15 Best Bristlenose Pleco Fish Tank Mates (Beginner Friendly)

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In today’s article we’ll talk about bristlenose plecos. More exactly, about which fish species are best as tank mates for bristlenose plecos. But before that, let’s see what requirements do plecos have. This way, it’ll be easier to fit some of these 15 tank mates together with your plecos.

Requirements for Bristlenose Plecos

Bristlenose Pleco Aquarium Requirements

Bristlenose Pleco Aquarium Requirements

First of all, we should talk about the size of a tank, that bristlenose plecos need to have. This size depends somewhat on the other fish you keep in the tank together with your plecos.

But a general tank size, that is minimum, no matter other aspects, is 25 gallons. For your plecos to thrive in the aquarium, 25 gallons of water is a bare minimum, which can go up, if you house other groups of fish as well.

Since the bristlenose plecos are originated from rivers in South America, they need freshwater, with a current in it. The water current should be well aerated and the whole tank needs to be oxygenated properly.

Bristlenose plecos are nocturnal fish, so make sure you have plenty of hiding places in the tank. For instance, you can put multiple caves inside the tank, where your fish can hide and rest during the day.

Keep an eye out for the water parameters as well. Most bristlenose plecos need a water temperature between 60- and 80-degrees Fahrenheit (15 – 27 degrees Celsius). Also, the water hardness should be kept between 20-25 with a pH level of 6.5 – 7.5.

Another requirement for bristlenose plecos, is the specific diet. What do they eat? Bristlenose plecos are great algae eaters. They will keep your tank clean from any algae, but you can’t expect them to thrive only on that.

Their diet is mostly vegetarian: 85% vegetables and 15% protein. Since they are bottom dwellers, you can feed them with pellets and tablets that were developed for such fish breeds. The idea is, to feed them with vegetables (or other products), that will sink to the bottom of the tank where they usually consume their food.

Plain simple vegetables can also be given to them. For instance, they really like lettuce, cabbage leaves, peas, carrots and cucumber.

Now that you know what bristlenose plecos need to live happily in your aquarium, let’s talk about the 15 best tank mates for them:

1. Guppy Fish

Guppy Fish

Guppy Fish

Guppies are among the most popular fish breeds across the entire globe. Beginner and veteran aquarists as well, like them in their tanks.

One of the main reasons for this popularity, is their behavior. That’s because guppies are usually a very peaceful species. They go well together with lots of other freshwater fish breeds, plecos included.

There are more than 300 different types of guppies, known to us. They come in all different sizes, colors and shapes. Because of this fact, most people like to purchase multiple versions to put inside their tank.

If you think guppies could be a nice addition to your plecos, keep in mind that guppies are very active. You will mostly see them swimming around, not just checking the tank’s bottom like plecos do. Even so, they can live together very well, without conflicts.

2. Molly Fish

Molly Fish

Molly Fish

If you’re a beginner fish keeper, the Mollies are a great starting point to place besides your plecos. They are a very popular species, both for beginners and experts alike.

They grow up to 4.5 inches long and live about 5 years in most cases. Usually, Mollies are very peaceful by nature, but if you keep them in very big groups, they could get angry.

So, if you plan to keep them together with plecos, that’s not a problem. Only make sure there’s enough space for both species to live in harmony.

For a group that consists in up to 4 Mollies, a 10-gallon tank is a minimum. But since you already have plecos, consider a bigger tank, to meet all their needs.

3. Platy Fish

Platy Fish

Platy Fish

Since you’re looking for Pleco Fish tank mates, we can’t leave the Platies out. This breed is another peaceful freshwater fish, perfect tank mate for your plecos.

There are many types of Platies on the market. This is because multiple versions were interbred, to mix their colors and fin shapes. Even so, it doesn’t matter which type you get. All Platies work well in community tanks, so plecos make no difference.

Usually, Platies like to live in small groups. However, they are not considered schooling fish, like any other breeds. Also, they are great at jumping out of the water. So, make sure you have your tank covered, so they won’t jump out of the tank and die.

4. Swordtail Fish

Swordtail Fish

Swordtail Fish

This is another breed that’s originating from South America. They are fresh water, tropical fish, that live in small groups, just like Platies.

