Galaxy Pleco: Species Profile and Care Guide

Are you interested in adding a galaxy pleco to your tank? Here’s everything you need to know!

Species Overview

The galaxy pleco, scientifically known as leporacanthicus cf. galaxias, is a natural eye-catcher in any aquarium. It’s a catfish species that thrives in fresh water and boasts intriguing features. The galaxy pleco is famous for its distinct markings boasting a dark coat with bright yellow/white spots.

Better known as L029, L082, or L240, the origins of galaxy plecos trace back to the Amazon Basin, particularly Brazil’s, Venezuela’s, and Columbia’s drainage system.

The fish spends most of its time at the bottom of the fish tank and is omnivorous, feeding on meat-based foods and algae. Some plecos choose to be carnivorous, preferring nothing but meat meals only.

Galaxy pleco are pretty easy to care for and look after. Whether you are a beginner, intermediate, or advanced fish owner, you can enjoy a lasting relationship with your fish, provided you master the care and needs of a galaxy pleco.

Distinguishing Features

The galaxy pleco may appear similar to other freshwater catfish like the common pleco, Vampire pleco, or Armored Fish. Generally, the galaxy pleco has a black coat. However, a few galaxy plecos adorn gray or dark brown coats with statement yellow dots.

There are over 150 different types of plecos. Most of them exist peacefully in their natural habitat with little human interference. Only 15 to 20 plecos breeds, like the galaxy pleco, can thrive in an aquarium. The galaxy pleco has a few distinguishing features that make it stand out from other fish.

Galaxy Pleco

Pleco fish have a dark coat with yellow spots spread throughout the surface of their body, including their fins. However, while the L240, a close cousin of the L029 galaxy pleco, also shares a similar dark coat and yellow spots, it also has a few differences, as described in the table below.

L240 Galaxy plecoL029 Galaxy pleco
It has a pitch-black coat with white spotsIt has a faded black coat with yellow spots
Has significantly larger, taller rayed Caudal and dorsal finsHas average sized but spiny rayed caudal and dorsal fins
It has several teeth but not nearly as sharp as the ones on the L029Has several long teeth on their upper jaw
Has a smooth slope transitioning from their head to their midsectionHave a large bump at the back of the head
Have a more pronounced, protruding mouthIt has a flatter, sucker mouth because it is used to gnawing on algae
It is significantly larger and can grow up to 30 cm long at full maturityIt is slightly smaller, growing up to 25 cm long at full maturity

Also, if you notice that your fish prefers meat or protein-based meals, you likely own an L240 galaxy pleco, a predominantly carnivorous fish. L029 galaxy plecos are omnivorous.


The galaxy pleco’s original habitat is the Amazon Basin, where plenty of pleco fish are found. They are usually in small rivers, flood plains, tributaries, and streams. They hide at the bottom, where the fish can find food as they fancy feeding on tiny meaty animals/insects, algae, and decaying plants.

The galaxy pleco’s native environment has fresh water with a bit of a current and is characterized by a softer sandy substrate. They also like living in areas with plenty of underwater plants and plant matter. Plants provide cover for the introverted pleco and are a welcome snack for them to gnaw on occasionally.

Examples of plants you can find in the natural habitat of a galaxy pleco include:

  • Java Fern
  • Java Moss
  • Anubias
  • Amazon Swords
  • Vallisneria
  • Cryptocoryne wendtii
  • Amazon Frogbit


The average size of an adult galaxy pleco is 10 to 12 Inches long. Full-grown males are slightly larger than females. It takes about five years for a galaxy pleco to reach full length.

Compared to other types of pleco fish, the galaxy pleco may be significantly smaller but have a somewhat aggressive temperament demanding space and fewer companions. To start, a 30 to 50-gallon aquarium will suffice. But as the fish grows, a larger tank whose capacity falls between 100 and 200 gallons is ideal.

Thus, consider building a bigger fish tank to ensure less aggressiveness if you intend to keep a galaxy pleco with other fish mates.


With proper care and ample environmental conditions, a galaxy pleco can live as long as 15 years. This fish species is ideal for intermediate and experienced fish owners. As a beginner, you may find attending to each fish’s needs difficult.

Besides its intriguingly strong genes, how long your fish lives significantly depends on its general health and nutrition.


It can be tricky to distinguish a male from a female galaxy pleco, especially if you are observing one pleco. The differences between a male and female galaxy pleco are pretty subtle. But upon taking a closer look, you’ll realize that:

  • The male galaxy pleco has a larger head than the female.
  • Females have a broader, rounder abdomen, while males have longer, skinnier bodies.
  • A male galaxy pleco has a more prominent dorsal fin than a female.

