Can Plecos Live with Turtles? How to Make It Work

Despite being a little tricky (most turtles are omnivores and like to eat fish), you can make the combination of turtles and Plecos work. Mainly, you’ll need to make sure that they’re both of similar sizes and that the turtle isn’t used to eating live fish.

If you want to have a biodiverse aquarium, you might want to consider unique combinations of aquatic creatures, such as turtles and Plecos.

In today’s article, we’ll walk you through a brief guide with all the necessary information to consider before combining Plecos with turtles. So without further ado, let’s dive in!

Can Plecos Live with Turtles?

Although turtles can be herbivorous and carnivorous, the vast majority of species out there are omnivorous.

These omnivorous turtles can eat just about anything, and fish species are commonly on their meal lists.

For that reason, most aquarium keepers won’t combine turtles with other fish species because they might eat them.

Of course, if your turtle is a herbivore that only eats fruits and vegetables, there should be no problems keeping them with Plecos.

However, if your turtle is an omnivore, keeping the two fish together can be a little tricky so that your turtle doesn’t end up eating the Plecos.

Typically, you’ll have the best chance of keeping your Plecos with omnivorous turtle species if they’re the turtle is already mature and isn’t used to eating live fish.

For example, red-eared sliders and western-painted turtles are among the omnivorous species that will typically favor a herbivore diet as they grow up, which makes them a suitable choice for Plecos companionship.

On the other hand, species like Map turtles are predominantly carnivorous, which makes them not suitable for plecos/turtle aquariums.

Large Royal Panaque Pleco

Can Plecos and Turtles Eat the Same Food?

In captivity, a lot of turtle species can get accustomed to eating food pellets and wafers. In fact, the same wafers used to feed plecos can also be used to feed turtles.

These wafers are usually rich in essential proteins and other nutrients for growth and health, such as vitamins and minerals.

With that said, different species of turtles have different nutritional requirements, so you might want to consult your vet regarding the best food for both species.

Can I Keep Multiple Plecos with Turtles?

Unfortunately, keeping multiple plecos with turtles can be surprisingly difficult, even among species that can typically cohabitate peacefully.

The problem here isn’t actually due to the turtle. Instead, it’s actually the Plecos that can make it difficult.

This is because Plecos can exist peacefully with a wide range of fish species. However, Plecos, especially those of the same species, don’t get along well with each other.

In fact, it’s typical for these severely territorial fish species to fight each other to death after reaching maturity. This fighting may actually trigger a peaceful turtle to start attacking and eating Plecos.

For that reason, it’s usually best to combine one turtle and one suckerfish to reduce the risk of aggression and feeding (more turtles are harder to control and more likely to eat a lonely Pleco).

What Are the Best Pleco Species to Keep with Turtles?

A turtle is less likely to eat a fish if the latter is large enough. As a result, the best Pleco species are the ones that can grow large enough (as big as a relatively mature turtle).

These species include:

  • Common Pleco
  • Leopard Pleco
  • Rubber Lipped Pleco

You should also consider the Pleco species that share the same aquarium condition preferences to allow them both to thrive.

Things to Keep in Mind While Keeping Plecos and Turtle in the Same Tank

Here are some additional aspects that you need to consider if you’re planning to keep a pleco with a turtle in the same tank:

1. You’ll Need a Huge Aquarium

Both Plecos and turtles can grow in size multiple times throughout their lifetime. As a result, you’ll need to get a relatively large aquarium that is large enough to house the two species freely with plenty of space to roam around.

The extra space also helps in reducing the tension between the two spaces and increases the chances of the combination working.

Large Royal Panaque Pleco (panaque nigrolineatus)

2. Avoid Feeding Your Turtle a Carnivorous Diet

While turtles can eat just about anything that you give them, going with a carnivorous diet will give your turtle a taste of live fish and get it into the habit of preying on smaller fish.

As a result, when you first introduce the Pleco to the fish tank, your turtle might regard it as food and eat it immediately.

Instead of small feeder fish, make sure that you get your turtle used to eating food pellets and feeding at specific times of the day.

Since turtles become more and more herbivorous as they grow, it’s usually best to wait for the introduction until the turtle is relatively mature and already accustomed to food pellets and wafers as food.

3. Make Sure Both Are Well Fed Before Introduction

Before introducing the pleco to the turtle for the first time, make sure that your turtle is very well fed. Hungry turtles, especially young ones, are quite unpredictable.

4. Consider the Conditions of the Two Species

Food isn’t the only thing that the two species will share. Remember to do your research on the two specific species and make sure that they also thrive within a similar water pH level and temperature range.

5. Make Sure There Are Plenty of Hiding Spots

Lastly, provide the nocturnal Plecos with various hiding spots in the aquarium to spend their day in them, such as:

  • Tunnels
  • Caves
  • Artificial plants

Final Thoughts

There you have it! A brief guide that shows you whether you can keep Plecos and turtles within the same tank.

As you can see, the combination is quite possible, but there are some aspects that you need to consider in order to make it work, such as having a large tank and trying it with mature turtle species that don’t typically eat smaller fish.