Can Plecos Live with Tetras? (2022)

Can Plecos Live with Tetras? Do They Get Along?

Tetras are a hugely common freshwater fish, which are easy to care for, and are very peaceful. Many tank owners, come to the stage where they wish to add something else to their tank. Rather than opting for small fish to co-habit, they want something more dramatic.

One popular question when they reach this stage is which fish can be suitable.

In many cases, it comes as can plecos live with tetras? Do they get along? Plecos make great tank mates for tetras, they are easy-going and are bottom feeders, so they don’t get in the way too much. One of the main things an aquarium owner has to consider will be the size of the tank, and that it can cater to both types of fish.

Here, we will look at all you need to learn about keeping tetras, and the requirements for adding a pleco to your aquarium as a new tank mate.

Tetra Basics

Tetras are easy to care for, and with ideal conditions, they can live up to five years. Once fully matured they can grow to around 2-inches in length.

Tetras are omnivores, so they are not too fussy on their diet. They are brightly colored and swim in shoals, so you will be looking at having several in your aquarium.

When you have enough, you can see your tetras swimming around in the mid to upper sections of your tank. One thing to note is that if you have very few tetras in a tank, it can lead to them being shy and getting stressed as a result.

Tetra Tank Requirements

The natural habitats of tetras will be shallow creeks and rivers in South America. With rocks and plants covering the bottom of these waters, there is still lots of open water where they can swim. Waters will be slightly warmer with a hint of acidity.

The water current will also be mild, and because of the areas they flourish, there will be times of sun and the other regions are heavily shaded. Tetras very rarely venture to the bottom of a tank, hence the reason for a pleco being such a good tank mate.

Tetra Tank Requirements

When you look to copy the water conditions form the natural habitat, you will see these are in the range of 73° and 81° degrees Fahrenheit, and the pH levels between 6 and 7. For water movement, a regular water filter that matches the tank will be sufficient, and regular aquarium lighting can deliver favorable conditions.

Even with your tetras being small, you need around six as a minimum. With this number, they can swim around and won’t feel isolated. The tank size required to accommodate this number is a 20-gallon tank as the smallest. If you decide to add more, it needs around 2 gallons of water more for each additional fish.

Feeding of Tetras

It is simple to replicate the natural diet for tetras. Being omnivores by nature, they will eat anything that is offered; however, it is advisable to mix things up, so they have a varied diet.

You can purchase high-quality tetra fish foods, but it is still worth adding smashed up fresh vegetables or brine shrimp, daphnia, tubifex or bloodworms.

Feeding times should be once per day, and this is as much food as they will consume within two or three minutes. Feeding more than this can have an impact on water conditions.

Pleco Basics

Plecos are a member of the catfish family Loricariidae. The full name being the Plecostomus Catfish, they are commonly known as a pleco. In total, you can find around 150 diverse species, which come in a wide range of sizes.

The common pleco is often mistaken as a member of the Loricariidae family, although they are a member of a specific family, the Hypostomus Plecostomus. It is this strain you find as the most popular to co-habit with tetras.

Plecos are nocturnal, so during the daytime, they will be sluggish and often hide out of sight. In the wild, they come from similar rivers as the tetra.

Feeding Plecos

Plecos are bottom feeders, so they will busily clean algae and uneaten food from the sides of your tank and substrate.

While plecos can feed on all these scraps, you do need to provide them with their diet in the same manner as your tetras. You can purchase high-quality pellets for plecos, or you can substitute their diet with fresh vegetables, including lettuce, zucchini, spinach or peas. Besides these, you can feed them bloodworms, earthworms, larvae and small crustaceans.

Feeding Plecos

Pleco Tank Requirements

Unlike a lot of other fish, plecos can cater to many water conditions, although there is the ideal. Temperatures ought to remain between 72° and 86° Fahrenheit, with pH levels between 6.5 and 7.5.

One of the most essential requirements for plecos will be the tank size when co-habiting with your tetras. A single pleco needs a tank of around 150 gallons when they reach maturity as they can grow to lengths of approximately 24-inches. In tanks, they may reach about 15 inches, though they will still need a large tank.

Here are minimum tank sizes for some popular species, you can use before your pleco reaches maturity.

  • Bristlenose: 25 gallon
  • Zebra, Clown & Snowball: 30 gallon
  • Gold Nugget: 50 gallon
  • Sailfin and Royal: 125 gallon

It should also be noted; you should never look at keeping more than one pleco per tank because of the constraints on tank size.

Where tetras like a mild current, a pleco will prefer a stronger flow, though you can work around this with a large tank. This provides space for your tetra and pleco to have the current strength they like.

One of the best filter types to achieve this will be good-quality canister filters, as they deliver the means to keep your water clean which plecos like.

Will My Pleco Eat My Tetras?

Plecos are omnivores and can eat meat as well as plant matter. It may cross fish keeper’s minds if a pleco will eat the much smaller tetra.

For the majority of the time, both fish will be in different areas of the tank, and with the pleco being a nocturnal bottom feeder, it won’t rise from where it likes to stay. However, there is one scenario where a pleco may take the opportunity to feed on a tetra.

Will My Pleco Eat My Tetras

If a tetra becomes stressed, it may give off the right signals that encourage the pleco to take advantage. Besides, you can find some pleco are territorial, so if a stressed tetra swims where it shouldn’t, it could be enough for the weakened fish to die, and where the pleco thinks it is food.


Once you overcome the slight differences between the two fish, and you have a sufficiently sized tank, there is no reason why you can’t have a pleco comfortably living with your tetra.

Both breeds will comfortably keep away from the other, so thus not interfering with any daily rituals each fish has. Your pleco will if nothing else, go about its daily business with eating algae and clearing the bottom of the tank in its hunt for food.

From all the varieties of fish you can have, this pairing will be one of the best and one of the most trouble-free you can have.