September 13

Sarah Robertson

Everything You Need to Know About Keeping Starlight Plecos

Plecos are a peaceful, nocturnal species that hail from the Amazon Basin. They are one of the most popular freshwater aquarium fish due to their unique appearance and easy-going nature. The starlight pleco is one such stunning member of this family.

The name "starlight pleco" comes from the pattern of tiny dots that cover the body of this freshwater fish, which resemble a starry sky at night. These are robust fish that is quite popular among aquarium hobbyists. However, you must have a good understanding of their fundamental upkeep needs before buying one. These creatures may be sensitive to poor tank circumstances, and they need special attention.

Starlight Pleco Quick Guide 

  • Scientific Name: Ancistrus sp.
  • Diet: Herbivores
  • Care Level: Easy-Moderate
  • Compatibility: Peaceful
  • Ph: 5 - 7.5
  • Temperature: 79° - 86° F
  • Water hardness: 8 - 14°N
  • Minimum Tank Size: 40 gallons for 1 fish, 75+ gallons for a group
  • Tankmates: Angelfish, South American cichlids, Oscar, Rainbowfish
  • Breeding: Egg layers
  • Size: 4-8 inches
  • Life expectancy: 10-12 years

Starlight Pleco Distribution

The Starlight Pleco (Ancistrus sp. (L120)) is a freshwater catfish that originates from South America; where it inhabits the rivers, streams, and waterways. These fish have also been found in Guyana, Surinam, French Guiana, and Brazil.

Starlight Pleco Size 

The Starlight Pleco grows to be up to 4-8 inches long, with females generally larger than males. However, there are many factors that influence a fish's size, including water temperature, nutritional quality, and even tankmates.

Starlight Pleco Lifespan

The average lifetime of a Starlight Pleco is between 10-12 years, although they have been reported to live much longer. It's critical to give your fish the ideal care in order to maintain them alive and healthy for a long time.

Starlight Pleco Appearance

Starlight Pleco Appearance

The Starlight Bristlenose Pleco is a uniquely colored species that differs from other more prevalent bristlenose types, the majority of which belong to the Ancistrus cf. cirrhosis superspecies. These are medium-sized species with charcoal tones, fine golden-white pinprick specks, and a tiny dark spot behind the base of the leading dorsal spine.

It lacks white edges on the pectoral fins (rather than an inky black adult) and has no ink-black hue as an adult. Juveniles can have a dark brown to almost black base coloration with much brighter white spots and may show some orange on the fins as well. Mature males and, less commonly, females have fluffy tentacles on the snout (bushy fleshy growths) - this is unique to the genus Ancistrus.

Starlight Pleco Gender Differences

In terms of appearance, it can be difficult to distinguish between male and female Starlight plecos. However, there are some minor physical differences that can help you sex your fish. The following are the main characteristics to look out for:

  • Females are generally larger than males
  • Males have longer and thicker odontoid growths (bristles) around the head
  • Females tend to have a rounder body shape than males
  • The Male Starlight Pleco is generally larger and has a "bristled" surface that glimmers when light hits the fish's body, as opposed to the female.
  • Males also have a tiny spine-fin ray on their pectoral fins.

Starlight Pleco Behavior and Temperament 

Starlight Plecos are peaceful fish that does not harass other fish and may be kept with other community tank mates. It is critical to give them a tank that is big enough for them to create their own territory and explore.

They are also very shy. In the tank, hiding places must be provided for this fish. Bog wood is not necessary in their diet, but it does provide tannins to keep these fish happy. The Starlight bristlenose plecos are high-waste producers, so make sure your filtration system is adequate and that water changes are done on a regular basis. They should also be kept in dim light to help reduce their demands.

Starlight Pleco Fish Tank Setup

Setting up a tank for a Starlight Pleco entails considering the fish's size and activity patterns, as well as their requirements for living in an aquarium. Always keep in mind that the quality of your Starlight Pleco's environment will have a significant influence on its longevity.

Here are some suggestions for creating the ideal home for your Starlight Pleco.

