, well they could all live crammed in one room house but those kids don't stay 100% of there inside the house they go out, go to school etc. unlike the pleco.
 

smee82

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Who decided how big a tank a certain fish needs and how many must be in a school. It doesn't matter what fish you have a bigher tank will always make it more happy. A netta would be better of in a 50 gallon compared to a 5 gallon but people say 5 is the minimum.

Its like dogs, some dogs can live in an apartment because they are small and less active but it doesn't mean they wouldnt be happier with a backyard.

Fo me personally as long as the fish has got room to swim around in, how much depends on how active it is, is enough for me.
 

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Good morning,

I have a 12.5" Sail Fin in my 265g aquarium. These fish need room to swim. Although your fish may be surviving does not mean it is thriving. This fish uses every bit of space that I've provided. The 265g is 7' long. The fish is 15 years old.

I do recommend a tank size upgrade for your fish. I think that when you do, you will see a big change in the fishes behavior.

Best wishes for your tank and fish. Keep us posted.

Ken
 
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meanddoxie

meanddoxie

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smee82 said:
Who decided how big a tank a certain fish needs and how many must be in a school. It doesn't matter what fish you have a bigher tank will always make it more happy. A netta would be better of in a 50 gallon compared to a 5 gallon but people say 5 is the minimum.

Its like dogs, some dogs can live in an apartment because they are small and less active but it doesn't mean they wouldnt be happier with a backyard.

Fo me personally as long as the fish has got room to swim around in, how much depends on how active it is, is enough for me.
That's my point exactly!!

The ONLY place ANY species is going to be truly "living the way they should" is in the lakes/oceans/rivers that they are native to!! I often wonder why I get judged based on a lack of knowledge upon purchase (and a fish store saying a ten gallon was big enough) when people literally have corals and fish plucked from the ocean. Is it really "okay" to keep Orca's at SeaWorld? SeaWorld says it is even though Orca's literally travel the entirety of the ocean!

Yes, I SHOULD HAVE done my own research etc before ever purchasing a Pleco, BUT because I had grown up with them in ten gallon tanks and because my aquarium was three times that size and because the LFS had about 100 of them lining the walls of a 20 gallon telling me they grow really slow, are great with keeping the tank clean, don't get more than 5 or so inches etc I bought a fish that will eventually outgrow my tank. I only found fishlore AFTER I had an established aquarium and when I was seeing issues and wanting to do live plants etc.

I do not know if my Pleco is happy. I have to ASSUME he is because he doesn't try to escape (I had one escape in a smaller tank all the time and was told it was normal), he puts his sail up and stretches out, he has no trouble moving around, shows no aggression towards me or other tank mates etc... Sure, he could be depressed as a fish could be, but going back to seeworld and knowing that an Orca in capitivity drops its top fin down and will NEVER raise it again makes me think that my peaceful fish who isn't running into walls or trashing the place is enjoying his simple life. I do plan to upgrade my tank. I have also looked for new homes for him, small town, few fish keepers even fewer with an aquarium over 30 gallons. Our stores don't even carry a 30 gallon because they don't sell, so they are special order.
I would absolutely LOVE to have a 200 gallon tank but I also see on here regularly people with very large tanks who are overstocked. I also believe that when you adopt a fish or animal that you should do your best to care for it, giving it to the guy with a bigger tank who has Cichlids that WILL rip it apart is NOT a better life, it is a death sentence.
And one last thing, my fish is still growing. Everyone says it will stunt his growth, I am not saying it won't, BUT right now, he is still growing. It is 500 dollars for a 55 gallon where I live, I have been close to buying it several times but then something has always eaten that budget. I would prefer to get a 100 g and when I do have the money together I plan to speak with the local glass guy and see about getting a custom tank especially for my Pleco. One that fits him AND my space! Unforuntaly going the custom route means hundreds of dollars in extras for filters, lighting, substrate, plants, and so on.

Anyway, the point of this thread was to get people to stop making Pleco owners feel like horrible people for buying a fish that is in every tank at nearly every fish store they go to. Can't we all just agree that no aquarium setup is ideal for any fish and that each of us is on here trying to learn and do the best we can with what we have?

