Here's a scenario for you: You'd love to have a big sucker catfish, but limited space in your home doesn't justify having a big aquarium.
Fortunately, I've done some research to give you an idea of small pleco species that could do the job of a bottom-dwelling minnow.
Typically, a common Plecostomus grows between 15 and 24 inches and requires a tank that holds over 100 gallons.
However, the dwarf plecos I'm about to list below will remain small in size even as adults.
With that said, let me show you 11 little mealworms that you can keep in your compact aquarium at home.
11 small mealworm species that also stay that way
During my research for this list, I made sure to only choose plecos that don't grow taller than 4.5 inches, with the smallest reaching just 2 inches.
While that doesn't sound like much, you have to remember that these fish are bottom dwellers. Each of these will mostly take up the bottom footprint of your aquarium, although some will also hang from the glass.
ONEthe standard 10 gallon tank is about 20 inches long and 10 inches wide🇧🇷 That equates to just over 1.6 feet of horizontal length that a single plecoast could exploit.
However, I would avoid housing Plecostomus breeds in 5 gallon tanks or anything smaller than that. If you are looking for interesting fish that will fit in a 5 gallon tank, thenclick here to see some options.
With that said, take a look at the small mealworm species that can make their way into your aquarium:
1. Golden Spot Dwarf Pleco –Parotocinclus spilosoma
|Maximum body size:||2 inches or approximately 5 cm|
|Minimum tank size:||10 gallon tank for 3 specimen bank|
|Suggested water temperature:||71.5 to 82.5 °F (between 22 and 28 °C)|
|Main features:||Very peaceful; can be buried in the substrate; will eat algae and biofilm|
|Suitable for beginners:||Yes, as long as the beginner is familiar with the basics of fish farming.|
The Gold Spot Dwarf Pleco stays small throughout its life andreaches only 2 inches of maximum body size🇧🇷 Such body measurements make this fish one of the smallest species of pleco kept in home aquariums.
Anyway, those tiny hooves come from theParotocinclusgender and, as such, prefer to live in groups. The absolute minimum of Gold Spot Dwarf Plecos in your tank should be 3 specimens, but a preferable number would be 6.
With that in mind and their small size, you can keep a school of 6 of these hulls in a 20 gallon long tank (30 inches horizontal length).
If you plan on keeping the Gold Spot Dwarf Pleco fish in a 10 gallon tank, be sure tothere is a lot of driftwoodand live plants with larger leaves, such asjava fernor Vallisneria, to act as hiding places.
A 10 gallon tank can accommodate no more than 3 Gold Spot Dwarf Plecos.
Either way, fine gravel or sand would make an ideal aquarium substrate for these fish, as they sometimes bury themselves when they are scared.
This type of dwarf pleco is also very shy and doesn't like to be around fish that are constantly running around.
Ideally, your tankmates should be some ofthe smallest and calmest fishyou could find.
However, when they are still young, these fish feed very aggressively on biofilms and algae.
However, that's not to say that the Gold Spot Dwarf Pleco isn't a big algae eater.
Author's note:Gold Spot Dwarf Plecos are often mislabeled as Pitbull Plecos in fish stores, so keep that in mind when looking for the former.
2. bristly-nosed plecos -Ancistrus spp.
|Maximum body size:||the total size of the species is between 3 and 6 inches (7.6 to 15.25 cm), but there are many subspecies that do not grow larger than 4 inches or about 10 cm|
|Minimum tank size:||30 gallons for larger Bristlenose species|
|Suggested water temperature:||65 to 79°F (between 18 and 26°C)|
|Main features:||Unique looking tentacles in its mouth; eat a lot and get dirty more; relatively peaceful; prefer well-oxygenated water|
|Suitable for beginners:||It depends on the species, as there are more than 60|
The Common Pleco Bristlenose –Ancistrus cirrhosus– grows between 4 and 5 inches, but there are cases where a well-groomed specimen reaches almost 6 inches.
However, in this section, I would like to point out the focus on two things.exotic fish speciesof the genus Ancistrus.
