August 29

Sarah Robertson

An in-depth Look at Caring for Golden Nugget Plecos

A Gold Nugget pleco, on the other hand, may be a wonderful addition to your community tank if you're seeking for a stunningly lovely bottom-dwelling fish.

They're not only very attractive, but also quite simple to maintain. They won't cause any issues in your aquarium and need minimal care. The gold nugget pleco, a stunning freshwater fish of the plecostomus family, stands out for its distinctive and lush appearance, as well as being simple to care for.

Natural habitat of Pleco’s is the rivers of the Amazon jungle in South America. They're part of the armored catfish family due to the rows of armor-like scutes that cover their bodies - these scutes vary from species to species. There are more than 150 distinct species of Plecos. Despite their popularity as an aquarium species, most of them should not be kept in an aquarium since they mature to be quite huge.

Quick Facts About Golden Nugget Pleco

  • Scientific Name : Baryancistrus xanthellus
  • Family : Loricariidae
  • Genus : Baryancistrus
  • Species : Xanthellus
  • Care Level : Medium
  • Temperament : Peaceful
  • Lifespan : 4-5 years
  • Size : 6-12 inches
  • Colors & Patterns : Dark green to Black body with golden/yellow spots
  • Diet : Omnivore
  • Minimum Tank Size : 55 gallons
  • Temperature : 73 to 79 F
  • pH : 6.5 to 7.5
  • Hardness : 5 – 15 dGH
  • Tank Set-Up : Freshwater with plants and rocks
  • Breeding : Egg layer
  • Temperament : Calm and nocturnal, Males are hostile against other catfish species
  • Compatibility : Peaceful community, territorial with other plecos

Golden Nugget Pleco Care

All aquarium fish require an appropriate living environment in order to thrive. This means maintaining the ideal water parameters and conditions, and giving a varied diet. Most importantly, reducing their stress levels by providing a hiding place or cave.

In order to raise a healthy and long-lived fish, you'll need to provide them with the proper conditions. You can minimize stress for Gold Nugget Plecos by keeping them away from other plecos and providing them with enough of room.

If you have a variety of Gold Nugget Plecos in your community, they'll need more than the average aquarium. It's important to provide optimum chances for your Gold Nugget Plecos to reach the longest lifespan feasible and be happy with the community you've built. They are pricier than normal fresh water fish, and so their loss would be greater.

Although the Borneo Freshwater Catfish is more resistant to disease than other species, you should keep an eye out for ich and other parasite infections; if your suckermouth catfish develop ich or another infection, use over-the-counter medicine. Keeping the tank clean and lowering stress levels will go a long way toward preventing this sort of infection.

Golden Nugget Plecos are susceptible to illnesses brought on by injuries, so preventing them from engaging in fights with other plecos and providing a soft substrate are two ways to be proactive in keeping your Gold Nugget Plecos safe.

If you notice that the colors on your Gold Nugget Pleco are fading, he or she is likely stressed. However, if the color does not return after a few days, check the water conditions to ensure that they are not causing harm to the fish.

Golden Nugget Pleco Size

The average Gold Nugget Pleco length is around 7 to 10 inches. These are big fish, to be sure!

The full dimensions of their growth are determined by how they were raised and what sort of food they ate as youngsters. Of course, genetics also have a role to play.

Golden Nugget Pleco Lifespan 

When kept in optimum surroundings, Gold Nugget Plecos can live for around 5 years. They will live a bit longer in their natural environment.

Golden Nugget Pleco

Golden Nugget Pleco Appearance

The Gold Nugget Pleco's distinctive appearance is what draws aquarium enthusiasts to it. Unlike other family members, this species stands out in a crowd!

In reality, they are one of the most vivid freshwater fish available. While they are only yellow and black, the contrast and pattern on their body is quite striking. The Golden Nugget Pleco is jet black all over, with a wide variety of tiny yellow markings that cover their whole body.

These spots are equally spaced and roughly the same size everywhere around. The only part of their body where this design isn't seen is at the end of their dorsal and caudal fins. The yellow color is evident throughout these areas, with the hue being a little bit brighter than the spots on their body.

They're identical to the classic pleco in terms of their general form and shape. They have a suckermouth and head that slopes down to the surface. The body is widest around the eyes and pectoral fins, then gets progressively thinner to the caudal peduncle.

Pectoral fins are another characteristic of Gold Nugget Plecos that distinguishes them from other species. They may have sizable pectoral fins, and the tips of their caudal fin are backwards. Their caudal fin is a bit larger than their dorsal fins, which appear like fans.

