Will Plecos Eat Plants?

While Plecos are opportunistic omnivores, their diets consist mainly of vegetable and plant matter. Plecos will eat plants in small quantities, but mainly prefer algae. They enjoy nibbling on leaves way more than feeding on meat.

To learn how to keep your peaceful Pleco happy, we’ve put together this guide for you. You’ll know what plants to grow with your Pleco and what the tank you keep the fish in should look like. Let’s dive in!

Will Plecos Eat Plants?

Yes, Plecos will eat plants. In fact, their diet in the wild is made up of mostly plants and algae.

That’s because Plecos are natural scavengers, meaning, they enjoy swimming around and working hard to look for their food. Additionally, they love to clean their homes regularly by eating harmful algae and plant debris.

That’s why Plecos won’t hesitate to feed on dead fish as well. Even if their tank mate is sick and dying, Plecos will take it upon themselves to consume their ill body too. Plecos take their cleaning jobs rather seriously.

With that said, it’s safe to say that Plecos need both kinds of proteins in their diet; plant and meat-based. That is if you want them to thrive in the tank and not show any signs of aggression towards your other fish.

Common Pleco in Front of Leaf

Can You Have Live Plants with Plecos?

Indeed. You can safely keep live plants with Plecos without a problem. As we’ve mentioned, they’re big fans of plants and won’t mind having them around—especially since their original habitats are rich with aquatic plantations and algae.

So, in other words, you’ll be doing your pet Plecos a favor by growing live plants in the tank. Not only will you remind them of home, but you’re also providing them with enough hiding spots where they can keep to themselves.

Since Plecos have a docile temperament and a shy nature, they like to find comfort zones among plants where they can stay, rest, and even sleep. If there are more than a few fish around in the tank, Plecos will want to keep their privacy by hiding from them frequently.

What to Look Out For

One thing to look out for is that when your Pleco is underfed, it might resort to munching on the beautiful plants you took so long to grow out. You’ll find that the Pleco might nibble and rasp your tank’s vegetation.

Can You Keep Pleco in a Planted Tank?

Yes, and in fact, it’s recommended that you keep Plecos in planted tanks. The rich vegetation makes their environment hospitable as well as safe for breeding seasons.

Simply put, Plecos need to grow in densely plant-populated tanks. The more plants you have around, the lesser the chance that your Plecos will be left hungry. They’ll have the opportunity to munch or nibble on the leaves whenever they get snacky.

It’s also not a bad idea to beautify your tank with other elements—not just with plants that have broad leaves. Some examples to mention include the following:

  • Rock formations
  • Overturned plant or flower pots
  • Artificial plants to prevent algae growth
  • Fine gravel or soft sand
  • Surface-floating plants

Don’t worry about overcrowding your tank with aquatic plants and whatnot. Trust that Plecos will be grateful to you for changing up the tank and having it closely imitate their original habitats.

With the rocks and overturned pots, for instance, you’re giving the Plecos more places to hide beside the plant leaves. The fine gravel lets the Plecos have fun scavenging and makes it easier for them to find debris.

Placing plants on the surface also reduces the lightning in the tank so it’s subdued. Plecos naturally enjoy soft light and they’ll be thankful for it.

What to Look Out For

One of the main issues that you’ll come across is an uprooting problem. Keeping your Plecos in a heavily planted tank might result in an adverse effect. In other words, they may feel suffocated instead of free.

So, with that in mind, it’s recommended that you make sure there’s enough space in the tank for both the fish and the plants. Plecos should have room to swim around and have a fulfilling diet, otherwise, they resort to uprooting your plants.

What Plants Will Plecos Eat?

We’ve established that Plecos are mostly vegetarian folks that won’t mind having lots of plants around for them to munch and feed on. Since you want to keep them happy and well-fed, it’ll be nice to know what plants to grow with your Plecos.

Amazon Sword

Amazon Sword plants are great first options to consider for your Pleco tank. Their leaves are incredibly broad and green so they’re quite appealing to look at too.

Additionally, Amazon Swords are easy to take care of so they’re labeled beginner-friendly. They can help purify the water as well and keep the oxygen levels at an adequate amount that suits your Plecos.


Anubias have smaller surface space on their leaves than Amazon Swords do, however, they’re just as inexpensive and simple to grow. Anubias also sprout out in fine gravel or soft sand as well.

Alternatively, you can grow your Anubias out of drifting wood to provide your Plecos with another hiding spot to stay at. Remember to be patient with Anubias too since they’re slow-growing plants.

Jungle Vallisneria

One of the ideal and most beautiful aquatic plants to grow in a Pleco tank is the Jungle Vallisneria. It’s a tall plant with thin, thick leaves that your Plecos will enjoy hiding amongst.

Vallisneria grows quite rapidly and is also easy to take care of. It’s hardy and strong so it’ll keep the water pure.


Will Plecos eat plants? Absolutely! Plecos’ diet is mostly plants, vegetation, algae, and when the opportunity allows for, dead fish. They’re hunters by nature and love to scavenge their homes and keep the space clean.

Plus, Plecos are all about staying on the down-low. As such, they like to be kept in a tank where there are lots of plants so they can hide from others and rest in peace. Remember: take care of your Plecos and keep them safe!