I have 4 or 5 common pleco's that are 6-10 inches long. I would like to know how to sex them along with any tips on breeding them. I have heard, and read, that pleco's are a difficult fish to breed in captivity. Is that true? Besides, I like a challange (I am trying to breed discus... ). I just need to know the starting point.
I don't know how to sex plecos but there have been no reported instances of plecos breeding in the home aquarium. They sometimes breed in ponds though. Usually in a very dark cave like structure or nook on the outskirts of the pond they lay their eggs. Even with a large tank 100+ I don't know if it would be possible. Even in a pond it is rare.
20 Gallon Saltwater Tank status:
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You would be better off if you could get a pair of bristlenose plecos if you want to spawn plecos. They are fairly easy to spawn and they are a good way to practise. Most LFS will take those fry once they reach 1.5".
For the common pleco you would need a very large tank and make a river bank in it and then it's still highly unlikely that they would spawn. Since they are commercially bred on fish farms it's also not worth the effort.