Can Plecos Live With Goldfish? (How To Keep Them Together?)

Pleco in a goldfish aquarium

Plecos and goldfish are two of the most popular fish in the aquarium hobby. Goldfish are kept for their vibrant colors, while plecos are often kept in a community aquarium to clean the tank. So, can plecos live with goldfish?

Some pleco species, like the bristlenose plecos and rubber lip plecos, can live with goldfish if the water parameters are altered to suit the requirements of both fish. However, it’s not recommended to keep plecos and goldfish together in the same tank because of their distinct living conditions.

There are a lot of varying opinions on whether plecos can co-exist with goldfish. So let’s delve deeper to understand this in more detail.

Why Is It Not Recommended To Keep Plecos With Goldfish?

Different fish species co-exist happily in the wild. But many factors need to be considered while housing them in a home aquarium.

This is because different fish have different water quality and temperature requirements. The same applies to plecos and goldfish.

Given below are the most prominent reasons for not housing plecos with goldfish.

1. Different Water Temperature Needs

Water temperature is the topmost factor to consider while housing different fish species.

Plecos are tropical fish that prefer warm water to thrive. On the contrary, goldfish are coldwater fish that prefer water temperature on the lower side.

It’s not recommended to modify the aquarium temperature to accommodate both plecos and goldfish. The imbalances in the modified environment aren’t suitable for the optimum living of both species.

2. Plecos Can Suck Goldfish Slime

One of the biggest reasons not to house plecos and goldfish together is that plecos can suck goldfish slime.

Goldfish have a slime coating that protects their body from bacterial infections and other nastiness. If the slime is removed, bacterial sores can develop on the goldfish’s body which can be fatal.

Plecos are also nocturnal and can attempt to eat goldfish slime at night when they’re sleeping.

3. Ammonia And Nitrite Spikes

Goldfish are the messiest fish, so they produce a lot of waste in the aquarium. Plecos aren’t far behind either when it comes to messiness.

When you house these two fish together, the chances of the tank water getting contaminated increases very quickly.

Regular water changes and tank maintenance become a top priority which can sometimes be tedious and time-consuming.

4. Different Water Current Requirements

Another reason why it’s not recommended to house goldfish and plecos together is that they have different water current requirements.

Plecos inhabit the fast-moving waterbodies in their natural environment. So they like a strong current and feel comfortable when the same is available in the home aquarium.

On the other hand, goldfish inhabit slow-moving streams and other water bodies where the current is gentle. So the current has to be gentle in the home aquarium too.

Excessive current can stress the goldfish and have several ill effects on their health like lethargy, low immunity, exhaustion, and illness.

Alright! Although many aquarists refrain from housing plecos and goldfish together, some aquarists modify the aquarium environment to the best possible extent to accommodate them.

So let’s understand how you can keep plecos and goldfish together in the same aquarium.

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How To Keep Plecos And Goldfish In The Same Tank?

Plecos and goldfish aren’t entirely compatible due to their difference in living conditions. However, many aquarists house these fish together by setting up a suitable environment.

You can house plecos and goldfish together by modifying the aquarium environment as described below.

1. Choose A Big Tank

A large tank is a prerequisite while housing plecos and goldfish together. Both these fish need ample space to swim freely and enjoy themselves.

A large tank allows enough room for both fish to move around without any hindrance. It also helps in providing enough oxygen for both the fish species.

A small tank can stress the plecos and goldfish, and they can turn aggressive under stressful conditions.

2. Adjust The Water Temperature

Water conditions are another critical factor to consider before housing plecos and goldfish together.

You need to closely monitor the water temperature when you house a tropical fish like pleco with a coldwater fish like goldfish.

Both these fish need specific water parameters to thrive. The ideal water temperature for goldfish is below 74°F. On the other hand, plecos can live in water temperatures ranging from 72°F to 82°F.

So you can maintain the water temperature in the range of 70°F to 72°F to ensure optimal growth of goldfish and plecos.

