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Pleco Types (15 Popular Plecos for Your Tank)

Pleco Types (15 Popular Plecos for Your Tank)

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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 great fish, but they aren’t all the same. There are a large number of different plecos out there that you should know about.

Depending on which type of pleco fish you choose to buy, you’ll get a much different experience. Some of these fish are hardy and easy for beginners to care for, but others will be a handful for novices.

Below, you’ll get information about the various types of plecos on the market. This will tell you about all of the most popular plecos that people like to keep in home aquariums.

Some of them are huge and might not be practical for those without a lot of space. Others will be small enough that they will appeal to average fish tank owners.

Once you’ve read about the various options, it’ll be easier to determine which plecos you want. Read everything so that you can make the best decision for your fish tank.

1 – Bristlenose Plecos

Bristlenose Pleco Resting at the Bottom of a Tank

Bristlenose plecos could be the most common plecos that people buy. You’ll often find these excellent little plecos being sold at pet stores.

They’re among the most popular plecos due to being nice to own and very practical. You’ll also like that they’re among the easiest plecos for beginners to care for.

These fish grow to be between four and six inches long at maturity. They’re going to be just fine in a 40-gallon fish tank.

You should be able to have a good time keeping these fish in your home aquarium. They’re also among the best plecos to use as community tank fish.

These fish are herbivores and that means that they just eat veggies. They’re pretty good algae eaters for your fish tank.

You’ll enjoy these fish if you choose to buy some. Don’t hesitate to get bristlenose plecos if you find them interesting.

2 – Common Plecos

Common Pleco on Driftwood in a Freshwater Tank

Common plecos are very popular as well, but they aren’t so practical for most fish tank owners. You see, common plecos grow to be very large.

These fish will wind up being 24 inches long as adults, in some cases. Since they grow to be so big, you’ll need a 100-gallon fish tank at a minimum.

Since that’s a very large tank that many people can’t fit in their homes, these fish won’t be a good option for most. Only dedicated enthusiasts will want to purchase common plecos.

Once they grow to be large, these fish can be a bit territorial. Keep this in mind if you want to put them in a community tank.

You’ll need to pick tank mates carefully. They can be fine in a community aquarium, but you must be smart about it.

These fish are often sold when they’re young and small. Don’t let the juvenile size of these fish fool you.

They can grow faster than you might think. You shouldn’t keep them in a small tank since they will grow out of the tank rather fast.

3 – Gold Nugget Plecos

Gold Nugget Pleco

Gold nugget plecos are such cool fish that you should look into. These might be among the prettiest plecos that you can buy.

They have bright yellow spots that stand out well against their dark bodies. If you’re looking for a pleco fish that has aesthetic appeal, you’ll be pleased with this fish.

This fish isn’t a great algae eating fish, though. If you want a fish that will help to clean the tank, you’d be better off going with one of the options above.

These fish are omnivores that will eat many different things. They will usually eat algae rounds if you give them to them, but they won’t eat a lot of algae in the tank.

Gold nugget plecos grow to be nine and a half inches long once they reach adulthood. Since they’re fairly big, they should be kept in 75-gallon fish tanks.

Don’t hesitate to buy these fish if you want plecos that look cool. They’re among the best options when you want to buy flashy fish.

4 – Vampire Plecos

Vampire Pleco on Driftwood in Aquarium

Vampire plecos are interesting because they’re carnivores. This means that these fish will absolutely not eat algae for you.

They like to eat meaty foods, and you’ll need to feed them appropriately so they can thrive. Vampire plecos like to eat freeze-dried brine shrimp, bloodworms, and other such meaty treats.

These fish look gorgeous because of the patterns they have. They have these golden dots on their bodies that almost look like stars.

They stand out because the fish are either black or dark brown. In fact, these fish are also sold in pet stores as galaxy plecos.

A vampire pleco will grow to be eight inches long when it’s mature. It should do well in a 75-gallon aquarium.

5 – Butterfly Plecos

Butterfly Pleco

Butterfly plecos are fish that you shouldn’t ignore. They stand out among the other plecos because they can change colors.

These fish change colors to match the color of the substrate. If you pick a substrate type that has a pretty and light color, these fish will be real lookers.

Since they’re so pretty, they’ve become pretty popular fish to own. They also aren’t so big that they will be impractical.

A butterfly pleco will grow to be around five and a half inches long once it reaches adulthood. They’re easy to care for and these fish are herbivores.

They do eat algae in the fish tank, and they’ll also need to eat driftwood to help with digestion. You’ll have a good time keeping these fish in 40-gallon fish tanks.

6 – Zebra Plecos

Zebra Pleco Laying on Aquarium Gravel

Zebra plecos are small fish that will only wind up being three and a half inches long. Since they’re so small, they’ll fit in fairly small aquariums.

It should be possible to fit zebra plecos in a 20-gallon fish tank. If you only have room for a modest fish tank, this might be the best pleco fish for your home.

