Do Plecos Eat Shrimp? (Can You Keep Them Together?)

Do Plecos Eat Shrimp? (Can You Keep Them Together?)

Pleco in a tank with shrimp

Plecos usually don’t eat shrimp. They only eat shrimp when they’re hungry. Even then, they don’t eat shrimp in large quantities. So you can keep plecos and shrimp together. You can stop plecos from eating shrimp by housing them in a large tank with ample hiding places and feeding them adequately.

Let’s discuss this in more detail now.

When Do Plecos Eat Shrimp?

Plecos usually don’t eat shrimp. They’re docile fish and don’t bother their tankmates.

Shrimp are also very agile and difficult to catch for the plecos.

Although plecos don’t prefer eating shrimp, there are instances when aquarists have found their plecos consuming shrimp in the aquarium.

Plecos can hunt the shrimp when they’re hungry, or the food is scarce.

Starving plecos will be continuously on the lookout for food sources.

Plecos are opportunistic scavengers that happily feed on anything that comes their way.

So if plecos see any shrimp around them, they can eat them to satiate their hunger.

Particularly, the newly hatched shrimp are easy prey for plecos due to their tiny size.

There’s also a possibility of the shrimp invading the plecos’ territories as both plecos and shrimp are bottom dwellers.

Since plecos are territorial, they can attack or try to eat the shrimp in aggression.

Even though plecos can eat shrimp, they don’t eat the shrimp in such large quantities so as to decimate their population.

Moreover, occasionally eating the shrimp is healthy for the plecos due to their high protein content.

Can Plecos And Shrimp Live Together?

Plecos and shrimp can live together. Most pleco species are detritus feeders.

They don’t actively pursue and hunt shrimp or any other aquatic organism.

It means plecos won’t harass or bother the shrimp in any way.

Plecos scavenge for food instead of hunting as they’re terrible hunters.

Their mouthparts are not meant to run after prey and catch them, especially the tiny creatures like shrimp that can dodge them easily.

So shrimp aren’t in danger of any predatory attacks and will be pretty safe with plecos in the same tank.

However, plecos can eat smaller shrimp if they catch them.

Larger shrimp are usually very agile and don’t easily fall into a pleco’s mouth.

Even carnivorous pleco species like the vampire or zebra plecos tend to scavenge for food and aren’t active hunters.

Although plecos aren’t aggressive toward shrimp and can cohabitate peacefully with them, giving them a conducive environment is essential.

The ideal setup to keep plecos and shrimp together is a large tank with ample hiding places for both the species to feel secure.

How To Stop Plecos From Eating Shrimp?

Plecos aren’t natural hunters, unlike other fish that actively chase and capture prey.

Instead, plecos are docile and compatible with many fish in a community tank.

So plecos won’t eat shrimp unless they’re starving. Nevertheless, it’s always better to ensure that shrimp are safe with the plecos.

Given below are some tips to stop plecos from eating shrimp.

1. Get a large aquarium.

Big aquarium

A large aquarium is a prerequisite to house plecos.

Plecos are one of the largest freshwater fish that need ample space to claim their territory and move freely in the tank.

Shrimp, on the other hand, don’t need much space. However, both plecos and shrimp are bottom dwellers.

So the tank must be large enough for both the species to live comfortably.

A large tank will also ensure that the plecos don’t treat the shrimp with hostility.

2. Provide ample hiding places.

After investing in a large tank, the next important thing is to provide ample hiding places in the tank.

Shrimp aren’t offensive and can’t protect themselves from the plecos.

So hiding places can ensure that the shrimp stay away from the plecos.

Shrimp need a lot of cover in the form of aquatic moss, decorations, caves, driftwood, etc., to seek refuge.

Shrimp are also most vulnerable during molting when they shed their outer skin and grow another.

Hiding places during such times can allow the shrimp to take shelter until their shell hardens.

3. Feed plecos adequately.

Feeding sufficient food to plecos is another way to protect the shrimp.

Plecos try to eat shrimp, mainly when they’re underfed or hungry.

A well-fed pleco usually doesn’t bother or hunt shrimp. So it will not look upon shrimp as a food source.

4. Introduce plecos to the shrimp tank.

Never introduce a baby shrimp population to a pleco tank as plecos are highly territorial.

If baby shrimp invade their established territory, the plecos can get aggressive and eat them.

It’s best to introduce young plecos to a shrimp tank.

This will allow the shrimp to establish their territory without fearing a predatory presence.

The plecos will also focus more on acclimatizing to the new environment and won’t look upon the shrimp as a food source.

5. House large-sized shrimp with plecos.

Size matters in aquatic life as smaller creatures are often eaten by larger fish.

So a large-sized shrimp will have an advantage over a small-sized shrimp.

Plecos usually don’t eat large-sized shrimp. So they’re safer compared to small shrimp that can be tasty snacks to the plecos.

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