Royal Pleco L191 Care: Complete Guide for Beginners

Welcome to the complete guide for beginners on Royal Pleco L191 (Panaque sp.) care! This majestic and unique fish species adds beauty to any aquarium. In this guide, we will walk you through everything you need to know about proper care, maintenance, and setup for your Royal Pleco.

royal pleco l191

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Royal Pleco Species Profile and Identification

The Royal Pleco L191 (Panaque sp.) is a striking freshwater fish that is highly sought after by aquarists due to its unique appearance and ability to contribute to a clean and healthy aquarium environment.

Native to South America, specifically the Rio Negro and Orinoco river basins, these fascinating creatures are remarkably adaptable and can thrive in various water conditions, making them an excellent choice for beginner and experienced aquarium enthusiasts alike.

  • Appearance: Royal Plecos are easily identified by their large size, growing up to 17 inches in length, and their striking coloration. They have a dark base color, typically black or dark brown, and are covered in stunning white or yellow striped patterns, which vary among individual fish.
  • Fin Structure: They possess an impressive dorsal fin, which features long, flowing spines that can be raised or lowered as a means of communication or defense. Additionally, their pectoral fins are specially adapted for life in fast-moving water, helping them to cling firmly onto surfaces and move effortlessly throughout their environment.
  • Mouth and Teeth: One distinctive feature of the Royal Pleco is its unique mouth, which is shaped like a suction cup and helps them to rasp algae from rocks and driftwood. Their teeth are specially designed for this purpose, being robust and spoon-shaped, allowing them to efficiently scrape off and consume fibrous plant material.

By carefully observing these characteristics, you will be able to easily identify a Royal Pleco L191 in your local aquarium store or in your own home aquarium.

This visually stunning species will not only add beauty and intrigue to your fish tank but will also actively contribute to maintaining a clean and healthy environment for all of its inhabitants.

Royal Pleco Supplies

Prepping your aquarium for a Royal Pleco (L191) can be quite simple when you gather the necessary supplies to create the perfect environment for your new aquatic friend. Here’s a list of the items you’ll need to acquire:

  • Tank: A minimum of 125 gallons (473 liters) is recommended. Royal Plecos will grow to be quite large, so having ample tank space is crucial for their comfort.
  • Filtration system: A powerful, high-quality filter is essential for maintaining water quality. An external canister filter designed for large tanks is ideal.
  • Heater: A submersible, adjustable heater will help you maintain the optimal water temperature (between 75-82°F, 24-28°C) for your Royal Pleco.
  • Lighting: Moderate lighting is necessary for the day and night cycle. LED lights are a good choice, as they emit minimal heat and provide good output.
  • Substrate: Fine gravel or sand is excellent for a Royal Pleco tank. Due to their natural habit of digging, it’s essential to choose a smooth-edged substrate to avoid injury.
  • Hiding spaces: Provide a variety of hideouts for your Royal Pleco, like PVC pipes, caves, or driftwood. Make sure they are large enough for your Pleco to fit comfortably.
  • Water testing kit: Regularly test your water parameters to ensure the well-being of your Royal Pleco. A liquid test kit is recommended for accuracy.
  • Food: A healthy, varied diet is necessary for your Pleco. Algae wafers, fresh vegetables, and high-quality pellets should be staple parts of the diet.

Being prepared with the right supplies not only ensures that your Royal Pleco will be healthy and comfortable in its new home but will also reduce stress for you as a beginner in the hobby. Happy fishkeeping!

Royal Pleco Tank Setup

A proper tank setup is crucial for the well-being of your Royal Pleco. A minimum tank size of 125 gallons (473 liters) is recommended for the Royal Pleco, as they can grow up to 17 inches (43 cm) in length.

Substrate and Decorations

  • Use fine gravel or soft sand as the substrate to mimic their natural habitat.
  • Ensure the tank is well-decorated with driftwood and hiding places since these nocturnal fish love to hide during the day.
  • Rocks, caves, and PVC pipes can serve as additional hiding spots.


Effective filtration is essential for a healthy Royal Pleco tank.

  • Choose a high-quality canister filter rated for your tank size that offers mechanical, chemical, and biological filtration.
  • Clean the filter media regularly to maintain optimal water quality.

Heating and Lighting

  • Maintain a stable water temperature between 76 and 86°F (24 and 30°C) using an adjustable aquarium heater.
  • Install a thermometer to monitor the temperature.
  • Royal Plecos don’t require special lighting, but moderate light levels are suitable for their well-being.

Aquatic Plants

Consider adding live plants to the tank to improve water quality and provide hiding spots.

