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Galaxy Pleco: A Detailed Care Guide

Galaxy Pleco: A Detailed Care Guide

If you’re looking for a large and attractive looking pleco fish, look no further than the Galaxy Pleco with its dark body and striking spots. So, what do you need to know before adopting one? 

Galaxy Plecos are large, dark-colored fish with bright spots throughout the body. As low-maintenance fish, they’re perfect for beginners but are fussy eaters and require suitable pleco food that sinks to the bottom of the tank. Galaxy Plecos have a lifespan of 15 years. 

This article is a complete guide to everything you need to know about the spectacular Galaxy Pleco. Let’s get started! 

Galaxy Pleco Overview & Natural Habitat

Below is a comprehensive fact sheet about the Galaxy Pleco: 

  • Common name: Galaxy Pleco, Tusken Pleco, or Vampire Pleco.
  • Scientific name: Leporacanthicus galaxias.
  • Care level: Easy.
  • Size: 10 inches/26 cm.
  • Lifespan: 15 years, depending on how well cared for they are. 
  • Temperament: Peaceful and shy but will become aggressive if provoked. 
  • Diet: Omnivorous and eats algae, loose vegetation, and aquatic invertebrates
  • Group size: Solitary fish.
  • Minimum tank size: 55 gallons/250 liters. 
  • Tank level: Bottom dwellers.
  • Water temperature: 72 to 82°F (22 to 28°C).
  • Water pH levels: 5.6 to 7.0.
  • Water hardness: 8 to 12 KH.

Galaxy Plecos are large, eye-catching pleco fish that originate from the Amazon rainforests of South America. Their natural habitat is freshwater rivers but they can also be found in streams and smaller bodies of water. 

Galaxy Pleco Appearance & Size

Galaxy Plecos have a striking and eye-catching appearance. Their bodies are black with bright yellow or white spots throughout. 

They have prominent sucker mouths and impressive-looking fleshy dorsal fins that fan out when the fish swims. They have 2 big teeth at the front of their mouths and heavyset heads. 

As adults, Galaxy Plecos reach a typical size of 10 inches (26 cm). 

Difference Between Males and Females

It can be challenging to tell a male and female Galaxy Pleco apart because they look relatively similar. However, males typically have larger heads and usually have spines on their pectoral fins. 

Females tend to have rounder and wider bodies, with more circular pectoral fins.  

Galaxy Pleco Personality & Behavior

The Galaxy Pleco is a nocturnal fish and is most active during the night. 

Like most pleco varieties, Galaxy Plecos are peaceful and timid and enjoy hiding in aquatic vegetation and tank caves. However, they don’t take kindly to other fish invading their territory and will defend their living space if they need to. 

They spend a lot of their time at the bottom of the tank looking for small pieces of decaying aquatic plant matter and enjoy hiding in rocky caverns, driftwood, and in plants. 

Galaxy Pleco Average Lifespan

With the right care, diet, and tank parameters, your Galaxy Pleco can live up to 15 years. However, this can also depend on other factors, such as genetics and any conditions they may have been born with. 

Galaxy Pleco Care & Tank Set Up

Setting up a suitable tank and caring for your Galaxy Pleco correctly is essential if you want them to have a happy and healthy life.

Here’s what to consider: 

Aquarium Nitrogen Cycle

The nitrogen cycle is one of the most important aspects of fishkeeping.

A common mistake for beginners (new tank syndrome) is either not knowing about the nitrogen cycle or not keeping it in mind when maintaining the water.

What Is An Aquarium Nitrogen Cycle?

The nitrogen cycle is the process by which beneficial bacteria convert fish waste and uneaten food in the aquarium into less harmful substances. The cycle is crucial for maintaining a healthy and stable environment for fish and other aquatic animals.

In new aquariums, there may not be enough bacteria to break down fish waste, resulting in an unhealthy buildup of ammonia and nitrite. This is not visible to the naked eye, so it’s important to regularly test the water with a kit to ensure the smoothness of the nitrogen cycle.

What Happens If I Don’t Complete A Nitrogen Cycle?

Failing to complete regular nitrogen cycles can lead to the accumulation of harmful substances like ammonia and nitrite. These substances can cause stress and damage to fish, leading to health problems and if left unchecked it will eventually kill everything in your aquarium.

By maintaining a healthy nitrogen cycle, you can ensure a long and healthy life for your fish. 

Remember to always keep the nitrogen cycle in mind when caring for your aquarium.

Tank Size

Galaxy Plecos are placid and docile fish but they become highly territorial when another fish enter their space. 

It’s, therefore, advisable to give as much space as possible, and their tanks should be 55 gallons/250 liters or more in capacity. 

How Many Galaxy Plecos Are Suitable for a 55-Gallon Tank?

You can keep up to two Galaxy Plecos in a 55-gallon tank. However, you should ensure that you provide plenty of aquatic vegetation, boulders, and hiding places for them, as plecos will become aggressive when they encounter another tank mate. 