Starlight Pleco Tank Size

A single fish of a Starlight Pleco needs at least 40 gallons of water, and it performs better in larger aquariums. Some aquarists keep these fish in tanks as little as 10- 20-gallon tank, but it's not an option if you want them to survive for a long time.

 The need for a huge tank is because Starlight Plecos are vigorous swimmers. They must have space to explore and establish their own domains. Large tanks not only will help them reach their full potential, but they will also aid you in keeping ammonia and nitrates at bay.

The majority of Starlight Pleco owners who have seen their fish live (or surpass) their expected lifespan kept them in tanks with a capacity of 100 gallons or more.

We think that the tank size is the second most important element of Starlight Pleco care, after ensuring good water quality. If you want to keep them in a group tank, make sure there is an adequate area for competition. This is especially true if you're planning to put other bottom-feeders in the tank.

Starlight Pleco Water Parameters

You'll need to refill the starlight bristlenose catfish water on a regular basis as they prefer freshwater tanks. Despite their resilience, you'll need to give them water that they enjoy.

The benefit of keeping these fish in such a huge tank is that the environment may be more easily maintained. It's just as crucial to maintaining consistency as it is to achieve accuracy!

The water temperature for a Starlight Pleco should be 79° - 86° Fahrenheit. The pH level should be kept within a range of 5 to 7.5, although 6.0 to 8.0 is acceptable. Water hardness should be between 8 and 14 dGH.

As with all aquarium fish, you should regularly test your Starlight Pleco's water to ensure that these parameters are being met. The best way to do this is to invest in an aquarium test kit. We recommend the API Master Test Kit, as it will help you keep track of all the important aspects of your tank's water quality.

You should also use a water conditioner to remove chlorine and other chemicals from your Starlight Pleco's water. We recommend Seachem Prime, as it is safe for both fish and plants.

Starlight Pleco Tank Decor 

The Starlight Pleco is a retiring fish that demands a lot of options for escape. As a result, give them as many cave entrances, plants, and other adornments to make them feel at home.

  • Caves: Caves are required for the fish's survival since they prefer to rest there throughout the day. Bogwood is necessary for a Starlight Pleco tank both nutritionally and aesthetically, as it appears to be the favorite hiding place of the Starlight Pleco. Hiding places may be created from anything, including stones, driftwood splinters, and even PVC pipes. Just make sure whatever you choose is secure for your fish and won't collapse on them if it does. All these decors are easily available in any pet store.
  • Plants: The types of plants that may be used in an aquarium with Starlight Plecos are limited to no preference. You may use real or artificial plants, as long as they are secure and won't collapse on top of your fish. That being said, real plants are usually the superior choice since they aerate the water and provide your fish with a place to hide. There are several plants that may be maintained in low-light aquariums, such as Anubias, Java Ferns, and Cryptocoryne. However, make sure the plants you choose aren't harmful to your Starlight Pleco!
  • Substrate: The substrate is another important element in the fish's habitat. A smooth gravel or sand surface is best since it will not harm your fish's beautiful barbels. Make sure the material you choose isn't harmful to your fish and does not cause them any discomfort.
  • Filter: The Starlight Pleco produces a lot of waste, so you'll need a powerful filter to keep the water clean. We recommend canister filters, as they are more efficient at removing debris and waste from your aquarium.
  • Lighting: As we mentioned before, the Starlight Pleco is a nocturnal fish that prefers dim lighting. We recommend using a low-wattage bulb, such as the Zoo Med Aquarium Hood with Incandescent Bulb.

Starlight Pleco Tank Maintainance 

The maintenance of a tank is one of the most crucial aspects of Starlight Pleco care. These fish are powerful feeders, producing a lot of ordures, so you'll need to keep an eye on things in order to maintain water quality.

  • The easiest approach to do so is to water change your fish on a regular basis. We recommend changing at least 20% of the water each week. It's even better if you can do it more often.
  • Furthermore, you must vacuum and clean the filter on a regular basis, as well as perform water changes. These fish are tough on technology, so be prepared to replace components more frequently than usual.
  • These hardy fish are algae eaters so make sure not to remove the algae completely from the tank.