In captivity, they reach a maximum size of 6-9 inches. Depending on the circumstances that you maintain them in, they may grow larger than this. Their development and coloration will be wonderful if you invest in a good filtration system and give them clean water and a proper diet.

Varieties of Golden Nugget Pleco

There are many various types of Golden Nugget Pleco that you may buy at a fish store or purchase online from a specialist dealer. Despite the fact that their species were scientifically classified in 2011, they continue to be referred to by the letters "L" numbers. The letter "L" stands for Loricariidae, and the number suffix indicates the variety of fish in question.

The following are the four types of Gold Nugget plecos:

  • L018 : They have medium-sized yellow spots.
  • L081 : They have very small yellow spots.
  • L085 : They have medium-sized yellow spots.
  • L177 : L177 Golden Nugget Pleco is the larger-spotted variant.

The skin of all the Gold Nugget pleco is dark green to black in color, with bright yellow spots and a golden band on both caudal and dorsal fins.

Golden Nugget Pleco Behavior 

Gold Nugget Plecos, like other plecos, are bottom dwellers that forage for food along the base of your aquarium. They snack on algae and spilled meals that fall from higher-dwelling fish.

These fish are docile and retiring, rarely interacting with others in the aquarium world; they do their thing and mind their own business. However, they can be territorial with other plecos, so it's best to keep only one type of catfish in your community aquarium.

It's not that they're overly aggressive; it's just that if there are too many bottom feeders, they don't have enough space and will demand their own. They will not bother other types of fish as long as they can establish their own territory.

They are also beneficial to the tank because they will consume some of your algae growth. The larger the tank, the less likely you are to see a territorial dispute. However, unless you have plenty of space for a big aquarium, you will most likely lack adequate room for many plecos when the Gold Nuggets are near 10 inches long (25.4 cm).

Gold Nugget Pleco fish will keep to themselves in the absence of conflict, retreating to the caves and driftwood you provide while munching algae off the inside glass of the tank. During the day, they may be found hiding, and you may have to wait until night to witness their activity.

Golden Nugget Pleco Diet 

We know that Gold Nugget Plecos will consume algae from the tank walls, detritus that falls off of plants, and floating leftovers from top- and mid-level fish meals. Because they are omnivores, Gold Nugget Plecos are not picky eaters.

You can feed them flakes and pellets if they don't find enough on their own. You must give them meat as part of their diet. They require substantial protein sources. Bloodworms, brine shrimp, or tubifex can all be offered to them.

It's crucial for Gold Nugget Pleco nutrition to include a wide range of food items, which is why they're fed many different things. Small pieces of blanched cucumbers, shelled peas, and zucchini may also be added to their diet as a way to increase its green intake.

As with all aquarium fish, overfeeding should be avoided for two primary reasons:

  • You can make your fish ill by feeding them too much.
  • Water quality deteriorates and the integrity of the water is jeopardized when too much food remains.

Gold Nugget Pleco care is similar to that of other nocturnal catfish. Because they eat late, plan their dinners for the evening hours. If you want to observe them feed, you'll need a nightlight.

Golden Nugget Pleco Tank Mates

The greatest thing you can do for your Gold Nugget Pleco is to keep them away from other plecos. They are extremely territorial and don't get on well with other catfish. In general, you'd be better off employing other species to fill the mid and top levels of your tank and allowing Gold Nuggets to rule the bottom.

Certain species of snails can be readily kept with Gold Nugget Plecos, although they may have them for a meal if you aren't feeding them enough!

Some of the best tank mates for Golden Nugget Plecos include:

  • Neon Tetra
  • Rummy Nose Tetra
  • Goldfish
  • Dwarf Gourami
  • Apistogramma
  • Ember Tetra
  • Celestial Pearl Danio
  • Honey Gourami
  • Pearl Gourami
  • Sparkling Gourami

As long as the fish you want to keep with your Golden Nugget Pleco are fast moving and won't compete for food, they should do just fine together. It is better not to keep any other bottom dwellers with them, as they may become territorial.

Keeping Gold Nugget Plecos Together

Just as Gold Nugget Plecos can become territorial with other kinds of plecos, they may also be aggressive toward their own kind. The larger the tank, the more room each Gold Nugget will have to claim territory, and the less aggressive your fish will be. Putting more than a pair of Gold Nugget Plecos in a tank is not recommended however.

