Many aquarists doubt they can keep plecos and shrimp together in the same tank. While some believe these species can peacefully co-exist, others fear that plecos could devour their little crustacean friends.
Success or failure depends on the correct choice of pleco and shrimp species. This article will address this issue in detail, make sure to keep reading to know more.
Can plecos and shrimp live together?
Plecos and shrimp can live together. Make sure to look at the different species of both shrimp and plecos and look up the tank setups in which they thrive.
The first factor to look at is the size of the aquarium. Some species of plecos can grow quite large and require a spacious tank to move around and thrive.
On some occasions, male plecos are known to be territorial, and having enough space for these animals to form their territory is essential.
In addition, plecos can be aggressive towards other fish and aquarium animals if their tank is not spacious enough.
If this happens, it is necessary to separate the species to avoid conflicts and aggression.
Shrimp are smaller and quieter animals, but they also require a special environment to thrive in, with plenty of room to explore, hide, and feel safe.
It’s recommended to depart from your pleco’s needs. If the tank is spacious enough for a pleco, it will certainly be spacious enough for shrimp.
Plecos are known to be voracious eaters and can compete with shrimp for food.
Providing a balanced diet for both species and ensuring each one eats the proper food is key to making sure both meet their dietary needs.
During the time of feeding, observe that all inhabitants of the aquarium are feeding correctly.
Many of the foods shrimp and plecos eat are the same, such as vegetables and pellets.
When choosing pleco fish and shrimp as aquarium companions, consider the accurate species to avoid conflicts and ensure a harmonious environment.
In the case of plecos, picking a species that is peaceful, strictly herbivorous, and moderate in size (under 15 cm) certainly helps to avoid predation, competition for food, and provide space.
On the other hand, you must carefully choose the shrimp species. Some shrimp species are aggressive and may prey on small fish and other invertebrates. Choosing a peaceful species of shrimp that will not threaten the fish or other inhabitants in the tank is a must.
Read our part ‘Best plecos to keep with shrimp’.
It is also vital to consider the size of the shrimp, ensuring there is enough space and hiding places for everyone. With proper care, you can easily create a harmonious and healthy environment for all species in your aquarium.
Do plecos eat shrimp?
Plecos rarely eat shrimp, but it can happen depending on several factors. This includes looking at the species of pleco in question and the size and number of shrimp in the tank. Sick or almost dead shrimp are most likely to get eaten. A fully healthy shrimp will be almost always too fast for a pleco, who is not a hunter but a scavenging animal.
Choosing a strictly herbivorous, non-aggressive pleco species (such as the clown pleco) and keeping only properly sized shrimp can minimize the chances of predation. Large shrimp and crayfish species will not get eaten (unless they’re already dead).
However, carnivorous or omnivorous species, such as tiger and zebra plecos (genera Peckoltia and Hypancistrus), may attack shrimp, and small populations are vulnerable.
Because of this, it is so essential to choose the species that will inhabit this community tank correctly.
In addition to size, the amount of shrimp can also influence the possibility of being eaten by the pleco. If the shrimp are large and well-established in the tank, they may be less vulnerable to attack, and a breeding population is less vulnerable.
It will be more difficult for the pleco to eliminate the entire population of these invertebrates, but due to the abundance of shrimp, it will be more successful in catching them.
Best shrimp types to keep with plecos
Choosing the proper type of shrimp to live with plecos is crucial to ensure the success and safety of both animals.
There are several types of plecos, and each has its own needs and behaviors.
Some plecos are quieter and feed only on algae, while others are more aggressive and may eat other fish and invertebrates, including shrimp.
Like plecos, there are several types of shrimp, each with its peculiarities. Some shrimp are hardier and can better defend themselves against predators while others are more fragile and can easily eat them.
Choosing the wrong shrimp type can result in problems for the aquarium as a whole. For example, some species known as glass shrimp (Macrobrachium sp.) are known to grow large and attack fish. Furthermore, these shrimp can reproduce quickly and dominate the aquarium, leaving little room and resources for other species like plecos.
Another example of a shrimp that may not be suitable for living with some plecos is the bamboo shrimp (Atyopsis moluccensis). Although hardy, these shrimp can quickly grow, becoming too big for the plecos to eat, disturbing them.
To avoid issues, you must choose shrimp species compatible with the plecos. Here are three shrimp types known to be compatible with plecos and the explanation of why each is a good choice.
