Will Plecos Eat Shrimp? - "Quart. Algae wafter - Shrimp VS Pleco!" by djsmiley2k is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.
Will Plecos Eat Shrimp? - "Quart. Algae wafter - Shrimp VS Pleco!" by djsmiley2k is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.


Introducing plecos and shrimp into the same aquarium can be a captivating endeavor for aquatic enthusiasts, offering a dynamic blend of colors, behaviors, and diversity within the confines of a single tank. However, a common question that frequently emerges when contemplating this combination is, “Will plecos eat shrimp?” This query is integral to understanding the potential challenges and considerations associated with maintaining a harmonious environment for these two distinct aquatic species. To address this question and to create a thriving ecosystem that accommodates both plecos and shrimp, it’s essential to delve into the nuances of their coexistence, individual behaviors, and the strategies necessary to ensure a balanced and peaceful aquatic community.

About Plecos

Plecos are a group of freshwater catfish known for their distinctive appearance and their usefulness in aquariums. These fish belong to the Loricariidae family and are native to the rivers and streams of South America, primarily the Amazon River basin. They are often referred to as “suckerfish” due to their ability to attach themselves to various surfaces using specialized mouthparts.

Here are some key characteristics and facts about plecos:

  • Appearance: Plecos are recognized by their armored bodies covered in bony plates and a large, flat, ventral mouth. They come in various colors and patterns, with different species having unique markings. These variations make them popular in the aquarium trade.
  • Diet: Plecos are primarily herbivorous, with a preference for algae. They are excellent algae eaters, making them valuable additions to aquariums as they help control algae growth. In captivity, their diet can be supplemented with commercial algae wafers, vegetables like zucchini, and sinking pellets.
  • Behavior: These fish are generally peaceful but can become territorial, especially if they feel overcrowded. They are nocturnal, preferring to be more active during the night and hiding during the day. Plecos are known for their ability to attach themselves to various surfaces using their specialized mouth, which is adapted for scraping algae and detritus.
  • Size: Plecos come in various sizes, with some species growing as small as a few inches, while others can reach over a foot in length.
  • Aquarium Care: When keeping plecos in an aquarium, it’s important to provide them with hiding spots, such as caves and driftwood, to mimic their natural habitat. They also need good water quality, stable temperature, and appropriate tank size, depending on the species. Ensure that they have access to a balanced diet, as well as suitable substrate and decorations.

About Shrimp

Freshwater aquarium shrimp have gained popularity in the world of aquarium keeping due to their vibrant colors, interesting behaviors, and their role in maintaining a healthy tank ecosystem. These shrimp are typically kept in specially designed aquariums and are a favorite choice for aquarists looking to add a unique and visually appealing element to their setups. Here’s an overview of freshwater aquarium shrimp:

  • Species: There are several species of freshwater shrimp that are commonly kept in aquariums. Some of the most popular ones include the Cherry Shrimp (Neocaridina davidi), Crystal Red Shrimp (Caridina cantonensis), Amano Shrimp (Caridina multidentata), and Ghost Shrimp (Palaemonetes paludosus). Each species has its unique care requirements and appearance.
  • Color Variations: Freshwater aquarium shrimp come in a wide range of colors and patterns. Selective breeding has led to the development of various color morphs, making them highly sought after for their vibrant red, blue, green, yellow, and even transparent appearances.
  • Size: Most freshwater shrimp species are relatively small, typically ranging from half an inch to a couple of inches in length, depending on the species.
  • Behavior: Freshwater shrimp are known for their fascinating and entertaining behaviors. They are active scavengers, constantly foraging for algae, detritus, and microorganisms in the substrate and on plants. Watching them explore the aquarium and interact with one another can be quite enjoyable.
  • Aquarium Setup: Keeping freshwater aquarium shrimp requires specific tank conditions. They thrive in well-established, heavily planted aquariums with stable water parameters. Adequate hiding spots and surfaces, such as driftwood and rocks, should be provided for them to molt, rest, and seek refuge from potential predators.
  • Water Parameters: Different species of freshwater shrimp have varying requirements, but generally, they prefer neutral to slightly alkaline water with a pH between 6.5 and 7.5. Temperature should be kept in the range of 72-78°F (22-26°C). Good filtration and regular water changes are essential for maintaining water quality.
  • Compatibility: When choosing tankmates, it’s important to consider that some fish species may prey on or harm shrimp. Small, peaceful fish like neon tetras or guppies are generally better tankmates. Additionally, most aquatic snail species can coexist peacefully with shrimp.
  • Feeding: Freshwater shrimp are primarily scavengers and algae eaters. They will graze on biofilm, algae, and decaying plant matter, but it’s a good practice to supplement their diet with specialized shrimp pellets, blanched vegetables (such as zucchini or spinach), and other high-quality shrimp foods.
  • Reproduction: Freshwater aquarium shrimp reproduce readily in the right conditions. Females carry eggs under their tails, and once the eggs hatch, miniature shrimp, or “shrimp fry,” are released.
  • Aesthetics: Freshwater aquarium shrimp can add vibrant colors and unique aesthetics to your tank. Their transparent and colorful appearances, coupled with their tiny size and intriguing behaviors, make them an excellent addition to planted and nano aquariums.

Will Plecos Eat Shrimp?

So, will plecos eat shrimp? In most cases, plecos and shrimp can coexist peacefully in the same aquarium without major issues. Plecos are primarily herbivorous, feeding on algae and plant matter, while shrimp are scavengers and consume detritus, algae, and microorganisms. These differences in diet generally reduce the likelihood of direct predation.