Water Parameters

  • Water temperature: 72 to 82°F (22 to 28°C)
  • Water pH levels: 5.6 – 7.0
  • Water hardness: 8 – 12 KH
  • Water current: Fast flowing

Galaxy Plecos require specific tank water parameters to live a happy and healthy life, and you should change out the water by approximately 10% each week. 

Since Galaxy Plecos originate from the Amazon Basin, tank water should emulate these conditions: 

Water Temperature 

With their tropical origins, Galaxy Plecos prefer warm water that mimics their natural tropical habitat. When keeping Galaxy Plecos, you should ensure that the water temperature is kept at a constant range of 72 to 82°F (22 to 28°C).

Water pH Levels

Galaxy Plecos thrive in water with a pH of between 5.6 and 7.0, meaning they prefer slightly acidic water. However, if you occasionally stray from these parameters, they will be perfectly fine, but slightly acidic water is best.

Water Hardness

Your Galaxy Pleco’s aquarium water should have a water hardness level of between 8 and 12 KH

You can measure the tank’s water hardness with a water hardness test kit – these are worth the investment as it will ensure your pleco remains content. 

Water Current 

Galaxy Plecos have South American origins and their natural habitat is fast-flowing, freshwater rivers. You can mimic these conditions by using a suitably-sized water pump in the tank to get the water flowing and increase its oxygen content. 

Galaxy Plecos can also be messy eaters and having a stronger tank water current can help keep the water clean. 

What To Put In The Tank

Tank water conditions for Galaxy Plecos are important, but what you put in the tank can improve your pleco’s quality of life: 


Galaxy Plecos prefer a soft and sandy tank substrate to mimic freshwater river beds in the Amazon. 

In addition to a sandy substrate where your pleco can forage for decaying vegetation, consider including the following:

  • Aquatic vegetation
  • Driftwood
  • Tank boulders or rocks with holes
  • Gravel


Galaxy Plecos love swimming around at the bottom of the tank and exploring the substrate and tank decorations. To keep your pleco constantly entertained and happy, ensure you introduce plenty of suitable decorations, such as: 

  • Boulders
  • Rocky caves
  • Aquatic plants
  • Textured stones

Ideal Plants

Since Galaxy Plecos thrive on eating loose pieces of decaying vegetation in the tank, you should include plenty of aquatic plants and algae. 

Tank plants are also vital because they help reduce the nitrate levels in the tank, helping to keep the water healthy. 

Below are some examples of the ideal plants to include in your Galaxy Pleco’s tank:


Galaxy Plecos are Amazonian fish and prefer freshwater rivers in forested areas where there is dappled or very little sunlight. With this in mind, make sure that any tank lights are dimmed because plecos become uncomfortable in bright light conditions. 


The ideal tank water temperature for Galaxy Plecos is between 72 to 82°F (22 to 28°C), which is similar to that of Amazonian river waters. 

If you’re struggling to maintain this temperature, you might consider investing in a water heater to keep your pleco happy.


Galaxy Plecos are fairly hardy fish but, like other plecos, may become ill if there are excess nitrates or waste products in the water. Installing a high-quality filter in your aquarium will ensure that the water remains clean and healthy. 

Galaxy Pleco Tank Mates

Galaxy Plecos are calm, shy, and non-threatening fish. However, they don’t accept intruders in their territory, and, if you want to introduce a tank mate, consider another friendly fish.

Alternatively, consider a fish that prefers the top or middle of the tank. 

Tank Mates To Avoid

As solitary fish, Galaxy Plecos do well on their own in a tank. They can become aggressive if other fish enter their territory, and examples of tank mates to avoid include the following: 

  • Goldfish
  • Gouramis
  • Crayfish
  • Discus
  • Cory catfish

If you’re looking for suitable tank mates, consider the following fish:

  • Upper-dwelling tank fish, such as Hatchetfish (Galaxy Plecos prefer the bottom of the tank)
  • Glass catfish
  • Pencilfish
  • Cichlids
  • Tetras
  • Platyfish
  • Arowanas
  • Tiger barbs

Galaxy Pleco Food & Diet

As omnivores, Galaxy Plecos eat a wide range of foods including: 

  • Algae wafers
  • Loose and decaying vegetation
  • Aquatic invertebrates (such as snails, mussels, and shrimp)
  • Bloodworms
  • Freeze-dried fish flakes that sink to the bottom

They should be fed once a day with a pleco-appropriate food but you can treat them with meaty treats (such as shrimp or bloodworm 2 to 3 times weekly). 

Because Galaxy Plecos are nocturnal and feed at night, it’s best to introduce food to the tank in the evenings. Providing food during the daytime may result in it sitting uneaten for several hours while your pleco is sleeping. 

Old or decaying food can also affect the tank water’s delicate pH and nitrate levels, making it unhealthy for your pet. 

Breeding Galaxy Plecos

If you want to breed your Galaxy Plecos, it’s a relatively easy process. However, you should ensure that you never have more than one male in your aquarium as they will likely fight. 

