Can I Put A Plecostomus With A Turtle? {6 Tips To Help Them Coexist}

Would you like to keep a turtle with your plecostomus? Will the turtle try to eat the plecostomus? In this article, we’ll find out if turtles and plecos can get along in the same tank.

Can I Put A Plecostomus With A Turtle? There are cases of turtles eating smaller plecos. Plecos have also latched on turtles and tried to suck on them. A very large tank with lots of hiding spaces, similar sized plecos and turtles with patient acclimation procedures will make it possible for both species to cohabitate. 

Can A Pleco Harm A Turtle?

A plecostomus has sandpaper-like teeth and can latch on to many surfaces. Unfortunately, they can also latch on to a turtle and put their “suckerfish” nickname to the test. They may scrape or damage the shell of a turtle.

There are cases of plecos latching onto the eyelids of smaller turtles. The eyelids were able to grow back in one account, but proved to cause damage to the skin of others. If both species are about the same size, they are more likely to avoid each other.

Can A Turtle Kill A Plecostomus?

A turtle may bite at the dorsal fin of a pleco. At first, a larger turtle may begin to chase a plecostomus. If the tank is large enough at 100 gallons or more with plenty of hiding spaces, they should leave each other alone after a couple of days.

If a turtle can fit a plecostomus into its mouth, it may choose to eat it. If this turtle is used to eating fish or blended fish meal, then it may be more inclined to try and eat the plecostomus.

Smaller turtles are fine with smaller plecos. A larger turtle can still pose the risk of eating a large pleco. Keep larger turtles on their own. If a smaller sized turtle has adapted to not eating fish, the chances for cohabitation are greater.

Do Turtles Eat Pleco Food?

Pleco wafers consisting of algae of pleco specific blended meals in rounds or sinking pellets are sure to be eaten by turtles. Turtles will eat vegetables, fruits and just about anything that is available.

Plecos and turtles are both omnivores who are opportunistic in searching for food to devour. They both eat algae, but the difference is that a turtle could be large enough to eat the plecostomus.

Will My Pleco Be Safe With A Turtle?

Keep the following factors in mind when trying to place a turtle with a pleco:

  • 100 gallon or larger tank
  • plenty of planted of areas
  • decorations
  • rocks
  • driftwood
  • caves
  • separate feeding areas

Aggression will be lowered with more room and spaces to hide or rest that are located far enough from each other. Feed them in different locations and they will most likely avoid one another.

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What Fish Can Live With Turtles?

A larger turtle may try to eat its tankmates. The following fish have been kept with small or medium sized turtles with success:

  • Goldfish
  • Koi
  • Otocinclus
  • Corydoras
  • Plecostomus
  • Carp
  • Loaches

Goldfish leave turtle food alone. Koi fish are large and peaceful enough to coexist with turtles. The three catfish on this list (Otocinclus, Corydoras and Plecostomus) will try to keep to themselves and stay out of the way.

Carp can grow very large and your turtle will not interfere. Loaches are small and will avoid turtles.

How Do I Put A Turtle With A Pleco?

We would like to list a few tips here to make the process of acclimating a turtle with a pleco easier on you and both of these potential tankmates.

  1. The plecostomus should be larger than the turtle. 
  2. The tank should be larger and long.
  3. Feed your turtle first before introducing it to the tank with a plecostomus. 
  4. Get an older and more mature turtle.
  5. Chasing or nipping may last a day or two. 
  6. Create strong or impenetrable hiding spots. 

1. Size Matters

A larger turtle needs much more room and could pose the risk of eating most other fish in the tank, including your plecostomus. If your fish are the same size or smaller than the turtle, they should be agile and fast enough to get out of the way. Guppies and minnows are a good example of this.

2. Space Matters

Not only should a tank hold 75, 100 or more gallons of water, the length of the tank is also important. More space on the floor of the tank creates the distance that a turtle and plecostomus would need to enjoy their own spaces to feed and rest. A five-foot long tank would be a good option.

3. Feed The Turtle First

If your turtle is full and enters this new home, it will be more interested in this new environment instead of trying to eat anything swimming near it.

The turtle will behave better and should be less stressed when seeing its new plecostomus tankmate. Keep the feedings separate, but frequent to avoid hunger and curiosity to eat any of your fish.

4. Older Turtles Are Better

An older turtle that has matured will have a better eating regimen. This turtle will adapt to eating the vegetables over chasing fish around.

Red ear sliders are particularly interested in vegetables over fish. You will have more time to establish the diet of your turtle to steer its appetite away from a plecostomus or any other marine life.

5. Chasing And Nipping

If your turtle is chasing your plecostomus for the first day or two, this is normal. If there are attempts at nipping, then you may need a tank divider, more hiding spaces or remove the plecostomus for now.

6. Impenetrable Hiding Spots

Strong caves or terracotta pots will keep your plecostomus safe from a turtle that is getting used to its new home. Create safe and strong spaces to reduce stress for your plecostomus during the adjustment phase.


It’s going to be tricky, but with patience and the correct size of both tankmates along with ample room in the tank, a plecostomus and turtle can coexist. Your skill at observing the ecosystem you manage will be the ultimate judge. If the turtle is too big or used to eating fish, then it might be better to keep them in separate tanks.


Good luck in your decision and we hope it all work out for your turtle and plecostomus to enjoy their peaceful lives. Thanks for stopping by at and see you again soon!

Brian Arial

Brian Arial has kept fish for leisure and worked with fish stores for most of his life. He enjoys writing and caring for aquariums and ponds.