Golden Nugget Pleco

Golden Nugget Pleco Tank Setup

A minimum 55-gallon tank size is required for keeping a Golden Nugget Pleco, but a 75-gallon aquarium or larger is ideal. It's vital to remember that these are bigger fish that require a lot of room. Because they will stay on the bottom of the tank and because they are not fast swimmers, like some other mid and top dwellers such as hatchet fish, their larger size necessitates a larger aquarium.

You may use the extra space created by the additional gallons to fill in gaps in the mid and top levels of the tank. Remember that Gold Nugget Plecos enjoy hiding places, so you'll need plenty of room for decorations, caves, driftwood, and plants.

Gold Nugget Plecos, like all aquarium fish, thrive better when they are kept in an environment that is comparable to their natural habitat in the wild.

Here are some recommendations for your Gold Nugget Pleco tank setup:


Gold Nugget Plecos are more comfortable in an environment with a soft, sandy substrate. The substrate is not the most important factor for mid- and high-level fish, but it is critical for bottom dwellers like Gold Nugget Plecos.

The use of soft sand has two advantages: first, it is the most similar to their natural surroundings. Second, because they are scavengers, their bellies will be scraping the bottom of the tank all the time, and if you choose rough gravel or stones, they will almost certainly be harmed and develop stress as a consequence of cuts.


Lush planting provides your Gold Nugget Plecos with several advantages:

  • The plants' detritus is a nutritional food source.
  • Stress is reduced by simulating natural conditions.
  • Gold Nugget Plecos don't like bright light, so they benefit from plants that filter it out.
  • Greenery is a fantastic hiding place
  • Vegetation promotes cleaner water

For these goldfish, there's no need to use plastic plants. Live plants may be used with Gold Nugget Plecos. They will not consume live plants; they solely eat the deceased droppings.


It's all about hiding places for Gold Nugget Plecos. Tank decorations, caves, driftwood, and plants that give them all-around protection. Just keep in mind that the larger caves will be required for Golden Nugget Pleco when compared to other fish.


Select a high-quality filter. Gold Nugget Plecos are susceptible to dirty water, and you want on your side to keep their stress low and ensure healthy fish by ensuring that the tank is kept very clean. Besides keeping the water clean, make sure that other water specifications for these catfish are met.

It's also vital to keep in mind that since Gold Nugget Plecos are big catfish, they produce more waste, which means you'll have to work even harder to maintain the tank clean.

Water Conditions

The Water Conditions for the Golden Nugget Pleco are quite simple to maintain, so even a novice fishkeepers won't have much trouble. The catfish are not the most robust aquarium fish available, but the conditions are less of a concern than usual water testing and adjustments.

Gold Nugget Plecos are most susceptible to problems when you first introduce them into a tank, whether it is a new or established community. So a little forethought and preparation will go a long way to keeping your fish healthy. It's critical to test every day or two during the first few weeks of a Gold Nuggets' arrival in a new tank.

When you've stabilized the situation, you can cut back the testing to every few days. You should also get into the habit of doing partial water changes on a regular basis.

The ideal temperature for Gold Nugget Plecos is 73 to 79 F (23 to 26 C). The ideal pH is 6.5 to 7.5, and the hardness should be 5 to 15 dGH. Maintaining these conditions isn't as challenging as it might seem.

Golden Nugget Pleco Breeding

Unfortunately, it is difficult to breed Gold Nugget plecos in an aquarium due to their cave-spawning nature and the fact that there isn't enough area for them to reproduce in a typical tank.

If you tried to breed the Gold Nugget Pleco at home, it would be unjust and stressful for them. All fish in pet shops are wild-caught. If you can breed gold nuggets, you'll be in high demand since captive-raised infants are extremely unusual in today's aquarium hobby!

During the rainy season, when the rivers overflow, new habitats appear along the coast. Male plecos compete for cavities by flaring their dorsal and caudal fins in dramatic ways to repel rivals and attract wary females. Once one or both parents have lured a willing female into their territory, other plecos will subsequently develop there, where one or both parents will watch over the eggs until they hatch.

The young Golden Nugget Pleco Fry eats all of the algae in its surroundings, gradually moving away from the nest as it grows larger and more independent.

Captive-bred rare fish are always sought after since they are more robust than their wild-caught parents. With many generations, they become more adaptable to water quality and feed regularly, as well as easier to breed.

However, golden nugget plecos are even more difficult to identify because they aren't very sexually dimorphic; it's impossible to tell them visually. The cheek spines of many other pleco species in the Baryancistrus/ancestries group are extended in males. Males will use these cheek spines to fight and defend against each other as well as predators.

