10 Types of Plecos That Stay Small

10 Types of Plecos That Stay Small

Last Updated on January 4, 2024 by Fumipets

10 Types of Plecos That Stay Small


Plecos, also known as suckermouth catfish, are a diverse and fascinating group of freshwater fish commonly kept in aquariums around the world. While some species of Plecos can grow quite large and require substantial tank space, there are also several delightful varieties that remain relatively small throughout their lives.

In this article, we will explore the world of small-sized Plecos, highlighting their characteristics and suitability for aquarium enthusiasts who prefer more petite aquatic companions.

Plecos That Stay Small

Plecos are excellent aquarium inhabitants. By consuming a large portion of the debris that falls to the tank bottom, they contribute to maintaining a clean environment. Few fish object to having them in the aquarium since they are mostly solitary. While some plecos might reach a length of a foot or more, many can grow to be extremely huge.

Some types of pleco fish can rapidly perish in a 10 or 20-gallon tank because the habitat is too tiny. We’ve compiled a list of 10 kinds of pleco fish that you may keep in a small tank since it might be challenging to sift through all the breeds to find one that will work in your aquarium. The majority of species only grow to a few inches in length, but they are still beautiful, colorful, and a great way to keep your tank clean.

1. Gold Spot Dwarf Pleco

Length: 2 inches
Minimum Tank Size:  10 gallons

The Gold Spot Dwarf Pleco is the ideal option for a 10 or 15-gallon tank that is smaller. It often barely reaches a height of 2 inches. It will maintain your tank clean since it consumes veggies, biofilm, algae, and algae wafer. It’s a quiet, tranquil fish that prefers to bury itself in the substrate or hide among the plants. The majority of experts advise keeping three of them in a 10-gallon tank since it is one of the few plecos that love living in groups.

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2. Pitbull Pleco

Length: 2.4 inches
Minimum Tank Size: 15 gallons

Many Pitbull Plecos offered in pet shops are really Gold Spot Dwarf Plecos with an inaccurate label, despite the fact that they appear entirely different. We advise familiarizing yourself with the variations before going fishing since these two species are really distinct from one another. The Pitbull has very different grey markings rather than any gold dots. Although it consumes algae, it is a little bigger and won’t maintain your tank as clean as a Gold Spot. If you like this species, use a 15-gallon tank for up to three Pitbull Plecos since it likes to live in groups.

3. Dwarf Snowball Pleco

Length: 2.4 inches
Minimum Tank Size:  10 gallons

A distinctive fish with a black and white polka-dot look is the dwarf snowball pleco. It just needs a 10-gallon tank and grows up to 2.4 inches long. It’s a carnivorous pleco that will scour the bottom at night for food scraps left over by other fish, but if you have shrimplings in the tank it will also go for them. It likes warm water that is actively moving.

4. Angelicus Pleco

Length: 3.1 inches
Minimum Tank Size:  20 gallons

Another polka-dot fish is the Angelicus Pleco, however the dots on this fish are quite tiny. This pleco is best kept in a tank that is at least 20 gallons in size and typically develops to be a little over 3 inches long. It has a history of attacking other fish and favors flesh over algae. It enjoys strong currents as well as a lot of driftwood to gnaw on and hide behind.

5. Clown Pleco

Length: 3.1 inches
Minimum Tank Size:  10 gallons

Because it only needs a 10-gallon tank, the Clown Pleco is particularly popular among individuals with smaller aquariums. It doesn’t consume many different kinds of algae, but it does constantly gnaw on driftwood. It won’t interfere with your other fish since it isn’t extremely active. It may produce sawdust feces because of how much wood it chews, so you might need a filter to get the particles out of the water.

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6. Zebra Pleco

Length: 3.2 inches
Minimum Tank Size:  10 gallons

Since the Zebra Pleco loves to spend its time in hiding and does not graze much, it won’t need a large tank. It enjoys a sandy substrate with running water and grows to a height of just a little over 3 inches. If it wants to survive a long time and consume mostly carnivorous foods, it will need water that is at a high temperature. Although it is one of the most well-liked and pricey fish in this group is the Zebra Pleco.

