Tracey asked in the comments on common plecos about donating a common pleco. Now she doesn’t go into the details of the reasons why however it did get me thinking it could potentially be a common problem, especially for those that happen to have a tank buster and more than likely don’t have a tank the size required to accomodate such a fish.
If you’re ever wanting to donate a fish or just give it away to a better home there’s a few steps you really need to go through.
1) Correctly identify the fish in question. This is vital so whoever is looking to receive the fish knows exactly what its water requirements are, its size requirements and its food needs. Remember especially if donating to a public aquaria that they have to pay for feeding the fish for potentially upwards of 20 years ! Big fish such as common pleco’s can eat a cucumber a day when fully grown (that may even be under feeding it!) it can rapidly add up.
2) Find out if there are any local public aquaria to you that have freshwater displays. Unfortunately most don’t instead they focus on marine fish however some do places like my local “The Deep” in hull have a small freshwater section containing Pacu’s, common plecs, fresh water ray’s, red tail catfish etc.
3) Once you have found a suitable recipient ensure that the habitat they are going to is suitable! Is the tank big enough, is it mature/stable enough to receive your fish. You wouldn’t abandon a child or your beloved family pet to a shit hole to be mis-treated or locked in a cage that was too small for it so don’t do it to your fish!
Start by contacting the local public aquaria if there is any near you (a quick google search will tell you) and discuss with them the possibility of them accepting your fish. Do NOT be surprised if they decline though. Again this may be for various reasons, no freshwater environment or more often than not they simply cannot. There are so many people mis-sold tank busters for small tanks trying to donate their fish, that if the local aquarium took them all they’d be more fish than people going in to the place. Its unsustainable so they often simply decline.
Another good thing to do is look for any owners clubs or species clubs if you like. For example cichlids have the the British Cichlid Association (yes certain cichlids do become tank busters).
If you’ve still not found a home for your fish there then you can always try posting a “Free to a good home” advert on Aquarist Classifieds or look on there see if there’s anyone advertising “Wanting large fish for 8 foot tank” style adverts and contacting them.
I have managed to save several larger common plecs over the years from their abysmal small homes but even those of us with larger tanks do reach a fill limit eventually so we have to stop taking them in as much as it pains us to see fish left in unsuitable environments.