Starlight Pleco Tankmates 

Because Starlight Plecos are bottom feeders that are nocturnal, it's critical to have tankmates who sit at the middle-to-upper levels of the aquarium as well as those that are more active during the day to avoid conflict among species.

Starlight Plecos are highly compatible with the following fish:

  • Tetras
  • Barbs
  • Danios
  • Rasboras
  • Angelfish
  • Loricariids
  • Clown pleco
  • Clown Loaches
  • Shrimps
  • Snails

This isn't an exhaustive list, but it's a good start. If you are putting more than 2 or 3 fish species together, consider a larger tank.

It's critical to conduct some research and ensure there is enough swimming room for all of the fish before putting any in your tank. Some species don't get along, and it's important to create a tranquil atmosphere for everyone who takes part in it.

Make sure not to put aggressive fish into the tank. Keep an eye on your fish to be sure they're happy and healthy; if you notice any conflict, don't hesitate to remove the aggressor from the tank.

Starlight Pleco Diet

The Starlight Pleco is an herbivore, so its diet consists mostly of plant matter. They graze on a wide variety of algae, detritus, and wood in the wild, so it's important to replicate this in the home aquarium.

The following are some of the best food options for your Starlight Pleco:

  • Algae wafers: Algae Wafers are a wonderful way to add variety to your Starlight Pleco diet. These wafers fall to the bottom of the aquarium, making them ideal for plecos. Just be sure you're buying from a reputable manufacturer that doesn't use any hazardous chemicals or fillers.
  • Flake food: Flake food is another excellent choice for your Starlight Pleco. You can find flakes that are specifically designed for herbivores, or you can crush up regular fish food and scatter it across the surface of the water.
  • Vegetables: Vegetables, such as zucchini, cucumber, and squash, are a great way to add variety to your pleco's diet. You can either offer them raw or blanched.
  • Fruit: Fruit, such as melon, berries, and mango, is another excellent way to add variety to your pleco's diet. You can either offer it raw or pureed.
  • Live plants: Live plants are a great way to add variety to your pleco's diet. Not only do they provide food, but they also offer shelter and help to keep the water quality high. Just be sure you're choosing plants that are safe for aquariums and won't harm your fish. You can also feed them frozen foods.
  • Pellets: Plecos of all ages should consume pellets as a dietary supplement. Pick pellets that are tailored to herbivores and contain all of the nutrients your Starlight Pleco requires to be healthy.

The Starlight Pleco requires small quantities of a balanced diet at a time as overfeeding can cause swimming bladder disease and obesity. Feed them three times a day and only give them what they can consume in two minutes to avoid water quality concerns. To keep your fish healthy and ensure that your water is clean, empty the uneaten food from the tank.

Starlight Pleco

Starlight Pleco Diseases

Starlight Plecos are susceptible to the same diseases as other aquarium fish. The most common diseases that affect plecos are:

  • Ich: Ich is a parasitic illness that affects common freshwater fish. The signs include white spots on the skin, lethargy, and loss of appetite. Raise the temperature of the water if you suspect your Starlight Pleco has ich. Antibiotics may also be used to treat it.
  • Dropsy: Dropsy is a disease that causes fish to have an enlarged, swollen belly and protruding scales. Dropsy can be deadly if it isn't treated. Antibiotics and anti-inflammatory medicines may be used to cure dropsy.
  • Columnaris: Columnaris is a bacterial infection that affects the Starlight Pleco's body, causing white or gray patches. This sickness might leave white or gray spots on the fish's body. Antibiotics can be used to treat columnaris.
  • White Spot Disease: White patches that develop on a pleco's body as a result of overfeeding are referred to as white spot disease. It can be deadly if left untreated for a long. To prevent the illness from spreading, use water changes and good tank upkeep.
  • Fin Rot: Fish fin rot is an illness that affects fish fins and tails. The disease causes the fins to grow or shrink. Fin rot may be halted by utilizing a variety of antibiotics, some of which attack the infection.
  • Velvet Disease: Another freshwater fish disease is velvet disease, which is caused by a parasite. Its gold dust-like appearance on the skin distinguishes it. If you believe your Starlight Pleco has velvet disease, quarantine it as soon as possible to avoid its spread.
  • Swim Bladder Disease: Plecos are susceptible to swim bladder disease, which is a prevalent condition. It's characterized by abnormal swimming routines such as floating upside down or being unable to stay afloat. If you suspect your Starlight Pleco has swim bladder disease, treat it by fasting for two to three days. Offer your fish small, frequent meals after the fast. If caught early enough, medication may be administered to cure it; if left untreated, though, it is deadly.
  • Hole in the Head Disease: Hexamita is a parasite that causes Hexamita illness. It makes holes and sores on the pleco's head as a result of this sickness. If left untreated, it has the potential to be deadly. Maintaining optimal aquarium conditions and keeping your tank clean are two of the most important defenses against this disease. This implies performing water changes on a regular basis and using a good filter. If you believe your fish is sick, quarantine it immediately and seek professional help.
  • Pleco Lice: External parasites such as these can harm plecos. The symptoms are extreme itching and restlessness. If you think your Starlight Pleco has pleco lice, it should be treated with an anti-parasitic medication.


