7 Interesting Carnivorous Plecos

Yes, there are carnivorous plecos, despite not many aquarists knowing about this fact. In this article, we will discuss the 7 most common plecos that have a carnivorous or high-protein diet. We will delve into their feeding habits, dietary needs as well their requirements.

carnivorous plecos

This page may contain affiliate links, which will earn us a commission. As an Amazon Associate we earn from qualifying purchases.

Zebra Pleco

The Zebra Pleco (Hypancistrus zebra) is known for its unique, striking appearance. With a black and white striped pattern resembling a zebra, this little carnivorous pleco is a popular addition to many aquariums. Not only do they look stunning, but they are also known for their easy-going and peaceful nature.

zebra pleco

Here are some key features of this interesting pleasure:

  • Tank Size: 20 gallons (76 liters)
  • Care Level: Medium
  • Adult Size: 3 inches (7.5 centimeters)
  • Temperature: 79-86°F (26-30°C)
  • Diet & Feeding: Carnivorous; prefers meaty foods like shrimp, bloodworms, and brine shrimp
  • Lifespan: 10-15 years
  • Behavior: Peaceful and nocturnal

Keep in mind that Zebra Plecos require well-oxygenated water and a high flow rate in their tanks. Supplement their diet with occasional plant matter to maintain a well-rounded diet.


Galaxy Pleco

The Galaxy Pleco, also known as the Vampire Pleco, is a stunning fish that stands out with its dark brown or black body and yellow spots resembling a starry night. This carnivorous pleco species doesn’t consume algae, but craves meaty foods.


Here is some essential information tailored to your understanding:

  • Tank Size: 75 gal (284 L)
  • Care Level: Medium
  • Adult Size: 8 inches (20 cm)
  • Temperature: 75-82°F (24-28°C)
  • Diet & Feeding: Primarily meaty foods, such as shrimp and snails
  • Lifespan: Up to 10 years
  • Behavior: Most active at night, likes to hide during the day; may become territorial towards other plecos as it matures


Panaque Pleco

Panaque Plecos, also known as Royal Plecos are fascinating fish, known for their wood-chewing habits and unique appearance. Part of what makes them interesting is their diet, which leans towards carnivorous, with a mix of wood, biofilm, and small organisms.

Their strong jaws enable them to munch on wood efficiently, making them stand out among other Plecos. As a Panaque Pleco keeper, it’s important to ensure you’re providing the right care and environment, tailoring it to their carnivorous needs.

royal pleco l191

  • Tank Size: 40 gallons (151 liters) and up
  • Care Level: Medium
  • Adult Size: 6-12 inches (15-30 cm)
  • Temperature: 73-82°F (23-28°C)
  • Diet & Feeding: Wood-based diet with meaty and plant-based supplements like shrimp, worms, and vegetables
  • Lifespan: 10-15 years
  • Behavior: Peaceful and nocturnal, likes hiding during the day


Gold Nugget Pleco

The Gold Nugget Pleco is a striking and unique addition to any aquarium. Native to South American rivers, this fish is characterized by its vibrant gold spots, contrasting against its dark-colored body. People often appreciate this pleco for its striking beauty and peaceful demeanor.

golden nugget pleco

  • Tank Size: 30 gallons (114 liters)
  • Care Level: Moderate
  • Adult Size: 6-7 inches (15-18 centimeters)
  • Temperature: 73-79°F (23-26°C)
  • Diet & Feeding: Omnivore, prefers meaty food like shrimp, worm, and pellets, alongside spirulina and vegetative matter
  • Lifespan: 10+ years
  • Behavior: Peaceful and nocturnal, enjoys hiding in caves during daytime hours

To ensure your Gold Nugget Pleco thrives, provide it with ample hiding spots, high water flow, and quality food that caters to its omnivorous diet.


Cactus Plecos

Cactus Plecos, also known as Lizard Plecos, are fascinating fish known for their carnivorous diet. They can add an exotic touch to your aquarium, and their peculiar feeding habits make them a remarkable addition. Apart from their requirement for meaty foods, they can also consume some plant matter.

red fin cactus pleco l024

Here’s some basic information you need to know about Cactus Plecos:

  • Tank Size: 55 gallons (208 liters)
  • Care Level: Medium
  • Adult Size: 6-8 inches (15-20 cm)
  • Temperature: 73-79°F (23-26°C)
  • Diet & Feeding: Primarily meaty foods like shrimp or defrosted fish, occasional plant matter
  • Lifespan: 8-12 years
  • Behavior: Generally peaceful but may be territorial around their hiding spots

By catering to the specific needs of Cactus Plecos, you can ensure a healthy and entertaining fish for your aquarium.


Clown Pleco

Clown Plecos are fascinating fish with eye-catching patterns and personalities. They get their name from their striking coloration, resembling a clown’s face paint. These little carnivorous plecos are not only admired for their looks, but also for their ability to adapt to various aquarium conditions.

tiger clown pleco l104

Here’s a quick overview of the Clown Pleco:

  • Tank Size: 20 gallons (76 liters)
  • Care Level: Easy
  • Adult Size: 3-4 inches (7.5-10 centimeters)
  • Temperature: 73-82°F (23-28°C)
  • Diet & Feeding: Carnivorous – meaty foods, and wood for fiber intake
  • Lifespan: 10-12 years
  • Behavior: Peaceful, compatible with other non-aggressive fish, but can be territorial towards other plecos

Don’t forget to provide plenty of hiding spots and driftwood for your Clown Pleco, as they love exploring and setting up their territories.


