Can Plecos Live with Bettas?

Most types of plecos can live peacefully with bettas in the same tank. These fish won’t attack one another or compete for food, but some types of plecos aren’t the perfect tank mates for bettas. 

Choosing several fish species to live together in the same tank can be a daunting task. For example, bettas are known to be quite territorial, and adding too many bettas to the same tank isn’t recommended. So, can plecos live with bettas?

We’ll answer this question in detail in the following article, so keep reading to learn more about these two fish species.

Can Plecos Live with Bettas?

Finding suitable tank mates for your bettas isn’t always the easiest task. These fish can be quite aggressive, so you want fish that won’t attack bettas but won’t also end up eaten by them.

Due to their larger size and relatively peaceful nature, plecos seem like suitable tank mates for your bettas.

In general, most types of plecos avoid attacking other fish. They’re territorial, so they don’t tolerate having too many of their own kind in the same tank, but they won’t attack bettas.

Plecos also live at the bottom of your community tank, preferring to hide most of the time. This means that they won’t encounter bettas that often.

Reasons Why Plecos and Bettas Can Live Together

Plecos are good tank mates for your bettas for several reasons.

Bettas Are Smaller than Plecos

Most plecos, even the smallest species, are still larger than bettas. Bettas usually grow to be about 2.5 inches long, unlike plecos. The smallest plecos can be around 4 inches, while some of the bigger types can be more than 20 inches long.

This means that the aggressive bettas won’t attack plecos.

They Live at Different Levels

Plecos are bottom dwellers and feeders. They spend most of their time near the bottom of the community tank, usually hiding in caves, between rocks, plants, and other decorative pieces.

Bettas spend most of their time near the water surface. They’re mid-level feeders, and they won’t naturally encounter plecos.

This will eliminate the chance of aggression between both species. Bettas can get pretty territorial and aggressive, but plecos will avoid them.

However, bettas can spend time at the bottom of the tank if there aren’t enough decorations and plants at the top of the aquarium, where they can rest.

They Eat Different Types of Food

Bettas are carnivores known to eat other fish. Plecos are omnivores or herbivores, so they don’t compete with bettas for food.

Plecos are also scavengers, so they can eat the decomposing organic matter in a fish tank, unlike bettas. Since these two species won’t compete for food, they can live in harmony.

Plecos Won’t Attract the Attention of Bettas

Bettas are usually attracted to brightly colored fish. However, they can also attack fish that look similar to them as they view them as a threat.

Plecos are dull-colored, so they don’t attract the attention of bettas. Moreover, their bodies are covered in armor-like bony scutes that protect them even if bettas try to attack them.

Are All Plecos Suitable Tank Mates for Bettas?

Plecos will keep a community tank clean by feeding on the algae, so your bettas can live in peace. Since these two fish species live at different depths in the same tank, they won’t attack one another. However, some types of plecos shouldn’t live with bettas.

Which Plecos Can Be Kept with Bettas?

Smaller plecos that live in the same water parameters and dwell at the bottom of the tank make the best tank mates for bettas. Here are some types that get along well with bettas.

Clown Pleco

This fish is one of the smallest plecos, so it doesn’t occupy much space in the tank. You can pick these fish if you don’t have space for a large community tank, as they can live in a 15 to 20-gallon tank safely.

Clown plecos have brown and yellow stripes on their bodies, so they’re generally brighter and more good-looking than most plecos. In addition, these shy fish spend most of their time hiding at the bottom of the tank, so they won’t tempt the aggressive bettas.

Bristlenose Pleco

These small plecos grow to a maximum size of 5 inches and feed on the algae that grow in your tank. They don’t require much space, so they’ll work for you if you have a regular-sized 20-gallon freshwater tank.

Being peaceful and shy fish, the bristlenose pleco won’t attack bettas or attract their attention. Instead, they’ll attach themselves to driftwood in your tank and stay away from the water surface, where bettas are likely to hang out.

Albino Bristlenose Pleco

Zebra Pleco

Zebra plecos are small plecos that reach a maximum length of 4 inches, so they can live in harmony with bettas in the same tank. These fish have a distinctive black and white striped pattern. This makes them more attractive than most types of plecos.

With enough hiding places in your tank, zebra plecos can live in harmony with your bettas. However, bettas can attack them because of their attractive patterns if you don’t provide enough decorative pieces, rocks, and caves where they can hide.

Which Plecos Shouldn’t Be Kept with Bettas?

Some types of plecos can grow to a very large size, and they’re less timid. Since bettas are pretty aggressive, these types won’t work as their tank mates.

Common Pleco

The common pleco reaches a maximum length of about 20 inches, so it’s not a good fish to add to your betta fish tank. These fish are omnivores, so they eat live food and decomposing organic matter at the bottom of the tank. This means that they can compete with bettas for some food.

As common plecos grow older, they prefer live food over algae. They also become more territorial and aggressive.

Royal Pleco

Royal plecos grow to be around 17 inches long and require plenty of space. This means that they require a larger tank than the one you’re probably keeping your bettas in.

Leopard Cactus Pleco

The leopard cactus pleco reaches a maximum length of 9 inches and has a leopard-like pattern. These fish don’t need a lot of plants in their tank, unlike bettas, which prefer heavy vegetation.

Sailfin Pleco

The sailfin pleco has a large dorsal fin that can attract the attention of a betta fish. This can create confusion for the betta where it thinks it’s a competing male betta. This can cause the betta fish to get aggressive.

An aggressive betta fish will attack the sailfin pleco relentlessly. This will cause physical harm to the pleco and will cause a great deal of stress to the betta.

Sailfin Pleco

Wrap Up

Most plecos can live with bettas in harmony. This is because these fish don’t prefer the same type of food or live at the same water level. However, you should avoid adding big types of plecos to your betta tank.