The Best 15 Types Of Plecos For Your Tank (June 2022)

By: Martin McAdam
Updated: November 26, 2021

There are over 65 species of Plecostomus that have been identified as being a member of the Loricariidae family. They vary from being small to the minute and from very peaceful to those known as 'tank busters', which you will find listed below under the common name "pleco." Most people would recognize them as "algae eaters."

In this article, you will get information about the 15 best types of plecos you have to consider while choosing fish for your tank.

This article will cover all aspects of the name diet, food, preferred pH, and all other necessary information about their habitat and living conditions.

The first 4 listed below are commonly called the "algae eaters" but can also be found under the common names of "plecos" or even the common name of "clown plecos".

The next two are very popular in the hobby but are not known to eat algae. However, they are both commonly found under the name of "algae eater" or even the common name of "pleco".

These listed below are well-known types of Pleco that will devour anything you put in front of them, including algae and often even their own young.

These are commonly referred to as "pleco" or "algae eater". All of the types listed below can be found in a variety of colors, with some being very rare and others that command up to $40 per fish within the USA!

About Plecostomus (Hypostomus plecostomus)

You can see why it is commonly referred to as "pleco". It has suckers all over its ventral surface, which helps it cling to rocks and other surfaces in your tank.

This characteristic also makes the specimen appear like a suction cup. It is common to see these in most community tanks and makes a great 'cleaning fish'.

The Pleco can reach up to 18 inches (45 cm) in the wild, but it is rare that specimens will exceed 10" (25 cm) when kept in captivity. This particular species has been banned from sale in Florida due to their destruction of native species.

It is a nocturnal species, and it will spend the daytime hours resting in a dark area of your tank.

This fish will do best when given a large tank to itself or with a few other bottom feeders that can't fit in its mouths, such as smaller catfish, loaches, and other types that are too large. If you are planning to breed this species, your tank will need to be at least 20' long (6 m).

Unlike most other plecos like Vampire Pleco that prefer a lower pH, the common Plecostomus prefers hard alkaline water with a pH of around 8. The ideal temperature is between 75-82 F (24-28 C).

The List of 15 Types Of Plecos For Your Tank

This list includes the best 15 types of plecos you have to consider while choosing fish for your tank.

1. Common Pleco

Types Of Plecos Common Pleco
  • Scientific Name: Hypostomus plecostomus
  • Size: 10" (25 cm)
  • Lifespan: 5 to 7 years
  • Water Temperature: 74-82°F
  • pH Level: 6.5-7.5 PH 
  • Required Tank Size: 55 gallons (200 litres)
  • Required Water Type: Acidic water 
  • Nature: Peaceful and friendly with other species

This fish is also referred to as the 'Algae Eater' or 'Sleeping Beauty.' It has 6 pairs of barbels which allow it to detect food in low visibility areas.

The third set of barbs are smaller than the other pairs and can be difficult to see. The common Pleco will feed on algae, leftover food that has fallen to the bottom of your tank, or any invertebrates that it can gain access to, such as snails and other crustaceans (crab/shrimp).

It is important not to mix this catfish with fish small enough for it to eat (depending on its size), or it will become stressed and may refuse food.

The specimen will not bother any plants in your tank, but they are known to pick at the roots of floating plants like Salvinia minima, Pistia stratiotes, Riccia fluitans, etc.

The common Pleco is one of the largest of the Loricariidae family and can grow up to three feet (90 cm) or longer. In captivity, it is rare that they reach above 12" (30 cm). This species prefers lower temperatures ranging from 70-75 F (21-24 C) and a higher pH around 8.0.

It needs a large tank to accommodate its adult size and will make a great addition to your community tank once it has reached adulthood.

This is a common species that you will see at almost every LFS; they eat anything from dead fish to algae wafers and will also munch on live plants.

They get their name from the fact that they have a sucker mouth and suck on surfaces to find food. Adults can grow up to 18" (45 cm) in length and need a tank with plenty of hiding places and rocks/driftwood for them to eat off of.

They're not picky eaters, but they do love to eat algae. They are nocturnal, so you will see them active at night when you turn off your tank lights.

These plecos prefer acidic water conditions, and the temperature should be around 80 F (27 C), pH 6-6.5 is ideal for this species. You can house them with other types of plecos, but not with fish that will harass them.

A variety of common plecos are available for sale at most LFSs, from the Albino version to Marble and Dapple versions.

