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18 Best Pleco Tank Mates (With Pictures)

Your typical pleco fish can get along with a number of other fish.

Still, you want to ensure that you are choosing the right tank mates for your pet pleco.

You don’t want to introduce fish that might start fights with your pleco over food and territory. To help you make that choice, I have compiled a list of great pleco tank mates.

In this post, I will discuss various pleco tank mates that are most suited to your pet. These fish will make for a harmonious and tranquil aquarium.

Your decision will depend on what kind of pleco community you are trying to create.

Still, there are a ton of different visuals and looks you can make with all the fish I will be introducing you to.

As I mentioned, plecos can fit with a wide range of pets. Here I have chosen eighteen fish that can live with your pleco amicably.

This list won’t include every suitable pet. However, these are the best pleco tank mates you can choose from!

Oscar Fish

The first fish I will introduce for your pleco tank is the oscar fish. Oscar fish are exciting pets to house in any tank.

They have a lot of energy and will like sharing a tank space with other inhabitants. Still, you need to think about their size.

Plecos can grow quite large and the same is true of oscar fish. In fact, oscar fish can grow much bigger than pleco.

So you want to consider this when choosing these fish as pleco tank mates.

You’ll definitely need a bigger tank.

Oscar fish especially require space in a tank, otherwise, they can get aggressive. However, other than this you won’t encounter any issues with this species and pleco.

Plecos are too large for an oscar fish to swallow up and eat. Simply make sure both pets are well-fed and in a big, enough aquarium and they will stay happy and healthy!


The corydoras is another option for a pleco tank. These fish, also known as cory catfish, can be a nice fit with a pleco.

But it depends on the parameters of your tank and your fish’s age. Again, like the oscar fish, you want to have a big enough tank for your catfish and your pleco.

A small space will increase the likelihood of infighting. Corydoras are not huge but they do need a lot of swimming room.

The same can be said for your pleco who will need a place to spread out.

And, since both these fish like to spend time at the bottom of your tank, this is especially important!

Corydoras and pleco will live in the bottom portion of your tank.

So you might even want to put extra coverage in this area to keep your pets in a better mood. This is not necessary, but it can keep your tank more peaceful.

Molly Fish

Molly fish won’t grow as big as your pleco, they tend to be on the smaller side. Generally, these pets will keep to themselves and leave your pleco to its business.

So they can be ideal tank mates for plecos. However, you want to be careful about getting large groups of mollies in a tank with a pleco.

When over four molly fish are together, they can start fights and even bully your pleco.

So be mindful of this and try to only have a small group of this fish in your tank.

In addition, molly fish can create a lot of waste in aquarium spaces. So, ensure that your tank is big enough and well filtered enough to keep your pets healthy.


Gouramis go great with plecos as well.

They are colorful and full of variety. And, you can get large gourami fish or small gourami fish. The design of these fishes is full of range and striking beauty.

Really you can’t go wrong with Gouramis and pleco in the same tank.

You want to pick one out that goes well with your tank parameters of course.

But overall they are not hard pets to care for. Simply make sure you have plenty of tank plants in your aquarium to keep them happy.

Otocinclus Catfish

Otocinclus arnoldi by CHUCAO (CC BY-SA 3.0)

Otocinclus catfish are an alternative breed of catfish, that I also recommend. They can get along with plecos just as well as cories.

These catfish enjoy the same conditions and habits of the pleco too. So they should be a great fit for your pleco tank.

The otocinclus will stay near the floor of the tank like your other pet. They will also eat up any kind of waste or debris down in this area!

Overall otocinclus catfish are one of the best pleco tank mates.

They are nice calm fish, but you need to make sure that your water is prepared in the best possible conditions for them.

Otocincus don’t handle poor water conditions well, and can even end up getting sick.

Platy Fish

Platy fish are one of the smallest pleco tank mates you can go with. They are compact, but cute fish that burst with vibrant colors and hues.

You want to purchase them with a few other platies.

This way your platies have plenty of social interaction. You can purchase a larger school of these fish, but this is not necessary.

Really, the platy gets along with many aquatic pets. So you can build up a large aquarium habitat.

There are not many care requirements for this species either. So if you want an easy to maintain pleco tank this pairing can be great!


Plecos and angelfish might not be the first pairing that comes to mind.

But these two species actually get along quite well. Since angelfish like to swim in the morning, they won’t both your nocturnal pleco.

You’ll want to make sure to have plenty of coverage for your fish and a good tank size. I also recommend having a sizeable amount of driftwood in your pleco tank.

