Pleco Care: Complete Guide From Start To Finish

Are you considering adding a pleco to your aquarium, or maybe you already have one and want to ensure you’re taking care of it properly? Well, you’ve come to the right place! Plecos, also known as suckerfish, are a popular freshwater fish that many aquarium hobbyists love to keep.

Plecos can be great additions to your tank, but they do require specific care to ensure they stay happy and healthy. In this article, we’ll cover everything you need to know about pleco care, from tank requirements to diet and more.  So, keep on reading!

Table of Contents

Plecos In Short

There are over 150 different species of pleco to choose from and some are a lot rarer than others. Generally plecos like water that is slightly acidic (6.0-8.0), and a temperature range between 72-82°F (22-28°C).

I wouldn’t recommend plecos for beginners as most species require large tanks (100 gallon+). However, if you’re a beginner and you’re desperate to get one then a bristlenose pleco will be your best choice!

When keeping plecos in your tank make sure you’re there’s a lot of algae growth and plant matter for them to eat, but don’t stop there. Also provide them with plenty of sinking catfish pellets and blanched vegetables. If you have more carnivorous plecos, then you should also make sure they’re getting protein in their diet too.

Are Plecos Easy To Keep?

Plecos are generally easy to keep as long as their proper environment is established. They need a well-maintained tank with the right temperature, pH levels, and clean water. As well as plenty of hiding spots and live plants . And be sure to feed them a diet high in vegetable matter for optimum growth.

Plecos are pretty hardy fish. They can handle a wide range of water conditions, which makes them a great option for beginners. They’re also pretty low-maintenance since they’ll happily eat algae all day long. And they’re peaceful fish, so they won’t cause any trouble with your other fish.

But there are some challenges, too. One big one is their size. Depending on the species, Plecos can grow up to two feet long! That means you’ll need a pretty big tank to keep them happy and healthy. And speaking of healthy, Plecos can be picky eaters.

While they love their algae, they also need a varied diet that includes veggies, fruits, and even some protein-based foods like shrimp or worms. So they can be a bit more work than just dumping some fish flakes into the tank.

Another thing to keep in mind is that Plecos can be messy. They produce a lot of waste, which means you’ll need to keep a close eye on your water quality and be prepared to do regular water changes. You’ll also need a good filtration system to keep things clean.

I also asked other fish keepers what they thought about keeping plecos too! Here’s what they had to say.

(If you’re just getting started then you may want to know what the easiest fish you can keep in your tank are. Here are what 150 fish-keepers had to say!)

pleco facebook community experiences
NamePlecostomus (Hypostomus plecostomus)
OriginSouth America (Brazil, Venezuela, Uruguay, Argentina)
Care LevelModerate
Lifespan10-15 Years
Size3-15 Inches
Tank Size15-150 Gallons
Temperature72-82°F (22-28°C)
FeedingPlants, Algae, Daphnia, Brine Shrimp, Catfish Pellets
Community TankYes
Tank LevelBottom Dweller
PlantsJava Moss, Amazon Sword, Anubias, Java Fern, Hornwort
Tank MatesTetras, Corydoras, Rainbowfish, Danios, Rasboras, Loaches
Breeding TypeEgg Layers

Different Types Of Pleco

When talking about plecos as a whole, there are so many different types. Here are the most common ones you can expect to add to your aquarium!

Plecos come in various colors and patterns, depending on the species. Some have a dark, almost black colors with white or yellow spots, while others are more mottled with shades of brown and gray. Some even have sport stripes of red or blue or other patterns on their bodies.

No matter what species you choose, you’re sure to have a visually interesting fish in your tank.

Bristlenose Pleco L107 (Ancistrus cirrhosus)

bristlenose pleco care sheet

Known for the bristles that develop on their nose at the 6 month mark, bristlenose plecos or bristlenose catfish can live in tanks 29 gallons or bigger. Keep the pH 6.5-7.5 and the temperature between 70-80°F.

Common Pleco L024 (Hypostomus plecostomus)

common pleco care sheet

Common pleco’s also known as suckermouth catfish, are the some of the most widely sought after plecos, living for 10-15 years! Make sure you’re keeping them in a tank 150 gallons or bigger with a pH of 7.0-8.0 and a temperature between 74-80°F.

Clown Pleco L104/L162 (Panaqolus maccus)

clown pleco care sheet

Clown plecos need to be kept in tanks which are 20 gallons or larger, with peaceful and friendly tank mates. Keep the pH between 6.8-7.6 and the temperature between 73-82°F. Lastly, they’re omnivores so make sure they’re getting protein and plant matter.

Rubber Lip Pleco L146 (Chaetostoma milesi)

Rubber Lip Plecos do best in aquariums that are 30 gallons or bigger with a temperature of 72-78°F and a pH of 6.5-8.0. Unlike other plecos who are more omnivorous, the majority of a rubber lip plecos diet will come from algae.