However, there are some factors to consider:

  1. Size Difference: The size of the pleco and the species of shrimp in the aquarium can be a crucial factor. Some pleco species can grow quite large and may pose a threat to smaller shrimp. If the pleco is significantly larger than the shrimp, there’s a greater risk that the shrimp may become a snack for the pleco.
  2. Individual Behavior: The behavior of individual plecos can vary. Some plecos may be more aggressive or opportunistic feeders and might attempt to catch and consume small shrimp if they can catch them.
  3. Shrimp Species: Different shrimp species come in varying sizes, and some may be more robust and capable of defending themselves, while others are smaller and more vulnerable.
  4. Adequate Hiding Places: Providing plenty of hiding spots and places for shrimp to retreat is essential. Shrimp should have refuges where they can escape potential threats, including plecos.
  5. Observation: It’s a good practice to monitor the behavior of your pleco and shrimp when introduced into the same tank. If any signs of aggression or predation are observed, you may need to consider separating them or providing additional hiding spots for the shrimp.

In general, if you keep a pleco species that doesn’t grow exceptionally large and provide ample hiding places for your shrimp, they can coexist without significant issues. However, it’s important to remember that individual behavior and the specific combination of species in your aquarium can influence the outcome. Always consider the compatibility of fish and invertebrates when planning your aquarium to ensure the well-being of all inhabitants.

Will Plecos Eat Shrimp? - "Quart. Algae wafter - Shrimp VS Pleco!" by djsmiley2k is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.
Will Plecos Eat Shrimp? – “Quart. Algae wafter – Shrimp VS Pleco!” by djsmiley2k is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.

Aquarium Setup for Plecos and Shrimp

Setting up an aquarium to accommodate both plecos and shrimp requires careful consideration of the specific needs of both species. Here are some steps and guidelines to create a tank that can house both plecos and shrimp:

  • Tank Size: Ensure that your aquarium is of an appropriate size to accommodate both species comfortably. Consider that plecos can vary in size, with some growing quite large, so choose a tank size that allows for ample swimming space for the pleco while leaving enough room for the shrimp.
  • Substrate: Use a fine-grained substrate like sand or small gravel to create a soft and natural-looking bottom. Shrimp often forage and dig in the substrate, so avoid sharp or abrasive materials that could harm them.
  • Hiding Places: Provide plenty of hiding spots for the shrimp. Driftwood, rocks, caves, and plants can offer refuge for both plecos and shrimp. Plecos are known for their affinity for caves and crevices, which can double as hiding spots for shrimp. Ensure that the hiding places have multiple entrances and exits so that the shrimp don’t get trapped.
  • Plants: Live plants not only enhance the aesthetics of the aquarium but also serve as hiding places and provide the shrimp with surfaces to graze on. Low-light and hardy plants like Java Moss, Java Fern, and Anubias are good choices.
  • Water Parameters: Maintain stable and suitable water parameters for both species. Plecos typically prefer slightly acidic to neutral water with a pH range of 6.5 to 7.5, while shrimp, such as Cherry Shrimp or Crystal Red Shrimp, thrive in similar conditions. Ensure the water temperature is within a comfortable range for both.
  • Filtration: Use a good-quality filtration system to maintain water quality. While plecos are relatively hardy, shrimp are more sensitive to water quality, so regular water changes and adequate filtration are essential.
  • Diet: Feed both plecos and shrimp with appropriate foods. Plecos primarily eat algae and plant matter, so provide algae wafers and fresh vegetables like zucchini. Shrimp are scavengers and will graze on detritus and algae. Consider specialized shrimp pellets as well as occasional blanched vegetables.
  • Compatibility: Choose pleco species that are not overly aggressive or too large for the size of the tank and the shrimp. Smaller pleco species like Bristlenose Plecos (Ancistrus sp.) are often a better choice for community tanks with shrimp.
  • Observation: Regularly monitor the behavior of both plecos and shrimp. If you notice any signs of aggression or predation, such as nipped fins on shrimp, it may be necessary to rearrange the tank or provide additional hiding spots.
  • Quarantine: When introducing new plecos or shrimp to the tank, optionally quarantine them first to prevent the potential introduction of diseases. This is especially important for shrimp, which can be more sensitive to water quality and diseases.

By following these guidelines and creating a suitable environment that meets the needs of both plecos and shrimp, you can create a harmonious and visually appealing aquarium that allows both species to thrive together.


In conclusion, setting up an aquarium to accommodate both plecos and shrimp can be a rewarding endeavor, offering the opportunity to create a visually captivating and balanced ecosystem within the confines of your tank. Careful attention to tank size, substrate, hiding places, water parameters, and compatible species is essential to ensure the well-being of both plecos and shrimp. However, a common question that often arises when considering this combination is, “Will plecos eat shrimp?”

The answer to this question is not a straightforward yes or no but rather a nuanced consideration of various factors. While plecos are primarily herbivorous and not typically inclined to prey on shrimp, the potential for plecos to eat shrimp can depend on the individual behavior of the pleco, the size of the pleco species, and the availability of hiding places for the shrimp. Therefore, it’s vital to carefully assess these factors and provide a well-designed tank that fosters a peaceful coexistence between these two aquatic inhabitants.

In summary, with proper planning and attention to the unique needs of both plecos and shrimp, it is indeed possible to create an aquarium that accommodates both species harmoniously, ensuring that plecos will not eat shrimp or pose a threat to their peaceful existence.