Angelfish aren’t fond of very bright tanks so driftwood or other shade is good to place in your aquarium.

These are really stunning fish that can add some elegance to a pleco tank though!

Swordtail Fish

Swordtail Fry (Xiphophorus hellerii) by Ltshears (CC BY-SA 3.0)

Swordtail fish are slightly bigger than platies and sport a slimmer body.

They are a different option if you don’t like the flat and wide look of a platy. Instead, these fish have a sword-like body shape.

They come in several colors and patterns as well. So you will have a nice selection of fish to choose from when finding a good pleco tank mate.

Again, this is another relaxed fish species that will mesh well with plecos. Just be careful when you pick out a group of swordtail fish to put in your tank space.

They have no issues with other breeds, but the swordtail fish males don’t like to be together in a tank.

Khuli Loach

Kuhli loach (Pango kuhli) by Iidkk (CC BY-SA 4.0)

Khuli loach fish have a nocturnal schedule like your plecos and will also keep your tank sparkling clean.

Loaches don’t have the most conventional look in comparison to other fish species. But their slender cylindrical shape adds some variety to your tank community.

Loaches are bottom dwellers as well, but they won’t create any friction with your pleco fish.

These are a definite contender for best pleco tank mates. But there are a few care requirements to keep in mind with Khali Loaches.

Firstly make sure they are getting plenty of meat. Loaches need a lot of protein in their diet.

You might even have to give them live or frozen food. In addition, you can buy loaches in small groups.

Three is a good number for this species, but you can get up to six of them in your tank.

Guppy Fish

Guppy fish are pretty popular with all kinds of tank owners. These small fish breed pretty fast and stay relatively small.

They also offer the largest range of color among any of the breeds on this list.

You can mix and match hues with guppies. Some people might be worried that their guppies could be eaten up by plecos. However, this is not an issue at all.

With a large tank, the guppy and the pleco can get along quite nicely!

Guppies should be purchased in bigger groups of course.

But other than this, the requirements and care of your pet should be pretty minimal.

Tiger Barbs

Plecos and tiger barbs both have long lifespans and will live together for years and years.

In some cases, these breeds can live up to a decade or more in your tank. It all depends on how you care for your fish.

You want to keep the water in the best possible condition. Barbs also need plenty of company to stay healthy and active.

These fish should never be in a school of less than five barb fish.

Rummy Nose Tetra

Rummy nose tetras offer a unique look for tank communities. Tetras in general have a lot of fun and eye-popping designs.

But for the rummy nose tetra, this is even more true. You can find the style of fish you want easily.

These are another highly popular type of fish breed, and luckily, they get along great with plecos.

Overall, this type of tetra is a great pleco tank mate. Keep them in a group of the same species, and make sure to feed them a healthy mix of foods.


The flower horn fish is not like other fish on this list. But I included it for tank owners that want something different and eye-catching in their tank.

These ornamental pets have huge heads that look like a large bulb or hump. And they also come in several vivid colors.

They can get along with plecos, but only in certain tank conditions.

Most importantly you need a tank seventy gallons or over to house these fish together safely.

Next, you want to make sure that you have a large enough pleco. Flower horns get pretty big, and if they are much larger than you pleco they will attack.

Having a big tank with coverage can help minimize fighting. But you want to be mindful of these breeds when they are in the same water for sure.

Flower horns can get aggressive so keep this in mind when you put them in with plecos.

Neon Tetras

Neon tetras are one of the best pleco tank mates you can go with. Neon tetras are easy to find and like to live in the same water conditions as pet plecos.

This is because both fish are found in a similar environment in the wild.

You’ll have to get a few of these fish for your tank though. Tetras don’t like to be alone in a large tank.

So you should get around six of these to make up a large enough school.

Tetras won’t fight with your pleco if there are fewer of them in your tank. But they will be much happier and healthier in a bigger group.

Siamese Algae Eater

Your tank should not have any algae issues with a pleco in it.

But if you still need help getting rid of algae, you should try putting a siamese algae eater in with your pet pleco.

And, unlike other fish, you don’t need to buy a large group of these fish.

You can create a community of algae eaters if you want though, or keep them alone.

Hatchet Fish

celestial pearl danio by Cisamarc (CC BY-SA 3.0)

Hatchet fish and pleco are one of the best tank mate options.

The hatchet fish normally stays near the surface of your tank water. And, as you know, plecos like to stay near the bottom of the tank.

