Fish Care

How Fast Do Plecos Grow And Factors Affecting Plecos Growth Rate

how fast do plecos grow

Thinking about placing plecos in your home aquarium? I know the hard work it takes when it comes to petting plecos that gets way bigger compared to normal aquarium fish. You might be planning to start small, but you may still have second thoughts about what’s wrong and what’s right. Even when you’re all set, there are a few things that will always surprise you when it comes to parenting plecos. First of all, you need to understand how fast plecos grow.

Well, the growth of plecos depends on what type of plecos you are planning to keep. For the first year, they won’t grow much and will be fine in a 30-gallon tank, but that won’t happen once they start growing rapidly. So, without further ado, let’s get started.

How fast do plecos grow?

The majority grow up to eighteen inches after so many years. Regardless, most species of the plecos never grow big. Do not buy the idea of having a pleco if you tank or pond is big. They are quite easy to be cared for and are long-lived fish. Your pleco is less likely to outgrow your tank.

The most unexpected thing in the world of fish farming is how well and how big your fish will grow. There is no certainty in achieving the maximum size of the fish, nor is there a definite answer as to why they will not grow bigger. And of course, the speed and frequency of development is the real headache. You never know when your fish will reach full size and you wouldn’t know what plecos would do or how fast they would grow with certainty.

How Fast Do Common Plecos Grow?

Did you know that a wild common pleco can grow up to 24 inches? And even aquarium common plecos can reach up to 15 inches long provided they live in well-maintained aquariums.

But are they always that big? No. These common plecos thrive when they are given proper environment and diet without fail. When you get these plecos from the store, they are only about

2 inches in size. Therefore, it can be quite a surprise to learn how big they can get. But don’t worry they won’t be that big in a few days. Like any other plecos, common plecos have the highest growth rate during their first year of life. This does not mean that after this, these plecos will not grow, they grow but at a slower rate. It is believed that a typical 15-inch pleco will attain a size of only 3 to 4 inches within the first year and gradually grow thereafter. They will reach 15 inches within a 30-year lifespan and size can vary according to living conditions.

Occasionally, you will be able to see large common plecos that are bigger than 15 inches. So, don’t be surprised, this is normal and you will see these plecos gain over 12 inches in their first year itself. You may need to upgrade the tank later when these plecos gets bigger because it is unpredictable to see when these rapidly growing plecos will reach their maximum size. So, it is better to be prepared and go for a bigger tank which has the capacity to handle around 80 gallons or more of water.

How Fast Do Bristlenose Plecos Grow?

how fast do plecos grow


Here’s the thing, Bristlenose is one of the smaller plecos that will grow to a maximum of 5 inches. And the growth rate of this specific type of Pleco is the same as that of the common Pleco.

They will grow to a few inches in their first year of life and this happens fairly rapidly. However, this does not mean that growth will stop here. These bristlenose can live up to 20 years in an aquarium with optimum water parameters and a good diet. And throughout their lives, they grow more slowly but slower than in the first year to achieve their maximum size.

How fast do clown plecos grow?

Clown plecos are one of my favourite plecos thanks to their small size, these Plecos won’t give you a hard time when it comes growth rate. They will only grow to about 4 inches, so a 30-gallon tank will be fine.

They won’t grow much in the first year and will be about 1 to inch. So, this is quite good news for anyone who likes to have small fish and loves algae eaters.

How Fast Do Rubber Lip Plecos Grow?

If you want to have a smaller version of the common plecos, then go for the rubber lip plecos, half the size of common plecos, the growth rate of this pleco is similar to that of the common plecos.

They will grow to 7 inches throughout their lives while growth is fairly rapid in the first year. So, be prepared with a 55-gallon tank so you aren’t surprised when they outgrow your little tank. The thing is, once they get older you can’t plan on getting a new tank, this will have a direct effect on their health and these Plecos are not able to deal with the changes in the environment properly.

How Fast Do Galaxy Plecos Grow?

how fast do plecos grow

Are you someone who has a true love for the Twilight series or The Vampire Diaries? If you have a weird affinity for vampires like me, you will absolutely love the idea of ​​having a fish with a name that starts with Vampire. Yes, I am talking about Galaxy Plecos otherwise known as Vampire Plecos.

Alright, babbling aside, these Plecos are not as big as common Plecos, but are of average size for Plecos. They are about 8 inches in size and you will see most of their growth in the first year itself. These plecos will grow to 4 to 5 inches in the first few years and will continue to grow in subsequent years.

