How Many Plecos Can Stay Together? (With 15 Examples)

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Raising a group of Plecos can be quite exciting, especially when you’re setting up their aquarium environment from scratch.

However, this naturally brings up several queries.

How many Plecos can comfortably coexist in a single tank? Is their gender an important consideration? And is it possible to keep just one Pleco on its own?

In this article, I’ll explore all these questions and more, so you leave with all the information you need. Let’s get started.

How Many Plecos Can Live Together in the Same Tank?

Here’s a table describing how many of the most common 15 Pleco species can be kept together based on the tank size.

Please note that these numbers are approximations, as many factors like tank layout, filtration, and tank maintenance can affect the number of plecos you can safely keep:

Pleco Species20-Gallon Tank30-Gallon Tank40-Gallon Tank55-Gallon Tank75-Gallon Tank125-Gallon Tank150-Gallon Tank200+ Gallon Tank
Common Pleco00000112
Bristlenose Pleco11234679
Rubber Lip Pleco11234679
Clown Pleco1234691012
Royal Pleco00001122-3
Sailfin Pleco00000112
Snowball Pleco11234679
Zebra Pleco1234691012
Gold Nugget Pleco01123568
King Tiger Pleco11234679
Vampire Pleco00112345-6
Bulldog Pleco11234679
Blue-Eyed Pleco00001122-3
Spotted Pleco00000112
Candy Striped Pleco11234679

Also Read: Pleco Fish Facts

Blue-Eyed Pleco

20-Gallon Tank

For a tank this size, it’s crucial to understand that many Plecos are unsuitable due to their adult size and territorial nature. Here’s what I would tell my neighbor:

  • Size Matters: Most Plecos grow large, making a 20-gallon tank insufficient. For example, Common Plecos can grow up to 24 inches, which would quickly outgrow such a small environment.
  • Bristlenose or Clown: If you’re set on Plecos, consider smaller species like Bristlenose or Clown Plecos. They stay under 6 inches and are more fitting for a 20-gallon tank.
  • Monitor Behavior: Plecos can be territorial. Even in a 20-gallon tank, two small Plecos might show signs of aggression or stress, so always watch for compatibility.

Also Read: Which Plecos Can Live In 20 Gallons?

Bristlenose Pleco

30-Gallon Tank

A bit more room here, but still limited when it comes to many Pleco species. My advice:

  • Avoid Common Plecos: Again, species like the Common Pleco are unsuitable as they grow too large and become cramped in such spaces.
  • Consider Pairs: You could house a pair of smaller Plecos, like Bristlenose Plecos, ensuring they have enough hiding spots.
  • Decoration and Territory: Plecos love caves and hiding spots. Adequate decorations help reduce stress and territorial disputes, so ensure your setup accommodates them.

Also Read: Plecos In A 30-Gallon Tank

40-Gallon Tank

You start to have more flexibility with a 40-gallon tank, but considerations remain. Here’s the scoop:

  • Multiple Small Plecos: You can house multiple smaller Plecos, such as Rubber Lip or Clown Plecos, but always monitor interactions.
  • Size and Growth: Remember, juvenile Plecos will grow. For instance, a Gold Nugget Pleco might seem fine initially, but it can grow up to 8 inches, which may press the tank’s capacity.
  • Filtration is Key: Plecos produce a lot of waste. Upgraded filtration is essential to maintain water quality and the well-being of the fish.

Also Read: Plecos In A 40-Gallon Tank

Gold Nugget Pleco

55-Gallon Tank

With a 55-gallon tank, you get considerably more leeway, although some guidelines remain. Let’s dive in:

  • Diverse Options: You can house several smaller Plecos or one medium-sized Pleco. For example, two to three Bristlenose Plecos can coexist peacefully.
  • Avoid Large Species: Despite the larger volume, species like the Royal Pleco or Sailfin Pleco can still outgrow this space in the long run.
  • Maintenance and Cleanliness: Plecos are messy eaters. Regular tank maintenance, including substrate vacuuming, is vital to prevent waste buildup and ensure the health of your Plecos.

Also Read: Which Plecos Can Live In A 55-Gallon Tank?

75-Gallon Tank

A 75-gallon offers a good range of options for Pleco enthusiasts, but it’s not without its considerations. Here’s the gist:

  • Room for Medium Species: Plecos like the Gold Nugget or even the smaller Royal Plecos can find comfort in a 75-gallon, but always consider their adult sizes.
  • Multiple Smaller Plecos: Housing several Bristlenose, Clown, or Rubber Lip Plecos becomes feasible, but ensure enough hideouts to curb territorial disputes.
  • Tankmates: Plecos aren’t the only fish in town. With 75 gallons, you have room to introduce other species, but always ensure compatibility with your Plecos.
Rubber Lip Pleco

125-Gallon Tank

Jumping to 125 gallons offers much more flexibility, but you’re also in a zone where larger Plecos become tempting. Here’s what I’d advise:

  • Temptation of Larger Plecos: Now you can think about some larger Plecos, but always anticipate their full growth. Sailfin Plecos, for instance, can be comfortably housed here.
  • Multiple Medium Species: Several medium-sized Plecos can coexist, like the Vampire or King Tiger Plecos, but offer lots of territories.
  • Balance and Space: Remember, more fish mean more waste. Strong filtration and weekly water changes will be pivotal to keep those Plecos thriving.

