Can you keep bristlenose plecos with cory catfish?

Owners of tropical fish know only too well that care needs to be taken when housing different species – and that getting this wrong can lead to disaster. If you’re thinking about keeping bristlenose plecos – one of the smallest aquarium fish available – you may be wondering about possible co-habitation so, in this article, we’ll look at whether or not the cory catfish makes a good housemate for the bristlenose: 

Home truths

There are a number of benefits to keeping bristlenose plecos – not least the fact that they make great housemaids as they literally vacuum up the substrate in their tank every day; meaning less cleaning for you. The bristlenose plecos is also an extremely sociable and friendly fish – except for with its own kind. The bristlenose should never be placed in an aquarium with other plecos as, for some reason, they are unable to tolerate similar species. The good news is that the bristlenose will usually get on like a house on fire with other, smaller species, including the cory catfish which are peaceful, bottom dwelling scavengers. 


The bristlenose plecos is most at home in water which has a form of current and a temperature of between 73 and 81 fahrenheit. As they are bottom dwellers, be sure to place driftwood in the bottom of the tank, along with roots and plants for daytime hiding. The cory catfish enjoys a similar water temperature to the bristlenose, with a PH level of 6.5 to 8.0 and, you should always ensure that the water is as clean as possible to keep your cory content. You should also make sure that you choose a tank which is large enough to comfortably accommodate both species as, sociable as they are, just like humans, they enjoy some time alone too. 

The pairing of the bristlenose and the cory is usually a match made in heaven as they’re both fairly sociable, however, there are a couple of things to keep in mind. Firstly, you need to make sure that you have a large enough tank to avoid any aggression problems. Also, some plecos can become territorial, which can sometimes be an issue a both the bristlenose and the cory catfish will tend to gravitate toward the same part of the tank. On the whole though, after a short period of adjustment, these two species will usually be able to live in harmony without any significant issues. 

Final thoughts

When keeping different species of fish together, it’s important to not only make sure that the two are compatible but to also make sure that your tank has enough room to comfortably accommodate both. This means that you will need to do a little research to find out the size that each of the fish is likely to grow to – for example, in this instance, the bristlenose plecos will usually grow to a maximum of five inches, whereas the cory catfish will usually only reach between one and four inches.