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What do Sucker Fish eat? ( Problem Solved! )

Without a doubt, sucker fish are an interesting fish in the aquarium hobby because of their ability to suck into the hard surfaces as well as their eating habits. Unlike other freshwater fish species, suckerfish have unique eating habits which make them enjoyable to watch. What do sucker fish eat in the wild and in captivity? Let’s find out!

What do Sucker Fish eat

What are sucker fish?

Suckerfish, also referred to as pleco or plecostomus in the aquarium hobby, are a type of freshwater fish found in tropical and subtropical areas.

They are a member of the Catfish family and get their name from the sucking disks located on the top of their head.

These disks are used to attach themselves to surfaces in order to stay stationary and ambush prey.

Although we commonly refer to plecos as suckerfish, plecos are only one of many sucker fish species.

There are over 1000 different species of suckerfish in the world. Not all of them are referred to as plecos even if they look similar or belong to the same family.

Types of sucker fish

We often call sucker fish for fish that eats algae, and there are different types of sucker fish that belong to several fish families.

As mentioning each fish species is not practical, we’ll list fish families here.

Loricariidae family: armored catfish

This family belongs to the most popular suck fish species, including plecostomus. Loricariidae is a family of armored catfish with more than 650 species. Most of them are herbivores, and a smaller number are omnivorous.

Gyrinocheilidae family: algae eaters

This family has only three species which you can find in Southeast Asia. They are algae eaters, but unlike the Loricariidae family, they are often smaller.

Cyprinidae family: minnows and carps

Certain species of the Cyprinidae family have sucker-like mouths, hence the name. Cyprinidae family has about 3000 known fish species, but not all of them are sucker fish.

Catostomidae family: suckers

The Catostomidae family is also called suckerfish due to their ability to attach to the rocks in their habitats with their lips.

There are about 80 species that hail from North America, China, and Siberia. These fish are omnivores but are not seen in the aquarium hobby.

Echeneidae family: remoras

It is a saltwater fish that sucks into large fish like sharks, rays, and sea turtles using it’s evolved sucking dorsal fin.

You can find these fish in the Pacific, Atlantic, and Indian oceans. There are about ten species, but none of them are kept in the aquarium trade.

Note: Only pleco species are popular in the aquarium trade as pets among these different suckerfish species.

Most other species are not intended to be kept as pets and are not readily available in the market.

What do sucker fish eat?

Sucker fish are mainly herbivores, and they consume a variety of algae, plants, and fruits in the wild.

They have specially adapted mouths that allow them to suck onto hard surfaces such as rocks and branches (bottom-feeding fish). This helps them feed on algae and other plant matter inaccessible to most other fish.

In the wild

In the wild, sucker fish live in a variety of habitats such as rivers, streams, lakes, and even ponds. Sucker fish can be found in freshwater and brackish water environments, where they feed on various aquatic plants.

Some suckerfish species have also been known to eat algae, small fish, invertebrates, and even eggs.

In captivity

In captivity, most pleco species will eat almost anything. They are generally not fussy when it comes to food and can be fed algae wafers, brine shrimp, bloodworms, catfish pellets, shrimp pellets, cucumber, and zucchini medallions.

Suckerfish in captivity also feed on the biofilm that grows on hard surfaces. This is why they are kept in tanks with plenty of smooth surfaces where they can feed.

What do Sucker Fish eat

Suckerfish in aquariums

In the aquarium, suckerfish are often kept to help control algae growth. Sucker fish are not fussy eaters and will consume most types of algae, making them an ideal addition to any tank struggling with algae problems.

They are usually sold as small juveniles and can grow up to 12 inches in length, making them suitable for larger tanks.

If you are looking for an exciting fish that will help control algae growth in your tank, then a suckerfish may be the perfect addition to your aquarium!

What do sucker fish eat if there are no algae?

If there are no algae in the tank, then a healthy fish will eat any type of food that you give it. Sucker fish are not fussy eaters and will consume most types of food.

This includes algae wafers, brine shrimp, bloodworms, catfish pellets, cucumber, and zucchini medallions.

They will primarily look for leftover food that the other fish in the tank will leave behind. This includes larger flakes of food and smaller pieces that may have fallen to the bottom of your tank.

