Snowball Pleco Ultimate Care Guide: Diet, Size, Tankmates & All | 2022

By: Martin McAdam
Updated: March 22, 2022

You'll need to understand that the common name for the fish, "Snowball Pleco," is a bit of a misnomer. The species name for the fish is Hypancistrus Inspector, and while they may get their common name from the fact that they can sometimes be found in snow-capped mountain streams, they are not limited to those habitats.

They are widely available in the aquarium trade and can be found in many pet stores. The Snowball Pleco is an extremely popular fish for a good reason. They are attractive, hardy, and peaceful fish that makes a great addition to any aquarium.

Species Summary

Scientific name:Hypancistrus inspector
Common name: Snowball Pleco
Size: 5.5 to 6.5 inches
Tank size: 40 gallons or more
pH range: 6.0- 7.5
Temperature range: 72° to 86°F (22.2° to 30°C)
Life span: 8 -10 years
Compatibility: Should not be kept with other Plecos
Water Hardness: Soft to medium
Water Type: Freshwater
Nature: Peaceful and shy
Care Level:Easy
Origin: Amazon River Basin, and Rio Negro in Venezuela
Diet: Frozen bloodworms, brine shrimp, and wafers
snowball pleco species summary

If you've ever been interested in adding a Snowball Pleco to your aquarium, here are some things you need to know before you do.

Related: Common Pleco Ultimate Care Guide: Diet, Size, Tankmates & All

Appearance

Snowball Plecos are beautiful fish, with their light brown body and distinctive white markings. They have a shy and peaceful nature and make a great addition to any freshwater aquarium.

snowball pleco appearance

They have a long and slender body typical of the Loricariidae family of fish to which they belong. Like other Plecos, they have a sucker-like mouth to cling to rocks and other surfaces in fast-flowing water. They also have a large, fan-like tail that helps them to maintain their balance in swift currents. In the right conditions, they can be quite showy fish.

The base coloration for the Snowball Pleco is light brown, but they can also have black or white markings. The most common pattern is a light brown body with three white stripes that run along the length of the fish. They can also have additional markings on their head and fins, but these vary from fish to fish.

The dorsal and ventral fins are almost transparent, and the anal fin is white for both males and females. The dots cover the entirety of the fish, except for the anal and caudal fins.

Size & Growth Rate

The Snowball Pleco can grow up to 5.5 to 6.5 inches in length, so make sure you have a tank of at least 40 gallons or more. They also have a relatively fast growth rate, so be prepared to do regular water changes and add new decor to your tank as they grow.

Lifespan

Snowball Plecos have a lifespan of 8 to 10 years, making them a long-term commitment. But, with proper care, they are well worth the wait. These fish depend on a stable and consistent environment to live a long and healthy life.

Without good care, your Snowball Pleco may not reach its whole lifespan. If you're not prepared to take care of your fish, it may be best to choose another species.

Behaviour & Temperament

Snowball Plecos aren't very active fish, so they make a good addition to any peaceful tank. They are shy and will usually stay hidden in the rocks or plants in their tank. Most will not pay any attention to other fish in the tank, but they may chase smaller fish if they feel threatened.

However, they can become more social when they are used to their owner. They may even come up to the side of the tank to beg for food.

We don't recommend keeping males and females together, as the males tend to be very aggressive towards the females. If you want to keep more than one Pleco in your tank, it is best to get a few females instead of males.

Overall, these fish are a great addition to any tank and will help keep the water clean. Just be sure to give them a varied diet and keep their tank clean to prevent any diseases from occurring.

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Snowball Pleco Breeding

Breeding Snowball Plecos is not a difficult process, but it does require some patience.

The best way to breed them is to set up a separate breeding tank. The tank should be at least 40 gallons and have plenty of plants for the fish to hide in. You will also need to add a heater and filter to the tank. The temperature should be kept around 72° to 86°F, and the water should be filtered regularly.

The male and female fish will usually lay their eggs on a leaf or a rock in the tank. Once they have laid the eggs, the parents should be removed from the tank to prevent them from eating them.

The eggs will hatch in 2-3 days, and the fry will start to swim around the tank a few days later. The male will protect the egg clutches until they hatch, and the fry will usually stay with their father for a few weeks before moving on to live with other fish.