7. Queen Arabesque Pleco

Length: 3.5 inches
Minimum Tank Size:  15 gallons

A lovely fish with a black body and light-colored stripes is the Queen Arabesque Pleco. It requires a tank of at least 15 gallons and a maximum height of roughly 3.5 inches. It prefers not to be in the same tank as swift swimmers and consumes carnivorous foods. It is a calm fish that often allows other fish to eat food that it might have protected. It enjoys having a cave to hide in and chewing on driftwood.

8. Bristlenose Pleco

Length: 4 inches
Minimum Tank Size:  20 gallons

The Bristlenose Pleco comes in a number of variations, but they are all easily distinguished by the tiny hairs that give it the appearance of having a beard. Although it is a calm pleco, it consumes a lot of food and causes a lot of trash in the tank. Some types need water that has been tanned with tannins from driftwood, and they do best with knowledgeable owners who know how to establish such a setting. But for some owners, their distinctive look may make the hassle worthwhile.

9. Leopard Frog Pleco

Length: 4.3 inches
Minimum Tank Size:  10 gallons

One of the biggest plecos that can still fit in a 10-gallon aquarium is the Leopard Frog Pleco. With its alternating yellow and black stripes, it’s also one of the most beautiful. We advise buying a tiny but dependable heater since it needs warm, gentle water and becomes sickly if the temperature dips.

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10. Rubber Lipped Pleco

Length: 4.3 inches
Minimum Tank Size:  20 gallons

One of the biggest species on our list, the Rubber Lipped Pleco, requires a tank capacity of roughly 20 gallons. It swiftly rids your tank of the algae that other plecos would leave behind since it is one of the most effective algae eaters. It is a fantastic option for a youngster or novice since it doesn’t need any particular care, is calm, and won’t interfere with the behavior of any other fish in your tank.


We advise starting at the top of our list if you want to keep your pleco in a 10-gallon tank. Start from the end if you’re looking at a 20-gallon tank. For the majority of individuals, the Gold Spot Dwarf Pleco is an excellent choice since it thoroughly cleans the tank. You may put three into a 10-gallon tank and six into a 20-gallon tank since it loves to live in groups, which will result in an effective cleaning machine. Any of these kinds, however, would be a great addition to your tank.

We really hope you’ve enjoyed reading about the many pleco species and selected your favorite. Please share this list of the 10 varieties of Plecos that remain tiny on Facebook and Twitter if we were able to assist you in identifying the ideal fish for your aquarium.


Questions & answers


What Are Small-Sized Plecos, and Why Are They Popular Among Aquarium Hobbyists?

Small-sized Plecos are a subgroup of Plecostomus catfish species that have a compact adult size, making them suitable for smaller aquariums. They are popular among aquarium hobbyists because of their unique appearance, intriguing behavior, and their ability to help keep tanks clean by feeding on algae.


What is the Average Size Range of Small Plecos?

Small Plecos typically grow to an adult size of around 3 to 6 inches (7.5 to 15 centimeters), making them a manageable addition to most home aquariums. Their modest size allows aquarists to enjoy the charm of Plecos without needing a massive tank.


Are There Different Varieties of Small Plecos, and What Sets Them Apart?

Yes, there are various types of small Plecos, each with its distinctive features and markings. Some popular varieties include the Bristlenose Pleco (Ancistrus), Clown Pleco (Panaqolus maccus), and the Zebra Pleco (Hypancistrus zebra). These species showcase unique colors and patterns, making them prized choices among collectors.


What Are the Care Requirements for Small-Sized Plecos?

Caring for small Plecos involves providing them with a suitable aquarium environment. This includes maintaining good water quality, providing hiding spots such as caves or driftwood, and offering a balanced diet that includes algae wafers, sinking pellets, and occasional fresh vegetables. Proper filtration and regular water changes are also crucial for their well-being.


Can Small Plecos Coexist with Other Fish in a Community Aquarium?

Small Plecos are generally peaceful and can coexist with a variety of other fish species in a community aquarium. However, it’s essential to consider their tank mates carefully to ensure compatibility. Avoid keeping them with aggressive or overly territorial fish. Additionally, provide ample hiding spots and territories to minimize potential conflicts.

These charming, small-sized Plecos offer both beauty and utility in aquariums, making them an excellent choice for aquarists looking to add unique and manageable aquatic companions to their underwater world.




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