The galaxy pleco’s sexual organs are entirely concealed, thus nearly impossible to tell the genders apart based only on observing their genitalia.


Behaviorally, a galaxy pleco is a peaceful fish species and lives harmoniously with other fish. But there’s a catch. Galaxy pleco only become irritable if they have to fight for food or space. These fish often bully other fish in a tank to mark their territory.

Usually, a galaxy pleco won’t target the much smaller fish because they don’t perceive them as threats. They are, however, unfriendly and unkind to other fish of the same species or fish that possess similar features.

A galaxy pleco won’t get violent enough to kill another fish but can do enough damage to send the message home fast. They have large sharp teeth that can inflict severe injury. Note that a male galaxy pleco is more aggressive than its female counterpart.

Galaxy pleco are nocturnal. They are more active and energetic at night when you can see them in full action. The fish stretches its sizable dorsal fin upright to make itself appear larger and to intimidate predators and other fish. If the intimidation tactic fails, the galaxy pleco may result in further physical attacks to ward off other fish or take their food.

Galaxy Pleco

Tank Parameters

The notion that galaxy pleco don’t need much space because they are bottom dwellers is misconstrued.

If you want to keep one fish or have many fish mates in one tank, space is integral to the peace and survival of all fish therein. Acquiring an appropriately sized tank guarantees your Galaxy pleco’s stability and longevity. These fish need enough space to swim, scavenge, and explore.

Minimum Tank Size

One adult Galaxy pleco should be comfortable in a tank of no less than 50 Gallons. Considering additional factors like aquarium decorations, substrate, and plants, you can use a bigger 75 Gallon tank.

Younger fish (approximately 3 Inches long) can live temporarily in a smaller tank, preferably 30 Gallons if alone. Opt for a larger tank if you intend to keep several fish.

Water Parameters

The galaxy pleco thrives in warm, soft water. They feel at home living in slightly acidic to neutral water ranging from pH 5.6 to 7.0.

These fish feed constantly, thus naturally producing a lot of waste. Consider installing a robust and reliable filtration system to keep the water clean and clear and maintain the right acidity.

A powerful water pump is necessary to mimic the current in a river and increase oxygen levels and generate moderate to high flow of water.

Below are crucial parameters to observe for your fish’s long-term stability and health.

  • Water temperature-72°F to 82°F
  • pH levels-5.6 to 7.0
  • Salinity-8 to 12 KH

The trick to keeping your fish happy is to imitate the conditions in the Amazon River to help your fish survive. Choosing the right tank size is important, but so is ensuring your fish’s comfortable and healthy living conditions.

While the Galaxy pleco is quite flexible and can adjust to different environmental conditions, it’s advisable to abide by the proper parameters as detailed above. Consider purchasing a test kit to monitor and adjust the aquarium water’s pH levels.

Tank Setup

Now that the important stuff is taken care of, let your creative juices flow. A tank setup requires you to decorate and create a space resembling galaxy pleco’s natural habitat. Incorporate everything from the small pebbles, soft sand substrate, fast current, live plants, etc. Read on for a closer look.


Unlike most fish that don’t mind a rough rocky substrate, the galaxy pleco prefers sand or fine gravel substrate. If you use small pebbles as substrate, avoid getting ones with sharp edges and, instead, get ones with a smoother surface.


Consider adding your personal touch by adding driftwood, bogwood, and a few pebbles here and there to decorate the fish tank. Driftwood is good to add to your fish tank because it’s where algae grows. Algae is galaxy pleco’s favorite snack. Some plecos also gnaw on wood to help enhance digestion.

Remember to arrange all the decorations strategically inside the fish tank to make it look attractive while leaving enough space for the fish to swim.


Plants in a fish tank facilitate better aeration and water movement. Plants are a crucial part of the fish’s ideal environment equation.

Plants are a convenient hiding place for the galaxy pleco as they like a bit of alone time to decompress. The fish also don’t like constant exposure to light and thus hide behind plants for shade.


It’s impossible to have an aquarium without light. However, consider installing dim lights instead of bright lights. A galaxy pleco avoids bright lights and may hide away in the darkest corners of the fish tank to avoid the bright light.


An effective filter can do an excellent job of drawing out the impurities. Find a reliable filter that will not break down, as this will compromise the health of your fish.


A galaxy pleco can get super uncomfortable in cold water. Running water from the Amazon Basin, where these fish originate, is warm. Thus, get a reliable heater for your fish tank to keep the water temperature at the recommended 72°F to 82°F.


The galaxy pleco craves meaty meals but will occasionally chew on plants and algae present in their fish tank. These fish are super picky.

