10 Golden Nuggets Pleco Tank Mates – Compatible Species

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The golden nugget pleco is a relatively new breed of plecos coming from Brazil, which means there are many things to learn about it still.

Generally speaking, the golden nugget is similar in behavior, environmental requirements, and dietary needs to most species of plecos. But there are also aspects where it differs from the rest.

These include:

  • The size – The golden nugget pleco can reach adult sizes of up to 8-10 inches. This makes this species massive compared to more popular plecos like the bristlenose. Needless to say, accommodating the golden nugget pleco will take some extra strategizing work, especially since one 10-inch pleco requires around 50 gallons of water to its name. Some even recommend 75 gallons to provide it with peace of mind and comfort.
  • The extra sensitivity – The golden nugget is highly sensitive to unfit water conditions. They require similar water parameters like many other tank fish but have problems with sudden or frequent fluctuations. The temperature needs to remain stable, and the water should stay crystal clear otherwise, the golden nugget may experience health problems.
  • The breeding difficulty – Most species of plecos have no problems breeding in captivity, but the golden nugget pleco is different. There are few reports of this species reproducing successfully in captivity, but only a few. This is due to the pleco’s preference for pristine water conditions. Any variation in water parameters will inhibit its reproduction, which is why any attempt to breed them usually fails.

But, with a bit of work and know-how, there is a way to accommodate your pleco to life in captivity.

You can even help it thrive in the tank, provided you ensure optimal care, enough room, and stable water conditions. But what about keeping the golden nugget in a community tank?

As I’ve mentioned, the golden nugget pleco needs around 50-75 gallons of water.

So long as you got that down, there’s no reason for the pleco not to accommodate to community tanks.

Here are the most reliable 10 golden nugget tank mates to consider:

1. Guppies

Guppies have to come first. They are the most popular tank fish on the market, and for good reasons. These include:

  • Astounding diversity in color, color patterns, and tail fin shape leading to distinct guppy categories based on those metrics
  • High adaptability to a variety of water conditions, making guppies resilient, able to thrive in a multitude of environments
  • Easy-going and peaceful attitude, allowing guppies to blend within any community tank comprising fish species similar in size and personality
  • Omnivorous diet, meaning that guppies will eat pretty much anything
  • Have the highest reproductive rates, capable of producing up to 200 fry every month
  • Guppies make up for the best material for selective breeding, designed to widen the gene pool and create even more diversity

Guppies will make for ideal tank mates for the plecos, despite the latter being a lot larger, up to 5 times than the guppy.

Generally speaking, it’s not recommended to house large and small fish together. The difference with plecos is that they are bottom-dwelling scavengers that lack hunting behavior.

They won’t disturb your guppies but will keep to themselves and will rarely leave their comfort zone near the substrate.

On the other hand, guppies typically avoid the deeper areas of the tank. This will minimize the interactions between the 2 species.

2. Neon Tetras

Neon tetras are small schooling fish, only growing up to 1.5 to 2 inches at most. They are some of the most peaceful fish you can get for your community tank.

These vivacious fish can adapt to any community tank, so long as their tank mates are equally peaceful and easy-going.

Just remember that neon tetras are schooling fish and like to live in larger groups to remain calm and peaceful. They will make for awesome tank mates for the golden nugget pleco since they will almost never share the same living space.

Neon tetras like to swim in the middle-to-top tank area and will avoid interacting with other fish, especially if they are part of a larger school.

You should keep them in a group of at least 6 fish, preferably more, to keep them active, calm, and healthy over the years.

3. Mollies

Mollies are as popular as guppies, thanks to their peaceful attitude, adaptability, and color diversity. They are very easy to maintain since they are hardy and can accommodate to mostly any average water condition.

They are also quite sizeable, compared to guppies and tetras. Depending on the species you prefer, mollies can grow up to 4.5 to 5 inches, and they don’t need too much space to thrive, which is great since the golden nugget’s tank will provide them with a lot.

They prefer similar water conditions to the pleco and also like their water clean. Just remember that mollies like planted aquariums since they use plants to hide when stressed.

Not that you have anything to fear since mollies will rarely interact with the golden nugget.

4. Gouramis

Gouramis make for another great tank mate, provided you take some precautions first. These are probably the most adaptable fish species on this list, capable of thriving even in murky and poorly oxygenated waters.

This is only possible thanks to their labyrinth organ, which is present in a variety of fish species, including the bettas. This organ allows gouramis to breathe atmospheric air when their environment lacks proper oxygenation.

This is another way of saying that gouramis prefer to spend their time close to the water’s surface, where they will occasionally pop to take a gulp of air.

Don’t take this as a sign that your fish is suffocating; it’s typical behavior for gouramis.

When it comes to keeping gouramis, there are 2 things I would like to mention:

  • Understand their diversity – There are 133 species of gouramis recognized so far, with others possible on the line. They all come with different characteristics that demand different care approaches. For instance, some gouramis are mouthbrooders, meaning that the female gourami keeps the eggs in its mouth until they hatch. Others build bubble nests at the water surface to protect the fertilized eggs. You need to understand each species’ specifics and adapt to its requirements to keep them safe and healthy.
  • Prevent male aggression – Male gouramis are notoriously combative towards one another. They display significant aggression levels as part of their territorial dominance and hierarchical setup. Higher-ranked males will bully and attack the lower-ranked ones into submission, and things can degenerate fast. To prevent that, only keep one male gourami per tank. You can potentially accommodate 2 or more, depending on how large the tank is and the overall setup. Providing gouramis with a variety of hiding spots is ideal to mitigate male aggression and create a safer and calmer environment.

Gouramis and golden nugget plecos can live in harmony with each other with minimal interactions due to them preferring different living areas.

