How Long Do Plecos Live? (In Captivity, Pond & Bowl)

The Plecostomus, lovingly known as pleco, is an intriguing aquarium fish found among the aquarium community over the years. Here is all you need to know about their lifespan.

Plecos are also called “suckerfish,” and once you take a look at their daily activities and eating habits, it won’t be hard to figure out where they got this name from. Typically, you will find Plecos stuck to the bottom or inner surface of an aquarium, sucking and munching on algae to their heart’s content.

However, there’s much more to this deceptively innocuous-looking fish than meets the eye. Find out all about how long do plecos live in this guide and make sure you can care for them better. 

How Long Do Plecos Live In Captivity?

It might be surprising to know this, but the average lifespan of Plecos in captivity is generally 10 to 15 years. In fact, most aquarium owners are not prepared for this and assume that these beautiful algae eaters have a much shorter life expectancy. 

So, if you are planning on introducing one (or more) to your aquarium, be prepared to care for them for at least a decade or more. Rest assured, they make wonderful pets!

How To Increase Their Lifespan?

Once you get one of these beautiful fish home, it is essential to take good care of them. Of course, there are a few things you can do to increase their lifespan naturally. Let us discuss them below. 

Feed Them A Healthy Diet

You may assume that Plecos are content eating the algae from your aquarium. After all, they are known to be algae eaters. However, you must supplement their diet with other healthy food. 

These include sinking pellets, fresh vegetables, and algae wafers. Ensure that you cut the vegetables into small pieces before adding them to the tank; otherwise, they might not be able to eat it. Furthermore, keep supplementing their natural diet with these healthy, nutritious foods so they can thrive and grow healthy. 

Stay On Top Of Water Quality And Parameters

Plecos are not too picky about where they live; however, ensure that you maintain the aquarium properly and keep it clean. As such, these fish thrive in water temperatures between 75 to 80 degrees. 

Furthermore, ensure that the tank does not contain any ammonia, as this can be hazardous to their health. That said, the tank should have at least 20 ppm of nitrates. 

If you are unsure of these parameters, ensure that you speak to a professional tank and fish care expert before placing the new Plecos into an aquarium. Also, you can purchase a kit that will help you test the water quality of the tank regularly. 

Keep Them In A Large Tank

It might be surprising to know that adult Plecos require a very large tank to thrive. Ideally, the tank size should be a minimum of 150-gallon. However, for young Plecos, you can consider keeping them in a smaller tank till they are larger. For Pleco babies, the ideal tank size is a 55-gallon one, at the minimum. 

Compatibility Is Key

Although young Plecos are not known to exhibit aggressive behavior, this can change as they grow older. It is essential that you place your Plecos with fish that they are comfortable and compatible with. Moreover, since these beautiful fish are generally nocturnal, it is vital to provide them with enough hidden spots in the tank so they can rest during the daytime. 

If you are considering introducing other fish species to the tank, great! However, these are the most common and compatible fish species that should be introduced with Plecos –

  • Neon Tetra
  • Angelfish 
  • Hatchetfish
  • Cory Catfish
  • Silver Dollar 


Can A Plecostomus Live In A Pond?

Well, yes. While Plecostomus can live in ponds, you won’t see much of them since they are algae eaters and will generally hang about at the bottom of the pond than swim upwards. 

How Long Can A Pleco Live Out Of Water?

You may sometimes see your Pleco exhibiting strange behavior – gulping air from over the surface of the water. They do this to fill their bellies up with oxygen. Once they do this, Plecos can generally live outside of water for about 30 hours. 

How Long Can A Pleco Live In A Bowl?

As such, Plecos will not be too happy living in small bowls. They thrive in larger tanks and may not be able to live for long in a bowl if it is too small. 

How Long Can A Pleco Live Without A Filter?

It is not recommended to keep your Pleco in a tank or a pond without a filter for more than three days. Although these fish are hardy and may be able to survive for more than a day or two, we do not recommend keeping them without pure, filtered water for more than three days. 

How Long Can Plecos Live Without Oxygen?

Your Pleco can probably survive for 30 hours or up to two days without oxygen or a pump in the tank. However, this can be highly detrimental to their health, so ensure that you always have clean, fresh, oxygenated water in the aquarium. 

Final Thoughts

So, now that you know everything about Plecos and their lifespan, we can finally conclude our guide. 

We hope this helped you understand plecos better, and our tips help you take care of them and increase their lifespan naturally. Keep in mind that it is always better to keep Plecos in a clean, large tank with other compatible fish species. 

That said, Plecos are generally docile creatures but may act aggressive or territorial as adults. Of course, caring for these beautiful creatures is always a pleasure, so if you have been thinking about getting one (or a few) at home, best of luck! 

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