The females grow up to 6.3 inches long and the males are a little smaller, at only 5.5 inches.

For Plecos, the Swordtails are a great addition. That’s because Swordtails are also peaceful fish, so they won’t bother your Plecos for no reason.

Usually, Swordtail males are quite aggressive towards other males of the same species. Consider this when you buy them for you tank. If they behave aggressively, it can negatively influence the plecos as well.

However, if you do everything as prescribed, you should have no issues keeping these 2 breeds in the same tank.

5. Corydoras

Cory Catfish

Cory Catfish

This is another catfish species, that works well together with Plecos. The best part about the Cory Catfish, is the fact that it’s easy to care for it. You don’t need much expertise to keep them in your tank.

Make sure the aquarium is at least 10-gallons in volume, and the other water parameters (temperature and pH LEVEL) are all the same as Plecos have.

Corydoras will grow to 2.5 inches long. Most of them range from 1 to 2.5 inches in size, but there are some specimens that will grow bigger (only exceptions).

6. Gourami

This species is made up of many different versions. There are some similarities among them though.

For instance, almost all of them are similarly shaped and all of them possess the labyrinth organ. This makes it possible for them to take oxygen from the air.

Their sizes range from only a few inches, up to 28 inches for the giant gourami. Of course, such a fish will need a way bigger aquarium, than only 10 or 15 gallons.

Since there are many different types of Gouramis, you’ll have different water requirements for most of them.

However, there is one major similarity among them: they all need water rich in plants. That’s because in their natural habitat, this is where they’d hide.

7. Betta Fish

Betta Fish

Betta Fish

If you want some truly beautiful fish besides your plecos, the Betta Fish breed is probably among the best choices ever. Almost every single Betta Fish is going to beautify your tank in a big way.

They come in all shapes and sizes, but most importantly, colors. Actually, the bettas are among the most colorful fish species for indoor aquariums, you can get on the market.

Unlike other fish on this list, bettas will likely fight each other, if you put too many of them in the same tank. That’s why, you should only have 1 or 2, in the same tank with your plecos. This way, they will behave normally, without much problems towards other species.

8. Otocinclus Catfish

Otocinclus Catfish

Otocinclus Catfish

Here’s another catfish on the list. Actually, this one is quite similar to the Pleco.

The Otocinclus is a scavenger, that mostly resides on the bottom of the tank, where it looks for left-overs.

If you plan to buy some of these, you should have an established aquarium. This means that your tank has every condition already set in place, to meet the catfish’s requirements.

You must consider this, because Otocincluses are quite sensitive about water parameters.

Also, to make sure everything is set in place, do some research before you buy these new tank mates for your plecos.

This way, you’ll make sure the new catfish won’t die, as soon as you put them in the new environment. They are quite sensitive in this regard!

9. Tiger Barbs

Tiger Barbs

Tiger Barbs

The Tiger Barbs are another community breed, that likes to live in groups. Having them together with a few plecos is a great idea, because they are a peaceful breed among tropical fish.

To make sure they live happily in your tank, you should buy at least 5 or 6, because they are schooling fish. Any number lower than 5, will make them feel bad, and they can even get sick because of this.

The Tiger Barb is a good choice, because if you care for it properly, it can live from 5 to even 10 years. Not many community fish will live this long. Also, caring for Tiger Barbs is easier than for most other species.

10. Angelfish



As the best Pleco Fish tank mates, the Angelfish is a must-mention candidate. This species is at the top of most aquarium enthusiasts buying lists. You can get tens of different types, all beautiful in a community tank.

It originates from the South American rivers. It is mostly found in dim and slow-moving waters, that have a lot of driftwood inside.

Considering this, you should also set up your tank like this: put a lot of driftwood in it and make sure the tank is dim enough for the fish.

Making it dimmer than usual is not a problem, because the plecos are nocturnal anyway, so they won’t be bothered.

11. Neon Tetras

Neon Tetras

Neon Tetras

The Neon Tetras are a great addition to any community tank. Since they were discovered in 1934 in the Amazon jungles, they became one of the most popular community aquarium fish choices among fish keepers.

They won’t grow very big. The normal size of a Neon Tetra is about 1.5 inches long. However, its lifespan is quite impressive, at 8 years, if cared for well. Because of its peaceful nature, it won’t get into fights with other species in the tank.

