Can Plecos Live In Cold Water? Here’s What You Need to Know

Plecos are originally tropical fish, so they typically prefer warmer climates and need an aquarium warmer in order to thrive in cold regions. Keeping your Pleco in cold water below 70 degrees F will have a negative impact on the health of yourfish, although there are some species that can withstand relatively cool temperatures.

If you want to find out more about Plecos’ ideal temperature and how cold can your aquarium go while housing the tropical fish, keep on reading this guide!

Can Plecos Live In Cold Water?

Plecos are short for “Plecostomus”, which are a large group of fish, known as Suckermouth catfish.

They are among the best types of fish that you can have in your aquarium. This is because these fish are pretty hardy, low maintenance, and can easily thrive in a fish tank, given the right conditions.

These fish are originally native to the rivers and streams of the Amazon Forest. This means that they’re tropical species that are originally built and evolved to tolerate and thrive in relatively warm water.

At best, Plecos can survive a mildly cold water aquarium, although it’s usually best to keep the fish in a suitable temperature range, which is usually on the warmer side.

Keeping Plecos in cold water aquariums or outdoors in ponds will eventually have its toll on their health and cause unwanted effects on the fish.

However, you should know that Plecos are a large group of fish with different species, and therefore, there are some species that are better suited for cooler aquariums than others.

Bushymouth Pleco

What Is the Ideal Temperature Range for Plecos?

The ideal temperature range of plecos will vary from one species to another. However, the vast majority of Plecos out there will enjoy a temperature range that is as low as 72 to 75 degrees F (22.2 to 23.9 degrees C) and up to 82 to 85 degrees F (27.8 to 29.4 degrees C).

With that being said, some Plecos can survive in temperatures outside their ideal temperature range for a limited amount of time.

Yet, the further the temperature from the ideal range, the higher the level of stress your fish is put under, which makes them more susceptible to diseases and other problems.

What is the Coldest Temperature That Plecos Can Survive?

Although Plecos are originally tropical, their hardiness and resilience allow them to survive some surprisingly cold temperature ranges.

For example, the coldest temperature that the Common Plecos can survive is around 60 to 65 degrees F (15.5 to 18.3 degrees C).

Of course, your Plecos can only survive such a low temperature for a short period of time, and leaving them in such temperature for a long time will eventually lead to their death.

The lowest temperature that Plecos can survive at for a long time is usually around 68 to 70 degrees F (20 to 21.1 degrees C), but you might need to crank the heat up a little warmer if you want to thrive in the best conditions.

What Is the Effect of Cold Water on Plecos?

When the temperature of the water falls below the comfortable level for Plecos, several symptoms will start to show on your fish.

The most common effect of cold water on Plecos is increased stress, which they usually manifest by excessive hiding, even during the night (Plecos are nocturnal, so they’re usually more active at night).

Environmental stress reduces the fish’s immunity and makes them more susceptible to diseases and infections.

Additionally, lethargy, fatigue, and lack of activity are common symptoms among excessively cold adult Plecos while younger ones will suffer from stunted growth.

Tips to Control Plecos Aquarium Temperature in Cold Regions

Now that you know that Plecos require a relatively warm climate to stay comfortable, you might be wondering what to do to control the temperature in your aquarium. Here are some of the aspects you need to consider:

1. Use Aquarium Heater

One of the most convenient methods to control the temperature of your aquarium is by using a heater.

A good recommendation here is the Marineland Precision Heater. This one is available in different wattage ratings (from 50 to 400 watts, depending on the temperature in your region) and allows you to adjust the temperature digitally.

2. Relocate the Aquarium to Warmer Room

If you don’t want to use a heater in your aquarium, you can simply relocate the aquarium to a spot near the room heater or heating vent.

3. Monitor the Aquarium Temperature

If you’re not using an aquarium heater with a monitor, make sure that you use an aquarium temperature monitor to keep track of the temperature so that it’s not too hot or too cold.

There are simple and affordable options like the Zacro LCD monitor and smart options with App Alert features like MOCREO ST4 Temperature Sensor.

What Are the Best Pleco Species To Withstand the Cold?

Although there’s a huge variety of Pleco species, only a few of them have a relatively low ideal temperature range. These species have the highest chances to thrive in a relatively cold fish tank. These species include:

  • Common Pleco: Ideal temperature between 65 to 85 degrees F
  • Rubber Lipped Pleco: Ideal temperature between 70 to 78 degrees F
  • Royal Pleco: Ideal temperature between 72 to 85 degrees F
  • Bristlenose/Ancistrus Pleco: Ideal temperature between 73 to 80 degrees F
  • Snowball Pleco: Ideal temperature between 73 to 86 degrees F

You can also go for Alternative Freshwater Aquarium Species That Can Survive Cold Water, such as Barbs, Tetras, and Loach

Final Thoughts

This wraps it up for today’s guide about the Plecos and whether you can keep them in cold water.

As you can see, Plecos are tropical freshwater species that have evolved to thrive in relatively warm temperatures, so keeping them in cold water can negatively affect their health and lead to stress and susceptibility to diseases.

As a result, you might want to consider alternatives if you already have a cold water aquarium, such as Barbs, Tetras, and Loach.