The tank they ask for may be quite bigger for you if you are looking for the ones that can live in a tank less than 75 gallons. These fish demand a tank capable of handling 75 or more gallons of water.

How Fast Do Zebra Plecos Grow?


Now let’s talk about a little beauty who refuses to eat algae despite having plecos in their name. I’m talking about zebra plecos which are so beautiful to look at, thanks to their black and white stripes. To be honest, these plecos only grow up to 3 inches and won’t make a fuss with unexpected growth. I personally have kept to it and I still treat them equally. These beautiful fish adjust to a 20 gallon tank without asking much.

How Fast Do Royal Plecos Grow?

Well, the royal in the name definitely makes her one of a kind, even when it comes to plecos. These bigger Plecos grow way bigger than the common Plecos and trust me the growth rate is no different. These 17-inch plecos will live happily in a 100 gallon tank despite being bigger than common plecos.

The catch is that you have to keep them in the same tank from the start. They grow unexpectedly and are wonderful when they reach about 5 inches in their first year of life.

How Fast Do Gold Nugget Plecos Grow?

how fast do plecos grow


Let’s dive into the world of a nugget. Not the nugget you know about but the one you can put in your 75 gallon tank. Gold nugget plecos are not as big as common plecos but don’t underestimate them. This 9.5 inch fish can surprise you like the common plecos. Every pleco has a habit of growing rapidly in the first year, so you need to pay attention.

Don’t put them in a small tank just because they are small when you get them. Most of the time Plecos are small with a size of 1 to 2 inches when you bring them home. However, they grow undisturbed and rapidly once they get a good environment and proper diet. So, please get a big tank, first of all, for this beautiful nugget.

How Fast Do Sunshine Plecos Grow?

The brilliant color of these Plecos is the reason aquarists tend to keep them in their tank despite their big size or even when they are major algae eaters.

You will need to prepare at least a 100 gallon tank for this 12 inch pleco. Sunshine plecos may not be as large as the common pleco, but their needs and growth frequency do not differ much from that of the common pleco. The growth rate is highest in the first year when your sunshine plecos will reach a size of about 5 inches. After that they will also grow but at a slower rate.

How Fast Do Butterfly Plecos Grow?

If you love zebra plecos, there’s a chance you’ll love this cute butterfly pleco too. The rate at which they grow is similar to that of common plecos. But they are much smaller than the common Plecos.

These butterfly plecos only grow to 7 inches in size and will not exceed 3 to 4 inches the first year. You’ll be fine with a 40 gallon tank. Don’t risk or consider that these Plecos will adjust to smaller tanks just because they are smaller.

Factors that affect how fast plecos grows

The environment and climate play an important role in determining how well your fish will grow in the tank. You need to be more careful with the small details before diving into Plecos Keeping. I know the curiosity and enthusiasm to start something new, even if it’s the fishing hobby you’ve always been into.

Plecos add to the excitement of fishkeeping, there is no doubt about it. However, I will walk you through some basic things that you need to do. Don’t rush things and plan them well for unexpected future as well. Plecos are unpredictable, so plan accordingly.

  • Tank size

First, you need to know about the consequences the size of the tank has in the development of plecos. In order to reach their full potential in terms of growth, Plecos also needs a big tank. A 150 gallon is a real deal when it comes to helping and raising common plecos to full size. Otherwise, they will be fine in a 55-gallon tank.

But to me, I think it’s cruel to refuse something to grow to its full potential just because you can’t afford them. There are times when you’ll have to ask if you want to keep the fish for their sake and yours, or just because you want to keep them for show off.

Love your fish as you would with any other pet. Taking care of a large tank is not a big deal and to be honest it is easier to maintain than a small tank.

  • Diet

Everyone knows how important it is to feed your fish properly so that they can properly grow healthy. You will be familiar with the need for fibrous food for plecos as well. Vegetables like zucchini, lettuce, peeled peas, cucumbers, and spinach are a great source of fiber and your plecos really like to munch on them.

So, don’t forget to feed them every other day. With this live food, you can feed them pellets that sink to the bottom of the tank. Remember that these plecos are bottom feeders so every food you give them should sink to the bottom of the tank.

  • Algae growth

Plecos clearly belong to the group of algae eaters that will feed on the algae present in the tank. You don’t have to worry about getting rid of the algae because the plecos will slowly chew on them. They will clear out all the algae without any fuss.

And when it comes to deciding how much to feed your plecos, this will make you worry less. Even if your plecos starve after a meal, they can easily eat algae growing in the tank. Trust me, algae are not always bad and can sometimes come as a blessing in disguise.