The first is called the Golden Marble Bristlenose Catfish, also known asclear ancistrus.
An adult golden marbled bristle catfish reaches no more than 2.7 inches in full body length. This type of dwarf fish is one of the smallest known species of Bristlenose pleco.
The Golden Marble Bristlenose pleco can be kept in a standard 15 gallon tank with a 24.5 x 12.5 inch base, but a 10 gallon tank is not out of the question.
This fish prefers waters with strong currents, making it an ideal choice for a river biotope aquarium.
The Gold Marble Bristlenose catfish is not as territorial with similar looking fish and will tolerate other peaceful bottom dwellers in larger tanks.
Having hiding places in the tank is essential for these fish, who sometimes like a little privacy.
by Specificity B.
However, there is another type of Bristlenose pleco in the genus Ancistrus that remains relatively small into its adult years.
The Starlight Bristlenose catfish, also recognized asAncistrus dolichopterusor L183, is an exotic looking sucker fish that has a maximum size of 4.5 inches.
The minimum tank size for a single Starlight Bristlenose plecose is a 20 gallon tank, but 30 or 40 gallon Breeder tanks are preferred as they have the same smaller footprint.
Anyway, in addition to looking super cool, this fish is also quite expensive and can sell for up to $40 in someonline fish stores.
However, it is not the price that one should pay attention to, but rather the water needs of this species of pleco.
Starlight Bristlenose plecos prefer to live in "black water" aquariums.
This means that the tank must have soft, acidic water with high levels ofdissolved tannins🇧🇷 Tannins are usually released into water through organic sources such as peat moss, weathered leaves or driftwood.
Tankmates for this type of pleco should also be fish that thrive in black water, such as thechili raspberry.
Keeping this type of tank can be challenging for a beginner, so keep this in mind if you want a Starlight Bristlenose shell but are new to the hobby.
3. Snowball Dwarf Pleco –Hypancistrus sp. L471
|Maximum body size:||2.4 inches or just about 6 cm|
|Minimum tank size:||10 gallons|
|Suggested water temperature:||77 a 84 °F que equivale a 25 a 28,8 °C|
|Main features:||It is primarily carnivorous; will actively seek the bottom at night; ideal for a small planted aquarium thanks to its feeding; calm|
|Suitable for beginners:||It's not for beginners, but aquarists with general knowledge in the hobby can handle it.|
The Pleco Dwarf Snowball remains small as an adult, reaching no more than 2.4 inches in full body length.
Because it is so small, this fish is one of the smallest hulls in the aquarium trade to date.
For this reason, if it is the only bottom dweller in the tank, a Pleco Snowball Dwarf can live in a 10 gallon tank with a good amount of plants, rocks and a little wood.
Of course, 10 gallons is the bare minimum and I would normally recommend going with 15 gallons for this breed of pleco.
Anyway, this breed of pleco is so unusual that it prefers warmer waters and also, although it is omnivorous, it leans towards the carnivorous side.
Both of these traits are rare among the smaller catfish found in home aquariums.
On the other hand, these qualities make the Dwarf Snowball Pleco a worthy candidate for a heavily planted aquarium withpeaceful and communal fish that enjoy tropical waters.
Also, the L471 likes moderate water flow, so keep that in mind when choosing your aquarium filter.
However, another thing to remember when caring for these dwarf fish is that they will go after shrimp and smaller shrimp if given the chance.
4. Pleco with rubber lips –Forms of Chaetostoma
|Maximum body size:||4.2 inches (10.6 cm). Some specimens can reach 4.5″ (11.4 cm), but this is very rare.|
|Minimum tank size:||20 gallons|
|Suggested water temperature:||between 71 and 78 °F (between 21.6 and 25.5 °C)|
|Main features:||Very peaceful; efficient algae eater; even eat black beard algae|
|Suitable for beginners:||Sim|
With its maximum body size of just over 4 inches, the rubber-rimmed shellcan be stored comfortably in a long 20 gallon tank🇧🇷 That's 30.25 x 12.5 inches of bottom footprint for a single specimen.
