Do Plecos Shed? Is It Normal My Pleco Is Shedding?

Last Updated on January 18, 2022 by cmoarz

You might have noticed a skin-like coating falling off your pleco and got worried. Trust me, you are not the only one.

A lot of fishkeepers have reported seeing their plecos shedding often and wondered if it is normal for plecos to shed.

This article will give you a quick answer so you can put your mind at ease.

Do Plecos Shed?

The simple answer is that No, plecos do not shed their scales or skin. But what they do shed on occasion is a coat of protective slime or mucus, or in some cases, a thin brown layer of guck called mulm.

This is a normal behavior of almost all pleco species as they grow larger over time. You can see similar things in other catfish or fish with armor.

This may come as a relief to some of you because this means your pleco is not shedding its skin and scales, which, would be a bad thing.

Another possibility is you see old food, dirt, debris, and algae coming off in a sheet. This gooey substance is called mulm.

It’s a thin brown layer of, for lack of a better word, crud. It’s quite disgusting, but it’s normal.

No fish, At least no pleco will shed its skin or scaled unless there is a very serious health issue.

When Should You Worry About Pleco Shedding?

At a certain point, you’ve determined that it’s not a slime coat or mulm that is coming off your fish then it’s time to investigate further.

If you notice scales peeling off your pleco, or scales pointing outwards, it’s a sign of a serious sickness or infection or bloating that needs to be addressed immediately.

In general, damages scales will repair themselves. They won’t fall out under normal circumstances.

If you see scales starting to peel off, or any damage to the scales that causes them to become loose then you should seek a veterinarian’s advice as soon as possible.

This goes for any fish that is shedding or losing scales, not just plecos.


Owner of and also owner of actual Aquarium Gravel believe it or not! ;). Setting up beautiful aquarium sceneries and habitats since I was very young. Enjoy!