5. Angelfish

Angelfish are probably the most popular cichlid you can buy. Their boomerang-shaped body with long dorsal and ventral fish makes for quite an impression in any aquatic environment.

They are hardy, resilient, and require slightly warmer waters to remain comfortable and healthy. Angelfish rank as semi-aggressive cichlids since males tend to be extremely territorial; it’s obviously unwise to keep more than 1 male in a small tank.

Angelfish will live up to 10-12 years in captivity and around 15 years in the wild, provided they don’t succumb to predation in the meantime.

They can accommodate to living with any tank mates, so long as they are not aggressive, territorial, or too small. The latter will activate the angelfish’s lingering hunting tendencies, which could end in a bloodbath.

You shouldn’t worry about that with plecos since they’re far larger than the Angelfish and won’t cross paths so often anyway.

They will make for good tank mates, provided you accommodate both species in their preferred habitats.

6. Tiger Barbs

Tiger barbs are as beautiful as they are vicious and aggressive. They don’t make for reliable community tank additions due to their fiery personalities and inclination towards violence.

Tiger barbs will fight anyone for any reason, including territory, food, females, hierarchy, and sometimes out of the need for fighting.

They are notoriously bad tank mates for long-finned fish like bettas and guppies since they will nip at them constantly. These problems won’t exist in a pleco tank.

Golden nugget plecos and tiger barbs don’t share the same swimming areas, and they won’t interact much. From the barbs’ perspective, they will dominate the entire tank, as the plecos will stick to their substrate and control the bottom. If you like tiger barbs, but you’ve always wanted to keep them in a community tank, this is your chance.

7. Rummy Nose Tetras

The rummy nose tetra is what Rudolph the reindeer would look like if it learned to swim.

This tetra species comes with a light yellow, translucent body, blood-red head, and pitch-black eyes to create the most powerful color contrast you can find.

They share much of tetras’ innate friendly and calm behavior, making them a good fit for any community tank.

These are shoaling fish that like to remain in relatively larger groups, which shouldn’t be too difficult to achieve. After all, they will have the golden nugget pleco as their tank mate in a 50-gallon tank at a minimum.

That space will allow you to keep multiple rummy nose tetras without creating any discomfort to your pleco.

The rummy nose tetra is omnivorous and can grow up to 2.5 inches, which allows you to build quite extensive shoals in the right environment.

8. Swordtails

Swordtails make for another perfect addition to a well-established community tank. The males are responsible for the name, thanks to their extended caudal fin resembling a sword.

Swordtails live between 3 to 5 years in optimal conditions and will reach an average size of 5.5 inches. This means you can get larger swordtails than that, depending on their genetics, diets, and water parameters over the years.

Swordtails reproduce with ease and don’t mind other tank mates, so long as they are not aggressive or overactive. Fortunately, the golden nugget pleco doesn’t fall in either category.

Just remember that swordtails require more space since they are an active and inquisitive species and, more importantly, that males don’t get along with each other.

The latter is a common theme among all tank fish species anyway, so it goes without saying at this point.

9. Ram Cichlids

Ram cichlids are a popular tank option for several aspects.

These include:

  • Unusual shyness – Ram cichlids are rather unusually shy when compared to other cichlids. They need a variety of hiding spots to remain comfortable and stress-free in their habitat.
  • Parental care – Few fish species provide their offspring with adequate care upon hatching. Guppies, for instance, will even consume their own fry on many occasions. Ram cichlids will care for their young for quite a while, following hatching, protecting them from other fish, and helping them grow.
  • Peaceful demeanor towards other species – This peaceful behavior is atypical for cichlids, but it’s what contributes to ram cichlids’ popularity the most. They won’t bother themselves to attack other tank mates so long as they are not provoked first.

Setting aside their friendly personality, these are cichlids at the end of the day. This means that cichlid-to-cichlid aggression is common among their ranks, especially among males.

Ram cichlids can be quite territorial, causing males to fight among themselves and other cichlids entering their territory.

To prevent that, decorate the tank with a variety of plants, rocks, and woody elements to provide natural hiding places. These will break the line of sight between the males, contributing to a safer and more peaceful aquatic environment.

Ram cichlids are great tank partners for golden nugget plecos since they will rarely interact with each other.

They also share much of their environmental preferences in terms of water quality, temperature, and even diets.

10. Celestial Pearl Danio

You may know this one as the Galaxy Rasbora or, even more likely, you may not know about it at all. That’s because the celestial danio is a newcomer in the aquarium world, having been introduced on the market within the last decade.

These small fish, only reaching up to 1 inch in average length, work great for peaceful community tanks.

Their color patterns involve a dark blue background with white or yellow spots, reminding of the night sky (hence, the name.) The base of the fins is orange or red, while the eyes are almost always oversized, too large for their tiny skulls.

These are joyful and adaptable fish that will thrive in a natural-looking habitat with stable water parameters. The only deterrent I can think of when trying to pair them with plecos would be the temperature.

Golden nugget plecos prefer temperatures ranging between 75 to 85 F, while celestial danios thrive in temperatures between 73 to 79 F.

So, there is some room here, but you need a heater to monitor and adjust the water temperature accordingly.


Golden nugget plecos are breathtaking catfish that grow in popularity by the day.

You can keep them in solo tanks since they don’t require the presence of other plecos to feel comfortable.

Or, as this article has shown, you can accommodate them in a community tank, provided you take all precautions to avoid any unwanted surprises along the way.

Just remember that this species requires impeccable water conditions and don’t like fluctuations in their water parameters. Oh, and don’t try to breed them since your chances of succeeding are closer to 0 than you would like.

Other than that, their easy-going attitude and peaceful personality will do the rest.

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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