The pleco is very active when looking for food and therefore needs more horizontal space to swim.
They also hang from glass and other surfaces once they settle in and accept the tank as their own.
A nice thing about this cascudo is that he is one of theThe best freshwater algae eaters.in the aquarium hobby.
Rubber-lipped plecos eat all types of capillary algae at an astonishing rate and can evenrid your tank of the dreaded black beard algae.
Regardless, this little pleco is also quite peaceful and the only time you might see it get aggressive is in territorial disputes with similar looking catfish.
Other than that, he won't bother his tankmates.
Caring for a rubber hull can be very easy.which makes this fish an option for beginners.
5. Blue Pancake –Baryancistrus beggini L239
|Maximum body size:||3.5 inches or just about 9 cm|
|Minimum tank size:||20 gallon tank Long for a single specimen without other hulls and possibly bottom dwellers|
|Suggested water temperature:||73.4 to 84°F (between 23 and 29°C)|
|Main features:||Very rewarding to keep; territorial and aggressive against his kind; active; amazing looks; diversified menu leaning towards the herbivore side|
|Suitable for beginners:||No, this fish is delicate and can perish even with seemingly perfect acclimatization.|
The Blue Panaque fish is a species of pleco that reaches between 3.2 and 3.5 inches (8.1 to 8.9 cm). However, they need spacious land to live in a tank because they are territorial and quite active.
The L239 Blue Panaque pleco is not really a realPanaque spand the two species differ greatly.
The Panaque Azul prefers soft and acidic waters, as they come from black water environments.
Some users keep them at neutral pH (7.0), but I have found that this pleco works best between 6.5 and 6.0 pH.
The Blue Panaque pleco is an omnivore anyway, but in my experience they are predominantly herbivores.
What I find strange about these fish is that they are picky about vegetables.
Most herbivorous fish we are used to would eat just about any vegetable, but not the Blue Panaque.
I confirmed with others who raise this fish that it rarely accepts regular carrots and greens.
In fact, blue Panaque plecos prefer more "unusual" vegetables, such as potatoes ... In addition, you can also offer fruits.
Author's note:Although it leans heavily on the herbivore spectrum, the Blue Panaque pleco does require meaty food from time to time. Fortunately, they are not so picky about meat. Blue Panaque mealworms readily accept most frozen foods.
6. Pleco Angelical –Hypancistrus sp. L136
|Maximum body size:||3.1 inches or 7.9 cm|
|Minimum tank size:||20 gallon tank|
|Suggested water temperature:||73 a 82 °F que equivale a 22,7 a 27,7 °C|
|Main features:||May become aggressive towards other species of Hypancistrus; prefers meat as a staple food; likes moving water with high oxygen levels|
|Suitable for beginners:||Yes, as long as the aquarist is prepared to provide the necessary conditions and is attentive to water maintenance.|
The angelic pleco isa beautiful species of fish, from the armored catfish family, growing up to 3.1 inches.
Due to its rather small size, this fish can be kept in a tank that is at least 24 inches long horizontally and 12 inches wide.
The smallest tanks that match these measurements are the 15 gallon standard tank and the 20 gallon tall tank.
The Angelicus Pleco will appreciate a tank with medium to high current, log decorations and round stones.
The water in your freshwater aquarium should have minimal contamination and evenhigher levels of nitratewill not be well tolerated.
Also, when keeping these hulls in your tank, make sure you have at least one air stone for good oxygenation of the water.
Regardless, make sure you feed your Angelicus Pleco mostly meat, such as Daphnia and Bloodworm, while vegetables should only be offered occasionally.
7. Pitbull Pleco –Parotinclus jumbo
|Maximum body size:||2.4 inches, but usually around 2 (5 to 6 cm)|
|Minimum tank size:||30 gallon maker for a group of 6|
|Suggested water temperature:||20 a 26,1 °C (68 a 79 °F)|
|Main features:||prefers to stay in groups; It eats algae, but you shouldn't rely on it to clean your tank; calm; is quite active when seated; calm|
|Suitable for beginners:||No, these fish are a little more fragile during acclimatization, where stable water parameters are needed.|
If you're looking for a pleco that stays really small, consider getting a Pitbull Pleco. This fish does not reach more than 2.4 inches at maturity and is generally slow growing.