  • However, note that Royal Plecos are known to nibble on plant leaves, so choose plant species that are sturdy and hardy.
  • Some suitable plant options include Java Fern, Anubias, and Bolbitis.

With careful planning and a well-thought-out tank setup, you’ll create a comfortable environment for your Royal Pleco to thrive.

Royal Pleco Water Requirements

Maintaining ideal water conditions is crucial for the health and wellbeing of your Royal Pleco. These beautiful fish originate from the rivers of South America, which have a specific set of water parameters that you must replicate in your aquarium.

  • Water Temperature: Royal Plecos thrive in water temperatures between 72°F and 82°F (22°C to 28°C). Consistently monitor and maintain the temperature within this range using a quality aquarium heater and thermometer.
  • pH Levels: The pH in the tank should be slightly acidic to neutral, ranging from 6.5 to 7.5. You can use pH test kits to check the levels regularly and adjust as necessary with water additives or natural methods.
  • Water Hardness: Royal Plecos prefer soft to moderately hard water, with a dGH value of 1 to 12. If your tap water has a higher dGH value, try diluting it with purified water or using water conditioners to soften it.
  • Filtration and Water Flow: Royal Plecos are sensitive to water quality, so ensure that you have a powerful filtration system in place to eliminate waste and maintain proper oxygen levels. Additionally, these fish enjoy a moderate to strong water flow, which mimics their natural river habitat.

Here’s a summary of the Royal Pleco water requirements:

Parameter Ideal Range
Temperature 72°F – 82°F (22°C – 28°C)
pH 6.5 – 7.5
Water Hardness (dGH) 1 – 12
Water Flow Moderate to strong

Conduct regular water checks and create a consistent water change schedule to maintain pristine water conditions for your Royal Pleco. Remember that an environment that closely resembles their natural habitat will help your fish thrive and live a healthy, stress-free life.

Royal Pleco Diet and Feeding

When it comes to providing the right diet for your Royal Pleco, it’s important to understand their natural feeding habits and food preferences. Royal Plecos are primarily herbivorous, which means they mainly consume plant-based food in the wild.

Some key points to note when considering the Royal Pleco diet are:

  • Presence of driftwood: Include driftwood in your aquarium setup, as it not only serves as hiding spaces but also makes up a significant part of their diet. Royal Plecos love to gnaw on driftwood, which helps wear down their continuously growing teeth and provides them with essential dietary fiber.
  • Include algae: Supplement your Royal Pleco’s diet with algae, like algae wafers or pellets, as it is a critical food source and aids in digestion.
  • Offer vegetables: Offer a variety of blanched vegetables such as zucchini, cucumber, spinach, and lettuce, to replicate their natural sources of nutrition.

While they are mainly herbivores, Royal Plecos may occasionally consume small invertebrates like snails, mollusks, and crustaceans. Therefore, you can consider providing high-quality meaty foods, but be careful not to overfeed them as this can cause trouble in the long run.

A simple feeding schedule to consider for your Royal Pleco:

  • Daily meals: Feed your Royal Pleco once or twice a day with their main diet consisting of herbivorous-based food.
  • Scheduled variety: Add variety to their diet by offering different vegetables every few days.
  • Occasional treats: Treat them with meaty foods once or twice a week without compromising their primary plant-based diet.

Always keep an eye on their feeding habits and remove any uneaten food after a few hours to maintain the water quality in your tank.

Royal Pleco Care Schedule

To ensure your Royal Pleco thrives in its environment, it’s essential to maintain a consistent care schedule. Following a routine can help prevent health issues and contribute to their overall wellbeing.

  • Daily: Check on your Royal Pleco and observe its behavior for any signs of stress or illness. Make sure to feed them a varied diet of sinking pellets, vegetables, and occasional treats like shrimp or bloodworms.
  • Weekly: Test the water parameters, such as pH, temperature, hardness, and ammonia levels, to ensure they’re within the acceptable range for Royal Plecos. Additionally, perform a water change of around 25% to maintain water quality.
  • Monthly: Inspect the tank for any buildup of algae or debris, and clean the filter to ensure proper water circulation. You may also need to trim or replant any live plants, as Royal Plecos tend to munch on them.
  • Annually: Deep clean the entire tank and replace any worn-out equipment or decorations. This is also an ideal time to assess your Royal Pleco’s growth and consider upgrading the tank size if necessary.

By following this care schedule, you’re well on your way to providing a healthy and comfortable environment for your Royal Pleco. Keep in mind that every fish is unique, so make adjustments as needed based on your individual experience and observation. 

Royal Pleco Health Problems

Just like any other fish, Royal Plecos are susceptible to various health problems. As a responsible aquarist, it’s crucial to be aware of these potential issues and know how to prevent and treat them.