Red cherry shrimp
The red cherry shrimp (Neocaridina davidi) is one of the most popular shrimp species in aquariums due to its beauty and ease of care. They are relatively hardy and can tolerate a wide range of water conditions.
You can keep red cherry shrimp with herbivorous plecos (like oto catfish) without problems, as these shrimps feed mainly on detritus and leftover food.
As these shrimp are known to reproduce very quickly, they can also live with carnivorous plecos. These plecos will have minimal influence on the shrimp population.
In terms of tank size, these shrimp can live in small tanks. This makes them a good fit for small pleco species like the clown pleco.
The Amano Shrimp (Caridina multidentata) is another popular shrimp species. They are known and kept for their ability to clean algae from aquarium plants and decorations.
An important characteristic is that these shrimp are larger and more resistant to adverse conditions than many other species, making them suitable to live with plecos.
Herbivorous plecos usually leave these shrimp alone, as they mostly feed on algae. Ensure to take care when introducing these shrimp into an aquarium with carnivorous plecos, especially with juvenile shrimp.
The ghost shrimp (Palaemonetes paludosus) is a prevalent shrimp species in the aquarium hobby, being easy to find and relatively inexpensive. They’re often used as feeders for predatory fish.
These shrimp are small, usually measuring around an inch, and are completely transparent, making them a fantastic addition to the aquarium.
Ghost Shrimp are an excellent choice to keep with plecos as they are hardy and can defend themselves against larger fish.
Additionally, they are herbivores and feed mainly on algae and detritus, which makes them compatible with herbivores plecos.
Ghost shrimp have a very high reproduction rate and can become a pest in the aquarium if left uncontrolled.
Best pleco types to keep with shrimp
The clown pleco is a wood-eating herbivorous pleco species that can live in tanks as small as 15 gallons.
They feed off of algae and will enjoy vegetables. They’re not picky eaters and eat the same as many shrimp species.
The clown pleco is not likely to attack or eat live shrimp, as it is very peaceful and rarely aggressive.
Bristlenose plecos are another prevalent pleco type. Recognizable by their bushy nose, the bristlenose pleco is one of the best pleco types for beginners.
It grows slightly larger than the clown plecos, so it does need at least a 20 gallon tank (Bristlenose pleco tank size guide).
This species is omnivorous and will enjoy both plant-based foods and meats. Make sure to include both in its diet.
Tips for keeping plecos and shrimp together
Choose a well-sized tank
The minimum size for a shrimp-pleco aquarium is about 20 gallons (an example is one bristlenose pleco with a colony of red cherry shrimp).
Furthermore, as a rule, the more space, the better for the inhabitants and you, who will have less maintenance work.
Provide plenty of hiding places
Both plecos and shrimp enjoy having places to hide. Provide lots of dens, caves, and rocks where they can hide and feel safe.
You can form these hiding places using different decorations like plants, driftwood, rocks, botanicals, etc.
The more different territories and locations, the better for the fish, in addition to helping to reduce stress and aggression among some species.
Provide an adequate diet
Plecos and shrimp have different dietary needs. Depending on the species, plecos are either herbivores, omnivores or carnivores.
Shrimp are omnivores and need a balanced diet of plant and animal foods. Be sure to provide adequate food for each species and avoid overfeeding as this can negatively affect water quality.
Introduce new animals with caution
When introducing new animals to the aquarium, do so with caution. Before placing the newly acquired animal in the main aquarium, always quarantine them in an isolated aquarium for approximately 14 days.
After quarantine, you must introduce it into the tank, acclimatizing it slowly, after which it is necessary to observe the behavior of the animals and ensure that they are not aggressive with each other.
Monitor signs of stress and illness
Pay attention to breeding
If you have a couple of shrimp, they can reproduce and create a large number of young. This can be problematic as too many baby shrimp can overcrowd the tank and affect water quality. Be sure to remove the pups periodically or provide places for them to hide and grow safely.
Keeping plecos and shrimp together is certainly possible, and both species can make for amazing tank mates.
However, when keeping both species together you should take some things into account:
- Pleco species – Pick a herbivorous, preferably small pleco that’s less likely to attack shrimp. Researching the species is also important for setting up a suitable tank.
- Shrimp species – Pick a large shrimp type that (but not too large) will be less likely to get eaten.
- Diet – Although shrimp and plecos eat much of the same foods, this depends on the species. Make sure to do research onto the species.
With these tips, you should be able to successfully keep your plecos and shrimps together. Remember that the key to success is knowledge – be sure to research the species you intend to keep together and provide the right conditions for them to thrive.