It has yet to be determined whether a male gold nugget pleco has elongated cheek spines, but this may be an indication of how these remarkable freshwater fish are classified.

Golden Nugget Pleco

Golden Nugget Pleco Diseases 

The Gold Nugget pleco can live ten years or more if it is kept in the proper environment and fed a high-quality diet that provides all of the nutrients it needs to grow.

Poor water quality and incorrect nutrition are the two most common reasons for fish illnesses. Bacterial and fungal infections are common in aquarium fish who live in dirty water. Many bacteria and fungus strains attack when the aquarium fish is under a lot of stress.

The Golden Nugget, like all plecos, is scaleless and cannot withstand treatments containing potassium permanganate or copper. Always check the ingredients of medications before adding them to your aquarium because they are unable to tolerate potassium permanganate or copper treatments.

Plecos, like most aquarium fish, are susceptible to a variety of ailments. The most common of those is Ich.


Ich, also known as white spot disease, is the most prevalent fish sickness in freshwater aquariums. The illness is caused by Ichthyophthirius multifiliis, a parasite that may be present in the aquarium without being detected until a fish becomes weakened by malnutrition or stress.

The telltale sign of white spot disease is a rash of tiny white spots on the fish's body, fins, tail, and gills. As the illness advances, the fish become irritated by the parasites and begin to flick or rub their bodies against objects in the aquarium.

One fish may be infected with Ich, but it is likely that other fish in the tank are as well. As a result, rather of attempting to protect only a few fish, it's crucial to treat the entire aquarium. Start by raising the aquarium water temperature for at least four days, disrupting the parasite's lifecycle. Also, make sure the manufacturer's recommended dosage of over-the-counter white spot disease medication is added to the water.

Dropsy and Fin Rot

Dropsy and fin or tail rot are bacterial infections. Bloating, discoloration, and lethargy are the most common symptoms of dropsy, also known as Malawi bloat. Another possible reason for this bacterial illness is nutritional deficit.

Changing 25% of the tank water every two days is advised to eliminate the issue. Because pleco diets are so high in protein, feeding it more nutritious food might assist. If the fish does not improve, consult your pet store for medication. Water quality is a contributing factor in this illness, which necessitates tetracycline treatment.

Fish Fungus

The body of the pleco may develop white or grayish fungal growths, which resemble cotton balls. This is a common water mold infection that's known as oomycetes. It's often a secondary infection to a skin condition. Scrapes on a fish's skin, for example, provide a breeding ground for the fungus.

The fungus thrives in low-water temperatures and infrequent water changes. In severe cases, a fungal infection might spread quickly and cause a secondary fungal infection. So medical treatment is necessary. Inquire at a fish store about the appropriate treatment.

Pop-Eye and Hole in the Head

The condition of pop-eye, as the name implies, is characterized by protruding eyes. Changing the water, providing vitamin-enriched food, and using tetracycline are some of the treatments for this bacterial infection.

Head and lateral line erosion, often known as hole in the head, has no known cause. The fish's head may have tiny indentations or holes. It is believed that a combination of poor water quality, lack of nutrition, and prolonged contact with activated carbon are to blame.


How Fast Do Gold Nugget Plecos Grow

How Fast Do Gold Nugget Plecos Grow?

Baryancistrus Xanthellus develop slowly, at around one centimeter every couple of months, provided that you give your fish with a high-quality, varied diet and the appropriate water parameters.

How Can You Tell If a Fish Is Male or Female?

Unless the fish are at their full breeding size, determining the sex of your Gold Nuggets is difficult. You may tell males from females by looking at their foreheads by then.

When they become adults, male gold nuggets have a flatter, broader head and longer pectoral fin spines than female Gold Nuggets.

Adult males have:

  • Longer pectoral fin spines
  • A flatter, broader head

Adult females have:

  • Slightly plumper when in spawning condition
  • More rounded forehead

In both genders, the odontodal development is identical.

How big do Gold Nugget Plecos get? 

Baryancistrus Xanthellus grows to between six and ten inches in length while living in captivity.

How Much Is a Golden Nugget Pleco? 

These aren't the kind of fish you can just pick up for a couple bucks at the shop! A Baryancistrus Xanthellus may cost anywhere from $50 to $100. Keep in mind that if you buy your specimen from an online seller, you will also have to pay shipping costs as well.

Are Gold Nugget Plecos Good Algae Eaters?