Common health problems of Royal Plecos:

  • Ich: Also known as white spot disease, this is caused by a parasite that appears as small white spots on the fish’s body and can lead to breathing difficulties, lethargy, and loss of appetite. To treat Ich, slowly raise the aquarium’s temperature to 86°F (30°C) for three days, and consider using over-the-counter Ich medication.
  • Fungal infections: These infections are characterized by fluffy white growths on the fish’s body. Remove the affected fish from the main tank, maintain a stable aquarium temperature, and use an antifungal medication to treat the infection.
  • Bacterial infections: Characterized by ulcers, fin rot, or swollen eyes, these can be caused by poor water quality and stress. Ensure the water parameters are suitable for your Royal Pleco, keep the tank clean, and use antibiotics designed for fish to treat the infection.
  • Skin Flukes and Gill Flukes: Parasites that attach themselves to the fish’s body, causing irritation and respiratory problems. Effective treatments include using a fish-safe anti-parasitic medication or a salt bath.

To prevent health problems and keep your Royal Pleco in optimal condition, follow these recommendations:

  • Maintain a clean and stable environment by keeping up with regular tank maintenance, including water changes and substrate cleaning.
  • Ensure the tank’s water parameters are within the acceptable range for Royal Plecos.
  • Provide a well-balanced diet, complete with sufficient vegetable matter.
  • Quarantine new fish for at least two weeks before introducing them to the main tank, to prevent the spread of diseases and parasites.

Remember: early identification and treatment of health problems can make a significant difference in the survival and well-being of your Royal Pleco.

Royal Pleco Tank Mates

When considering tank mates for your Royal Pleco, it’s important to keep in mind their peaceful nature and specific requirements. To help maintain a harmonious and stress-free environment, choosing compatible tank mates is crucial.

Cichlids and Catfish often make excellent tank mates for Royal Plecos, due to their similar size and temperament. Ideally, look for species such as SeverumsOscars, and Convict Cichlids as well as other large catfish like Synodontis, which all coexist well with Royal Plecos.

  • Avoid keeping Royal Plecos with aggressive species like Red-Tailed Sharks and Betta Splendens, as these can lead to stress and confrontation.

The following peaceful and semi-aggressive fish can also work well as tank mates for Royal Plecos:

  • Large Tetras (e.g., Congo TetrasBleeding Heart Tetras)
  • Barbs (e.g., Tinfoil BarbsRosy Barbs)
  • Loaches (e.g., Clown LoachesHorseface Loaches)
  • Gouramis (e.g., Pearl GouramisThree-Spot Gouramis)

When selecting tank mates, make sure the species you choose have similar water requirements and temperature preferences, as this can greatly impact the overall health and compatibility of the tank inhabitants.

Also, factor in the adult size of the fish, the space they require, and their territorial tendencies. Remember to gradually introduce new tank mates to minimize stress and provide plenty of hiding spots throughout the tank to give the fish some space.

By considering the needs of your Royal Pleco and choosing suitable, compatible tank mates, you’ll create a thriving underwater community, lower stress levels, and ensure a healthier and happier environment for all your aquatic pets.

Royal Pleco Breeding

Breeding Royal Plecos can be quite challenging, but it is not impossible for dedicated hobbyists. There are certain factors that need to be considered when attempting to breed these majestic fish.

Firstly, you need to properly sex your Royal Plecos before you can attempt breeding. Males typically have wider and slightly larger heads than females, while females have a smaller, more rounded body shape.

To trigger the breeding process, replicate their breeding season conditions. This includes:

  • Lowering the water temperature to around 78°F (25.5°C).
  • Gradually increasing water flow to stimulate the rainy season, using an adjustable powerhead.
  • Regular water changes to provide ideal water conditions.

Provide a suitable breeding environment by adding PVC pipes, caves, or spots with a strong water flow where the plecos can lay their eggs. Ensure hiding spots are easily accessible and large enough to accommodate the fish.

Once the Royal Plecos have successfully laid their eggs, the male will guard the nest. It is crucial not to disturb the male during this time, as it may result in him eating the eggs. After the eggs hatch, which usually takes about 10-14 days, carefully transfer the fry to a separate tank to watch them grow.

To ensure the fry develop properly, feed them a diet of high-quality pellet foods and provide suitable hiding areas while maintaining ideal water conditions. Patience is key during the breeding process, as it can take several attempts before you see success.


Caring for a Royal Pleco L191 can be a rewarding experience, provided that you follow the guidelines shared in this complete guide for beginners. These fascinating creatures require dedicated care, but the results are well worth your time and effort.

Let us know in the comments below if you have any questions or experiences to share about caring for Royal Plecos.

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