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Are Plecos Aggressive? (By Type)

Are Plecos Aggressive? (By Type)

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This post is written to the author's best knowledge and is not intended to be used in place of veterinary advice. In addition, this post may contain affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Plecos are popular fish that many people love putting in home fish tanks. They’re fish that stay at the bottom of the tank.

You might think that they would be a good fit for a community aquarium. Often, people put bottom-feeding fish in community tanks because they’re relatively peaceful.

Are plecos considered to be peaceful fish? Or are they aggressive fish?

Keep reading to learn about pleco fish and how aggressive they are. You’ll get information about different types of plecos so you can decide if they’re a good fit for your fish tank.

Plecos can be great fish to own, but it’s always best to know what to expect before you commit to buying new fish. Depending on the type of pleco fish you choose to buy, the aggression levels will be different.

Bristlenose Plecos

Bristlenose plecos are probably the most common type of pleco fish. They’re regularly sold in pet stores, and they’re great because these fish are easy to take care of.

You’ll find that these fish are among the most beginner-friendly plecos that you can buy. They’re also just the right size that they won’t be taking up too much space.

These fish grow to be between four and six inches long at maturity. You’ll need a 40-gallon fish tank at a minimum to care for a bristlenose pleco.

It’s good to know that this is a great option when you want a bottom-dwelling fish that eats algae. These are very good algae eaters that will also be great to have in community fish tanks.

These are generally very peaceful fish. They’ll make good community tank fish when paired with compatible tank mates.

Gold Nugget Plecos

Gold nugget plecos are so pretty, and that helps to make them very popular. These fish have dark brown bodies and they’re covered in golden spots.

You’ll really love how nice these fish look. They can add aesthetic appeal to your fish tank.

They’re a little tougher to care for than the bristlenose plecos mentioned above. That doesn’t mean that they’re overly sensitive fish that will die easily, though.

Gold nugget plecos grow to be nine and a half inches long. They need to be kept in 75-gallon fish tanks or larger because of their size.

These fish aren’t generally aggressive, but they can become territorial with other species of plecos. Also, they might get aggressive toward their own kind sometimes.

Zebra Plecos

Zebra plecos are the smallest type of pleco fish that you will find. These fish might be among the most practical types of plecos to own.

One reason why they’re great to buy is that they’re small. These fish can fit in a 20-gallon fish tank unlike many other types of plecos.

A zebra pleco fish will only grow to be three inches long. This is good for those who don’t have a lot of space for larger fish tanks.

It’s also notable that these fish are very peaceful. They’re shy types of plecos that won’t bother other fish in a community fish tank.

Clown Plecos

Clown plecos aren’t that much bigger than zebra plecos. These fish only grow to be between three and a half and four inches long.

You’ll be able to house these fish comfortably in a 30-gallon fish tank. They’re also easy to take care of overall.

Clown plecos will be a good choice for those who are new to caring for fish. It makes them an easy choice for anyone who wants to buy plecos for the first time.

It’s also good that these are very peaceful plecos. They won’t bother other fish and will be good community aquarium members.

The only time these fish might be aggressive is toward each other. This only occurs when you try to keep too many plecos in a tank that is too small.

Common Plecos

Common plecos are gigantic fish that require 100-gallon fish tanks. These fish can grow to be 24 inches long at adulthood.

They’re also considered to be aggressive fish. Once the fish reach maturity, they can be fairly aggressive toward other fish.

You can still keep common plecos in community tanks, though. It’s just important to choose the tank mates for these fish very carefully.

Otherwise, you could wind up putting certain fish in danger. For most people, owning fish this large won’t be very practical.

Royal Plecos

Royal plecos aren’t all that aggressive overall. For the most part, royal plecos are very peaceful fish.

However, they can become aggressive in certain situations. They can become territorial, and this will trigger them to become aggressive.

It’s also notable that males are more aggressive than females. You don’t necessarily have to worry too much about aggression with these fish if you keep them in fish tanks that are big enough.

Since these fish are large that grow to be 17 inches long, they need to be kept in 100-gallon fish tanks. Pick appropriate tank mates for these fish and they can still be good community fish tank members.

Rubber Lip Plecos

Rubber lip plecos are sort of like smaller versions of common plecos. They only grow to be seven inches long.

These fish can be kept in 55-gallon fish tanks. They’re very nice looking fish overall that you’ll be pleased with if you choose to buy them.

You’ll find that rubber lip plecos are exceptionally peaceful. They aren’t aggressive in any way and they really like to mind their own business.

They also don’t do well when put in community fish tanks with aggressive fish that bother them. Pick good tank mates for them and you’ll have a great experience.

Sailfin Plecos

Sailfin plecos are large fish that grow to be between 13 and 19 inches long. Since they’re so big, you’re going to need to have a 100-gallon fish tank to care for them.

They’re pretty relaxed fish when it comes to dealing with other species. However, they might get aggressive toward each other sometimes.

These fish have been known to get territorial. If you put them in a fish tank that doesn’t have enough space, they will become very territorial.

So long as you put them in a large enough aquarium, it’s unlikely that you’ll have problems. It isn’t as if these fish are super aggressive.

Snowball Plecos

These snowball plecos are some of the prettiest that you can buy. Many people like owning them simply because they look great.

Sadly, they’re known for being a bit aggressive toward each other as well as other types of plecos. Never keep more than one male in the same fish tank.

Also, it’s best to give these fish more than enough space. This should keep issues with territorial disputes to a minimum.

These fish do get along fine with compatible tank mates. They largely ignore other types of fish.

Vampire Plecos

Vampire plecos are very cool fish that you might want to own. These are carnivorous plecos that eat things such as shrimp and snails.

They’re either dark brown or black and they have beautiful yellow spots. Many people say that the spots resemble stars.

In fact, these fish are also sometimes sold as the galaxy pleco because of how they look. They’re truly stunning fish that you’ll enjoy owning.

They grow to be eight inches long and they need to be kept in 75-gallon fish tanks. Despite being carnivorous, these fish are fairly peaceful overall.

Vampire plecos have calm temperaments and aren’t very likely to fight. They should be good community fish tank members.

Butterfly Plecos

Butterfly plecos are nice fish to own because they’re easy to care for. These are good choices for beginners that won’t test your patience.

They only grow to be five and a half inches long. Since they aren’t that big, they can be kept in 40-gallon aquariums easily.

These fish have big fins that are considered to be rather showy. They can even change their coloration to match the substrate.

Butterfly plecos aren’t very aggressive at all. In fact, they’re so peaceful that you need to be careful when picking tank mates for them.

Putting them in a community tank with aggressive fish could put them in danger. They’re good fish for community tanks when you choose the right tank mates.

Sunshine Plecos

Sunshine plecos grow to be 12 inches long at maturity. Since they’re large, they need to be kept in 100-gallon fish tanks or larger ones.

These omnivores are semi-aggressive toward each other. They aren’t generally aggressive toward other types of fish, though.

Be careful not to put too many of these fish in the same tank together. They can live together, but you want to give them more than enough space to spread out.

Even though they’re semi-aggressive fish, they aren’t that hard to deal with. They might fight with each other a bit, but it never winds up being so bad that the fish get injured.

Do Plecos Eat Other Fish?

Plecos will sometimes eat other fish. Many types of plecos are omnivores and that means that they will eat whatever they can.

If you put a very small fish in the tank with a large pleco, then there’s a chance that the pleco might eat it. However, plecos don’t usually try to eat other fish.

They usually only eat other fish if the fish have already died. A pleco might eat a dead fish or a dying fish that sinks to the bottom of the tank.

Do Plecos Bite?

Plecos will sometimes bite other fish in self defense. This is a normal reaction when they are being bothered.

However, many types of plecos are more likely to swim away or hide. They do bite other plecos sometimes, but this doesn’t happen a lot.

Sometimes plecos will bite fish to try to protect their eggs. Plecos breed in caves and male plecos protect the eggs until they hatch.

If a fish tries to bother the eggs, then the pleco might try to bite the fish to scare it away. Other than that, it’s unlikely that plecos will bite.

Do Plecos Have Teeth?

Yes, plecos do indeed have teeth. Plecos have strong teeth that are designed to scrape food off of plants and rocks.

They’re known for having rough teeth. In fact, plecos might even damage some types of acrylic fish tanks due to how rough their teeth are.

When they try to scrape algae off of the tank, they might wind up scratching it severely. Just buy the right type of tank that can stand up to the plecos.

Do Plecos Fight?

Plecos will sometimes fight with each other. They can get territorial sometimes when they don’t have enough space.

Also, it’s common for male plecos to fight a bit. They might fight over the right to mate with female plecos.

These fish are far less likely to fight with other fish, though. Plecos will generally only fight in self defense.

It’d be more common to see plecos fight to protect their eggs. Other than that, you won’t see plecos fighting with other fish under normal circumstances.

Can Plecos Live Together?

Yes, plecos can live together, but you probably shouldn’t put too many males in the tank. Typically, people will keep one male and a few different female plecos in the same tank.

This helps to avoid issues with fighting. It isn’t a good idea to keep multiple types of plecos together either.

You don’t want to put two different species of plecos in the same tank. They will see each other as a threat and wind up fighting.

Final Thoughts

Plecos aren’t very aggressive fish overall. They can sometimes be aggressive to each other and other types of plecos, though.

Don’t keep too many males in the same fish tank since that will likely lead to more fighting. It’s also a bad idea to keep multiple types of plecos in the same fish tank.

Overall, plecos are going to be very good community aquarium fish. They’re generally peaceful fish that are very easy to deal with.

Now that you know what to expect, it should be easier to get good results. Choose the types of plecos that you buy carefully so that you can have a good time caring for them in a community tank setting.

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