The gold nugget pleco should be able to obtain all of the algae they require from the aquarium's sides.

If you don't notice any algae on the walls of your tank, it's possible that you're cleaning it too frequently. In the wild, Gold Nugget Plecos feed on algae they find in Amazon River tributaries, so they need some actual algae to plunder from the aquarium.

Are Golden Nugget Plecos Aggressive? 

They aren't, for the most part. When gold nugget fish are behaving strangely in their zones, they pay little attention to their tankmates. These spotted fish are nocturnal, as previously said. You won't see much movement from them during the day, when most freshwater fish are active.

When other catfish species invade their territory, Gold Nuggets lose their temper. If a catfish strays into Gold Nugget Pleco territory by mistake, the gloves come off!

On the plus side, if you have a huge tank, you can get away with it. Keep in mind that these plecos are quite big as adults.

They act more aggressively with their own kind. If you house two or more adult gold nugget fish in the same aquarium, they will fight for dominance. So it would be best if you kept only one Golden Nugget Pleco per tank to avoid any territorial disputes.

Do I Need to Have a Separate Breeding Tank?

It's not a good idea to attempt to breed Gold Nugget Plecos. It has yet to be accomplished. There are numerous other aquarium fish for which hobbyists have established successful breeding in captivity, therefore I propose trying some of those instead of Gold Nugget Plecos.

Do Gold Nugget Plecos Clean Tanks?

Many individuals believe that Gold Nuggets can keep their tanks clean. Sure, the fish will remove algae, but they aren't the best cleanup crew members. Golden Nugget Plecostomus differs from other plecostomus species in that it does not eat fish waste or other debris in the tank.

Do Gold Nugget Plecos Need Driftwood? 

You'll need area for decorations, caves, driftwood, and plants if you want to keep a Black-and-gold Pleco in your aquarium. Like all aquarium fish, Gold Nugget Plecos thrive in an environment that mimics their natural habitat in the wild.

Can the Gold Nugget L18, L81, and L177 Coexist?

With other plecos, the males can get aggressive, but otherwise conspecific males do well when kept together.

Can You Combine the Gold Nugget Plecostomus With Other Catfish?

If there is enough territorial room for both groups, you may be able to mix Gold Nuggets with another plecostomus species. They will flourish in a rectangular aquarium that offers more horizontal room.

However, if you want to avoid difficult encounters, you may need to double the suggested tank size.

Are Gold Nugget Plecos Nocturnal? 

The average lifespan of a Gold Nugget Pleco in captivity is around five years. This number has been reported to be a few years longer in the wild.

This lifespan estimate is based on the fish getting excellent care. We have seen Golden Nuggets with owners who take fantastic care of them and have had them live beyond the age of six and even seven years!

What Are the Best Food for Golden Nugget Pleco?

The algae that grows on flat surfaces and the substrate at the bottom of your tank are what nourish these Golden Nugget Pleco. Algae, on the other hand, should make up just a minor portion of the pleco's diet. You should give your fish flakes, algae wafers, and green vegetable matter in addition to their regular food.

Do Gold Nugget Plecos Need a Heater?

No, they don't. They are a tropical fish, so they require warm water to survive. The ideal temperature range for keeping Golden Nuggets is between 73 and 79 degrees Fahrenheit.

What Size Aquarium Do They Need?

A minimum tank size of 55 gallons is recommended for keeping a Golden Nugget Pleco. If you plan on keeping more than one, I would recommend getting a 75-gallon tank or larger.

Final Thoughts:

They are relatively easy to care for than other aquarium fish. These beautiful fish are not only aesthetically pleasing but are also interesting to watch. They are unique in both their appearance and their behavior.

Though they are not the easiest fish to keep, with a little bit of knowledge and effort, you can successfully raise a healthy and happy Golden Nugget Pleco in your home aquarium.

They can live peacefully with other tank mates as long as there is enough space and hiding places. Be sure to provide them with a varied diet of both algae and other foods, and maintain a warm water temperature.

This pleco is still a catfish, but it's worth noting that it's more sensitive to poor water quality. Despite the fact that they require less care and maintenance, water quality and a healthy dark-lit tank are essential. The Gold Nugget Pleco fish has a longer life if it is well-nourished.

Sarah Robertson

I am a passionate blogger who also happens to be a fish keeping enthusiast. Writing about my hobby is something that I absolutely love to do, and it's no secret that my chosen topic is always centered around fish keeping.

Sarah Robertson

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