Galaxy Plecos are cave-spawning breeders and need enough tank vegetation and little caves in which to feel comfortable enough to hide and reproduce. 

After fertilization has taken place and the female has laid the eggs, the male will guard them until hatching takes place. 

When the baby Galaxy Plecos are hatched, they absorb their egg sacs and can immediately begin eating suitable food. They require a high-protein diet, with brine shrimp providing excellent nutrition. 

To increase the chances of the baby Galaxy Plecos surviving, many owners transfer them to a separate tank, where they can feed them specialized fry food and protect them from adult fish in the tank.  

Galaxy Pleco Common Health Issues

Galaxy Plecos are usually hardy and healthy fish but they can sometimes develop health issues: 


Ich (white spot disease) is the most common health issue in Galaxy Plecos and is caused by a large tank parasite that infects the fish. 

If your Galaxy Pleco is stressed due to a lack of food or the correct tank conditions, they could develop a weakened immune system, making them more susceptible to infections, like ich. 

Ich Symptoms

Ich is easy to detect and presents as small white spots on your Galaxy Pleco. Your pleco may also temporarily lose its color or experience color fading. Other symptoms include:

  • Weight loss
  • Dull eyes 
  • Listlessness

Ich Treatment

The best way to treat ich in Galaxy Plecos is to buy a premixed treatment from your local pet store. These can be applied to the tank water and according to the directions on the package. 

When selecting an ich treatment, make sure it doesn’t contain copper because plecos are mildly allergic to it. 

After applying a suitable ich treatment, the symptoms usually subside but you should contact your vet if your Galaxy Pleco doesn’t improve. 

Ich Prevention

Ich is caused by a parasite and it’s important to keep your pleco’s tank water as clean as possible to avoid this condition. 

It’s advisable to change out your Galaxy Pleco’s tank water by roughly 10% each week to ensure it remains clean. 

Plecotomus Disease

Another disease that Galaxy Plecos can occasionally develop is plecotomus disease, a fungal infection. 

Plecotomus Symptoms

If your Galaxy Pleco has plecotomus disease, it will typically have white or pale-colored fluffy growths on its body. 

As the infection intensifies, the fluffy growths multiply and can eventually cover most of the fish’s body. 

Plecotomus Treatment

As with ich, treating your pleco for plecotomus disease is straightforward and involves buying a vet-approved product from your local pet store, vet, or online. 

You can add the product to the tank water. 

If you have more than one fish in your tank, be sure to quarantine them to isolate the infection and prevent it from spreading. 

Plecotomus Prevention

To prevent your galaxy Pleco from contracting plecotomus disease, keep your tank as clean as possible, and regularly measure the pH and nitrate levels. This is easy to do with the help of simple tools you can buy from your pet store or online. 

Are Galaxy Pleco Right For You?

Galaxy Pleco are right for you if you can provide a tank large enough (50 gallon/227 liters) for them. You also need to feed them in the evenings and maintain a tank pH of between 5.6 to 7.0. 

If you want multiple fish, you may need to invest in another tank as Galaxy Plecos are solitary fish and don’t enjoy other individuals entering their territory. However, you could always introduce top tank-dwelling fish as Galaxy Plecos favor the bottom. 

Galaxy Pleco FAQs

Are Galaxy Plecos Aggressive? 

Galaxy Plecos aren’t aggressive. However, if their tank isn’t large enough and there is another pleco in the tank (especially one of the same sex), they will become aggressive and fight if they feel their territory is threatened.

When a female pleco lays eggs, the male protects them and becomes fiercely protective of them, aggressively fighting off other fish that approach the area.

How Big Do Galaxy Plecos Get?

Galaxy Plecos get to 10 inches/26 cm as fully-grown adults. They’re classified as a large pleco variety and, as such, need a tank that is at least 55 gallons/250 liters in capacity.

If you can’t accommodate a large Galaxy Pleco, consider adopting a smaller species, such as the Clown Pleco which is happier in a much smaller tank and is also low maintenance. 

Are Galaxy Plecos Good for Beginners?

Galaxy Plecos are good for beginners because they are low-maintenance fish. As long as you feed them in the evenings, and maintain the correct tank water pH and temperature, your Galaxy Pleco should have a happy and healthy life.

As a beginner, a Galaxy Pleco will introduce you to the joys of pleco ownership, and you’ll love admiring their bright coloration. 

Wrapping Up

Adopting a Galaxy Pleco is an excellent idea if you’re a beginner and you have enough space to accommodate a large 55-gallon/250 liter tank. 

Galaxy Plecos don’t require a lot of care and, as long as you feed them regularly and maintain optimal tank conditions, your pet should live to 15 years of age.

If you’re interested in Pleco fish and want to check out some others have a look at this article about Types of Plecos.

I’m Elle, the founder of FishHQ. I created this website to share knowledge, tips, and inspiration for beginner hobbyists to help them create a healthy, happy, and vibrant environment for their fish to thrive. Read more...