Leopard Frog Pleco L134 (Lithobates pipiens)

Leopard Frog Pleco (L-134) Care Sheet

If you plan on keeping Leopard frog plecos, make sure you’re keeping them in a tank that’s 30 gallons or bigger with a pH between 6.5-7.5 and a temperature between 75-86°F. They’re incredibly peaceful so you can keep them with most fish.

Zebra Pleco L046/L098 (Hypancistrus zebra)

Zebra Pleco L-046 Care Sheet

Zebra plecos, have a truly unique look as you can guess from their name. They need to be kept in tanks that are 20 gallons or bigger (for one pleco). They like neutral pH so keep it between 6.5-7.5 and warmer temperatures between 79-88°F.

Vampire Pleco L029 (Leporacanthicus galaxias)

Also known as galaxy plecos and Tusken plecos, Vampire plecos do best in a 75 gallon tank or larger, so they have enough room to explore. the pH should be slightly acidic at 6.5-7.0, and the temperature should be between 72-78°F. As you can guess by their name ,they prefer a heavy protein diet, so feed them live food and sinking pellets.

Snowball Pleco L102 (Hypicanistrus Inspector)

Snowball Pleco (L-102) Care Sheet

Extremely peaceful and hardy, snowball plecos make great fish for beginners. They should be kept in a tank which is 40 gallons or larger with a temperature of  72-86°F and a pH between 5.0-7.5. They like to eat both meat and vegetables, so make sure you’re adding both to their diet.

Gold Nugget Pleco L018/L085 (Baryancistrus xanthellus)

Golden Nugget Pleco (L-018) Care Sheet

If you want to keep your gold nugget plecos happy, try to keep the pH in their tank between 6.5-7.5 and a temperature between 73-79°F. Gold nugget plecos can grow anywhere between 6-9 inches, so make sure you’re keeping them in a 50 gallon tank or bigger.

Peppermint Pleco L031/L176 (Parancistrus Nudiventris)

Peppermint plecos do best in 50 gallon tanks or bigger, where they’ll happily scavenge for food from the substrate. The temperature in the tank should be between 78-84°F and a pH between 6.5-7.5. As well as scavenging from the substrate make sure you’re feeding your peppermint pleco sinking catfish pellets as well.

(If you’re interested here are all the most common types of plecos you can keep in your tank!)


But let’s talk about that sucker mouth. It’s not just for show; Plecos use it to attach themselves to surfaces in the tank so they can feed on algae and other types of food. The mouth is actually a modified jaw, and it has special teeth that allow the fish to scrape algae off of rocks and other surfaces. It’s a pretty cool adaptation that makes them well-suited to life in the aquarium.

Plecos also have barbels on their mouths which act as tactile sensors and help them find prey in low-light conditions. But don’t be fooled by their intimidating appearance; plecos are generally peaceful fish that enjoy swimming around the tank looking for food and places to hide when they feel threatened. 


Plecos can vary in size depending on the species, but generally they tend to grow between 4-24 inches long. Some of the smaller species like Bristlenose plecos may stay closer to 4 inches, while the larger species like common plecos can reach up to 15 inches.

(Some have been reported to reach even 24 inches in size! However this is rare.)

Another thing to keep in mind is that these fish don’t grow very quickly—juveniles may only gain a couple of inches per year until they reach adulthood. This makes them ideal if you have smaller aquariums and don’t want you fish outgrowing it too soon.

So why do Plecos get so big? It’s all about their natural habitat. In the wild, Plecos are found in South America, where they live in rivers and streams with plenty of space to roam. In the aquarium, they still need that same amount of space to thrive. A cramped tank can lead to stress, aggression, and even health problems for these fish.

If you’re considering keeping a Pleco, it’s important to research the species you’re interested in and make sure you have a tank that’s big enough to accommodate them.


Plecos are shy fish with peaceful temperaments, which makes them great community fish! They’re not aggressive toward other fish and can often be kept with a variety of tank mates without issue. That being said, they can become territorial over their chosen hiding spots in the tank, so provide plenty of hiding places for all the fish in the tank.

Another interesting behavior of Plecos is their feeding habits. These fish are omnivores, which means they eat both plant and animal matter. In the wild, they feed primarily on algae and other plant matter, but in the aquarium, they will also accept other types of food, such as sinking pellets or frozen foods like bloodworms.

Because of their sucker-like mouth, Plecos are adept at clinging to surfaces in the tank while they feed. This can sometimes make it difficult to observe their feeding habits, as they may prefer to feed during the night or when the lights are off.

They also enjoy being hand-fed and will often come up to the top of the tank when they see people approach. They may even eat from your hand if you offer them food gently!

As for interacting with other fish in their tanks, some species are very social, while others may prefer solitude or act aggressively toward other inhabitants. Once again, it’s important to research on any potential species before adding them to a community aquarium.

Generally speaking though, male plecos will tend to be more aggressive than females. Especially when you’re keeping more than one male pleco in the same tank.