This creates a peaceful aquarium atmosphere as both fish stay in opposite regions of the tank.

And even if you do end up adding other fish, hatchets are usually very friendly and agreeable with other breeds.

So they won’t pose any issues in your community aquarium.

When caring for the hatchet, there will be a few differences between these species.

For instance, I recommend having insects and other meaty snacks for this fish. They like fish flakes, but they like to feed on small critters from time to time too.

Still, they pretty much enjoy all the same water conditions as the pleco.

Betta Fish

You want to be careful with this pairing. Bettas do not have the most desirable personality when it comes to cohabitating a tank.

However, since plecos normally stay out of the way. You will probably be okay setting up a tank with a betta and a pleco.

Plecos also lack bright pigments that can set off bettas and start a fight. On the whole, a betta can be a good way to add color to a pleco tank.

But be careful and mindful when putting betta in with any type of pet.

Luckily, plecos tend to stay in their own space at the bottom of the tank. And they also operate on a different schedule than betta.

Bettas are active mostly during the day so this makes this pair less problematic.

However, on the chance that these fish do fight, make sure you are feeding both of them well.

And again, always get a bigger tank to stop fish aggression in its tracks!

Silver Dollar

Silver dollar fish are the last fish I will introduce for your pleco community. These are another contender for best pleco tank mates you can choose.

They aren’t as big as some of the other fish on my list.

But the silver dollars can be nice to purchase in groups of six.

You can put a lot of these fish into your tank and create a nice visual.

Silver dollars are a lot more energetic than plecos. So they can be a nice contrast to your pleco.

They are also friendly and get along with other large aquatic pets!

Pleco Behavior In A Tank Community

For the most part, plecos won’t cause issues with other pets. They are normally pretty peaceful and like to keep to themselves.

Still. you need to watch out for your fish as they start to age. After your fish has lived in its tank for a while, it can be set off more easily.

This is not typical pleco behavior. However, you want to make sure you are taking care of them right to prevent issues.

If you aren’t feeding your fish the right foods and keeping their tank in good condition they will get testy and grumpy. They might even start a fight with other tank pets.

This won’t happen if you are treating your pleco right though. In addition, it’s not just other tank inhabitants you need to worry about.

Plecos can actually be quite territorial around their own kind. So you should really only have one pleco in your tank.

You can put several other fish in no problem though.

Just make sure your aquarium is set up well. Again, plecos are not prone to attack fish unless they are poorly cared for.

Tank Setup Tips

In pleco tanks, and in any kind of tank, I suggest going with a bigger gallon size. Large tank communities with or without plecos require this anyway. You want all your pets to be able to swim to their heart’s content without encroaching on one another’s space.

The gallon size your pleco tank will need can depend on a few different factors though. Still, at the very least you will probably need seventy-five gallons with a pleco community!

A bigger space allows plecos to establish their own territory. It also gives your other fish room to swim and lets them stay happy. Getting a big enough tank isn’t enough though. You have to set up your large pleco tank well.

Start by making sure that you have the right materials in your aquarium. Since plecos live at the bottoms of tanks, you need a softer substrate that won’t hurt them.

Plants can be added as well, plecos are not known to eat greenery. And this can add some shade to your tank. Other fish can find some coverage here too, so consider getting plants. It can actually help with water quality too, so that is a bonus.

A larger tank helps keep your tank from getting totally saturated with waste. But you still need a filter for a large pleco community tank. And a plant can aid in tank cleaning. You pleco eats up some of the waste in your tank though.

Other coverage space can be included in pleco tanks as well. Large rocks that are not too sharp are a great choice. Caves are even better though as they add extra privacy to an aquarium!


Plecos can do well in a community setting for sure. You just have to have the best pleco tank mates to keep your tank problem-free and safe for all your pets. I went over a ton of great pleco tank mates here.

And really, there is a lot of variety and range in terms of options. In fact, a lot of fish can live with a pleco. Still, I only chose the best options for a pleco aquarium.

It’s not just pet choices that should be considered though. You need to have ideal tank settings for the best outcomes. Your tank should be clean and big enough for your pleco and your other fish.

Coverage can be useful as well, and you definitely want to feed your pets adequately to keep them docile and behaved! All this information on plecos should help you create an ideal environment.

And hopefully, you can choose the best pleco tank mate for your tank needs!

Aaron Boyd
Aaron Boyd

Hello, I’m Aaron Boyd, the proud owner and author behind Aqua Movement. I hope my article was able to answer your questions. If you want to learn more about me, click the home icon above.

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