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Snowball Pleco Care Guide

The Snowball Pleco is a hardy fish that is generally easy to care for. They are peaceful and shy, so they do well in community aquariums with other non-aggressive fish. They will eat most meaty foods, such as frozen bloodworms, brine shrimp, and wafers. They may also eat smaller fish.

As with any other fish, it is important to provide your Snowball Pleco with a stable and consistent environment for them to thrive. Regular water changes and keeping the tank at the correct temperature and pH level. They prefer soft to medium water hardness and should not be kept with other Plecos, as they may compete for food.

If you're prepared to take care of a Snowball Pleco and can provide them with the right environment, they make a great addition to any freshwater aquarium. With their beautiful markings and peaceful nature, they will bring joy to your home for years to come.

Food & Diet

Snowball Plecos are omnivorous fish, which means they will eat various foods. They prefer to eat live food, but they will also eat pellets, flakes, and other frozen or freeze-dried foods.

In the wild, they feed on various things, including algae, insects, and small fish. So, it's important to offer them a variety of food in their tank.

You can feed them algae wafers, live or frozen insects, and earthworms. You can also supplement their diet with pellets and flakes specifically made for Plecos.

The best way to ensure your fish get the proper nutrition is to give them a varied diet. This means rotating the different types of food you offer them on a regular basis.

For snacks, tray-sized containers of live bloodworms or brine shrimp can be a real treat for your Snowball Pleco. Just be sure to give them a small amount, as too many snacks can upset their stomach. You can also provide vegetables such as cucumber, zucchini, and spinach as a source of fiber.

Tank size

Let's start with the basics: you'll need a tank that's at least 40 gallons to house a Snowball Pleco. They grow pretty fast, so be prepared to do regular water changes and add new decor as they grow.

However, it's a good idea to go bigger, as they can reach up to 5.5-6.5 inches in length. In fact, most of the Plecos in the Loricariidae family get pretty big, so be sure to do your research before you commit to any fish.

Water Parameters

The Snowball Pleco is a hardy fish that can tolerate a wide range of water parameters. They do best in soft to medium water hardness, with a pH between 6 to 7.5. They should not be kept with other Plecos, as they may compete for food.

As long as you can provide them with a stable environment and meet their basic needs, the Snowball Pleco is a pretty easy fish to care for.

With its beautiful markings and peaceful nature, the Snowball Pleco is an excellent addition to any freshwater aquarium. They are hardy fish that can tolerate a wide range of water parameters, so they are perfect for beginner fish keepers. Just be sure to provide them with a tank of at least 40 gallons and meet their basic needs for water hardness and pH level. They will bring joy to your home for years to come.

Water Temperature

Like most fish, the Snowball Pleco prefers water between 72° to 86°F. They can tolerate temperatures a few degrees higher or lower, but they will not do well if the temperature consistently fluctuates outside of this range.

Water Changes

It's important to perform regular water changes for your Snowball Pleco, as they are messy eaters. I recommend changing 30% of the water every week.

To keep your Snowball Pleco healthy, you'll need an aquarium thermometer to monitor the water temperature and a water test kit to check the pH level and hardness.

Setting Up The Rest Of The Tank

You can put pretty much anything in your Snowball Pleco's tank if it doesn't compete with them for food. Just be sure the decorations don't have any sharp edges that could harm your fish. Please pay special attention to the size of the filter when you're shopping, as it should be able to handle the amount of waste your fish produces.

To keep the water in good shape, you may also need to add a water clarifier to your tank. In fast-moving rivers like the Amazon, the current is constantly being cleaned. But in a tank, it can be difficult for the filter to keep up with all the waste produced by the fish. So, if your tank is overstocked or you have a lot of plants, you may need to add a water clarifier to help keep the water clean.

Cleaning The Tank

Before you do anything else, you'll need to clean your tank. This is a crucial part of fishkeeping and should be done every week or two, depending on the size of your tank and how many fish you have.

To clean your tank, start by removing any debris or waste built up on the bottom. You can do this with a net or by hand if your tank is small enough. Then, use a bucket to remove about half of the water from your tank.