It’s worth noting that Plecos can be shy fish, especially when first introduced to a new tank. They may spend a lot of time hiding out in caves or other hiding places and may take a few days to adjust to their new environment. However, in time they will likely be more active and visible in the tank.


The average lifespan of a Pleco is between 10 to 15 years, but some species can live up to 20 years or more with proper care. Plecos are known to be one of the longest-living fish in the world, but the exact lifespan of Plecos depends on many factors, including their species, diet, environment, and overall care.

Here are some factors that affect your Pleco’s lifespan.

1. Species

First of all, it’s important to note that they can vary widely in lifespan depending on the species. Some species, such as the Bristlenose Pleco, can live for up to 6-8 years in the right conditions. Others, like the Common Pleco, have been known to live for up to 15 years or more!

2. Tank Size

Plecos can grow to be quite large, and they need plenty of space to thrive. A cramped tank can lead to stress and health problems, ultimately shortening their lifespan.

3. Water Quality

Water quality is another important factor to consider. Plecos are messy fish, and their waste output can quickly lead to poor water quality if not properly managed. Regular water changes and proper filtration are key to maintaining a healthy environment for your fish.

4. Diet

Plecos are omnivores, which means they need a balanced diet of both plant and animal matter. Make sure to provide a varied diet and avoid overfeeding, as obesity can lead to health problems.

Tips for Extending Your Plecos Lifespan

To extend the lifespan of your Pleco, there are several things you can do. First, make sure to provide adults with a spacious tank that is at least 75 gallons in size. Monitor water quality regularly and perform regular water changes to keep it at optimal levels. Offer a balanced diet that includes vegetables and other plant-based foods, and avoid overfeeding.

Water Parameters

Tank Size15-100+ Gallons

Maintaining proper water parameters is crucial to the health and well-being of Plecos. These fish are sensitive to changes in water chemistry, and poor water quality can lead to stress, disease, and a shorter lifespan. Here are some important water parameters to consider when caring for Plecos:


Your Plecos need to have a specific pH level in order to be comfortable and healthy. The ideal range for most plecos is between 6.0 – 8.0 as outside of these levels can cause serious health problems, including issues with digestion as well as stunted growth. However, of course it varies from pleco to pleco.


Plecos are tropical fish and require a water temperature between 72°F to 82°F (22°C to 28°C). Fluctuations in temperature can be stressful for these fish, so it is essential to keep the water temperature stable. Howeve,r again this varies from pleco to pleco.

Water Hardness

Plecos thrive in slightly hard water with a hardness level between 5 to 12 dKH. Soft water can cause health problems, while water that is too hard can lead to calcium buildup, generally tap water will be good enough for plecos.

Nitrate Levels

Nitrate is less toxic than ammonia and nitrite, but high levels can still be harmful to Plecos. It is recommended to keep nitrate levels below 40 ppm.

Tank Size

For smaller pleco species, such as the bristlenose pleco, a minimum tank size of 20-30 gallons is appropriate. However, for larger species, such as the common pleco or the sailfin pleco, a tank size of 75 gallons or more would be necessary.

In short, plecos need a pH between 6.0-8.0, a temperature between 72°F to 82°F (22°C to 28°C), ammonia and nitrite levels at 0ppm and nitrate levels below 40ppm. Ensure their tank is at least 30-75 gallons in size depending on the type, and add plenty of hiding places for them.

Pleco Care Pin

What Do Pleco Like In The Wild?

In the wild, plecos prefer small to medium-sized rivers and streams with a steady current and plenty of vegetation. They will hide away in crevices, rocks and plants until nightfall when they emerge to feed on algae and other plant matter.

Let’s explore plecos’ natural habitat and diet to understand what they like in the wild.

Natural Habitat

Plecos are found in various freshwater environments in South America, including fast-flowing rivers, slow-moving streams, and flooded forests. They are nocturnal bottom-dwellers, which means that they spend most of their time hiding in crevices and foraging for food on the river bottom during the night.


In the wild, Plecos spend a lot of their time sifting through the substrate at the bottom of rivers and streams, looking for food. Therefore, it’s important to provide them with a similarly sandy or gravel-like substrate in their tank – they love exploring around these materials! Providing some larger rocks or driftwood can also add more variation and make them feel more secure.


Plecos are omnivorous and feed on a variety of different foods in the wild. They are known to consume algae, plant matter, small crustaceans, and other invertebrates. Some species of plecos are also scavengers and will feed on decaying organic matter. To replicate their natural diet in captivity, provide a varied diet that includes fresh vegetables, algae wafers, and protein-rich foods.

How To Setup A Pleco tank

If you’re considering adding plecos to your tank, here are the step-by-step instructions on how to set up the perfect tank for them.

Step 1: Choose a Tank That Is the Right Size

The tank size you choose is extremely important when setting up a tank for plecos. Generally speaking, each pleco should have at least 15 gallons (57 liters) of space or more (depending on the breed), and the minimum tank size should be 30 gallons. However, if multiple plecos are in the tank, they should have more room to move around. For every additional fish, you’ll need to add even more gallons

Tetra Glass Aquarium 29 Gallons, Rectangular Fish Tank, Assorted Color
  • GLASS AQUARIUM: Rectangular glass aquarium makes an ideal home for your fish.