2. Eyebrow Pleco (Panaque Marcus)

Types Of Plecos Panaque Marcus
  • Scientific Name: Panaque maccus
  • Size: About 8" (20 cm)
  • Lifespan: 7 to 12 years
  • Water Temperature: 70-82°F
  • pH Level: 6.0-6.5 PH 
  • Required Tank Size: 75 gallons 
  • Required Water Type: Acidic water 
  • Nature: Peaceful and friendly with other species, eat algae and fish food.

Its scientific name is Panaque maccus. It has a very large mouth for catching food and strong lips that together give the appearance of an eyebrow over each eye (hence its name). This species will eat anything from plant matter to fish food.

The aquarium should be decorated with bogwood and live plants to create hiding spots and give it a place to rest. This Pleco is a shy species and will spend much of its time resting in a tight space, so you should ensure that all holes are too small for it to get stuck in.

It will also eat any wood decoration in the tank, which means you need to keep any valuables away from your tank.

You can see why it is commonly referred to as the 'Eyebrow Catfish'. This species has a distinct black mark from its eyes down towards its mouth, giving it a unique look.

It also has a couple of irregular spots on its side, which add to the character of this fish. It gets its name from the black marking that is similar to an eyebrow. These specimens are known to eat wood like other plecos, but they also prefer algae wafers or flakes.

The Eyebrow Pleco can grow up to 12" (30 cm) in length and will do best in tanks of 30 gallons (115 L) or larger. It needs a lot of places to hide and climb with a sandy substrate because it loves to dig. The ideal range for pH is 6-6.5, and the temperature should be in the upper 70s (24 C).

This fish will only eat plants that are not aquatic but may snack on algae wafers/flakes if they are not hungry.

3. Congo Pleco

Types Of Plecos congo pleco
  • Scientific Name: Pterygoplichthys gibbiceps 
  • Size: About 10" (25 cm) 
  • Lifespan: 5 to 8 years 
  • Water Temperature: Minimum of 72 F (22 C), more is better. 
  • pH Level: 6.3-7.5 PH 
  • Required Tank Size: 76 gallons 
  • Required Water Type: Slightly acidic water
  • Nature: Peaceful, eats algae and fish food 

L187 or a Congo Pleco (Panaque/Hypancistrus sp.) L187 is a common abbreviation for this Pleco and is what it will be commonly found on most websites when you search for more information. Locking these fish behind glass panels is difficult due to their slippery body.

L187 or Congo Pleco are great at cleaning algae off surfaces. They get their name from the fact that they come from rivers in the Congo region of Africa.

They make a great addition to any tank because they will remove most types of algae. This species gets its food by scraping the surface with its teeth to find snails, dead plants, and other edible matter.

This fish can be kept in groups because they are not aggressive to each other; however, it is not recommended to keep them with any fish that will nip their fins or food.

These plecos prefer higher temperatures around 80 F (27 C) and acidic water conditions (pH 5-6). They are fun to watch because they are constantly on the move.

4. Banded Corydoras

Types Of Plecos Banded Corydoras
  • Scientific Name: Scleromystax barbatus
  • Size: About 12" (30 cm)
  • Lifespan: 10 to 15 years 
  • Water Temperature: 72- 82 F 
  • pH Level: 6.5-8.0 pH 
  • Required Tank Size: 100 gallons 
  • Required Water Type: Slightly acidic water 
  • Nature: Peaceful and friendly 

Banded Corydoras (Scleromystax barbatus) The Banded Corydoras has the scientific name derived from sclero, which is Greek for 'hard' and mystax, which means 'upper lip.'

This fish gets its common name from the red-colored tail that is similar in color to a Red-tailed Catshark. It also has a black line that starts from its snout and goes down the side of its body, and this feature gives it a unique look.

These fish will grow up to 12" (30 cm) or longer when fully grown. They are peaceful creatures that prefer tanks with driftwood, rocks, and plenty of hiding places.

They are nocturnal, which means they are active during the nighttime, so they will most likely be seen when you turn off your tank lights.

The adults in this species can eat normal-sized fish that are smaller than their mouth, and they prefer to feed around dusk or after dark.

These plecos are not picky eaters and will even eat algae wafers or pellets. The pH for this species needs to be around 7.0-7.5, temperature 70-80 F (21-27 C).