Edited to add that my Pleco has never been ID'd 100% He may be common as that is what most have suggested, but he does have a very beautiful and large sailfin. With all of the breeding going on now there is a good chance he is a hybrid of a sailfin and a common. From his photo's I have been given ID's that say he won't get bigger than 10 inches and ID's that say he will be closer to 24 inches. When you can't even get a true ID on a fish it makes planning for it's future difficult. I am sure many Pleco familes have this same struggle when their Pleco looks like a dozen different variety's.
 

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Have you looked on craigslist? There are usually very good deals on there. 3 of my tanks are off craigslist......thanks to my MTS.
 

TexasDomer

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It really sounds like you're trying to justify to your actions when you know keeping a large fish in a small tank is cruel. Why even start this thread if you know everyone is going to disagree with you?

You may be doing the best that you think you can, but it's not enough. Keeping the fish in such a small tank at this point is selfish and irresponsible. Sorry to put it so bluntly.
 

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Bristlenose plecos work well in 30 gallons...

I understand where you are coming from....but a fish that is supposed to get 18 inches will most certainly be stunted and have a shorter lifespan in a tank that is probably only 12-13 inches wide. It wouldn't even be able to turn around if it were full size.

You have given your pleco a much better life than it had and a much better life than most plecos that get purchased from chain stores. But it will have a shortened life and won't grow to it's full potential.

I also understand your dilemma, you don't have anyone who has an appropriate tank that you know of. And if you bring it back to a fish store, there is a good chance it will once again end up in a bad situation. Its a tough spot to be in. We have all been there. I know I have anyway!

The problem is that now that you know better....you are being held accountable. Have you tried looking at used tanks? Do you have space for something larger?

I am not usually one of the pickier ones when it comes to stocking....but this fish is a bit large for a 30 gallon.
 
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meanddoxie

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we don't have craigslist in Canada... at least not where I live and I have looked on classifieds and KijijI but have yet to find a tank. Small town in middle of nowhere Canada

bizaliz3 said:
Bristlenose plecos work well in 30 gallons...

I understand where you are coming from....but a fish that is supposed to get 18 inches will most certainly be stunted and have a shorter lifespan in a tank that is probably only 12-13 inches wide. It wouldn't even be able to turn around if it were full size.

You have given your pleco a much better life than it had and a much better life than most plecos that get purchased from chain stores. But it will have a shortened life and won't grow to it's full potential.

I also understand your dilemma, you don't have anyone who has an appropriate tank that you know of. And if you bring it back to a fish store, there is a good chance it will once again end up in a bad situation. Its a tough spot to be in. We have all been there. I know I have anyway!

The problem is that now that you know better....you are being held accountable. Have you tried looking at used tanks? Do you have space for something larger?

I am not usually one of the pickier ones when it comes to stocking....but this fish is a bit large for a 30 gallon.
Yes I have looked for used and the LFS also knows that I am looking in case they have someone doing a tear down. As far as room goes I would just make room! LOL
I simply think it is sad that every time someone posts that they have a Pleco that isn't a bristlenose they are pretty much told they need a bigger tank instead of being given feasible advice. The fish store WONT take my Pleco back. They don't take ANY fish back but when I did ask about my Pleco the girl literally looked at her empty tanks and measured and said he wouldn't fit with any decor and would likely just jump out and then told me about Cichlid guy being the only one with a big enough tank. She no longer carries Pleco's of any breed which is good. It is very sad for all fish in this town because I have to order in test kits, Pleco blocks and even Spirulina Algae in because they aren't carried. Our LFS told me that no one around here "cares" about that and just wants pretty. Very sad. I am working with what I have and trying to understand my specific Pleco but every time I post I never get a real answer and I am simply told to get rid of it or get a bigger tank. Getting rid of it would mean tossing him in the lake which is illegal and would probably kill him... and I don't have a magic bank account to rush down and special order a big tank.
 