What you should know about Pleco Pitbulls is that they are social and should be in groups of at least 3, but if you have the space, go with 6 or more.
A standard 15 gallon tank should be the bare minimum if you want to keep 3 Pitbull Plecos, just in case the unlikely happens and they each grow to 2.4 inches.
A standard 30 gallon breeding tank is recommended if you want to keep 6 of these minnows.
The substrate in the tank should not be sharp at all, and preferably sand.
The Pleco Pitbull will try to bury itself in the substrate if it senses that something is wrong.
Other than that, these little beetles are very active when settling down, but prefer to stay at the bottom of the tank.
In any case, they like a vegetarian diet, accepting the occasional animal protein.
Although a Pleco Pitbull will eat surface algae, they will not be a very efficient algae eater in general.
Live plants in a planted aquarium will not be eaten.
Author's note:Due to obvious differences from other Parotocinclus species, the discoverers of Pitbull Pleco believe that it should be moved to a different genus.
8. Reina Arabesco Pleco –Hypancistrus sp. L260
|Maximum body size:||3.5 inches (8.9 cm)|
|Minimum tank size:||Any tank with a horizontal length of 24 inches (for example, a 15-gallon tank)|
|Suggested water temperature:||between 73 and 84°F (22.7 to 29°C)|
|Main features:||Dislikes the company of fast swimmers or aggressive fish; 100% carnivorous and does not touch the algae with a stick; loves caves more than other hulls; mind your own business|
|Suitable for beginners:||Yes, as long as the aquarist chooses his aquarium companions well and is willing to provide quality food for the fish.|
The Queen Arabesque Pleco is a small, exotic fish that grows to about 3.5 inches with good care.As a rule of thumb for minimum tank size, you can keep a single specimen in a standard 15 gallon tank or any of the 20 gallon varieties.
Regardless, this fish does not need the company of its kind and will not bother its tank mates.
The Queen Arabesque Pleco is, in fact, so peaceful that it may find itself outnumbering food if the other fish in the tank are more aggressive eaters.
The interesting thing about this breed is that they do not accept vegetables at all.
Their diet should be 100% small invertebrates.
As with all the other hulls on this list, the Queen Arabesque Pleco likes a little driftwood in her tank, but more importantly, she LOVES having her own cave.
Given the beauty of this pleco and its carnivorous nature, it is the perfect candidate for a medium running water planted tank.
9. Pleco Clown –Panaqolus sp. L206
|Maximum body size:||3.1 inches (7.9 cm)|
|Minimum tank size:||The fish is not very active so a 10 gallon tank is appropriate.|
|Suggested water temperature:||77 to 85 °F or 25 to 29.4 °C|
|Main features:||Constantly eats and chews wood; it won't really clean up the algae; reasonably quiet; destroy live plants|
|Suitable for beginners:||Yes, this species is easily manageable as long as the lifestyle of the fish has been researched.|
Note that this is notPanaqolus maccus, but another small species recognized under the same nickname.
The only serious difference between the two is that the P. maccus grows to 3.5 inches, while the L206 Clown Pleco grows to no more than 3.1 inches.
However, this type of pleco does not require a lot of personal space, and because it structures the tank with lots of hiding places, it can safely accommodate 2 specimens in a long 20 gallon tank.
The Pleco Clown L206 feeds on wood and vegetables and does not require animal protein in its diet.
Having at least 2 types of driftwood in the aquarium is a must if you want to keep this species healthy.
The tangles and twigs will corrode over time and need occasional replacement.
Also, due to the wood in their diet, Clown Plecos will produce large amounts of sawdust poop.
the sawdustwill not increase ammonia or nitrite levels in the aquarium, but there needs to be decent mechanical filtration to take care of the particles.