Offer your galaxy pleco a mix of decaying plants, algae, and meat-based protein. They love mosquito larvae, frozen snails, live earthworms, dried prawns, chopped shrimp, and mussels.

Commercial fish food like algae wafers, sinking pellets, and shrimp wafers may also suffice. Mix commercial foods with fresh or frozen foods for a wholesome diet. Remember to purchase sinking food to leave plenty for the fish to scavenge.

Consider feeding them two to three times a day. A silver coin serving is the recommended adequate amount for an adult galaxy pleco per serving.


In the Amazon, the galaxy pleco breeds regularly. However, breeding in a tank is a whole other different story. Successful breeding in an aquarium requires one to create ideal conditions for spawning. Some of the components needed to encourage breeding in galaxy plecos include:

  • A larger tank, preferably 100 gallons
  • Moderate to high water flow
  • Plenty of hiding spots. Make artificial caves made using overturned flower-pots
  • Lower the water temperature down by two degrees
  • Introduce another fish of the opposite sex

Making these few adjustments could encourage the mature fish in your tank to start breeding. Check for eggs in hiding spaces like the caves. Transfer the adult fish to maximize the survival rate of the eggs. Expect the eggs to hatch in about a week.

There’ll be no need to feed the newly hatched fish-lings until they fully absorb their egg sacs. The baby fish of a pleco, also known as fry, consume copious amounts of protein in their first stages of growth.

Give the fry many small meat-based proteins several times throughout the day to meet their demands. Excellent first foods options are crushed flakes and baby brine shrimp.

Also, ensure the water temperature and flow in the fish tank favor and support a healthy environment for the fry.

Common Diseases

Like other freshwater fish, The galaxy pleco is vulnerable to tropical fish diseases. But, notorious illnesses that threaten to ail, or worse, cut short the life of a galaxy pleco include;


Ich is a rapidly infectious disease triggered by stress and parasites. You can tell your fish is infected if there are small white dots throughout the pleco’s skin and gills. The condition is also pretty itchy; hence you may notice your fish trying to relieve themselves by rubbing against various items inside the aquarium.

If your pleco appears lethargic, hides a lot, and refuses to feed like usual, it indicates that the disease is progressing, and your fish’s life could be in danger. Treat this disease promptly to prevent other fish from getting sick.

plecotomus Disease

This common fungal disease exhibits visibly as white cotton-like growths on the fish’s body. The infection is treatable by transferring the sick fish to a different tank and pouring medicine into the water.

Consult a professional to make the correct diagnosis and prescribe good medicine. Do not give your fish a higher dose than the vet recommends hoping to fasten its recovery process. This is overdosing and can lead to worse symptoms.

Avoid self-diagnosing your fish, as you may buy the wrong medicine, thus endangering your fish’s life further. Note, plecos can react badly to copper-based medication.

How to Prevent Common Diseases in Fish

Follow the few practical steps below to protect the healthy fish in your aquarium from getting sick.

  • Put new fish in quarantine for about four to six weeks
  • If during quarantine, the fish appears healthy with no signs or symptoms of disease, introduce it to the tank where the other fish mates live
  • Quarantine all new plants for two weeks before putting them inside the tank.

Potential Tank Mates

A galaxy pleco does not mind living in the tank alone, but if you desire to see more life in your fish tank, below are ideal tank mates that your pleco won’t find annoying.

  • Angelfish
  • Platy Fish
  • Black Skirt Tetras
  • Red Shoulder Severum
  • Molly Fish
  • Neon Tetras
  • Bolivian Ram Cichlid
  • Red Eye Tetra
  • Rainbowfish
  • Guppy Fish
  • Silver Dollar Fish

Owing to their territorial nature, most people prefer to introduce tank mates that dwell in the aquarium’s middle or upper areas, leaving the bottom for the galaxy pleco.

plecos can be aggressive with other fish simply because they have features that are similar to theirs. Another trick to ensuring harmony between the pleco and the new mates is to find tank mates that look strikingly different and are non-aggressive. A few examples include:

  • Reophilic Cichlids
  • Anostomus
  • Tetras
  • Metynnis
  • Hemiodus
  • Gouramis
  • Semaprochilodus
  • Loricariids

If you still experience behavioral issues despite finding the right mates for your fish, consider getting a bigger tank or adding more tanks to minimize crowding. Plus, increase the food servings as there’s a chance your fish is not getting enough, thus having to fight for food.

Avoid introducing small fish mates that can fit in the mouth of a pleco because they will not survive. They’ll either be bullied to death or be mistaken for a snack.

Consider moving the galaxy pleco into its own tank when it reaches adulthood.