Step 2: Gather Supplies and Decorations

You’ll need some supplies and decorations before setting up your new pet’s fish tank. The supplies and decorations you need will depend primarily on what type of plecos you’re getting and ensuring that whatever materials you use are safe for them. 

Make sure to purchase a protective substrate, such as fine sand or gravel without sharp edges, as well as decorations like rocks and plants that won’t harm them.

Picking A Filter

When gathering your supplies you’ll need to pick the right filter. Generally speaking, HOB filters or canister filters are going to be the best choice for plecos, as they’re better for larger tanks.

Fluval 107 Perfomance Canister Filter for Aquariums up to 30 Gallons
  • Fluval eTEC (Efficient Technology) construction employs cutting-edge design, materials & manufacturing methods to deliver powerful pump performance, reduced energy consumption and ultra-quiet operation

Picking The Heater

When it comes to heaters, you generally want to aim for around 5 watts per 1 gallon of water. And because plecos often require larger tanks, you need to make sure that your heater is capable of keeping the tank warm. Remember, you can place more than one heater in a tank, and they’ll sync to the correct temperature.

Fluval E300 Advanced Electronic Heater, 300-Watt Heater for Aquariums up to 100 Gal., A774
  • Aquarium heater with dual temperature sensors provide accurate and real-time water temperatures

Picking The Substrate

Lastly, you also need to pick the right substrate for plecos as well. Avoiding anything rough is key to their happiness. If you plan on having a planted tank, I’d recommend aquarium soil, however if not, then sand may be the best choice

Fluval Plant and Shrimp Stratum, For Fish Tanks, 4.4 lbs., 12693
  • Fluval Stratum is made of mineral rich volcanic soil

Step 3: Prepare the Tank

Now it’s time to prepare the tank for your new plecos! Start by washing all of your supplies with hot water. Once everything is washed, place it into the aquarium—including any rocks or decorations that weren’t pre-washed—and fill it with dechlorinated water until it is about three-quarters full.

Then add the substrate until it covers about two-thirds of the bottom of the aquarium.

Step 4: Add Plants and Other Decorations

Once all of the initial setup is complete, it’s time to add plants and other decorations to make your tank more inviting for your new pets! When you’re picking plants, it’s better to stick to live plants because of the many benefits including improving the water oxygenation and quality! 

Place any rocks or other pieces of décor around areas where they won’t block off too much light from reaching down into the bottom sections of tanks. Also, add caves, driftwood, or rock formations to the tank to create hiding places for your pleco!

Step 5: Introduce Your Plecos Into Their Home!

Now that their home is ready and waiting for them, it’s time to introduce them to their new home! When first introducing new fish into an aquarium, make sure not to put too many in at once—especially not all at once—as this can cause shock or stress.

Let their bag sit in the tank for about 30 minutes. During this time slowly add water from the tank into the bag so they can adjust to the new parameters slowly.

Then gently net each one out from its bag/container and slowly release them into their aquascape, carefully watching how they behave once released. Give them some time to adjust before adding any more, then watch happily as they explore their new home!

(If you want to know how to setup a freshwater tank, then here’s a complete guide on how to do it!)

Male Vs Female

When it comes to plecos, there are some subtle differences between males and females that can be useful for identifying gender. While the exact differences depend on the type of pleco, here are a few general guidelines for identifying male versus female plecos:

Physical Characteristics

In general, male plecos tend to be larger and more colorful than females. Male plecos tend to have extended or spiny pectoral fins, while females have shorter, rounded pectoral fins. Male plecos also often have a broader head and thicker lip structure than females. Additionally, in some species, males may have larger odontodes (stiff bristles) on their bodies.


Male plecos often display territorial behavior, such as digging or fanning out areas of substrate with their fins when they feel threatened, while females tend to retreat when feeling stressed or threatened instead. Additionally, during mating season, male plecos may actively pursue female ones and attempt to court them.


The biggest difference between male and female fish is obviously their ability to reproduce; male fishes produce sperm while females produce eggs. In the case of plecos eggs, they will usually be laid in a cave-like structure near the bottom of the tank. The male will then fertilize them externally by releasing sperm into the water near them.

Pleco Diet Pin

Pleco Diet

Plecos are omnivorous, meaning that they eat both plants and animals. Their diet should consist of various fresh vegetables, live food, and prepared foods. When selecting food for your pleco, make sure to pick items that are age- and size-appropriate. Here are some recommended options:


Ideally, veggies should make up at least 25% of a pleco’s diet. Fresh vegetables such as cucumbers, zucchini, peas, lettuce, sweet potatoes, squash (including butternut), and green beans are all good choices. They should be blanched or steamed before feeding in order to make them easier to digest.