For this reason, I would recommend creating apowerful HOB filterwith some finefloss media filterin your Clown pleco tank.
Author's note:A common misconception about Clown Pleco is that he must eat seaweed because he is a vegetarian. However, practice shows that this is not really the case. So if you're looking for a small pleco that cleans up algae, check out the other entries on this list.
10. Zebra Pleco –Zebra Hypancistrus
|Maximum body size:||up to 3.2 inches, but usually around 3 (7.6 cm)|
|Minimum tank size:||A single specimen will do fine in a 10 gallon tank with lots of crevices to hide in, but a 15 gallon is probably better.|
|Suggested water temperature:||between 78.8 and 86 °F (between 26 and 30 °C)|
|Main features:||requires high water temperature and good oxygenation; It is not competitive in food, so avoid housing it with aggressive feeders; one of the most expensive freshwater fish|
|Suitable for beginners:||Not|
The exceptional Zebra Pleco reaches a body size of around 3 inches as an adult. These fish like to stay in crevices and are not active foragers; therefore, a tank with a smaller bottom, such as a 10 gallon tank, will do the trick.
However, a 15 gallon tank should give you (not the fish) more freedom to build various caves in the rocks and logs.
This beautiful pleco prefers aquariums that simulate its natural biotope.
This would mean that a happy Zebra Pleco would live in a tank with strong water movement, a sandy substrate, some driftwood, round rocks and high levels of dissolved oxygen.
There must be many caves among the rocks where the fish will spend their time.
Another water parameter that must be strictly adhered to is its rather high temperature.
Unlike other types of mealworms, the Zebra Pleco needs exceptionally high water temperatures to stay healthy and live a long, full life.
Other than that, Zebra Plecos are not picky about other water parameters.
This species is also predominantly carnivorous and the fish rarely eat vegetables.
However, before you run to your local fishmonger in search of this magnificent fish, be aware that the Zebra Pleco can be quite expensive. Don't say I didn't warn you!
11. Pleco Leopard Toad –Peckoltia account
|Maximum body size:||up to 4.3 inches (about 11 cm)|
|Minimum tank size:||10 gallon tank because this pleco is not very active|
|Suggested water temperature:||75 to 82°F or around 24 to 28°C|
|Main features:||thrives in tropical water temperatures; peaceful with tankmates that don't look alike; expensive; not a reliable algae eater|
|Suitable for beginners:||Not|
In addition to its striking appearance, the pleco leopard frog is prized by many fish farmers for maintaining a small size throughout its life. It grows to a maximum of 4.3 cm, but most specimens are three and a half.
Leopard frog plecos are not very active, but rather territorial with each other, and some species ofshark-like fish.
For this reason, a suitable tank size for a single specimen would be a 20 gallon tank, but a nicely decorated 10 gallon tank would also be acceptable (and don't go overboard).
However, the Leopard Frog Pleco thrives in water with a pH between 5 and 7, meaning it prefers aquariums with softer water.
Another important water parameter for this species of plecos is temperature.
Leopard Frog Plecos like tropical waters and in colder environments will be subject to diseases and parasites such asIch fresh water that can be difficult to treat.
For this reason, if kept in smaller tanks, having apowerful but small water heaterIt is essential for this species.
Keep in mind that the Leopard Frog Pleco may not be as expensive as the Zebra Pleco, but it can still cost upwards of a hundred dollars at some aquarium fish stores.
Are there even smaller pleco fish?
The smallest known pleco is the Soromon Pleco (Soromonichthys stearleyi), reaching a total body size of just 1.2 inches or precisely 3.05 cm.
However, there is almost no information about this species, which means that it is probably very rare and you will not have a real chance of owning one. came firstdescribed in 2011by scientists who discovered it in the Solomoni stream in Venezuela.
by Nathan Lujan
Even incatfish planet, information about this dwarf fish was scarce. Therefore, in my list above, I mention only the pleco fish, which, in addition to being small, are also available in the aquarium trade.