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Pleco Temperature Guide – Can Plecos Live In Cold Water?

With the various types of plecostomus being such a popular aquarium addition all around the globe, we have noticed a spike in the number of people reaching out to ask about the pleco temperature range as well as if you are able to keep a pleco in cold water or in a pond.

Due to seeing such a large number of people reaching out and asking these questions, we have decided to publish our own dedicated article going over the optimal pleco temperature ranges.

We are hoping that we are going to be able to help as many of our readers who are interested in adding a pleco to their aquarium or pond as possible.

You have to keep in mind that plecos are a tropical fish that originated in the Amazon basic in South America where temperatures are much higher than the areas where most of our readers live.

Due to this, the majority of our readers are probably going to have to keep their pleco in an aquarium with a heater in the tank.

This is simply unavoidable but if you do live in a warmer area then there may be hope for you to keep your pleco in an outdoor pond or in an aquarium in your home without the need for a heater but this will definatley be rare with most types of plecostomus.

Plecostomus Temperature Range!

The ideal plecostomus temperature range is between 75-82°F/24-28°C with the majority of pleco being happieses within that temperature range.

That said though, most plecos will be able to live in temperatures as cold as 65°F/18°C and as warm as 85°F/28°C without many issues but anything outside of that temperature range will usually end up causing problems.

Although the majority of pleco spicies are able to survive at 65-75°F/18-24°C, it is usually a little cold for them and their activity will generally slow right down.

For example, if you are keeping your plecostomus in an aquarium or pond that is within the 65-75°F/18-24°C temperature range then your plecostomus will be able to survive but the rate that it eats algae will generally slow right down until it gets to the 75-82°F/24-28°C temperature range.

Because so many people use their pleco as their algae eater of choice, keeping it within the colder temperature range will often defete the purpose of having a pleco as it will not be able to keep pace with algae growth.

This in turn increases the amount of tank or pond maintenance required on your part to keep the water free from algae and something like a Ramshorn Snail usually becoming a much better option for eating algae in the colder temperature ranges.

“Silly pleco” by jonasflanken is licensed with CC BY-NC-SA 2.0. To view a copy of this license, visit

What Temperature Do Plecos Like?

Although most plecos will be fine with a water temperature of around 75-82°F/24-28°C, it is often agreed that a steady water temperature of 80°F/26°C is generally the best option for the majority of pleco spicies.

This is usually the temperature where most plecos will be able to consume the most algae from your tank while being happy in your tank.

The issue with keeping your aquariums water temperature at 80°F/26°C due to it being the temperatue that plecos tend to like the most is that other fish, shrimp, and snails in the aquarlum may not be happy with that temperature.

This is why it is important to note down all of the living animals and plans that you keep in your aqaurium and try to workout the best water temperature for all options.

Thankfully though, the 80°F/26°C water temperature setting is usually within the temperature range of most of the popular tropical fish.

Remember that plecos can go as low as 65-75°F/18-24°C but it is not really recommended if your pleco is your main algae eater as the amount of food it requires at lower temperatures does start to drop off as the colder temperatures discourage the pleco from swimming around so much.

Pleco Water Temp Change Tollerance!

Although the recommended pleco water temp is within the 75-82°F/24-28°C range, they really don’t do well with rapid changes to their water temperature and have a very low-temperature change tolerance when compared to most other fish.

If you do have to adjust the temperature within your plecos aquarium then be sure to do it gradually over the period of a few hours.

A rapid change between temperatures by as much as only 2°F can be enough to cause mild temperature shock in your pleco with anything more than that being enough to send your pleco into full blown temperature shock.

If the temperature shock is between a wide enough range in a short enough time period then there is a chance of your pleco dying too but this is very rare.

The most common symptom of temperature shock in a pleco is rapid gill movement but there are a number of other potential causes of this in a pleco.

If you have recently changed the temperature of your aquarium and then notice rapid gill movement in your pleco along with lethargy then there is a good chance that your pleco is suffering from temperature shock.

Is There A Cold Water Pleco?

Although there are no cold water pleco species, there is a trend of keeping plecostomus is koi ponds in temperatures as low as 50°F/10°C without the pleco having issues due to the cold temperature.

This is well out side of the normal 75-82°F/24-28°C recommended temperature range for plecos and we don’t recommend that you keep your pleco in water as cold as 50°F/10°C.

In addition to this, a pleco in water that cold will rarely be moving around and will only eat a very small amount of algae or discarded fish food.

If you are set on keeping your pleco in water this cold then you really do need to be adding a fair few Ramshorn Snails to the pond as they are able to consume large amounts of algae at such a low temperature with ease.

Some fish keepers would argue that keeping a pleco in water as low as 50°F/10°C is also cruel too as the cold temperature of the water really does have an effect on the quality of life of the fish.

Rather than being active swimming around the bottom of the pond, it will be sat in one place most of the time and rarely move around.

Can A Pleco Live In A Pond?

There are plenty of documented cases of people keeping a pleco in a pond without issue but a pond pleco really should be in tropical areas where it is hot year round when the water temperature is constantly 75-82°F/24-28°C and never drops below 65°F/18°C in the colder months.

Some people are keeping their plecostomus in ponds in colder ponds but the quality of life for the pleco starts to drop off rapidly in those situations.

The optimal plecostomus water temp range is agreed to be 75-82°F/24-28°C for a reason and this is due to fish keepers observing the differences in plesco at different water temperatures while trying to keep the fish as happy as possible.

With the plecostomus coming from the Amazon basin, it has evolved to enjoy a tropical climate meaning any ponds it is kept in should fall within this recommended water temperature range if possible.

Instead of trying to get your pleco fish to live in a cold water pond, some people with larger budgets have actually added heaters to their outdoor ponds so they are able to keep tropical fish like the pleco in their outdoor pond while maintaining a suitable water temperature.

This is often out of budget for most people though and only experienced fish keepers with large budgets usually take measures that drastic.


That brings our ultimate guide to pleco water temperature to an end. We hope that we have been able to help as many of our readers better understand how they should be caring for their pet pleco when it comes to their suitable water temperature ranges. We see a large number of beginners constantly make mistakes when it comes to the water temperatures of their plecostomus when these mistakes are so easy to avoid if you take the time to do a little bit of research before hand.