The Starlight Pleco is vulnerable to a number of diseases, some of which are difficult to detect. The following are the most prevalent:

  • Weight loss
  • Abnormal swimming behavior
  • Lethargy
  • Loss of appetite
  • Holes on the head
  • White patches on the body
  • Gasping for air
  • Floating upside down

If any of these symptoms are detected, the fish should be quarantined as soon as possible to prevent introducing the illness to other tankmates.


Prevention is always preferable to treating an illness. As a result, you must follow the following preventative measures in order for your Starlight Pleco to live a long, healthy life and avoid disease:

  • Keep your aquarium clean and healthy.
  • Always double-check the water conditions.
  • Before you add new fish to your tank, quarantine them for a few days.
  • Keep your eyes open for signs of sickness before they become serious.
  • On a regular basis, carry out a part tank water change.
  • Remove any uneaten food from the tank.
  • Feed your pleco a varied diet.
  • Give your pleco someplace to hide in the tank to reduce stress for him.

The ideal cure is prevention, so make certain you're doing everything possible to keep your Pleco healthy and happy. Tank maintenance, a varied diet, and frequent monitoring are all important factors in keeping your Starlight Pleco healthy and happy for a long time.


If your Starlight Pleco gets sick despite your best efforts, there are a number of treatments you may try. The following are some of the most popular treatment options:

  • The first step in treating any disease is to quarantine the sick. This will help prevent the disease from spreading throughout the aquarium.
  • A water change is an excellent method to remove pollutants from the water that are causing your pleco to become ill.
  • The addition of salt to the tank has been shown to help with a number of conditions, including fin rot, ichthyosis, and columnaris.
  • Antibiotics can be used to cure bacterial infections if the cause is bacterial.
  • Fin rot and Dropsy can be treated with anti-inflammatory drugs such as prednisone.
  • A nutritious diet and clean water are required for the treatment of any illness.

This is a list of some of the most popular Starlight Pleco disease treatments. If you're unsure what to do, consult an expert first.

Starlight Pleco

Starlight Pleco Breeding 

Starlight Pleco is a difficult fish to breed in captivity. That being said, it is not impossible. If you're planning on breeding your Starlight Pleco, here are a few things you need to know:

Selecting the Parents 

First of all, you'll need a male and female pleco. It's best to have at least two of each, as this will increase the chances of getting a successful spawn. They must be of breeding age, which is typically 2-3 years old. Both male and female fishes must be healthy and free of disease.The fishes should have no deformities and their fins should be in good condition.

Conditioning the Parents

Once you've selected the parents, you'll need to condition them for breeding. This involves increasing the water temperature and feeding them a high-quality, protein-rich diet. Even though they are herbivores, they will need more protein to help them produce eggs.

You can condition the parents together or separately. However, keeping them in a separate breeding tank is recommended. If you condition them together, make sure there is plenty of hiding places in the tank so the female can escape if she needs to.

