No, plecos won’t eat shrimps under normal circumstances. Starvation and territorial conflict are the only reasons this may happen, so providing enough food and space should prevent plecos from eating shrimp.
Keep reading to learn more about the relationship between plecos and shrimp as tank mates and how you can make the aquarium as peaceful as possible.
Will Plecos Eat Shrimp?
Technically speaking, plecos can eat shrimps. Practically speaking, plecos won’t eat shrimps under normal circumstances.
This is because shrimp isn’t a part of plecos’ usual diet.
Plecos mostly eat algae and are peaceful tank mates. They don’t usually bother other residents in the aquarium nor go after them in any way.
Even if it happened, plecos won’t eat large enough amounts of shrimp to affect their population whatsoever.
When Would Plecos Eat Shrimp?
Typically, plecos don’t bother their tank mates nor eat shrimp. That said, some specific situations may cause plecos to deviate from their normal behavior and snack on shrimp.
Here are the instances when your plecos may consume shrimp in the tank:
The most probable reason why plecos may resort to eating shrimp is that they’re starving. If your plecos are too hungry because you’re not providing enough food.
In this case, plecos will look for other sources of food. As opportunistic scavengers, these sources may be the shrimp in the tank that cross their way — especially small shrimp or tiny newly hatched shrimp.
Both plecos and shrimp are bottom dwellers. As a result, shrimp may find themselves in the territory claimed by the plecos.
The latter may attack or try to devour the shrimp to retake their territory.
Shrimp may simply be at the wrong place at the wrong time. They may be too close to the plecos by chance and the fish just gulps them due to their small size.
Can Plecos and Shrimp Live in the Same Tank?
Yes, plecos and shrimp can live in the same tank. Both creatures are docile and won’t bother one another.
As long as you follow the tips in the next section, they should be roomies without issues.
How to Prevent Plecos From Eating Shrimp
Now that you better understand the nature of plecos and how they normally won’t eat or hunt shrimps (unless in very specific situations), you’re probably wondering if there’s a way you can make the tank safer for your little pets.
To keep plecos from eating shrimp and to ensure they live in harmony as tank mates, stick to the following tips:
1. Make Sure the Tank Is Large Enough
First things first, you need to make sure that the tank your plecos and shrimp will be sharing is big enough to accommodate both animals.
You see, plecos are freshwater fish with many large species. As such, if you plan on getting large plecos, the tank should offer enough space for the fish to freely swim and roam.
On the other hand, shrimp don’t need a lot of space to thrive. So tank size isn’t something you should worry about when it comes to the tiny crustaceans.
That said, both plecos and shrimp are bottom dwellers. This means they’ll have to compete over space if the tank is too small — in which case plecos are likely to win.
A large aquarium allows plecos to comfortably and peacefully claim their territory while still leaving enough room for the shrimp. This way, no hostility or conflict would break out.
2. Make Sure the Tank Has Many Hiding Spots
Once you score a large tank, your next mission is to make sure there are plenty of hiding spots available. These are crucial for the shrimps to protect themselves in case of any unexpected attack.
The thing about shrimp is that they aren’t offensive. They also don’t have protective mechanisms to shield them from plecos if they decide to get aggressive.
This is why shrimps need hiding spots where they can stay out of the plecos’ way. As such, you need to provide caves, decorations, driftwood, aquatic moss, and other elements where shrimp can seek refuge.
These places won’t just come in handy to hide from plecos, but shrimp will also use them during molting to tuck away their vulnerable bodies until the outer shell hardens once again.
3. Pair Plecos with Larger Shrimp
When it comes to aquarium communities, size is a major factor in determining the longevity of different species inside the tank.
Generally speaking, a larger resident is more likely to eat smaller inhabitants if food sources are scarce or in case conflict arises. The bigger the creature is, the bigger the advantage it has over other smaller animals.
As such, if you pair plecos with large-sized shrimp, there’s a lower chance the fish will eat it compared to small shrimp.
Remember, if plecos munch on small shrimps, that’s usually because the latter happened to be in their way and were easily gulped due to their size. So, larger shrimp should be safer as they’re more difficult to bite.
4. Introduce the Plecos to the Established Shrimp Tank
A rookie mistake when pairing plecos and shrimp to be tank mates is introducing baby shrimps to a pleco tank. You should never do this because plecos are very territorial fish and won’t accept the small newcomers if they try to invade their claimed space.
In this case, the plecos may get aggressive and devour the shrimp.
The right way to make the introduction is to add young plecos to an established shrimp tank. This way, the shrimp will claim their territory without conflict and the plecos will be more focused on adapting to the new home than targeting the shrimp.
5. Make Sure the Plecos Are Getting Enough Food
As mentioned earlier, starvation is the main of the few reasons why plecos would eat shrimp. This may be because you forgot to feed them or gave them too little food.
So, to reduce the chances of plecos eating shrimp, you should feed the fish sufficient amounts of food. In this case, the full pleco won’t bother with the shrimp.
Plecos don’t normally eat shrimps. This may happen only if plecos are starving or the tank is too small that territorial conflict breaks out.
So, be sure to follow the tips discussed above to keep things in your tank as friendly as possible.