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This cichlid guy what cichlids does he have? a large pleco can stand up to a lot of the big cichlids out there.
 

bizaliz3

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meanddoxie said:
Yes I have looked for used and the LFS also knows that I am looking in case they have someone doing a tear down. As far as room goes I would just make room! LOL
I simply think it is sad that every time someone posts that they have a Pleco that isn't a bristlenose they are pretty much told they need a bigger tank instead of being given feasible advice. The fish store WONT take my Pleco back. They don't take ANY fish back but when I did ask about my Pleco the girl literally looked at her empty tanks and measured and said he wouldn't fit with any decor and would likely just jump out and then told me about Cichlid guy being the only one with a big enough tank. She no longer carries Pleco's of any breed which is good. It is very sad for all fish in this town because I have to order in test kits, Pleco blocks and even Spirulina Algae in because they aren't carried. Our LFS told me that no one around here "cares" about that and just wants pretty. Very sad. I am working with what I have and trying to understand my specific Pleco but every time I post I never get a real answer and I am simply told to get rid of it or get a bigger tank. Getting rid of it would mean tossing him in the lake which is illegal and would probably kill him... and I don't have a magic bank account to rush down and special order a big tank.
It sounds like the only option for this pleco is to stay where he is. So You will just have to know that he won't grow to his potential, won't behave as naturally and will not live as long. All you can do is save up for something bigger, keep an eye out for something used (or someone that could take him in) and in the mean time just keep it as clean as you can and Do your best to give him the best environment you can despite the small size of the tank. I don't know what I would do in your situation. I have always just been able to bring fish to a local fish store and they will usually take them in. In fact I was given a 30 gallon tank for free from a family member and the only fish they had in it was a VERY large sailfin pleco. I decided that as cute as he was, I couldn't keep him in there. But unlike you.... I had options....

As I said before, you have given him a much better environment than a majority of common or sail fin plecos out there. Very few people can afford, or have the room for 200 gallon tanks. Yet these guys are sold left and right...most often to beginners. And I understand that it is hard to get any help when the only thing people focus on is the size of the tank. The problem is...quite often, the size of the tank is what is causing the persons problems....
 
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meanddoxie

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bizaliz3 said:
It sounds like the only option for this pleco is to stay where he is. So You will just have to know that he won't grow to his potential, won't behave as naturally and will not live as long. All you can do is save up for something bigger, keep an eye out for something used (or someone that could take him in) and in the mean time just keep it as clean as you can and Do your best to give him the best environment you can despite the small size of the tank. I don't know what I would do in your situation. I have always just been able to bring fish to a local fish store and they will usually take them in. In fact I was given a 30 gallon tank for free from a family member and the only fish they had in it was a VERY large sailfin pleco. I decided that as cute as he was, I couldn't keep him in there. But unlike you.... I had options....

As I said before, you have given him a much better environment than a majority of common or sail fin plecos out there. Very few people can afford, or have the room for 200 gallon tanks. Yet these guys are sold left and right...most often to beginners. And I understand that it is hard to get any help when the only thing people focus on is the size of the tank. The problem is...quite often, the size of the tank is what is causing the persons problems....
Thank you!! It is nice to know that someone understands the issue to a degree and instead of attacking is being helpful. For me, this is definitely a case of lesser of two evils. Interestingly enough, I have had people tell me to use an old bathtub because you can find them cheap or free or even get a new one for hardly anything, but if you look into their gallons even the average bathtub is only 30-50g!! I have really looked into so many options and even had a pond set up in the house at one time, but found it was too hard to clean and when I was diagnosed with RA and back issues the extra 10 gallons and low light didn't seem worth it for my body. ALL of my pets are equally loved and I can only give them my best and hope that that is enough. I have had enough money saved up three times and each time I ended up spending that money on unexpected vet bills, an emergency surgery on a holiday for 1500 dollars, then the following year that same dog woke up with paralysis and tests and medical bills and what not even though she didn't make it were close to 1000 and then this past spring I was more than on track and was literally talking to the LFS about the biggest size I could get for my money when one of my other dogs got injured with an 8 inch long cut that was close to two inches deep and required 6 rounds of antibiotics, wound care 4 times a day, and vet visits every week for two months. A definite streak of bad luck and I have just now begun to start recovering financially. Oh and lets not forget the porcupine my one dog got to the nose while on a walk this spring! Seriously!?! We live on 60 acres which is awesome for all of us, but we all get injured once in awhile and this past year has definitely been bad luck for the dogs!
 

