Butterfly Pleco

Scientific NameAncistrus brachyurus, Dekeyseria brachyuran, Peckoltia pulcher
Common Name(s)Butterfly Pleco
OriginSouth America
Temperature Range77-82°F
Water ParameterspH 5.6-7
Adult Size6.2”
DietPrimarily Algae, omnivorous

Butterfly Pleco Facts:

1. The Butterfly Pleco has the ability to camouflage itself for protection by changing color.

2. When spawning, the male butterfly pleco will protect the eggs until they’ve developed.

3. Unlike most pleco species, butterfly plecos can be kept together though they might chase each other and fan themselves out to establish dominance and guard their territory.


Species Overview:

The butterfly pleco is a beautiful species, popular for its distinctive striped pattern as well as its size. Since butterfly plecos don’t get to be as large as other member of their species, they can be kept in smaller tanks of 60-80 gallons at minimum, as compared to others who need twice that. They’re also very peaceful, making them an excellent maintenance fish for smaller communities.

Butterfly plecos are hardy, but they do require extra care for their diet. These plecos can be considered omnivorous when in a tank, but their main source of food should come from both prepared and fresh vegetation. Unlike other suckers, they absolutely cannot exist on tank overgrowth and waste alone. Blanched zucchini and cucumber make excellent treats for them. They also need a good amount of driftwood to rasp regularly. Some plecos can survive without it, but butterfly plecos have a diet particularly rich in wood.


This species is also nocturnal and will react to differences in light by changing color. They do camouflage themselves to match their environment, so dark substrate should be avoided. They will also hide and camouflage when they have more light, so to get the best out of their gorgeous stripes, the tank should be somewhere out of direct sunlight, and relatively somber. In order to create a decent habitat, butterfly plecos should also be given adequate hiding spaces. As far a plecos go, they’re one of the easier species to breed, but do require nooks and crannies to wedge themselves in. The male protects the eggs by fanning his fins until they’re ready to leave the nest.

Despite being small, they are still catfish and require a higher level of filtration than other fish, since they produce more waste. Even if they’re in a small tank, it should be cycled before adding them, and it should have an adequate filtration system. The tank should be monitored closely and water changes will need to be done frequently.

The small stature of the butterfly pleco along with its exotic pattern makes it a popular community fish, but it does require somewhat more maintenance than other suckerfish. With the right habitat and conditions, these little guys will breed and can live up to 8 years. They won’t outgrow their space, so if a common pleco or a larger species of pleco isn’t an option due to space, butterfly plecos can still provide aquarists with a great pleco experience.

Posted on September 4, 2014 and filed under Freshwater Fish.