These fish also look rather interesting. They truly do resemble zebras due to having a black stripe pattern.

It’s also interesting to note that zebra plecos are carnivorous fish. You might think that such small fish would be herbivores, but that’s not the case.

You’ll need to feed these fish the same meaty types of food that you give vampire plecos. Overall, you’ll love owning zebra plecos.

They’re satisfying fish to own that will stand out in the fish tank. They are a bit harder to care for than bristlenose plecos, though, and that might make them less desirable for some.

7 – Clown Plecos

Closeup of a Clown Pleco on Black Sand

Clown plecos aren’t very big either. These fish are a bit bigger than zebra plecos since they grow to be between three and a half and four inches long.

You’ll have a very easy time caring for these plecos. They rival bristlenose plecos when it comes to being easy to care for.

You can keep clown plecos in a 30-gallon fish tank. They should do well in small tanks and they’re easy to feed as well since they’re herbivores.

It’s also nice that these fish are fun to look at. They have a cool pattern that you’ll find to be rather appealing.

Clown plecos will eat a bit of algae in the fish tank, but it’s not enough to consider them to be good cleaners. These fish mostly like to eat wood fiber from the driftwood that you place in the tank.

Of course, you should supplement the diet of these fish with various foods. Treat these fish well and they will thrive in your aquarium.

8 – Royal Plecos

Royal Pleco

Royal plecos are another type of large fish that might not be good to own for most fish tank owners. These plecos are simply too big to fit in most homes.

You’ll need a 100-gallon aquarium to house this fish. At adulthood, it’ll grow to be 17 inches long.

If you’re an experienced fish tank owner who has enough space, it might be cool to own a royal pleco. These herbivores look stunning and are a lot more fun to observe than common plecos.

The color of these fish allows them to sort of blend in with the sunken logs in the aquarium. It’s kind of cool to see.

They love eating driftwood and wood material. They’ll also eat algae in the aquarium so they can help with cleaning a bit.

It just comes down to whether or not you have enough space to own such a large fish. If you don’t, it might be better to admire this fish from afar instead of buying it.

9 – Rubber Lip Plecos

Many people say that rubber lip plecos look like common plecos. They’re essentially like smaller versions of common plecos that are more practical to own.

A rubber lip pleco will only grow to be seven inches long at maturity. It’ll fit in a 55-gallon aquarium, and that’ll be a lot easier to find space for in your house.

These fish are omnivores that generally won’t be picky about what they eat. They will indeed eat some algae in the fish tank, but you’ll also need to feed them meaty live foods from time to time.

It’s great that these fish look so nice. They have definition around their armored scales that truly helps them to stand out in the fish tank.

They aren’t the easiest fish to care for, but they aren’t too difficult for most fish enthusiasts. Buying a rubber lip pleco will be a practical choice for most fish owners.

10 – Sailfin Plecos

Sailfin Pleco

Sailfin plecos have huge dorsal fins that make them stand out. That’s why they’re called sailfin plecos.

It’s also great that these fish have a fun coloration. They have dots on their bodies that sort of resemble leopard spots.

Sometimes you might find the fish being sold as leopard plecos. These fish like to hide in caves or near driftwood during the day.

It’s very important to have hiding spots for these fish. They won’t feel comfortable in a fish tank that is too open.

They’re big fish that grow to be between 13 and 19 inches long. As such, you’ll need a 100-gallon fish tank to keep them in your home.

These fish aren’t picky eaters since they’re omnivores. They’ll eat veggies, meaty snacks, and sinking nutritional pellets.

11 – Snowball Plecos

Multiple Snowball Plecos

Snowball plecos look a bit like gold nugget plecos in certain ways. They’re different enough to be worthy of being on this list, though.

These fish generally grow to be between five and a half and six and a half inches long. You’ll want to keep these fish in a 50-gallon fish tank for things to go smoothly.

The bodies of these fish will be either gray, brownish-red, or black. They can have either white or yellow spots.

Another thing that makes snowball plecos stand out is that they like a stronger current in the water. Most plecos prefer a medium-strength current.

You’ll also want to know that these plecos hide even more than usual. They spend a lot of time hiding in caves or taking cover in plants or driftwood.

They can still be fun to own, but you might not see them often since they hide a lot. Regardless, these are neat fish that are worth your consideration.

12 – Sunshine Plecos

Sunshine Pleco

Sunshine plecos are worth knowing about as well. These are big fish that will grow to be 12 inches long.

Since they’re large, you’ll need to keep them in 100-gallon aquariums at a minimum. They aren’t as easy to care for as the beginner-friendly plecos either.

Even so, they’re cool fish to own because of how nice they look. They’re called sunshine plecos for a reason.

They have dark brown or olive green bodies, and they also have bright orange spots. The bright orange spots truly do resemble sunshine.

These omnivores will look amazing in your fish tank. They won’t really help with keeping the tank clean, though.