150-Gallon Tank

At 150 gallons, you’re starting to have some real fun, especially for a Pleco lover. Here’s my take:

  • Variety and Diversity: With careful planning, a mix of medium and smaller Plecos can coexist harmoniously. Think about combinations like Zebra and Bristlenose Plecos.
  • Larger Plecos: Plecos like the Blue-Eyed or even the larger Royal Plecos are viable options here. They’ll appreciate the space.
  • Active Maintenance: Plecos can be boisterous diggers. Reinforce plantings and decor, and ensure you’re up for the task of maintaining a tank of this size with such active residents.

200+ Gallon Tank

Now you’re in the big leagues, and the possibilities are vast. Here’s what you should know:

  • Dreams of Giant Plecos: This is where you can house the majestic Common Pleco, but be prepared for its size and dietary needs.
  • Community Setup: Multiple species and sizes of Plecos can coexist. However, layout, hiding spots, and territories become even more crucial.
  • Dedication to the Craft: Large tanks, especially with Plecos, demand consistent care. Consideration for high-quality filtration, consistent water changes, and attention to tank dynamics is paramount for your Plecos’ well-being.
Common Pleco

Can Plecos Live in a Group?

Yes, Plecos can live in a group, but it’s heavily dependent on the species and tank environment. Some Plecos are more social, while others can be territorial.

  • Species Dependent: Certain Plecos, like the Bristlenose or Clown Plecos, tend to be more tolerant of others, while larger species can be territorial.
  • Tank Decor: Providing ample hiding spots, caves, and territories is crucial. Plecos need their own space to retreat and establish territories. I personally got this Jabukosu Aquarium Cave (link to Amazon).
  • Watch for Aggression: Just like with any fish, monitor for signs of aggression. If a Pleco is chasing or nipping at others, consider it might need more space or separation.

Also Read: Why Has My Pleco Become Aggressive?

What is the Ideal Number of Plecos to Keep Together?

The ideal number of Plecos to keep together varies based on the tank size and the species in question.

Generally, for smaller species in a sizable tank, 2-5 can coexist, but always observe their behavior.

  • Tank Size Matters: In a 55-gallon tank, you could house three Bristlenose Plecos, but in a 150-gallon, you could mix various species.
  • Avoid Overcrowding: Plecos produce a significant amount of waste. Overcrowding can compromise water quality and increase territorial disputes.
  • Compatibility Research: Before introducing multiple Plecos, research their compatibility. For instance, two Common Plecos in a 200-gallon tank might still spar over territory.

Does the Gender Matter?

Yes, the gender of Plecos does matter, especially when considering territorial behavior and breeding purposes. Males can be particularly territorial, especially during breeding seasons.

  • Males and Territories: Male Plecos, particularly Bristlenose males, often claim certain areas or caves. Two males in a smaller tank can lead to frequent spats over these territories.
  • Breeding Concerns: If you’re not planning on breeding Plecos, housing multiple females can reduce territorial disputes. However, a male and female together might lead to unexpected fry.
  • Tank Size Consideration: In larger tanks (100+ gallons), gender disputes can be minimized with enough space and hiding spots. Still, in smaller setups, gender dynamics become more pressing for your Plecos’ harmony.

Also Read: Can Plecos Live Without Oxygen?

Can You Keep a Single Pleco in a Tank?

Yes, you can absolutely keep a single Pleco in a tank, and many aquarists do so due to their potential size and territorial behavior.

Providing the right environment ensures a healthy, happy Pleco.

  • Right Tank Size: Plecos need space, especially larger species. A Common Pleco, for instance, requires at least a 100-gallon tank as it grows.
  • Proper Diet: Plecos are often seen as algae eaters, but they require varied diets. Ensure algae wafers, veggies, and occasional proteins are available.
  • Hiding Spots: Plecos love to hide. Provide caves, driftwood, or other hiding places for them to feel secure. My recommendation: Dr. Moss Malaysian Driftwood (link to Amazon).
  • Clean Environment: Plecos can be messy. Regular water changes and a good filtration system are crucial to maintain their well-being.

Also Read: Can Plecos Live Alone?

What Fish Can Live with Plecos?

Many fish can cohabitate with Plecos as long as they share similar water conditions and are not overly aggressive. However, always be observant when introducing new tankmates.

  • Peaceful Community Fish: Tetras, Rasboras, and Corydoras are good choices. They swim in different tank regions and won’t bother Plecos.
  • Avoid Aggressive Species: Cichlids, especially African ones, can sometimes clash with Plecos over territory or food.
  • Consider Water Parameters: Fish like Discus, which share similar water conditions with many Plecos, can be great tankmates.
  • Size Discrepancy: Larger, passive fish like Gouramis or Angels can coexist with Plecos, but ensure they aren’t small enough to be seen as food!
  • Feeding Dynamics: Ensure both Plecos and their tankmates get their share during feeding. Sometimes, Plecos might need food directly at the bottom to ensure they’re nourished.

Also Read: Pleco Fish Tank Mates

Pleco and Cory catfish


For quick readers, here’s a short recap:

  • The number of Plecos one can keep depends on tank size, species, and tank conditions; for example, a 20-gallon tank can house one Bristlenose Pleco, while a 200+ gallon tank can host two Common Plecos.
  • Plecos can live in groups, but their sociability varies by species, and it’s crucial to provide ample hiding spots and monitor for signs of aggression.
  • The ideal number of Plecos in a tank depends on its size and the specific species; for instance, a 55-gallon tank can accommodate three Bristlenose Plecos.
  • Gender dynamics matter, especially in smaller tanks, as male Plecos can be territorial, especially during breeding seasons.
  • While Plecos can cohabit with many fish like Tetras or Gouramis, it’s essential to ensure similar water conditions and observe feeding dynamics to ensure all fish get nourished.