  • Hiding place

Did you know that your plecos are nocturnal? You won’t be able to see them when the lights are on in the tank. Plecos will come out and remain active only after turning off the lights. So, you need to give them a place where they can live during the day.

Decor is the major factor when it comes to setting up a tank for plecos. Be careful what you add to the tank with the bottom feeders like sharp decors to prevent curled or clamped fins .

Benefits of having Pleco fish

This species of fish are hard, social, and special. They ignore other fishes except it is a pleco fish. Also, they sift through whatever is used to cover the floor of the tank feed from what they missed from the top feeders. They are algae feeders so they declare a feast on sprouting algae. Endeavour to maintain a healthy tank, and get them some algae wafers especially since it is easy to get their food. They are great and appear in many patterns and colours, like the white and black that are attractive

Downside of having Pleco fish

Species of pleco could be aggressive to other types of plecos, they nip at fishes that are sick and can prevent a fish from feeding. They are very notorious for a beginner to handle.

Some seem content to live under one foot for the rest of its existence. Plecos do not need to be in any tank that is less than ten gallons, as they even outgrow the tank sometimes but over a long period.

Frequently Asked Questions

I know how many questions you will have when you decide to keep plecos in a home aquarium. And I can’t deny how important it is to have all the answers, in fact most of them are answers. So, I tried to collect and answer some FAQs to make it easier for you.

  • Will Plecos outgrow the tank?

The main problem you’ll face when it comes to the growth rate of plecos is: it’s unpredictable. They grow the way they want and there is no point in that. They reach their maximum size when you provide excellent water parameters and feeding.

Whereas the growth rate may decline after facing inadequate water parameters.  And 30 gallons is also just the standard tank for a Pleco. If you want to have more of them you have to go bigger.

  • Why did my plecos die so quickly?

If you notice your plecos gasping for breath or losing their appetite, take action immediately. I ended up with a dead fish in the tank because I ignored the signs of stress that my pleco was clearly showing. First, let me tell you what the signs are most likely to be:

  1. Inadequate water parameters
  2. Ammonia Spikes
  3. Temperature Fluctuations
  4. Bullying Tank Mates
  5. Small tank
  6. Overcrowding
  7. Starvation
  8. Improper Aquarium Cycle
  9. Diseases and health complications
  10. Presence of Salt in Aquarium Water
  • How to know when your pleco is stressed?

It is not certain when and why your plecos will become stressed although most of the time it is due to your carelessness. You often don’t even realize it when your plecos is stressed. It might be little things such as insufficient feeding to small tank space, every little thing not done right counts.

Let me tell you some signs of stress that you should never ignore when it comes to plecos:

  1. Rapid breathing
  2. Swimming the wrong way
  3. When you see your plecos gasping for breath on the surface.
  4. Loss of appetite
  • What to do with your overgrown plecos?

Were you surprised by the full body size of Plecos? Or has your aquarium become too small for your large plecos? Hmm, I can understand your dilemma as I went through the same thing a few years back.

You can do the same if you don’t have any bigger aquarium around the house. There is also another way where you can earn even less profit. Sell ​​your big Plecos to someone else who will lovingly take care of it. You can them have little baby Plecos and repeat the same fish keeping

Or you can buy a new bigger tank if you have the budget to afford one. It is best to keep your pet with you rather than giving it to someone else. I had a lot of doubts and mixed feelings when I was handing over my beloved plecos to a friend. Although that pleco is well taken care of and is still alive and well, I am a little sorry and sad to let it go.

  • Can you drop your overgrown plecos in the wild?

Okay feelings aside, if you want to keep your pleco with you. Then you can always buy and prepare for a bigger tank.

However, never release your plecos into the wild again, just because they’ve overgrown the tank. What would happen to you if you were sent to live in Antarctica after spending half your life in Africa?

Therefore, it will have a hard time adjusting to the wild environment after all these years. Your pleco will die in a day or two once you release it back into its natural habitat. After living completely different lives for many years you cannot go back to living the same life.

  • What to do if my pleco gets too big?

Get you pleco a new aquarium if it grows bigger than usual, you can also consult the pet store around you for befitting tank.


Finally, if you are actually planning on keeping plecos in a tank, be prepared with a large tank as well as all the other means. People hardly think about the requirements after setting up an aquarium. So be wise and act accordingly.

As already said, if you are planning to keep a few of them then it is better to go for a tank with a capacity to hold 150 gallons of water. Although there are smaller plecos that you can choose from, it is still better to have a backup plan.