Live Food

Live food is a great option for plecos of any age because it provides important enzymes and amino acids that processed foods may not have. Some examples include earthworms, blackworms, and bloodworms, just make sure you’re cutting them into eatable chunks if you need too. Also try not to overfeed your fish with live foods, as this could lead to digestive issues.

Prepared Foods

Prepared foods such as flakes, pellets, and sticks can also be used as part of a balanced diet for plecos. Look for products specifically designed for omnivorous bottom feeders so that you can get the most out of their nutrition needs. It’s also important to monitor how much they eat since these types of foods often contain more calories than other options; you don’t want them getting overweight!

If you’re not sure what to feed your plecos, I’d highly recommend Tetra Pro PlecoWafers

Tetra PRO PlecoWafers 5.29 Ounces, Nutritionally Balanced Vegetarian Fish Food for Bottom Feeders, Concentrated Algae Center
  • PLECO FORMULATION: Supports the nutritional needs of herbivore bottom-feeders such as Plecostomus

Pleco Tank Mates 

When caring for Plecos, it’s important to remember that they will need some tank mates in order to thrive. Here are five of our favorite pleco tank mates that will add an exciting splash of color and activity to your tank!

1. Tetras

Tetras such as neons, cardinals, or ember tetras are perfect for plecos because they love the warmer temperatures and soft water chemistry that plecos prefer. They also won’t compete with your pleco for food since they mainly stay near the top while they feed on their own unique diet.

2. Corydoras Catfish

bronze/common corydoras care sheet

Corydoras catfish are hardy fish that have similar habitat needs as plecos. They come in many different shapes and sizes, including long fins and stripes! Corydoras primarily feed on the bottom of the tank, so make sure that both yourr corydoras and plecos are getting enough food. Plus, these little critters have great personalities making them a fun addition to any aquarium setup.

3. Rainbow Fish

Dwarf Neon Rainbowfish Care Sheet

Rainbow fish can be a great choice for plecos, too, especially if you’re looking for something a bit more flashy. These beautiful creatures love clean water conditions and typically stay near the top of the aquarium. Rainbow fish are also incredibly peaceful, which means they’ll make great tank mates for your plecos.

4. Danios

celestial pearl danio care

Danios offer another dynamic option for finding good tank mates for your pleco. Like tetras and corys (and most schooling fish), they do best when kept in groups of at least six members, so plan accordingly before adding these little guys into the mix! Even though they may be small, they can still handle themselves against larger fish like most plecos.

5. Loaches

Kuhli Loach Care Sheet

Loaches are another great choice of fish that you can add with your plecos as well. Just make sure there is enough space and hiding places for both types of fish. Loaches come in all sorts of shapes and sizes but all share one common trait – they love foraging from the substrate, which makes them really useful cleaners for an aquarium with livebearers!

Loaches require very specific care compared to other freshwater dwellers, but once acclimated can really bring out some amazing behavior from your beloved plecos.

6. Rasboras

Lambchop Rasbora Care Sheet

Rasboras are another great choice of tank mate for your aquarium as well! They’re perfect for plecos as they’re not going to swim in the same areas of the tank, and most importantly, they’ll leave your pleco alone.

If you do plan on keeping rasboras in you r tank, make sure you’re keeping them in schools of 6 or more. I’d recommend harlequin rasboras with bigger plecos, or other larger rasboras.

Plecos can be put in a tank with most fish, so choosing tank mates isn’t difficult. Tetras, loaches, rasboras, danios, corys, and rainbowfish are all great choices. In fact, plecos can even live with bettas.

Adding plants to your aquarium can bring a lot of life and color to the environment, but finding pleco-friendly plants can be challenging. If you’re not feeding the plecos properly, then they may end up eating the plants in their tank! Here are five plants to consider that won’t get uprooted or eaten by your Plecos.

Some Other Great Tank Mates Include:

Pleco Plants

1. Java Moss

Java moss is one of the most well-known aquarium plants, which goes great in pleco tanks because it grows easily in almost any condition. Its popularity among aquarists also comes from its hardiness as it can withstand strong currents and low light levels and even survive in brackish water conditions.

It’s important not to over-trim it; more is better when it comes to java moss, as this will provide cover for plecos and other inhabitants.

Java Moss Taxiphyllum Barbieri Portion
  • Ideal for Any Aquarium: Taxiphyllum barbieri Java Moss is categorized among the versatile and hardy aquatic aquarium plants. Thereby, it makes up for the perfect addition to any aquarium.

2. Amazon Sword

The Amazon sword is another great choice for anyone looking for an easy-care plant for their pleco. It can handle both low and high-lighting conditions but may need extra fertilizer in some cases. Plus, its thick leaves make it perfect for hiding spots – something plecos love! Just be sure to trim back dead leaves from time to time so new ones can grow in their place.