Queen Arabesque Pleco

The Queen Arabesque Pleco, also known as the Scribbled Pleco, is an interesting and eye-catching species, adding a touch of sophistication to your aquarium. With gorgeous patterns resembling delicate filigree, they are captivating creatures to observe.

queen arabesque pleco l260

Here’s a quick overview of their requirements:

  • Tank Size: 30 gallons (114 liters)
  • Care Level: Moderate
  • Adult Size: 5 inches (12.5 centimeters)
  • Temperature: 73-79°F (23-26°C)
  • Diet & Feeding: Carnivore, enjoys meaty foods like shrimp, bloodworms, and insect larvae
  • Lifespan: 10+ years
  • Behavior: Peaceful, prefers to hide during the day and venture out at night

Keep in mind that these specific plecos thrive in well-oxygenated water, with a moderate current. Combine this with a beautiful, intricate appearance, and the Queen Arabesque Pleco will surely make an excellent addition to your fish collection.


Do Carnivorous Plecos Hunt on Other Fish?

You might be wondering whether carnivorous plecos actively hunt other fish in the aquarium. The answer to this question is no, they typically do not. Carnivorous plecos are generally more focused on scavenging than hunting their tank-mates. However, there are some factors and specific cases to consider:

  • Size difference: If there is a significant size difference between the pleco and smaller tank-mates, there might be a chance of accidental predation. In this case, it’s advisable to keep similar-sized fish together.
  • Aggressive behavior: Certain carnivorous pleco species, like Pseudacanthicus spp., are more territorial and known for their aggressive behavior, which might lead them to attack smaller or weaker fish.
  • Feeding habits: Most carnivorous plecos are nocturnal feeders, actively searching for food at night. This behavior tends to reduce the likelihood of direct encounters with other fish during feeding time.

To ensure a peaceful and harmonious environment in your aquarium, follow these tips:

  • Research compatibility: Choose tank-mates with similar size, temperament, and environmental needs.
  • Provide hiding spaces: Include caves, driftwood, and plants to give your plecos and other fish enough space to hide, reducing stress and aggression.
  • Observe behavior closely: Keep an eye on your fish to detect any signs of aggressive behavior early on.

While carnivorous plecos are not inherently predatory towards other fish, certain factors and situations may lead to some aggressive encounters. By properly understanding and addressing these factors, you can create a peaceful, thriving aquarium environment for your carnivorous plecos and other fish.

What do Carnivorous Plecos Eat?

Carnivorous plecos have a diet that consists mainly of protein-rich, meaty foods. These striking fish species have adapted their feeding habits to thrive on a variety of high-quality, nutritional items.

To ensure their health and wellbeing, it’s essential to feed carnivorous plecos a diet that meets their specific requirements. Some of the go-to food choices for these fish include:

  • Shrimp: Be it frozen or live, shrimp serves as a nutritious and delicious treat for these plecos. Freshwater, brackish, and saltwater shrimp varieties can all be included in their diet.
  • Snails: As natural prey in the wild, snails make an excellent food source for carnivorously inclined plecos. Many aquarists find that their plecos will happily control common snail populations in the tank.
  • Worms: Bloodworms, blackworms, and tubifex worms can be an especially appealing meal for your carnivorous plecos.

Providing a mix of live and frozen foods not only ensures a diverse diet for these bottom-dwelling fish, but it also serves as a source of enrichment. Carnivorous plecos appreciate the challenge of catching live prey, as it mimics their natural hunting behaviors.

It’s important to remember that not all plecos are alike, and some species within this group may require more specific diets. Take the time to research your particular pleco species and its dietary needs to ensure you’re catering to its unique requirements.

Carnivorous plecos thrive on a diet that consists mostly of meaty foods such as shrimp, snails, and worms. It’s essential to provide a diverse diet and consider each pleco species’ unique requirements to ensure their health and well-being.

Do Carnivorous Plecos Eat Dead Fish?

Carnivorous plecos are indeed known for consuming meaty foods, but you might be wondering if they would eat dead fish in the aquarium. The answer is yes, carnivorous plecos can eat dead fish, but it’s not their primary source of nourishment.

It’s essential to understand that these fascinating creatures have a preference for live, meat-based options like:

  • Shrimp: Brine shrimp, ghost shrimp, and shrimp pellets are among their favorites.
  • Snails: They love snacking on small snails, like trumpet and ramshorn snails.
  • Worms: Bloodworms, blackworms, and tubifex worms make up a significant part of their diet.

In a well-maintained aquarium setting, carnivorous plecos should be provided with a healthy and varied diet. It helps to ensure that their nutritional needs are met and the scavenging habit of eating dead fish might be avoided. However, it’s not unusual for carnivorous plecos to consume dead fish in the absence of other food sources.

It’s essential to monitor the health of your aquarium closely and remove dead fish as soon as possible. This practice prevents pathogens and water quality issues that may arise from decaying organisms. Additionally, it would help if you also made it a habit to inspect the availability of proper food sources for your carnivorous plecos.

Carnivorous plecos can eat dead fish, but a well-balanced diet including their favorite meaty foods should be provided to maintain their overall health and well-being. Rememeber to always keep an eye on your aquarium, ensuring that both the environment and the creatures living in it stay in optimum condition.


Plecos can be a fascinating addition to your aquarium, especially when they are carnivorous species! The list above showcases some of the most unique and interesting carnivorous plecos available.

Which one is your favorite or do you already have one of these amazing fish in your collection? Let us know in the comments below!

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *