Skip to Content

Do Plecos Change Color? (4 Reasons They Might Turn White)

Do Plecos Change Color? (4 Reasons They Might Turn White)

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

Plecos have proven to be among the most popular types of bottom-dwelling fish. Many people like buying these fish because most of them are incredibly peaceful and hardy.

If you’ve recently added plecos to your fish tank, then you might still be learning about them. When observing your tank, you might be surprised if the color of the plecos looks a bit different than normal.

Do these fish change color? If a pleco appears to change color, is that an indication that something is wrong?

Read on to learn about whether plecos can change color or not. This will help you to better understand what these fish are capable of.

Plecos Can Change Color

Yes, plecos can change color. Some plecos will do this naturally while it might be a bad sign if other plecos change colors.

The butterfly pleco is one of the fish that is known to change color. This fish can change colors almost the same way that a chameleon would.

Butterfly Pleco

It can change its coloration to match the color of the substrate in the fish tank. Many people who love owning these fish pick out light, pretty colors for the substrate to bring out the best colors in the fish.

These fish are easy to care for and only grow to be five and a half inches long. They’ll be good options for beginners and experienced fish tank owners alike.

Color Changing Could Be Bad for Some Plecos

Of course, color changing isn’t necessarily a good sign for all plecos. Some plecos might change color a bit when they’re stressed or when they’re getting sick.

A color change could be an indication that something is wrong with the water parameters. Perhaps the water temperature isn’t right or the pH balance is a bit off.

Another possibility is that the fish is stressed due to not having enough hiding spots in the tank. Plecos really enjoy having hiding spots such as aquatic plants and little caves.

Plecostomus Outside of Hiding Spot With a Couple Plecos Inside

You should do your best to give the fish what they need to thrive. Treat them well and they shouldn’t get stressed so long as you’re not making mistakes.

It’s also possible that color changes could be related to disease. Some fish might get sick and wind up changing color slightly.

Determining exactly what is wrong will involve monitoring the fish. You’ll have to observe the fish and see what types of symptoms it has.

What Does it Mean When Your Pleco Turned White?

A pleco turning white is a terrible sign that you should be wary of. It might even mean that the pleco is dying.

Below, you’ll see a few reasons why a pleco might turn white. This might help you to figure out what’s going on with your fish.

1 – Nutrition Issues

The most common reason why plecos turn white has to do with nutrition. Some make the mistake of thinking that plecos can subsist on only algae.

These fish generally can’t live on algae alone. Some plecos won’t even eat algae at all.

You need to feed these fish the right foods that will help them to stay healthy. Turning white could be a sign of extreme malnutrition.

Your pleco could be starving to death. Try feeding it foods such as veggies and proteins to see if you can nurse it back to health.

2 – General Stress

General stress has been known to cause plecos to turn white as well. A pleco might turn white if it is dealing with problems such as aggressive tank mates.

Pleco in Community Tank

Other issues such as improper pH balance and being forced to live in a tank that’s too small can also stress the fish. Try to solve the source of the stress to get the pleco fish back to normal.

3 – Sickness

Various types of diseases might cause plecos to turn white. Plecos might turn white when they contract diseases such as ich, dropsy, and fin rot.

You’ll need to pay attention to the fish to see what’s wrong with it. Treating the condition might help the fish to survive and get back to normal.

If you want help diagnosing the disease, you’ll want to turn to an exotic veterinarian. Otherwise, note the symptoms that the fish is experiencing and try to determine what is wrong.

Once you know what is wrong, you’ll be able to take the necessary steps to treat the fish. If you catch things in time and treat the fish properly, it should survive.

4 – Overcrowding the Fish Tank

Multiple Snowball Plecos

Overcrowding the fish tank is a very bad idea no matter what fish you’re caring for. Plecos are a bit on the big side, and this means that they need a lot of tank space.

Even the smaller plecos are going to do better in 40-gallon fish tanks or ones that are even larger. You should avoid putting too many fish in one fish tank if it’ll create problems for any of the fish.

Plecos are common community tank fish. This means that people often make mistakes and put way too many fish in the tank.

Be careful to consider the amount of space that each fish needs. Only put as many fish as you’ll be able to comfortably fit in the tank.

Otherwise, it’d be better to set up an entirely new tank when you get the urge to buy new fish. Your current fish shouldn’t suffer because you wish to buy more.

Final Thoughts

Be sure to take care of the issues above if your fish turns white. It’s likely that the fish is stressed due to something in the tank that’s going wrong.

However, it could also mean that the fish is sick. You need to determine what is wrong with the fish as soon as you can.

Treating the fish fast gives it a better chance of survival. If you ignore the issue, then there’s a good chance that the fish will die.

Of course, plecos changing color won’t always be bad. Butterfly plecos are known to change color to match the color of the substrate.

This can be a lot of fun and it’s one reason why butterfly plecos are so popular. There are many types of plecos out there that you can enjoy.

Pick a hardy type of pleco that will make sense for your home. Be sure to take care of the fish well by feeding it regularly and monitoring the water conditions.

If you’re a proactive fish tank owner, your fish should thrive under your care. Even if you’ve made mistakes, you’ll be able to try to turn things around by taking heed of the advice above.

Tags

Tags