How Do Plecos Breed? A Quick Guide 

Male Plecos will typically prepare a suitable hiding spot, such as a cave, for females in order to lay their eggs. Once a female takes up the offer, the male will then fertilize and nurture the eggs while the female guards the spot.

In today’s article, we’ll walk you through a simple breeding guide with all the information you need to know about Plecos breeding!

How Do Plecos Breed?

Plecos are some of the most popular aquarium fish species on the planet. In addition to coming in a variety of species, they’re also easy to care for and breed easily in captivity, allowing for continuity of life in your aquarium.

The breeding process of Plecos is quite unique, but it’s quite simple and can be achieved in captivity, which is one of the reasons why Plecos are quite popular as aquarium fish.

The process starts with the males looking for a secure and secluded area in the aquarium for the females to lay their unfertilized eggs. This is usually where caves and tunnels in the aquariums come into play.

Once the males find a spot, they will go ahead and clean the area and remove any debris that might get in the way. Once they’re done, females will start scouting the area and checking the conditions of every spot.

When the female settles on a suitable spot, she’ll enter the cave and start laying eggs all over the floor as well as the walls. The number of eggs varies depending on the species of the Pleco in question.

Once the female is finished laying eggs, she’ll exit the cave and hang around to guard it for the next few days. Meanwhile, the male will continue to care for the eggs by cleaning and fanning them until they hatch.

By Kai Schreiber [CC-BY-SA-2.0], via

What Do Pleco Eggs Look Like?

Plecos eggs are relatively big when compared to their size and the average size of a fish egg. The egg is usually round with a radius of around 2 to 4 mm.

The eggs are quite sticky so they’re usually grouped into small clutches. However, the number of eggs per clutch varies from one species to another.

Ideally, most species will have anywhere between 10 to 300 eggs per clutch. The color is also another aspect that varies depending on the species of the fish.

Most Pleco eggs are pale yellow to orange colored, but since they’re usually hidden and protected in a cave, it’s usually difficult to spot them.

How Often Do Plecos Breed?

Adult Plecos are prolific breeders, so it’s common for them to breed more than once a year. In fact, if the conditions in the tank are perfect, Plecos can breed every couple of months. However, around 4 times a year is the most common average among Pleco keepers.

One thing you should know here is that you can encourage your fish to breed more often by creating a healthy environment for breeding in the aquarium.

For instance, having plenty of caves, tunnels, and hiding spots is more likely to increase the chances of breeding. It’s also recommended to have a separate tank for breeding with all the necessary decorations.

This way, the Plecos will be encouraged to breed more often without fearing for the safety of the eggs from other species.

Additionally, breeding is an energy consuming process, so it’s quite essential to provide your Plecos with optimum nutrition all year round if you want them to breed more often.

How Many Fish Do Plecos Have at a Time?

The number of fish that Plecos have at a time varies greatly between species. In fact, Plecos can lay as little as 5 eggs per spawn and up to 300.

Of course, not all eggs manage to become fish, as many fish are prone to death due to poor conditions or getting eaten by other fish.

Do Plecos Eat Their Youngs?

Although cannibalism and eating their own eggs is common among a variety of fish and amphibian species, Plecos rarely eat their eggs or young.

However, Plecos can still eat a few of their babies when they breed for the first time, but they won’t eat all their fry.

Also, Plecos must go through extremely tough situations in order to resort to cannibalism, such as being extremely low on energy with no food around.

With that being said, other fish species might still try to eat their young, which is why it’s highly recommended to have a separate breeding tank for Plecos.

How Long Does It Take Pleco Eggs to Hatch?

After the female lays the eggs, the male will spend some time fertilizing them. Once they’re all fertilized, the male will continue cleaning and aerating the eggs for a few days as he waits for them to hatch.

The fertilized Pleco eggs should take anywhere between 4 to 10 days to hatch. The exact number may vary according to the species of plecos in question as well as the surrounding conditions.

For example, Plecos eggs that are laid at a relatively warm temperature will typically hatch faster than those who are left in the cold.

However, if the temperature is too high, it may damage the eggs. After hatching, the small fry will continue to live off their yolk sac for a few more days. It will also take them 6 months to become fully mature.

Tips to Properly Breed Plecos

Now that you know more about the breeding process of Plecos, here are some tips to help them breed easily and more frequently:

Wrap Up

There you have it! A brief guide that walks you through everything you need to know about Plecos breeding. As you can see, Plecos are prolific breeders that don’t mind breeding in fish tanks.

All you need to do here is to provide the fish with a suitable setting for the unique breeding rituals to happen, and you should expect the small eggs to hatch within 4 to 10 days!