Can Plecos Live With Axolotls? [7 Reasons Why They Can’t]

Pleco in a tank without an axolotl

Plecos are often kept in community tanks. But can plecos live with axolotls?

Plecos can’t live with axolotls in the same tank because of their size difference. They also have different water parameter requirements and distinct dietary preferences. As opportunistic scavengers, plecos chew everything they come across in an aquarium, including the slime of an axolotl’s body.

Let’s now understand why plecos can’t live with axolotls in more detail.

7 Reasons Why Plecos Can’t Live With Axolotls

Many aquarists try to keep different species together to make their aquarium look versatile. However, it’s essential to understand the basic requirements of each species before keeping them together.

Given below are the main reasons why plecos and axolotls can’t live together.

1. Size Disparity

The general rule is that you should keep only species of similar size and temperament together. However, the size disparity between plecos and axolotls is too much to ignore.

Axolotls are too small compared to plecos. An axolotl can attain a maximum size of 12 to 14 inches. In contrast, a pleco can reach a maximum size of 24 inches.

Due to their size, plecos also need more space to swim and grow. So plecos will take away space from the axolotl.

2. Temperature Disparity

The next factor to consider is the temperature requirements of the different species.

Axolotls prefer slightly colder waters, while plecos prefer warm water conditions to flourish.

The ideal water temperature for axolotls is in the range of 60°F to 64°F (16°C to 18°C). In contrast, the ideal water temperature range for plecos is between 73°F to 82°F (23°C to 28°C).

So both these species won’t be able to survive if kept in the same tank.

3. Water Hardness

Axolotls and plecos need specific water hardness to thrive. If the water hardness is outside their acceptable range, it can be detrimental to them.

The ideal water hardness for axolotls is in the range of 7 to 14 dGH. On the other hand, the ideal water hardness level for plecos is between 20 to 35 dGH.

Because of this vast difference in water hardness, it’s not recommended to keep plecos and axolotls together.

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4. Dietary Requirements

There is a difference in the dietary requirements of both these species. Most plecos are omnivores but show a preference for plant-based food.

On the other hand, axolotls prefer to consume meat-based food. They need protein-rich food like worms, crustaceans, small fish, mollusks, insects, and insect larvae.

This difference doesn’t look huge at first. However, it means you need to provide different diets for both species. This causes a lot of inconvenience in the long run.

5. Ammonia Poisoning

Many aquarists wrongly assume that plecos keep the tank clean, similar to other algae eaters. Plecos are also called “janitor fish” because they can control algae bloom.

However, plecos create a lot of waste inside the tank, which can be dangerous for the axolotl. An axolotl is quite delicate as it lacks a protective layer over its skin.

So the absence of a robust filtration system or a sudden spike in ammonia level can be dangerous for the axolotl.

6. Plecos Have Spines

Pleco with spines

Plecos have spines. That’s why it’s risky to have pleco babies in a tank with an axolotl.

If the axolotl attacks and tries to devour the pleco fry, their spines can pierce or injure the axolotl’s permeable skin.

This makes them unsuitable tankmates.

7. Plecos Eat Everything

Plecos are opportunistic scavengers and will eat or chew everything that they come across.

If plecos are kept along with an axolotl, they will try to eat the slime of the axolotl’s body. Axolotl has permeable skin, which means a pleco bite can easily damage their skin and body.

So it’s pretty evident that plecos and axolotls aren’t compatible tankmates, and it’s best not to keep them together.

What Algae Eaters Can You Keep With Axolotls?

Unfortunately, there aren’t any algae-eating fish that can live with axolotls in the same aquarium because they all are more or less similar plecos.

Like plecos, most algae eaters chew on everything they come across inside the tank, including other species. So it’s dangerous to keep an axolotl with them.

Algae eaters will try to eat the slime off the axolotl’s body, causing severe injuries to the axolotl.

Most algae eaters also grow larger than axolotls. They also need different water parameters and diets, making it difficult for both species to live together in harmony.

Can Bristlenose Plecos And Axolotls Live Together?

Bristlenose plecos can’t live with axolotls. Bristlenose plecos need warm water, while axolotls need cold water.

The other water parameters, dietary requirements, and their sizes also vary considerably. Plecos will also try to eat the slime from an axolotl’s body.

So bristlenose plecos aren’t compatible tankmates for axolotls, and it’s best not to keep them in the same tank as the plecos can easily stress the axolotls.

Can Vampire Plecos And Axolotls Live Together?

Vampire plecos can’t live with axolotls. They’re carnivores and have sharp spines on their body that can easily damage the delicate skin of the axolotls.

Vampire plecos also need a lot of space and can become aggressive and territorial in the presence of other bottom dwellers.

The temperament of vampire plecos largely depends on their surroundings. They are content as long as they have everything they need.

However, these plecos can become aggressive when kept in a crowded tank or exposed to poor conditions.

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Can Baby Plecos And Axolotls Live Together?

Baby plecos and axolotls can’t live together. Other than the different water conditions and food requirements, an axolotl will always be at risk if it tries to eat the pleco fry.

The sharp spines of the plecos can injure the axolotl’s permeable skin.