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As with anything, there are at least two sides to this discussion.

The OP's dilemma is that he was sold a fish described as being just fine in a ten gallon tank. He's got it in a 30. So he did what he thought (and was told) was right.

Now he learns here that it really should be in a much larger tank, but he has had no way to get a larger tank so far. He also has not found anyone with an appropriately sized tank with appropriate tank mates who could take it for rehoming. So he feels stuck with things as they are for now.


Then there are the people here who just want to make sure that it's well understood that a 30 is known to be too small for this fish. And they're not going to back down from that because it's the truth.


None of us want to think that we're being cruel to our aquarium occupants. And we'd like to think that their lives in captivity are pleasant and satisfying. But it's impossible to really know with something like a fish. I'm not saying there aren't clues. Nor am I trying to get into a discussion about communication with critters. But we really can't ask them, and they don't show their emotions as well as dogs or cats, for example.


As an aside, we keep our cats indoors almost all of the time. The last two we've lost were over 24 years old each. On the other hand, when we let them out when they wanted, they didn't live nearly as long, and we had exponentially higher ongoing vet bills from fights, encounters with cars, mysterious diseases or poisonings, etc.

Yet I know they really loved going out and running the neighborhood and hunting birds, rabbits, mice, voles, snakes, etc., and they must've found it natural to fight with other cats, dogs, etc. It was their choice.

I've had people tell me that a cat really shouldn't be kept indoors. And I do agree that they love to go outside and engage in all kinds of adventures. But it's too expensive and too hard on them for us where we are. Are we cruel to keep them in?

A friend got his first cat 7 years ago. She became his friend and companion. She was outside except at night when he'd search, sometimes for hours, every night and bring her inside. Still, she just died, presumably from getting into something that wrecked her liver. We'll never know for sure what it was. He just buried that cat, and is heartbroken at the loss. He also spent a lot of money on vet bills in the last two weeks since she fell ill. And believe me, money is tight for him. He said he'd have sold his car if it would have saved her. But, alas,nothing could have repaired her liver.

Anyhow, I know that cat would likely still be alive had it been kept indoors. But she loved going out and exploring and enjoying her much larger domain. So what would have been the right thing? I can't say for anyone else.


The same goes for our aquariums. Who's to say if the whole endeavor is right or fair. These fish might well be every bit as happy in a well maintained, appropriately sized and appointed aquarium as they would be in the wild. Then again, it might be like a prison to them no matter how big or well done. We just don't know other than by observing the fish and their behavior and then imagining if they seem happy or not.


I think the OP just feels like he's being beat up over this. But the posters saying the tank is too small are just saying what they believe to be correct for the fish.


It's not that anyone really disagrees. We all wish the pleco was in a larger tank.


It's just a matter of dealing with the reality of the situation.


As some posters have already tried to do, I think the discussion would be more productive if it turns to the question of how to get a larger aquarium set up for little to no money.


Meanwhile, while we all wish the pleco was in a bigger tank, do we know it's unhappy where it is? No. We don't.


I'd say: Keep looking for ways to rehome it or get a bigger tank set up. Meanwhile, if it seems happy, that is great!


Really, it's the people selling these and other fish that we know will get too large who need to be taking the heat over this issue.


We just need to help the OP and his fish. And the OP should probably not get too comfortable with things the way they are.

Don't feel too bad about it. The Pleco sounds pretty happy at this point in time. Just keep trying to find a better long term solution. Right now, the fish is probably in the best possible place at this moment. You can feel good about that. It's just that it could be better, so don't give up the search for that better solution.