This means that your plecos are safe, thus all of them will live in a peaceful environment. Usually, the Neon Tetra spends its day schooling and swimming in the water column.

Their natural habitat includes driftwood and plenty of plants. Thus, try to replicate this, by putting driftwood in the tank, and have a lot of vegetation in it too. Also, Tetras like dimmer water, so covering the tank is a good idea.

12. Khuli Loach

Kuhli Loach

Kuhli Loach

If you want another cleaner fish, alongside your plecos, the Khuli Loach is a good choice. This is another bottom dwelling fish, that looks for left-overs on the bottom of the aquarium.

Just like the plecos, the loaches also work at night. So, your plecos will have company, while cleaning the tank from algae and other food scraps.

Most loaches prefer live food. But you can also feed them fish pellets and flakes. Make sure you have a stable diet set up for them. This is a little more complicated, because loaches are omnivores.

To know exactly how to set a regular healthy diet, do some thorough research online. You will even find recipes that work very well for Khuli Loaches.

13. Siamese Algae Eater

Siamese Algae Eater

Siamese Algae Eater

Like their name suggests, the Siamese Algae Eaters are notorious for cleaning the tank from all the algae. Used together with plecos, they will do a marvelous job at keeping your tank clean.

They are peaceful fish, that do well both in small groups, large communities and by themselves as well. It doesn’t matter how many you’d buy for your tank.

Also, it’s good to know that this breed is an omnivore species. But besides this, it will eat literally anything you give it. So, feeding it is pretty easy, even if you’re still a beginner at fish keeping.

14. Rosy Tetra

Rosy Tetra

Rosy Tetra

We already mentioned another Tetra breed, but this is totally different. It’s called the Rosy Tetra and you can get it quite easily from many online shops, or even local stores.

The Rosy lives for at least 5 years in a personal aquarium, so it’s a good choice for beginner aquarium enthusiasts. Also, caring for them is quite easy, which means they go well together with plecos.

Since the Rosy is a peaceful breed, you can get multiple ones for your tank. They won’t bother any other species. They live mostly in the middle of the aquarium, so bothering the plecos is not an issue.

Rosy Tetras eat all sorts of food. They are omnivores, so you can give them live food, but also flakes, pellets and frozen food as well. Don’t forget to feed them vitamins-rich food.

15. Rummy Nose Tetra

Rummy Nose Tetra

Rummy Nose Tetra

The last tank mate for your plecos, is another Tetra, the Rummy Nose Tetra. This breed lives originally in the Amazon River, but these days you can get it from any store that sells aquarium fish. Because they are so popular, you can get one quite cheaply.

These Tetras live in smaller to bigger groups. Keeping them like this in a community tank, is a great idea, because they live peacefully with other breeds. Plecos are a great companion for Tetras.

Caring for them is easy, even if you’re a beginner. If you do everything by the book, your Rummy Nose Tetras should live up to 8 years. But a lifespan of 6 years is a minimum.

Feeding them is easy as well, because they’re omnivores. Just like the Rosy Tetras from above, these will also like to eat live food and frozen food products as well.


We reached the end of this article. Like I said at the beginning, I will introduce to you, 15 of the best Pleco Fish tank mates you can get these days. Any of the above-mentioned fish species work really well together with Pleco Fish.

Of course, if you plan to buy some tank mates, you don’t have to purchase one of each type. It’s best if you pick one or two that work for you.

Also, there might be tank mates listed above that don’t work well with each other. Keep this in mind, and do your research before buying any.

One thing is sure though: no matter which fish you choose from above, you plecos will feel right at home in their company.

Author Image Fabian
I’m Fabian, aquarium fish breeder and founder of this website. I’ve been keeping fish, since I was a kid. On this blog, I share a lot of information about the aquarium hobby and various fish species that I like. Please leave a comment if you have any question.

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Questions and Answers

Jackie Hemple October 7, 2021 Reply

I have a 10 gallon freshwater tank. 1 plexiglass, 2 goldfish (6 or 7yrs old).
1 goldfish is turning white. Oh is good, tank is clean. Good oxygen.
Is this just old age?

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