5. Featherfin Catfish (Farlowella acus)

Types Of Plecos Featherfin Catfish
  • Scientific Name: Farlowella acus
  • Size: About 6" (15 cm) 
  • Lifespan: 5 to 8 years 
  • Water Temperature: 72-82 F 
  • pH Level: 6.5-8.0 pH 
  • Nature: Peaceful, eats algae and fish flakes/pellets 
  • Tank Size: 30 gallons
  • Required Water Type: Slightly acidic water 

Featherfin Catfish (Farlowella acus) This species is commonly referred to as a Farlowella Catfish, Featherfin Sucker Catfish, or simply Featherfin. They are only found in the Amazon River, where they spend most of their time on the bottom of the river eating algae and plants.

If you notice one, it will often be upside down because they like to swim this way when looking for food. This Pleco only grows up to 5" (12.75 cm) in length and will fit nicely in a 30 gallon (115 L) tank with plenty of hiding places.

The Featherfin Catfish is a peaceful creature that only eats plant matter, algae wafers/flakes, or even live plants. This Pleco prefers the softer water conditions, so a pH of 6.5-7.0 and the water should be around 77 F (25 C).

6. Royal Pleco

Types Of Plecos royal pleco
  • Scientific Name: Panaque nigrolineatus
  • Size: 18" (45 cm) 
  • Lifespan: 10 to 13 years 
  • Water Temperature: 72-82 F 
  • pH Level: 7.2-8.0 pH 
  • Nature: Peaceful fish that is not known to eat smaller fish or plants 
  • Required Tank Size: 125 gallons 
  • Required Water Type: Slightly acidic water 

Royal Pleco or Panaque/LDA006 This is a unique species found in the soft water swamps of Peru, where they eat algae off of rocks. They are an oblong-shaped pleco that is black in color with a white belly and has a tough armored body, so it is difficult to eat them.

The adults can grow up to 15" (37.5 cm) long and requires a large tank with driftwood/rocks for hiding places and some open space for swimming. They are nocturnal and will eat algae wafers or flakes so that you won't see them as much as the Common Pleco.

They prefer a higher pH of 7.2-8.0 and a water temperature around 78 F (25 C).

7. Green Phantom Pleco

Types Of Plecos Green Phantom Pleco
  • Scientific Name: Scobinancistrus aureatus
  • Size: 8" (20 cm) 
  • Lifespan: 6-10 years 
  • Water Temperature: 72-82 F 
  • pH Level: 6.5 -7.2 pH 
  • Nature: Peaceful, nocturnal eater that is known to eat almost anything 
  • Tank Size: 10 gallons 
  • Required Water Type: Slightly acidic water

Green Phantom Pleco or Scobinancistrus aureatus is also called the Gold Nugget Pleco, L0152, or BN. They are nocturnal creatures that sleep during the day and are active at night time.

Green Phantom Plecostomus, This type of Pleco is commonly referred to as a Green Phantom Sucker, Green Sailfin Pleco, Common Sailfin Catfish, and probably a few others. This fish is named for its green color with a black spot on the back of its dorsal fin.

It gets its common name because when it opens its mouth, it looks like there's a white phantom in front of it. This species can get up to 12" (30 cm) long, so it will need a large tank with lots of hiding places and decor for them to eat off of.

They are peaceful creatures that prefer a temperature between 72-82 F (22-28 C), pH 6.5-7.2, and soft water conditions.

8. Royal Sailfin Pleco

Types Of Plecos Royal Sailfin Pleco
  • Scientific Name: Panaque nigrolineatus
  • Size: 18" (45 cm) 
  • Lifespan: 10 to 13 years 
  • Water Temperature: 72-82 F 
  • pH Level: 7.2-8.0 pH 
  • Nature: Peaceful fish that is not known to eat smaller fish or plants 
  • Required Tank Size: 125 gallons 
  • Required Water Type: Slightly acidic water

Royal Sailfin Pleco, This type of Pleco is commonly referred to as a Royal Sailfin Catfish, Royal Sucker Fish, or simply Sailfin.

It gets its name from the sail-like dorsal fin that has a blue tint to it and then starts to fade into a grey color. Adults will grow up to 10" (25 cm), and since they are peaceful Pleco, they can be housed with other types of plecos and smaller fish.

They only eat algae, so you won't have to worry about them eating your live plants or bothering your fish. They prefer water conditions around 77 F (25 C), pH 6-6.5, and soft water for this species.

This type of Pleco is often available for sale at pet stores; just never buy a small one because it will grow up to 12" (30 cm) and need a large tank. If you see someone selling them smaller than 4", they are most likely wild-caught and not truly what they say they are.