Feeling bad about something doesn't make it better. But neither does convincing ourselves that something is acceptable when it may not be. That's probably what just about everyone here is really trying to say.
 

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There are a lot of different opinions in the fishkeeping world, as this forum surely illustrates for all of us at one point or another. We all agree, disagree, and criticize each other in as constructive a manner as possible.

While I do absolutely think that plecos should not be sold by anyone other than mom and pop stores that educate their customers extensively, and that fish such as plecos, oscar cichlids, and other 6+ inch fish should be kept in as large a tank as possible, I do agree with some of your points meanddoxie

There is definitely a line, on this forum, between giving advice and giving criticism. Many people new to the hobby post on this forum asking for simplistic help and, instead of receiving realistic advice for their situation, they are nicely told "well, first of all you stocked poorly and need at least 30 more gallons of space." I acknowledge both sides of this situation. Some people cannot afford or find space for large aquariums. I know I can't. On the other hand, however, we should all educate ourselves on our pets BEFORE we buy them. I'm sure those of us who started out in this hobby many years ago have made the mistake of getting something we shouldn't for our aquarium. Again, I know I have.

I also agree with TexasDomer 's post as well. Why post this thread and defend your position if you know what all of our opinions will most likely be? I do not say this in confrontation or criticism. I, too, have certain fishkeeping opinions and habits that I am comfortable with and have been developing for over ten years, and I've learned which of those opinions cause this forum to jump on me. Since I have plenty of good advice for people just starting out and for people who may be having issues, I choose to focus on the pieces of good advice I can give others. Every once in a while, someone disagrees and presents their opinions, and the best I can do is share my own experiences after doing my own research and talking with trusted fish-keepers and friends in my own community. I've called local small fish stores and trusted locals after reading some of the opinions on this forum, and in some cases I've found myself to be uneducated while in others I find that I still like my own stance.

If you believe your pleco is happy where he is after observing him and keeping track of his progress, that's your prerogative as a pet parent just as it would be as a parent of human children. Many people have conducted legitimate research on different fish species, and I'm sure certain proportions of those people would either agree or disagree with you. My advice to you is to do research, decide what your stance is, and do your best to take care of your nonhuman kiddos. In the end, our opinions don't matter if you don't choose to agree. Pay attention to your own conscience. In the end, you are the only one responsible for that pleco's life and only you can make the choices.
 

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My two cents (even though it's only worth 1.5 cents at best)....

I think quite often when people point out that a pleco or particular fish is in too small a tank they are doing so for multiple reasons....

1- they want to bring attention to the fact that the current situation is not ideal. Many people do not know the commonly thought of "standards" for tank size for most fish.

2 - they want others reading over the thread contemplating purchasing a pleco, that size X tank is too small. Hopefully it can prevent future mixups and bad info from pet stores.

Nobody should take it personal, it's just the sharing of info, which is what makes forums like this great.

Also another thought I have, is that many fishkeepers buy a fish for a certain tank with the hopes of upgrading in the future. They say things like "I know eventually the fish needs a bigger tank, I'll get that in a few months". I personally think that mentality is wrong. Nobody knows what the future entails, you could become sick/hospitalized, you could lose your job, move to a new home/town, etc. I feel that if you can't house the adult size of a particular fish right now, than you shouldn't buy a baby/juvenile fish until you know you are prepared for him.

This would be like buying a car you know you can't afford payments on right now, but "planning" on being able to afford it in the future. This mentality is a lot of what is wrong with America and the cause of many of our financial troubles. People go out and buy things on credit cards that they don't need, but really want. They can't afford it now, but "hey in a few months I'll be able to pay off that credit card, I promise".

If you don't currently have room for a certain fish, than wait to buy that fish until you do. If you can't afford something, than wait until you can purchase everything needed to adequately take care of it.

In the op's situation, I realize that they were fooled somewhat by wrong information, so I am sympathetic to their situation. But the more knowledge we can share and get the word out there, perhaps the amount of this mis-information will be reduced, therefore having a more informed aquatic community.
 

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