Next, add some fresh water and use a cleaning tablet or bleach to sanitize the tank. Let it sit for about 15 minutes, then rinse it thoroughly with fresh water. Finally, add the rest of the water back into your tank and replace any decorations or plants.

Now that your tank is clean, it's time to add your fish! Be sure to add them slowly, so they have a chance to get used to their new environment. And remember, always use a de-chlorinator to remove harmful chemicals from the water.

Common Possible Diseases

The Snowball Pleco is a hardy fish that can tolerate a wide range of water parameters, but they are still susceptible to some common diseases.

If you notice your fish swimming erratically, gasping for air at the surface, or covered in white film, it may be suffering from ich. Ich is a parasite that can be treated with medication, but it is best to prevent it by keeping your tank clean and adding a water clarifier.

If you notice your fish scratching against the rocks or other decorations in their tank, they may have a case of Ichthyophonus. This parasitic infection can be treated with medication, but it is often fatal.

If your fish start to lose their color and develop lesions on their bodies, they may suffer from a bacterial infection. This can be treated with antibiotics, but it is important to diagnose the disease correctly and treat all the fish in the tank, as the bacteria can spread quickly.

Treatment And Medications For Diseases

The best way to treat most diseases is by catching them early and using a specifically formulated medication for Plecostomus. There are a few different medications available, so it's important to read the label and follow the instructions carefully.

Many of these medications come in tablet form, but some can also be added to the tank in liquid form.

  • If you are using a tablet form of medication, it is important to dissolve it in water before adding it to the tank. This will help prevent any physical damage to the fish. Be sure to remove any activated carbon from your filter, as it will absorb the medication and make it ineffective.
  • It is also important to keep an eye on the water parameters while you are treating your fish. If the pH or hardness of the water changes too much, it can be harmful to the fish.
  • If you notice your fish swimming erratically, gasping for air at the surface, or covered in white film, it may be suffering from ich. Ich is a parasite that can be treated with medication, but it is best to prevent it by keeping your tank clean and adding a water clarifier.
  • If you notice your fish scratching against the rocks or other decorations in their tank, they may have a case of Ichthyophonus. This is a parasitic infection that can be treated with medication, but it is often fatal.
  • If your fish start to lose their color and develop lesions on their body, they may be suffering from a bacterial infection. This can be treated with antibiotics, but it is important to diagnose the disease correctly and treat all the fish in the tank, as the bacteria can spread quickly.

The most common way to prevent these diseases is by keeping your tank clean and adding a water clarifier. You should also quarantine any new fish before adding them to your tank if they carry a disease.

Luckily, some Pleco-approved medications are available if your fish do become ill. So, don't worry – these fish are hardy and can usually be treated if you catch the disease early.

Foods To Avoid

There are some foods that you should avoid feeding your Snowball Pleco. These include high-fat foods, such as cheese, nuts, and meat. While they may enjoy these foods, they can cause health problems for your fish in the long run.

You should also avoid feeding them processed foods, such as chips and crackers. These foods are not nutritionally balanced and harm your fish.

It's also important to avoid feeding them too many live insects, as they can contain parasites that can make your fish sick.

Tank Mates

Thanks to their peaceful nature, Snowball Plecos can be kept with various fish. However, there are a few fish that we don't recommend keeping them with.

snowball pleco tank mates

Fish to Avoid

  • Other Plecos: They may compete for food or territory and can become aggressive.
  • Cichlids: They may see the Plecos as prey.
  • Goldfish: They may eat the Plecos’ food and can also release a toxin that can kill them.

Fish to Consider

  • Bristlenose Plecos: They are similar in size and temperament, and will help keep the tank clean.
  • Corydoras Catfish: They are small, peaceful fish that will scavenge for food on the bottom of the tank.
  • Barbs: They are a medium-sized fish that is active and playful, and will help keep the tank lively.
  • Angelfish: They will keep the Plecos clean and provide some added protection.
  • Betta Fish: They are a small, peaceful fish that won’t compete with the Plecos for food.
  • Gourami: They are a peaceful fish that will help keep the Plecos calm.

When choosing tank mates for your Snowball Pleco, it is important to keep their temperament in mind. We recommend keeping them with other peaceful fish that won't compete with them for food or territory.