Planterest – Amazon Sword Bundle Medium Easy Background Live Aquarium Plant Decorations BUY2GET1FREE
  • LIVE AQUARIUM PLANT – 1 Bundle of Amazon Sword (Echinodorus Amazonicus)
  • SIZE – 6”+ length (Slightly different, May vary)
  • FREE ICE OR HEAT pack – Due to extremely weather, Ice and heat pack is available up on request. Simply put “ICE” or “HEAT” after your name on your shipping address.
  • 7 DAYS STAY ALIVE GUARANTEED – We stand behind our products. For some reasons if our plants died within 7 days, please message us with a clear photo. Refund or replacement will be applied.
  • With 30 years experiences, please ensure that you will receive the best quality. Please do not hesitate to contact us if you have any question or concern. Our customer service team would be very happy to help you.

3. Anubias

Anubias are slow-growing plants that will tolerate a range of water conditions and temperatures, making them very compatible with many different fish species, including plecos. They don’t require much maintenance and only need regular fertilization or liquid carbon supplement if kept in low light conditions.

If you’re unsure which choice of plant, anubias is one of my favourites thanks to how it looks and I’d recommend it in any tank

SubstrateSource Anubias Live Aquarium Plants – Potted Freshwater Plant for Fish Tanks, Terrariums – Beginner Friendly Low Light (Nana, 1 Pot)
  • Anubias Nana is one of the most popular aquatic plants loved by both beginners and experts alike, and will instantly give your aquarium, paludarium, or terrarium a lush and natural appearance.
  • Known for its smaller stems, rich green tone, and pointed leaves, this aquatic plant is great for filling up open space and can be placed in the midground or background of your tank.
  • Ships 4-6″ tall rooted in wool which should be removed prior to planting. Gently squeeze the pot, peel back the wool, rinse, and plant! Keep the rhizomes above your substrate or the plant can begin to rot.
  • Will thrive attached directly onto hardscape such as driftwood and stones using thread or aquarium glue and will grow fine either immersed in a humid environment or fully submerged.
  • Easy Care – Anubias have low light requirements, can benefit from regular fertilization, and do not require additional Co2 making them a great choice for beginners to live aquatic plants.

4. Java Fern

Java ferns are incredibly hardy plants able to withstand changes in water temperature and pH levels without too much fuss or maintenance. They prefer shadier areas but don’t need much else; however, you should check on them occasionally for signs of rot or breakdown caused by unsuitable conditions. Your pleco will love a few of these in the tank!

Greenpro Microsorum Pteropus Java Fern Tall Full Potted Live Aquarium Plants Decorations Freshwater Fish Tank
  • JAVA FERN LARGE | Microsorum pteropus, live aquarium plant, no matter what you are beginner or advanced aquarist or if your aquarium tank is low-tech or high tech aquascaped; JAVA FERN is a great choice for you.

5. Hornwort

Hornwort is a fast-growing floating plant that doesn’t like too much maintenance, perfect for those who want something easy! Hornwort won’t rot thanks to its ability to absorb large amounts of oxygen from the surface area of its leaves, so it’s a great choice for your plecos tank! Hornwort also provides a great habitat for baby fry due to its dense foliage, which makes it a good choice.

Hornwort Live Aquarium Plant Live Pond Plant (A Bundle of 4 Plants/Stems)
  • PERFECT ADDITION FOR AQUARIUM: The natural and vibrant hornwort bunches are an ideal addition for your aquarium. This aquarium plant adds to the beauty of your aquarium and makes it more visually appealing.
  • IMPROVES WATER QUALITY: The Canton aquatics hornwort aquarium plant helps to improve water quantity by removing excess nutrients and oxygenating the water. Along with improving the water quality, it also helps to neutralize the algae.
  • EASY TO GROW: The hornwort live aquarium plants are resilient to cold weather and are easy to grow in any environment. Even in low light conditions, this aquarium plant can grow easily.
  • NATURAL HIDING PLACES: The long and trailing leaves of this water pond plants can create natural hiding and resting places for your fish. Along with your fish, other aquatic creatures and inhabitants can also benefit from these natural hiding places.
  • LIVE PLANTS ARRIVAL: We ensure that the arrival of these aquarium pond plants is live. However, if you find the plant to be dead, you can send us a photo and we will replace it with another after verification.

Just be cautious as hornwort can grow rapidly and can be hard to control.

When you’re looking for plants to add to your pleco tank, try to avoid plants they can uproot. Stick to plants like java moss, java fern, anubias and hornwort. You can even add marimo moss balls which will entertain them.

Pleco Breeding

Here’s what you need to know about breeding plecos and how to give your fish all the love and care they need for successful reproduction.

1. Setting Up the Tank

Your tank should be at least 100-200 gallons in size with plenty of rocks and hiding places so that the adults can escape if necessary – this helps reduce stress levels and ensures that both partners feel safe during mating rituals, as well as reducing the chances of aggression. 

The tank should be slightly acidic, with temperatures around 21-26°C (70-82°F). Additionally, filtration equipment should be used to maintain clean water conditions.

