How Fast Do Plecos Grow? (Bristlenose, Common & More)

Are you curious about those little Plecos you recently purchased? Now that you decided to raise them in your tank, there are a few things you need to know. As a fish pet owner, I know you also want to ensure your Plecos lives long and healthy. 

If you are a beginner in fish keeping, though, you should learn about how fast do Plecos grow so that you can prepare enough for their needs. This suckerfish’s growth depends on their type, which you will learn more about in this article. Now, let’s get started.

How Fast do Plecos grow? 


When I was a beginner, I didn’t know what type of fish to grow in my aquarium. While searching for it, Pleco caught my interest. Among the hardiest fish aquarists can keep are the Plecos. They are not just algae eaters but also feed on anything. 

Common plecos are fast-growing species. I chose two common Plecos that fit my home aquarium. Both fish were obtained at about 1.5″ long at the LSF and are now over the 12″ mark in 3 years. While my Royal Pleco grows pretty slow, about an inch a year. 

In answer to the question, how fast do Plecos grow? Well, the growth of your Pleco is intricately connected to several factors, including genus, sex, tank size, food quality, and water conditions. 

Plecos SpeciesMax SizeGrowth Rate
Bristlenose Pleco5 inchesStay an inch for first 3 months, then 2-3 inches to reach full maturity
Common Pleco24 inches3-5 inches in its first year, then slow down
Clown Pleco3.5 inchesReach full maturity size within their first 5 years
Rubber Lip Pleco7 inches1.5 inches in its first year, then an inch a year to reach full maturity
Galaxy Pleco9 inches4 to 5 inches in its first few years
Zebra Pleco3.5 inches1-2 inches in its first year, reach its full size in 2-3 years
Royal Pleco17 inchesAn inch a year
Gold Nugget Pleco10 inchesAn inch in 1-2 months
Sunshine Pleco12 inches2 to 3 inches in its first year
Butterfly Pleco6 inches1-2 inches in its first year

(Please note: The Growth Rate data comes from the records of fish keeping community)

How Fast do Bristlenose Plecos grow? 

Bristlenose pleco fry tends to have a slow growth rate. During the first three months, it has a size under an inch. 

After that period, you might notice your pet fish can grow for up to 3 inches. When it turns six months old, you can prepare it for breeding. 

Also, expect its growth rate to slow down by that age. At two years of age, it will reach its maximum size.

Note that the growth and development of bristlenose plecos depend on several factors. But in general, they can grow up to 6 inches, which is a manageable size. 

How Fast do Common Plecos Grow? 

Unlike bristlenose plecos, common plecos will have a faster growth rate until they turn a year old. You will soon notice that your lovely catfish has a slower growth rate. 

A year-old common pleco can reach up to 5 inches. Later, it will full grow up to 25 inches on average. Hence, it is essential to prepare for a larger tank.

How Fast do Clown Plecos?

When kept in ideal conditions, clown plecos grow to their full adult size within five years.

How Fast do Gold Nugget Plecos Grow? 

The Gold Nugget Plecos has a slow growth rate. Every couple of months, it only grows up to one centimeter. This spotted catfish can reach a maximum size of ten inches. 

How fast do Zebra Plecos grow? 

Usually, Zebra Plecos grow a year up to four inches. Some of them could reach that size after three years. Note that regular feeding and maintaining their environment will help them grow fast and healthy.

How to Grow Pleco fast?

Food and healthy habitat are the top essential factors to consider for your plecos rapid growth. As you go on this article, you will know more about some tips to help them grow fast.

Under suitable conditions, they grow fast. And these are well-known for their large size, which might surprise you after a couple of years. 

Food is Fuel

Feeding your plecos well with the best quality fish food will help them grow fast and healthy. Like any other pet, these algae eaters also need nutritious food. 

I advise you to feed them regularly with a well-balanced meal. You can still provide algae wafers, but add some frozen bloodworms too. 

Also, make it a habit to feed your plecos when the lights are off. Remember, most of them are nocturnal.

Healthy Habitat

A safe and healthy habitat will make your pet fish happy. While feeding them with nutritious food, you also need to check the condition of your fish tank. 

You can maintain a healthy habitat for them by changing the water regularly. Many species need driftwood in an aquarium, check out the benefits here.

Choose Tank Mates Wisely

Any community fish can be plecos tank mates. Make sure not to add some fish bigger or smaller than them. They don’t bring harm to others. But for larger plecos that lack food, it could happen. 

I advise you that keeping smaller plecos is your best option to avoid such a problem. You can add neon tetras in your fish tank as their companion.

Keep Up with Tank Maintenance

Fishkeepers like you and I need to be mindful of the tank conditions. It is for the safety and survival of every fish dwelling in a fish tank. So how can you keep up with tank maintenance?

It is essential to change the water regularly. Also, make sure to vacuum the gravel to clean off debris once a week. Deep cleaning is also highly recommended, and you can do it at least once a month.

Buy Fish from Trustworthy Sources

Are you planning to buy plecos for your pet fish? My advice is to buy only from trustworthy sources. They can assure you bring home a healthy fish that also survive and live for a couple of years.

Do plecos grow to the size of the tank?

Although you put that small Pleco in a small aquarium, it will continue to grow. Plecos of about six inches or smaller can dwell in a 30-gallon tank for the meantime. But as they grow, you will need a bigger one, even up to 500 gallons.

Final Thoughts

Do you want to keep that Pleco with you for a long time? Then, you have to prepare for a bigger fish tank, provide a well balanced diet, properly clean your fish tank. I hope this article has helped provide you with the information you need about Plecos.

If you have any questions or problems, feel free to leave me comment below.

Happy fishkeeping!

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