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Can You Keep A Pleco And Shrimp In The Same Tank?

With pleco and shrimp both being very popular members of the aquarium clean up crew within the fish keeping hobby, we see a huge number of people reaching out and asking various questions about if they are able to keep both plecos and shrimp in the same aquarium as each other or not.

As with most things in the fish keeping hobby, it depends and there are a few variables at play when you can and can’t keep shrimp in the same tank as your pleco so we wanted to publish our own article going over the topic to try help as many of our readers as possible.

Plecos will eat shrimp if they find them but if you add cover for your shrimp to hide in then there is a good chance that they will reproduce at a rapid rate and replace themselves quicker than your pleco can eat them.

Depending on your aquarium setup, you may not actually have to worry about this though and you may be able to just keep a pleco or shrimp in your tank without the other and not have to worry about your pleco eating your shrimp.

We know that people really like the look of cherry shrimp, neon yellow shrimp, and blue shrimp right now but they tend to stick out and make it easier for your fish to find them and eat them in most aquarium setups including your pleco.

Due to this, we would usually recommend that you go with ghost shrimp or amano shrimp if possible as they tend to be easier to blend in and hide from your pleco although most plecos will still be able to detect the movements of shrimp and potentially eat them.

Do Plecos Eat Shrimp?

The majority of pleco species will eat shrimp if they find them in their aquariums due to most plecos being omnivores meaning that they will eat both plant based and animal based foods.

With plecos being bottom dwellers that will commonly scavenge for food on the bottom of your aquarium, the chances of them being able to eat some of your shrimp is high.

Some species of pleco are less likely to eat your shrimp though, especially in an aquarium that has plenty of algae, detritus, and discarded fish food in it for your plecos to eat.

Some people will also intentionally add pleco wafers to their aquarium as a food source for their plecos to help keep them full and discourage them going off and eating the shrimp in the tank.

This kind of defeats the purpose of keeping shrimp and plecos in your tank though as they are usually working tank mates that are there to eat as much algae and detritus as possible to reduce the amount of tank maintenance required in your tank.

If you start intentionally feeding your pleco to stop it from eating your shrimp then that is a sign that you have a clean up crew that is too big for what your tank actually requires.

Can You Keep Pleco And Shrimp In The Same Tank?

Many people keep plecos and shrimp in the same tank but this is usually in larger, planted tank setups where there is plenty of cover available for the shrimp to hide to reduce the chances of your pleco from eating your shrimp.

You can keep a pleco and shrimp in other aquarium setups but a lack of hiding spots for your shrimp will increase the chances of your pleco eating them.

We would usually recommend that beginners to the fish keeping hobby just go with shrimp though due to them being so cheap and easy to care for as they can be great members of a clean up crew.

You also have to factor in that many people accidentally purchase a baby pleco that ends up rapidly outgrowing their tank causing problems with housing your pleco too.

Most people who do successfully keep a pleco in the same tank as their shrimp with minimal problems have a couple of years of experience within the fish keeping hobby though.

This helps to reduce the potential problems as well as increase the equipment available if they do need to keep their pleco in a different tank as most people end up purchasing larger aquarium tanks as the years go on and they become more involved in the hobby.

How Can You Stop Your Pleco Eating Your Shrimp?

The best way to stop your pleco from eating the shrimp in your tank is to provide as much cover as possible for your shrimp.

This can be as simple as some java moss for the pleco to hide in but the best option is usually to add actual shrimp hides to your aquarium as your shrimp can get in them to hide but your pleco can’t follow them when hunting for a meal.

Making sure that there is plenty of food available for your pleco is another way to reduce the number of shrimp that your pleco will eat too.

This will not work for all species of pleco though as some of them do prefer animal based foods over plant based foods and will only eat algae if they are unable to find themselves animal based food sources.

Although the bright color of cherry shrimp can make them stand out and be easier for some fish to eat, they do breed much faster than other species of shrimp.

This can make cherry shrimp a great option in tanks with pleco species that tend to hunt via scent and vibration rather than their vision.

Any cherry shrimp your pleco does eat can usually be quickly replaced due to your other cherry shrimp breeding at a faster pace than your pleco eats them.

Will Shrimp Eat Pleco Eggs?

Most species of shrimp will eat pleco eggs if they find them but this is usually not a problem for the majority of people who keep plecos and shrimp in the same aquarium as it is rare that people actually want to breed their plecos.

Anyone who is actively trying to breed their plecos should usually be doing it in a separate breeding tank anyway that is free from any potential predators.

Just because your adult plecos are large does not mean that their eggs or fry have any advantage over the other fish, shrimp or even snails in your aquarium.

This is why so many people will have dedicated tanks for breeding their fish to increase the survival chance of the fertilized eggs and fry to give their fish the best chance of growing as possible.


That brings our article going over if you should keep a pleco and shrimp in the same aquarium as each other to an end. We hope that we have been able to help as many of our readers as possible and than we have also been able to explain that although more experienced fish keepers will probably be able to keep a pleco in the same tank as shrimp with minimal issues, its not that easy for a beginner and we would usually recommend that anyone new to the fish keeping hobby just goes with shrimp for their cleanup crew.