3. Create An Ideal Habitat For Both Fish

Goldfish in an aquarium with a pleco

Creating an ideal habitat for all fish is the key to successful cohabitation in a community aquarium. You need to set up an aquarium that best suits the requirements of plecos and goldfish.

One such requirement is a planted tank. Plants are essential for both these species. They help provide shade, hiding places, and shelter.

Plants also act as a food source and help keep the water clean. Planted tanks also provide better oxygenation and filtration than non-planted tanks.

Installation of a highly-efficient filter is another necessity. Since goldfish and plecos are known to create a lot of waste, a filter should be installed with sufficient capacity to handle the waste produced by both these fish.

For decoration, driftwood is the best. Driftwood is healthy for plecos as it acts as a food source. It also enhances their digestive system, thus making them healthier.

Driftwood is also suitable for goldfish as it helps imitate their natural habitat. It also provides shelter and hideouts to goldfish.

4. Introduce Plecos To Goldfish When They’re Small

Plecos are one of the large-sized freshwater fish compared to other aquarium fish like guppies and tetras.

Problems usually arise in a community tank when large-sized fish are housed with smaller ones.

Larger fish can intimidate the smaller fish. So it’s vital to introduce plecos when they’re smaller than goldfish.

This ensures that both plecos and goldfish can grow together and get along well as tankmates.

5. Feed Plecos Adequately

Plecos are generally calm and don’t bother other fish unless stressed. While it’s true that plecos suck the goldfish slime, they usually do so when they’re starving.

Since plecos grow pretty large, they have a huge appetite. They can look upon goldfish slime as a food source, especially when food is scarce.

That’s why plecos must be well-fed not to harm the goldfish and co-exist peacefully.

Okay! Now that you know how to keep plecos and goldfish together in the same tank, let’s also talk about the pleco species that are compatible with goldfish.

Which Plecos Are Compatible With Goldfish?

There are more than 150 registered pleco species, each having different temperaments and requirements. Not all plecos are compatible with goldfish due to their varied living conditions.

Zebra plecos, in particular, aren’t compatible with goldfish as they need high temperatures to thrive, unlike goldfish that prefer lower temperatures.

However, you can house the following plecos with goldfish by taking certain measures.

1. Bristlenose Pleco

Brsitlenose plecos are one of the most popular species in the aquarium hobby. They’re an excellent choice to keep with goldfish due to their hardiness and relatively small size.

The appetite of bristlenose plecos is comparatively less than the common plecos as they don’t grow large. So the chances of them trying to eat or suck goldfish slime are minimal.

Another advantage is that bristlenose plecos spend most of their time swimming at the tank’s bottom, unlike goldfish that prefer the top and middle level of the tank. So both these fish usually don’t invade each other’s territories.

2. Rubber Lip Pleco

Rubber lip pleco is another good companion for goldfish. Just like bristlenose pleco, this fish is also quite hardy.

Rubber lip plecos are also peaceful and usually don’t bother the goldfish.

They do well in water temperatures ranging from 70°F to 74°F, which is within the ideal temperature range for goldfish.

Rubber lip plecos can also survive the low temperatures of goldfish aquariums.

3. Common Pleco

Common pleco can be housed with goldfish, provided the tank is large. Common plecos grow very large and require ample space to grow to their fullest.

They’re compatible with goldfish as they share similar water temperature needs. Both common plecos and goldfish can live in temperatures of 70°F to 74°F (21°C to 23°C).

Another important thing to keep in mind while housing them together is to feed the common plecos adequately. If common plecos starve, they can try to suck the slime coat of goldfish.

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Related Questions

Do plecos eat goldfish?

Plecos don’t eat live goldfish. However, they will eat a decaying goldfish that has sunk to the bottom of the tank. Moreover, plecos are usually not aggressive with other fish species and get along well if they get enough space in the tank.

Do goldfish eat plecos?

Goldfish don’t eat plecos as they’re too big to fit in their mouth. Goldfish eat small fish fry and other edible food that easily fits in their mouths.