2. Selecting Appropriate Partners

Once you’ve set up your tank, it’s time to select compatible partners for your Pleco. When choosing a mate for your pleco, look for one that is larger than yours, as this will make sure that the spawning process runs smoothly.

Females are usually identified by their rounder bellies, while males have slimmer builds; however, some species may display different traits such as colors or fin lengths, so double-check before pairing any two fish together.

3. Feeding

Feeding habits play an important role when it comes to breeding plecos as well! During breeding, you want to condition your plecos to feel like they are in breeding season which usually brings an abundance of live food. So a diet high in protein, it’s essential that you provide them with plenty of fresh foods such as worms or shrimp. However, don’t neglect their needs for vegetation either. 

4. Spawning Time

Once your pair has been chosen and feeding habits are established, it’s time to start preparing for the spawning! During this time, both parents will become increasingly territorial, which could lead to fights between them, so take extra measures like adding additional shelters or separating them until actual spawn activity occurs. 

However, once the female finds her preferred place, she will lay her eggs on plants or rocks before her partner fertilizes them – afterward, she moves away from the nest, leaving him in charge of defending & caring for them until hatching occurs (which typically takes 5-7 days).

If your plecos eggs are fertilized they will turn yellow/orange in color, however if they were unfertilized they’ll turn white and start to rot over time.

5. Raising Pleco Fry

Once the eggs have hatched, you’ll need to carefully transfer the fry to a separate tank with plenty of hiding spots and gentle filtration. Feed them a diet of crushed algae flakes and baby brine shrimp, and make sure to do regular water changes to keep their environment clean and healthy.

Plecos are notoriously difficult to breed, so if you don’t have success that’s almost to be expected. Just focus on giving the plecos the best conditions possible for breeding, including improving their diet, providing them plenty of hiding places, and selecting a good breeding pair.


As with any aquarium fish, plecos are susceptible to a number of diseases. Knowing the signs and symptoms of common pleco diseases can help you catch and treat them early, ensuring the health and well-being of your fish.

Here are some of the most common pleco diseases to watch out for:


Ich, also known as white spot disease, is a common parasitic infection affecting many different fish types, including plecos. Symptoms include white spots on the fish’s body, fins, and gills, as well as increased scratching and rubbing against objects in the tank. Ich can be treated with over-the-counter medications containing malachite green or formalin.

Fin Rot

Fin rot is a bacterial infection that can occur when fish are stressed or when the water quality in your plecos tank is poor. Symptoms include ragged or frayed fins, discoloration, and possible loss of fins altogether. Fortunately, most of the time treating fin rot is as simple as improving the water quality and reducing stress.

Mouth Fungus

Mouth fungus, also known as cottonmouth or columnaris, is a bacterial infection that affects the mouth and gills of plecos. Symptoms include white or gray patches on the fish’s mouth, frayed fins, and lethargy. To treat mouth fungus, you’ll need to improve water quality and in some cases use an antibiotic medication.


Velvet, also known as gold dust disease, is a parasitic infection that affects the skin and fins of plecos. Symptoms include a yellow or gold dust-like appearance on the fish’s skin, lethargy, and possible loss of appetite. Velvet can be treated with over-the-counter medications containing copper sulfate or formalin.


Dropsy is a symptom rather than a disease itself, and it occurs when there is a buildup of fluid inside your plecos body. Symptoms include a bloated appearance, scales that stand out from the body, and possible loss of appetite. Dropsy can be difficult to treat, but improving water quality and using antibiotics will help.


Bloat is a condition that affects the digestive system of fish. Symptoms of bloat include swelling of the abdomen, loss of appetite, and difficulty swimming. Bloat can be caused by a variety of factors, including overfeeding and poor water quality.

Prevention is always better than cure, so make sure to keep your pleco’s environment clean and healthy, with proper water parameters and regular water changes. A healthy and stress-free fish is less likely to fall ill, so provide plenty of hiding places and a well-balanced diet. 

How Many Plecos Can You Keep Together?

The number of plecos that can be kept together depends on several factors, including:

Species of Pleco

Some species of plecos are more social than others and can be kept in groups. For example, the bristlenose pleco is a social species that can be kept in groups of 3 or more. Other species, such as the common pleco, are more territorial and may require their own space.

Size of Aquarium 

The size of the aquarium is an important factor to consider when determining the number of plecos that can be kept together. A 20-gallon aquarium is recommended for a single pleco, and an additional 10 gallons of space should be added for each additional pleco.

Filtration Capacity

The filtration capacity of the aquarium is also important. Plecos produce a lot of waste, and the aquarium must have adequate filtration to keep the water clean and healthy for the fish. It is recommended to have a filtration system that is capable of filtering the entire volume of the aquarium at least three times per hour.

Size of the Plecos 

The size of the plecos is also a factor to consider. Some species can grow quite large, and keeping multiple large plecos in the same aquarium may not be feasible.