9. Gold Nugget Pleco

Types Of Plecos Gold Nugget Pleco
  • Scientific Name: Scobinancistrus aureatus
  • Size: 4" (10 cm) 
  • Lifespan: 6-10 years 
  • Water Temperature: 70-80 F 
  • pH Level: 6.0 -6.5 pH 
  • Nature: Peaceful, nocturnal eater that is known to eat almost anything 
  • Tank Size: 10 gallons 
  • Required Water Type: Slightly acidic water

Gold Nugget Pleco or Peckoltia greedoi This type of Pleco is commonly referred to as a Gold Nugget Sucker Fish, L200 Pleco, the Golden Sailfin Pleco, and probably several other common names.

This catfish has a coloration that blends well with plants and rocks, so it often gets lost in the aquarium. They will only grow up to 4" (10 cm), and they get this common name because the males will be a golden color when they are breeding.

They prefer water conditions around 78 F (25 C), pH 6-6.5, and soft water for this species.

This type of Pleco is often available for sale and can be found at most pet stores, but if you want to be sure you're getting a true Gold Nugget Pleco, then buy it from a breeder.

10. Blueberry Pleco

Types Of Plecos Blueberry Pleco
  • Scientific Name: Panaque nigrolineatus
  • Size: 8" (20 cm) 
  • Lifespan: 10 to 13 years 
  • Water Temperature: 70-75 F 
  • pH Level: 6.5 -7.0 pH 
  • Nature: Peaceful, eats almost anything 
  • Tank Size: 125 gallons 
  • Required Water Type: Slightly acidic water

Blueberry plecostomus or Pseudacanthicus sp. "blue" This type of Pleco is commonly referred to as the Blueberry Sucker Fish, Red Sailfin Pleco, or probably a few other names.

This is one of the most popular types of Pleco to keep in aquariums because it's almost always available for sale at pet stores, and it gets its common name from the blue/purple color that covers its body, starting near the mouth then fading into light brown color.

They are nocturnal and will eat algae wafers or flakes, so you won't see them much in the tank.

They grow up to 8" (20 cm) long and prefer water conditions around 70-75 F (21-24 C), pH 6.5-7.0, and soft water for this species.

11. Sailfin Pleco

Types Of Plecos Sailfin Pleco
  • Scientific Name: Pterygoplichthys gibbiceps
  • Size: 18" (45 cm) 
  • Lifespan: 10-15 years 
  • Water Temperature: 72-82 F 
  • pH Level: 6.0 -6.5 pH 
  • Nature: Peaceful, nocturnal eater that is known to eat almost anything 
  • Tank Size: 125 gallons 
  • Required Water Type: Slightly acidic water

Sailfin Pleco or Pterygoplichthys multiradiatus This type of Pleco is commonly referred to as the Sailfin Sucker Fish, Spotted Sailfin Pleco, or probably a few others.

Sailfin Pleco or Pseudacanthicus sp. "sail" This type of Pleco is commonly referred to as a Sailfin Sucker Fish, L046 Plecostomus, or probably several other common names. It gets its name from the sail-like dorsal fin that has a brownish colour and starts to fade into a grey colour.

They are the smallest of all the plecos and will only grow up to 3" (8 cm), so this Pleco is often kept in small nano tanks.

They prefer water conditions around 78 F (25 C), pH 6-6.5, and soft water for this species.

This type of Pleco is often available for sale at pet stores, but if you want to be sure you're getting a true Sailfin Pleco, then buy it from a breeder.

12. Bristlenose Plecostomus or Ancistrus sp." bristle"

Types Of Plecos Bristlenose Plecostomus or Ancistrus sp." bristle"
  • Scientific Name: Ancistrus spp.
  • Size: between 2" (5 cm) and 6" (15 cm) 
  • Lifespan: up to 15 years 
  • Water Temperature: 72-82 F 
  • pH Level: 6.5 -7.0 pH 
  • Nature: Peaceful, nocturnal eater that is known to eat almost anything 
  • Tank Size: 10 gallons 
  • Requirements Water Type: Acidic water

Bristlenose plecostomus or Ancistrus sp. "bristle" This type of Pleco is commonly referred to as a Bristlenose Sucker Fish, L023 Plecostomus, the bristlenose catfish, and probably several other common names. It gets its name from the long set of "Bristles" on its nose that looks like whiskers.

They are a peaceful and calm pleco, and they will eat algae wafers or flakes, so you won't find them bothering your fish.

They grow up to 5" (13 cm) long and prefer water conditions around 72-78 F (22-25 C), pH 6.5-7.0, and soft water for this species.