So, as you can see, there is a variety of different fish that can be kept with Snowball Plecos. Just be sure to do your research before adding any new fish to your tank.

Filtration

Your aquarium should be fitted with a good quality filter to help keep the water clean. A good filter will help keep your tank healthy and minimize the amount of work you need to do on a weekly basis to keep your fish happy and healthy.

Some of the famous Snowball Pleco Filters are:

1. Eheim Classic Series Canister Filters

These filters are German-made and are some of the best in the business. They come in a variety of sizes, so you can find one that's perfect for your aquarium.

2. Penn Plax Cascade 700 Internal Power Filter

This filter is great for smaller tanks up to 40 gallons. It's a submersible filter that provides great mechanical and biological filtration.

3. Aqua-Tech EZ-Change Aquarium Filter Cartridges

These filters are disposable and come in various sizes to fit most aquariums. They provide excellent mechanical and chemical filtration and are very affordable.

Heater

If you keep your aquarium in a room that is not heated, you will need to use a heater to keep the water temperature comfortable for your fish. A submersible heater is the best type of heater to use, as it will stay hidden and out of the way.

I recommend using an adjustable heater, so you can fine-tune the temperature to make sure it's perfect for your fish.

Some famous heaters that would work perfectly with Snowball Pleco tanks are-

1. Eheim Jager Heater

These heaters are German-made and are some of the best in the business. They come in various sizes, so you can find one that's perfect for your aquarium.

2. Aquarium Heater with Thermostat

This heater has a built-in thermostat to help keep the water temperature stable. It's adjustable so that you can set it to the perfect temperature for your fish.

Lighting

Snowball Plecos do best in a dimly lit environment. I recommend using a full spectrum of LED lights to provide them with the right kind of light.

Aquarium lights should be turned on for 10-12 hours per day. Some famous LED lights that would be good for a Snowball Pleco tank are:

1. Current USA Satellite Freshwater LED Light

This light is perfect for freshwater aquariums. It's dimmable, so you can set the brightness to the perfect level for your fish.

2. Aqueon Modular Led Aquarium Lighting System

This light system is adjustable and comes with a built-in timer. It's perfect for larger aquariums.

Other Tank Accessories

In addition to a filter, heater, and light, you will also need some other items to complete your Snowball Pleco tank. Some of these items include:

Aquarium substrate

I recommend using a dark substrate to make your fish look more colorful. You can use a variety of substrates, such as sand, gravel, or crushed coral.

Aquarium plants

I recommend using live plants in your aquarium, as they will help to keep the water clean and provide your fish with a place to hide.

Aquarium Decorations

You can use a variety of decorations in your aquarium, such as rocks, caves, and driftwood. Just be sure to avoid any sharp decorations that can be harmful to your fish.

Advantage Of Having Them In Your Tank

  • The biggest advantage of keeping Snowball Plecos in your tank is that they are a very peaceful fish. They will usually stay hidden in the rocks or plants in their tank and won’t bother any of the other fish.
  • They are also a great scavenger and will help keep the water clean. Just be sure to give them a varied diet to ensure that they are getting the nutrients they need.
  • They are also a very hardy fish and can tolerate a variety of water conditions.
  • Finally, they are a great fish for beginners because they are easy to care for and won’t bother any of the other fish in the tank.

So, as you can see, there are a number of reasons why Snowball Plecos make great additions to your tank. If you are looking for a peaceful clean-up crew, these fish are definitely worth considering.

Disadvantage Of Having Them In Your Tank

The only disadvantage of keeping Snowball Plecos in your tank is that they can be a bit challenging to breed. The process takes a bit of patience, and you will need to set up a separate breeding tank. However, the result is usually worth it as you will get a lot of new fish for your tank.

Conclusion

Snowball Pleco is a great addition to any tank. They are also a great scavenger and will help keep the water clean. Just be sure to give them a varied diet to ensure that they get the nutrients they need. Their beauty,  peaceful temperament, and scavenging abilities make them a popular choice for fish enthusiasts.

Finally, they are great fish for beginners because they are easy to care for and won't bother any other fish in the tank. So, if you are looking for a peaceful, clean-up crew, Snowball Plecos are definitely worth considering.

Thank you for reading! We hope this article has been helpful.

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