Recommended Ratios

The recommended ratio when keeping multiple plecos together is 1:1 male to female for smaller species and 2:1 for larger ones. This ensures that each individual has enough space and resources available and does not lead to any competition between them. It is also important to research your particular species of Pleco before attempting to keep multiple individuals in the same tank.

Facts About Plecos

  • They have a special type of modified mouth located on their underside that they use to scrape algae off rocks and other surfaces.
  • Some types of pleco are known for leaving interesting patterns called “gap lines” on glass aquarium walls from their constant grazing activities!
  • Plecos are known for their ability to regenerate lost body parts, such as fins and tails.
  • Plecos are capable of producing a distinctive grunting or chirping sound, which they use to communicate with other fish.
  • Plecos have a unique ability to breathe air through their intestines, which allows them to survive in low-oxygen environments.
  • Some species of plecos can grow up to two feet in length, making them one of the largest species of freshwater fish kept in home aquariums.
  • Some types of plecos have teeth that are shaped like spoons, which they use to scrape algae off surfaces in the aquarium.
Pleco Care_ Complete Guide From Start To Finish


Here are some frequently asked questions that people have about taking care of plecos.

Can Plecos Live In A Pond?

Plecos can live in a pond as long as the water conditions are suitable. However, it is important to note that not all species of plecos are suitable for living in ponds. Additionally, if the pond contains other fish species, ensure that plecos are compatible with them and won’t pose a threat.

How Big Will A Pleco Get In A 10 Gallon Tank?

Most common pleco types reach an adult size of 8 inches or 20 cm and would require a tank 30 gallons in size in order to accommodate them. Smaller species, such as the bristlenose pleco may reach sizes of 4-5 inches, but 10 gallons is still too small.

Can You Put A Pleco In A 20 Gallon Tank?

Small to medium-sized plecos do well in a 20-gallon tanks but it is important to research the particular species beforehand as some types may outgrow this their tank and require something larger if they reach lengths of 8 inches or more (such as common plecos).

How Big Will A Pleco Get In A 30 Gallon Tank?

The size of a pleco will depend on the species – most common types reach an adult size of 8 inches while some smaller types may stay closer to 4-5 inches. That being said, 30 gallons is usually large enough for many species of pleco as long as it includes ample hiding spots.

Do Plecos Really Clean Your Tank?

Yes, plecos help keep your tank clean by grazing on algae and other types of biofilms that accumulate on surfaces. While they don’t remove waste from the substrate like a filter does, they can help reduce the frequency of tank maintenance as well as improve water quality in the long run.

Do Plecos Need To Be Fed Everyday?

No, plecos typically only need to be fed every 2-3 days. It is important to feed them a variety of foods, including frozen/dehydrated foods meant for omnivorous fish, blanched vegetables, sinking pellets, and other fresh vegetables that are cleaned prior to feeding.

Do Plecos Like Sand Or Gravel?

Plecos prefer tanks with soft substrates such as sand or fine gravel as it allows them to easily graze on algae and biofilm covered surfaces. Coarser substrates, such as rough gravel, may cause irritation to their sensitive barbels (or modified mouthparts), which could eventually lead to harm or stress.

Do Plecos Really Need Driftwood?

While driftwood isn’t essential for a pleco tank, it is recommended since it provides hiding spots as well as helping maintain water parameters by leaching tannins into the water which make conditions more suitable for some species.

Do Plecos Only Eat Algae When Starving?

No, plecos typically feed on algae and other biofilms as their primary food source. While they may eat small amounts of meaty foods (such as small insects or freeze-dried shrimp) to supplement their diets.

Should I Feed My Pleco At Night?

It is best to feed plecos at night when they are more active and usually hungrier. This will help ensure that they get the necessary nutrients and energy they need while avoiding potential competition with other fish in the tank during daytime feeding.

Do Plecos Clean Glass?

Plecos will clean the glass in your tank as they try to eat the algae from it. However, this behavior can vary greatly between individuals depending on the breed and age, and they won’t be as efficient as you cleaning it yourself.

Should I Let My Pleco Eat Dead Fish?

Don’t let your pleco eat dead fish as the toxins released from decomposition can lead to serious health problems for your pet. Dead fish can carry bacteria and parasites that can be harmful to your pleco and can also cause water quality issues in your aquarium.

Can You Keep A Single Pleco?

You can keep plecos alone, and oftentimes this is preferred due to how large they can grow, as well as the increased risk of aggression occurring when there’s more than one pleco in the tank.

What Are The Disadvantages Of Keeping A Pleco?

The biggest disadvantage of keeping a pleco is how big they grow. If your tank isn’t big enough, they’ll quickly outgrow it which will stress them out. Apart from this, they’re great additions to any tank!


I hope you found this article helpful in understanding exactly how to care for your pleco. As you can see, providing a healthy environment for your pleco is relatively easy as long as you keep up with regular maintenance and follow the guidelines we’ve outlined.

Remember, plecos can be long-lived fish, so taking care of them properly is important for their well-being. With a little effort, you can enjoy the company of your pleco for years to come!

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