Breeding Tank Setup

A 75-gallon tank is a good size for breeding Starlight Plecos. The tank should be filled with soft, slightly acidic water. You can achieve this by using reverse osmosis or deionized water. Make sure the water does not contain nitrate or ammonia. For successful breeding, high oxygen levels and low nitrogen levels, as well as a warm water temperature of at least 75 degrees Fahrenheit is required. The ph level should be close to neutral, with a slightly lower value being preferable.

Tank requirements include offering hiding places for the young fish, and adding plenty of driftwood as well as some live plants. Java moss is an excellent plant to use since it's easy on the eyes while also providing plenty of hiding spots for young fish. 


When the female is ready to spawn, she will lay her eggs on a flat surface such as a piece of driftwood or rock. The male will then fertilize the eggs. The female must be eliminated once the eggs have been fertilized in order to prevent the male from focusing on the protection of the nest and fanning the eggs. It's possible that it may not always be clear when the eggs have hatched, since they are semi-transparent and blend in with the surface they are laid on.


Eggs can hatch anywhere from 5 to 10 days after being fertilized, depending on the water temperature. The starlight pleco fry will live off their yolk sacs for the first few days and then will need to be fed pellets that have been ground into a powder form. As they grow, you can start feeding starlight pleco baby larger pellets.

It can take up to two years for Starlight Plecos to reach full maturity.

Frequent Questions

How fast do Starlight plecos grow?

Starlight plecos grow relatively slowly. It can take up to two years for them to reach full maturity.

What does Starlight pleco eat?

Starlight plecos are herbivores and their diet consists mostly of algae. They will also eat vegetables such as zucchini, cucumber, and squash.

How do I keep my Starlight plecos happy?

To keep your Starlight plecos happy, you should provide them with a tank that is at least 75 gallons in size if you are keeping them in a group. The water should be soft and slightly acidic with a neutral pH level. The tank should also be well-oxygenated and have plenty of hiding places.

Do Starlight plecos need to be in a group?

No, Starlight plecos do not need to be in a group. They can be kept alone or in pairs. However, they are social creatures and do best when kept in groups of at least three.

Do Starlight plecos need a filter?

Yes, Starlight plecos need a filter. The filter should be powerful enough to cycle the entire tank at least once per hour.

How often do I need to clean my Starlight pleco's tank?

You should clean your Starlight pleco's tank at least once a week. This includes doing a water change of at least 50%.

Do I need to provide my Starlight pleco with a heater? 

Yes, you should provide your Starlight pleco with a heater. The water should be kept at a temperature of at least 75 degrees Fahrenheit.

My Starlight pleco is hiding all the time, is this normal?

Yes, it is normal for Starlight plecos to hide. They are a nocturnal species and are most active at night. During the day, they like to find a hiding spot where they feel safe.

How often do Starlight plecos need to be fed? 

Starlight plecos should be fed once or twice a day. They are not very active and so they do not need a lot of food.

What is the lifespan of a Starlight pleco? 

The lifespan of a Starlight pleco is 10-12 years. However, they can live up to 15 years if they are well-cared for.

Do Starlight plecos have any predators?

Starlight plecos do not have any known predators. However, their eggs and fry are vulnerable to being eaten by other fish.

Do Starlight plecos need a lot of care? 

No, Starlight plecos do not need a lot of care. They are a hardy species and can tolerate a wide range of water conditions. However, they do best in a well-oxygenated tank with soft, slightly acidic water. They should also be provided with plenty of hiding places.


The Starlight Pleco is a fantastic way to add some bright, starry night color and personality to your aquarium. These fish are robust and simple to care for, making them an excellent choice for novice aquarists. In captivity, Starlight Plecos have a normal lifespan of ten to twelve years.

Because they are so unusual, it's possible that they'll be in your aquarium for a long time. As a result, they've become quite well-known in the fishkeeping industry. Although they are hardy, they are just as vulnerable to diseases as other fish.

Maintaining your Pleco in a clean tank, giving it a varied diet, and regularly checking for early symptoms of the condition is the greatest method to keep it healthy. So, what are you waiting for? Go out and get yourself a Starlight Pleco!

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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