Can Plecos Live in Cold Water?

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Plecos are a type of catfish with over 150 different species. Common pleco is one of the most popular freshwater catfish with a lifespan of about 10 to 15 years. This is a relatively peaceful variety of catfish and many fish keepers want to add it to their aquarium. It is commonly found in rivers and streams across South America. This fish usually gets active during the night and is therefore referred to as nocturnal fish. You won’t notice much activity during the daytime and when it does get active, it will mostly float towards the floor of the fish tank. 

In this article, we will find out among other things if pleco can live in cold water and what are other precautions to take if you want to add it to your aquarium. 

So, let’s get started. 

Can Plecos Live in Cold Water?

Any fish keeper would be wondering if this type of fish can survive cold water temperatures. Since it’s a tropical fish, it needs temperatures of around 70 to 80 degrees F to survive. Even if it gets warmer than this, say up to 90 degrees F, the fish would still be able to live comfortably. However, you must be cautious not to drop the water temperature too much as it will get really cold for the fish to survive. As we have already discussed, this type of fish doesn’t really move around a lot when it’s daytime so even if you don’t see any activity, that doesn’t mean it is unable to withstand the current temperature of water in your fish tank. It has been seen that sea creatures and especially fish can survive even the hardest of conditions. So, even if the temperature drops down a bit, the pleco will still be able to stay alive.  

Freshwater fish are usually able to withstand heavy water currents and high oxygen levels. It is recommended not to change water temperature inside the tank frequently as it may cause harm to the fish. Even if the water is made a little warmer, the common pleco would survive. Make sure you keep the pH value between 6 and 7.5, which is the most favorable environment for this type of fish. It indicates an acidic to slightly alkaline culture; favorable for almost all types of fish.  

You need to keep the tank well-filtered if you want your plecos to survive. Since it tends to produce a lot of waste, it is important to keep the water clean at all times. If you think a pleco will only live on algae, you might be wrong. This type of fish actually feeds on a lot of things from larvae and plants to wood and bloodworms. Make sure you provide different varieties of food to help it grow normally. It turns out that a pleco needs a lot of fiber for proper nourishment, so make sure you feed it a lot of vegetables too, particularly lettuce, spinach, and shelled peas.  

It’s interesting to note that plecos are able to survive without algae and food for up to 7 days. But if the conditions inside the tank are not favorable, they wouldn’t survive long. So, you need to pay extra attention to keeping the water warmer especially if you keep the aquarium outdoors. Plecos are able to live up to 30 hours outside water particularly if they have been able to store oxygen beforehand. Since they are also capable of taking in oxygen from the air, they can stay alive on land longer than any other species of fish in the world.  

It is important not just to keep the temperature inside the tank favorable but also to control other conditions if you want your catfish to live long. In case you see inactivity during the night, it might be time to change the water of the tank or raise its temperature a bit. However, if the fish still doesn’t move after the water has been changed, it might be dead. 

Do Plecos Really Help Clean the Tank?

Although pleco does like to eat algae, you need to keep in mind that it’s not a vegetarian! It might help you clean up a bit of the algae grown around the fish tank, it is certainly not a good idea to keep a pleco just for this reason. Since they are bottom-feeders, they also sometimes consume leftovers and other uneaten food that may otherwise increase the amount of harmful nitrates inside the tank. Because of this reason, pleco is considered a very useful fish for fish tanks especially when you’re looking for natural ways to keep the inside environment clean and pollution-free. 

All pleco varieties have more or less the same kind of habits and requirements to keep alive for a long time. Under favorable conditions, a pleco may live up to 20 or even 30 years and grow up to 2 feet in length. If you plan on keeping it for a long time, you must be ready to buy a big aquarium first. To control the temperature inside the tank and to keep the fish from jumping out, you must use a lid. It is also a good idea to decorate the aquarium with different kinds of plants as a pleco loves to feast on plants.  


Fish, like any other pet, needs to be cared for especially when it comes to the environment where they are kept and the food they are given. Lack of information in this regard may cause harm to the fish you keep in your aquarium. If you plan on adding a pleco to your fish tank for any reason, it’s a good idea to first do your research and offer the most favorable environment to this beautiful armored catfish. One of the most important questions any beginner fish keeper would ask is whether a pleco can survive cold or extremely cold temperatures. In this article, we have attempted to find an answer to this question and also provided some general information regarding the temperament of pleco and the kind of environment it prefers.