If you want to buy one of these plecos, you’ll likely be doing so because of how great they look. They’re amazing fish, but they might not be great for beginners or those who have small homes.

13 – Blue-Eyed Plecos

Blue-eyed plecos stand out because they have stunning blue eyes. You’re not likely to ever be able to buy one of these, though.

Sadly, blue-eyed plecos are very rare fish. It’s doubtful that you’ll see one being sold at your local pet store.

One reason that they’re so rare is that they’re hard to care for in an aquarium setting. It’s only recommended for experts to buy these fish.

They grow to be 24 inches long at maturity. They’re so huge that they should be kept in 180-gallon fish tanks.

They will graze and eat algae, but they also need to eat a lot of driftwood. Also, they need to be kept in fish tanks with strong currents.

Often, these fish will experience stress and get ill in fish tanks. They sometimes don’t survive long.

Blue-eyed plecos can thrive if experienced fish tank enthusiasts take care of them. It just takes the right setup and a fair bit of effort.

14 – Candy Striped Plecos

Candy Striped Pleco

Candy striped plecos aren’t the most well-known plecos on this list. They’re omnivores that don’t grow to be all that large.

These plecos will only be four inches long once they reach adulthood. Since they’re modest in size, they’ll fit fine in a 20-gallon aquarium.

For people with very little space for fish tanks, these fish will be good choices. They’re just as practical as zebra plecos for many people.

They’re fairly good plecos to own for beginners. They like to eat algae, but they won’t keep the tank clean by themselves.

You’ll need to supplement the diet of these fish with normal fish food and meaty treats. It’s also worth knowing that these fish don’t get along well with other bottom-dwelling fish, and that should be kept in mind when choosing tank mates for candy striped plecos.

15 – Peppermint Plecos

Peppermint plecos are interesting because they’re a lot different than many of the other plecos mentioned above. These fish can be found in the wild living in fast-moving rivers.

The majority of plecos live in medium-strength currents. These fish prefer fast currents and you’ll need to replicate those conditions if you want to keep them in your home.

You’ll have to make sure that the current is strong enough for the fish. Also, they’ll need to have rocks that they can use for hiding purposes.

They aren’t hard fish to take care of otherwise. These fish grow to be seven inches long and can be kept in 50-gallon fish tanks.

These fish will be fun to have in your home tank. They look nice with their dark gray or black bodies, and they have tiny white dots that help them to look more interesting.

Are Albino Plecos Rare?

Albino Pleco

Some types of plecos will also have albino variants. Some of the most popular albino plecos are albino bristlenose plecos.

Are albino plecos rare? Or are these fish fairly common? Albino fish that can be found in the wild are indeed quite rare.

Common albino plecos are rare fish that you will likely never see being sold in stores. Albino plecos are less rare and you will be able to find those.

There are some fish that have been bred to have an albino look. They might be rarer than standard plecos, but calling them truly rare might be wrong.

Which Types of Plecos Are the Best?

Determining which types of plecos are the best will depend on various factors. Some plecos are more popular than others, but which you’ll like the most will be hard to say.

Depending on your sensibilities, you might gravitate toward one type of pleco or another. There are a number of amazing options for you to look into.

If you want to buy plecos that are easy to take care of for beginners, it’ll be wise to buy bristlenose plecos. They’re fish that are easy to keep in your home aquarium, and you can keep up to five of them in the same tank.

What if you want plecos that eat algae? Bristlenose plecos work well for that, but there are a number of other fish that fit the bill as well.

If you want big and impressive plecos that will look great in huge fish tanks, you might like common plecos. Royal plecos could also be a very wise choice.

Those who want to own pretty fish should consider buying vampire plecos or sunshine plecos. Both snowball plecos and gold nugget plecos are also worth mentioning.

You should take the time to pick plecos based on your desires. It’s also imperative to consider whether taking care of these fish will be practical in your situation.

Are Plecos Expensive?

Some plecos are going to be much more expensive than others. Many of the most common plecos can easily be purchased in pet stores.

Even common plecos (the large ones) can be bought at low prices as juveniles. You can buy them when they’re just a few inches long and watch them grow into true behemoths.

Other fish will be a lot pricier. You might have to pay hundreds of dollars for certain types of plecos.

Depending on your budget, you might want to steer clear of the expensive fish. It’s also important to consider how much space you have.

Those who live in smaller homes or apartments might not be able to house 100-gallon fish tanks or even larger ones than that. If you only have room for a 55-gallon fish tank or something smaller, it’d be wise to stick to the smaller plecos.

Are Plecos Good Community Tank Fish?

Plecos can be decent community tank fish overall. Just know that some of them are better community tank members than others.

Some of the larger fish are more territorial and aggressive. There are certain small fish that don’t get along with other bottom-dwelling fish, too.

You always need to research tank mates for plecos on an individual basis. Look at compatible tank mates for the specific type of pleco that you buy.

This will allow you to get the right fish so that you can have a good experience. Bristlenose plecos are pretty good as community tank fish.

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