This type of Pleco is often available for sale at pet stores, but if you want to be sure you're getting a true Bristlenose Pleco, then buy it from a breeder.

13. Vermiculated Sailfin Catfish

Types Of Plecos Vermiculated Sailfin Catfish
  • Scientific Name: Pterygoplichthys disjunctivus
  • Size: 8" (20 cm) 
  • Lifespan: 10-15 years 
  • Water Temperature: 72-75 F 
  • pH Level: 6.5-7.5 pH 
  • Nature: Peaceful
  • Tank Size: 125 gallons 
  • Required Water Type: Slightly acidic water

L046 Plecostomus This type of Pleco is commonly referred to as an L046 Plecostomus, L046 Pleco, White-Lipped Plecostomus, and probably several other common names. It gets its name from the white stripe on its lips (lips are black/brown).

They are not as commonly available as some of the other types, but they still make a great addition to your aquarium.

They grow up to 8" (20 cm) long and prefer water conditions around 72-75 F (22-24 C), pH 6.5-7.5, and soft water for this species.

This type of Pleco is often available for sale at pet stores, but if you want to be sure you're getting a true L046 Plecostomus, then buy it from a breeder.

14. Bristlenose or Ancistrus sp. "lemon"

Types Of Plecos Ancistrus sp."lemon."
  • Scientific Name: Ancistrus spp.
  • Size: between 2" (5 cm) and 6" (15 cm) 
  • Lifespan: up to 15 years 
  • Water Temperature: 72-82 F 
  • pH Level: 6.5 -7.0 pH 
  • Nature: Peaceful, nocturnal eater that is known to eat almost anything 
  • Tank Size: 10 gallons 
  • Required Water Type: Acidic water

Bristlenose pleco or Ancistrus sp. "lemon" This type of Pleco is commonly referred to as a Bristlenose Sucker Fish, Lemon Plecostomus, the bristlenose catfish, and probably several other common names. It gets its name from the yellow/white colour on its bristles.

They are a peaceful and calm pleco, and they will eat algae wafers or flakes, so you won't find them bothering your fish much.

They grow up to 5" (13 cm) long and prefer water conditions around 72-78 F (22-25 C), pH 6.5-7.0, and soft water for this species.

This type of Pleco is often available for sale at pet stores, but if you want to be sure you're getting a true Bristlenose Pleco, then buy it from a breeder.

15. Zebra Pleco

Types Of Plecos Zebra Pleco
  • Scientific Name: Pseudacanthicus zebra
  • Size: up to 10" (25 cm) 
  • Lifespan: 10-15 years 
  • Water Temperature: 75-82 F 
  • pH Level: 6.0 -7.5 pH 
  • Nature: Peaceful but may show aggression towards fin nipping fish like other plecos. 
  • Tank Size: 125 gallons 
  • Required Water Type: Slightly acidic water

Zebra Pleco or Peckoltia sp. "zebra" This type of Pleco is commonly referred to as a Zebra Sucker Fish, L066 Plecostomus, and probably a few other common names. They get their name from the black/white stripes on its body that resemble zebra stripes.

It's a very calm pleco and gets along great with other types of plecos. They would make a great addition to a community tank because they will eat algae wafers or flakes, so you won't find them bothering your fish.

This catfish gets its name from the spots all over its body. It's a very peaceful fish and will only grow up to 5" (14 cm) long, so it can live with other medium-sized species as long as they have enough hiding spaces in your tank.

They aren't picky eaters, so you'll probably find them hanging out near the surface of the water, but they will eat algae wafers or flakes.

They grow up to 8" (20 cm) long and prefer water conditions around 78 F (25 C), pH 6.5-7.0, and soft water for this species.

This type of Pleco is often available for sale at pet stores and if you want to be sure you're getting a true Zebra Pleco, then buy it from a breeder.

Conclusion

There you have it, 15 types of plecos to consider for your tank. I hope you found this article informative and will use the information presented in this article when you decide what type of Pleco to choose for your aquarium.

There is still a lot of debate on what constitutes a type of Pleco, especially for those who do not appear to have common traits/characters throughout their species or even genus.

What follows is one person's opinion on what constitutes "types" as there is no real scientific way to classify them or even attempt to do so.

If this article helped you at all, please feel free to share it with others on social media because sharing is caring, and it will make me very happy.

If you have any questions about this article or want to share your experience with plecos, please leave a comment below. Have fun fishkeeping!

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