It is essential to supplement the sucker fish diet with fresh vegetables if you are worried about them not receiving enough nutrients or are still hungry after eating all of their food.

If they can not find any plant-based food or leftover food at all, suckerfish will turn into smaller fish and invertebrates in the wild. In captivity, they will simply become malnourished and eventually die.

Can sucker fish eat normal fish food?

As we said above, sucker fish are not fussy eaters. Therefore, they will eat normal fish food. This includes algae wafers, fish pellets, flakes, bloodworms, brine shrimp, and frozen food.

However, not all fish food is suitable for use with suckerfish. Some types of fish food have large pieces that may cause them to choke or become stuck in their throats if they try to eat it.

In this case, the best thing to do would be to feed them any of the suitable foods for small fish.

Does sucker fish eat fish poop?

No. suckerfish do not eat fish poop. Although it will look like these fish eat poop, they are searching for leftover food and algae stuck to the bottom of the tank.

This includes any type of food that has fallen to the bottom and been forgotten.

Can I feed my sucker fish carrots?

Yes. Sucker fish can be fed carrots as an occasional treat.

However, you should make sure that the carrots are blanched first to make them easier to eat. Feeding carrots to supplement their diet is very beneficial for the pleco as it helps to keep their digestive tract healthy.

Do sucker fish like broccoli?

Yes. Plecos like to eat many vegetables like broccoli, zucchini, carrots, peas, cucumbers, and cabbage. These are all healthy vegetables perfect for any fish to have as an occasional treat.

Can sucker fish eat apples?

Yes. Plecos can eat apples, but some species do not like to eat apples.

Although you can feed your fish apples, you should limit them to rare occasions because the sugar in this fruit is not good for them. 

Can I feed cucumber to my sucker fish ?

Yes. Suckerfish will eat cucumber, although you should make sure that it is cut into thin slices and cooked first before giving it to them.

Cucumbers are a hard vegetable to digest and can cause choking in fish if given raw. Otherwise, cucumbers are a healthy treat for most fish.

Can I feed my sucker fish watermelon?

You can feed your pleco watermelon. In fact, plecos love eating watermelon. However, you should limit giving them this fruit as it is high in sugar and can cause health problems over time.

But as an occasional treat, watermelon is an excellent option because of its soft texture and high water content.

Will sucker fish eat snails?

Plecos will eat dead snails but not harm living snails unless they starve. Plecos are more scavengers than hunters.

They eat meat-based food but prefer to eat plant-based food and leftovers because it is easier for them to digest. However, if there is a dead snail in the tank, the suckerfish will eat it.

Will sucker fish eat small fish?

Plecos eat small fish if they can find them. However, most plecos are not good hunters and prefer scavenging for their food.

This means that plecos will eat any type of food that falls to the bottom of the tank. This includes dead fish, leftover food, and algae grown in this area.

How long can a sucker fish go without eating?

Plecos can safely live without any food for about 10 to 14 days.

However, if they go for longer periods of time without eating, they will start to become malnourished, and their health will begin to decline.

It is essential to make sure that your pleco has a varied diet so that they will not go too long without eating.

How do I know if my sucker fish is getting enough food?

If your pleco is getting enough food, they will be active and have a good appetite.

They will not rush to the food immediately after you feed them and finish eating what you feed within about 3 to 5 minutes.

You should also see them eating algae from the tank walls and the bottom. If they are not getting sufficient food, they will be overly hungry and consume immediately after providing food. When you see this behavior, you will have to feed them more often.

If you are overfeeding your plecos, they will often ignore food. In this case, you will have to reduce the amount of food you provide.


Sucker fish are omnivore fish that eat both plant matter and meat matter. They are primarily scavengers and do not hurt other fish if they have access to plenty of food.

Suckerfish love eating algae, but for optimum health, they also require meaty food. These fish usually eat fruits, veggies, and meat.

Credit to : Uri Shasha
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About Dr.Chamika

Hello, I'm Dr. Chamika. I am a Researcher in Water quality, Aquatic organisms, and Environmental chemistry. I am a passionate fish keeper, with10 years of experience. My mission is to help other aquarists experience the joy of fish keeping.