April 6

Gold Nugget Pleco Feeding, Breeding and Care Guide


Gold Nugget Pleco

An aquarium hobbyist when maintaining a tropical tank will surely prefer to keep a variety of Pleco in his or her possession.  There are various types of Pleco that are distinguished based on “L.” One of the popular species is the Gold Nugget Pleco. It falls under the L018 category. Here ‘L’ refers to the family Loricariidae, and the number denotes the fish type. Among the three common types of Gold Nugget Pleco, L018 is the most favorite for tank lovers for its unique designs and body textures.

•    Gold Nugget Pleco falls under the Baryancistrus sp family

•    The scientific name of this fish is Baryancistrus Xanthellus

The Gold Nugget Pleco got its name shortened from Gold Nugget Plecostomus. It belongs to the catfish family and is a suckermouth by nature. This aquatic living creature came first under captivation in the year 1981 and was exclusively exported to Great Britain. Widely available under the catfish family, it slowly became one of the popular algae eaters that every aquarium enthusiast loves to keep in their possession.

Origin, Types, Physical Features, and Habits

This fish is mostly found in the land of Brazil, and their natural habitat belongs to the Amazon system of the Rio Xing River and Iriri River. A Gold Nugget Pleco attains a length of 22cm, i.e., 6 to 9 inches by adulthood. When the fishes are young, it is challenging even for aquatic professionals at times, to determine the sex of these species. 

Though there are various varsities of Plecos available for the aquarium hobbyists to select from yet, the Gold Nugget Pleco gained its popularity only because of its unique color pattern. The entire surface of this fish is covered by small round yellow dots with distinct yellow lines at the border of the fins. The yellow and black color gives an excellent contrasting look, which makes the creature look distinct when it roams in your fish tank. 

The average life span of this fish is more than five years when kept in captivity.  While in juvenile and subadult stage which are marked up to 18months, these fishes can sustain in a tank with 30gallons water capacity but, an adult Gold Nugget Pleco requires at least 50 to 55-gallons water tank to survive properly.  And, it is also seen that the fishes attain a lesser size around 20cm when kept in captivity while those found in the wild are comparatively bit larger. 

Gold Nugget Pleco bears a perfect temperament, and you can keep this fish with other territorial fishes. But, when the same species are kept together in narrow territorial spaces, then, the dominant one may kill the other and try to increase its territory. So, if you are planning to make an addition to your tank, first make sure that enough space is there for the new member or not.

This fish is nocturnal and usually tries to avoid areas where light enters. They are the bottom dwellers and also keep your tank clean by clearing the bottom dirt of the tank. If you already own this fish, you will know by now that how shy your Gold Plecos are. It will preferably hide under the rocks or cave-like hollow areas.

Feeding your Gold Nugget Pleco

Gold Nugget Pleco belongs to the algae eater group. But, the omnivore nature of this fish makes it essential that it gets the meat source. The fish will intake all the available substrates that are common in the bottom area of the tank. The fecal matter of the other fishes, dirt, living organisms like worms, drifts, and woods are the common items that these fishes depend on. But, it cannot suck algae from glasses. So, if you have a glass aquarium, be sure to fill your tank base with lots of wood blocks and natural plants. You can also feed this fish with sinking pellets. Moreover, the diet must contain a combination of leafy vegetables and meats.   

Each species have a love for a specific food item. So, if you want your fish’s health to be in perfect condition, it is advised that you take some time and observe precisely what your fish prefers to have more. Selecting the meal accordingly and providing subsequent amounts regularly at timely intervals can keep your pet healthy, and the growth rate can also be maintained in this way.

Proper feeding also reduces the chances of getting occasional fungal diseases, some of which can be fatal. When the health of your Pleco is in absolutely perfect condition, common infections can easily be prevented by the natural immunity of the species.

Gold Nugget Pleco loves to have leafy vegetables like cucumber, cabbage and if you want to give your pet some veggie treat, you must steam the items well before you dip them into the tank. Sometimes the market vegetables, when not appropriately washed or carrying bacterial infections can harm your entire tank. By steaming, you can make sure that the vegetables are well sterilized and healthy for your loved Pleco’s health. Even rotten vegetables can disturb the pH balance of the tank, creating a greater threat for every species including the submerged plants of your tank.

Breeding Details for Gold Nugget Plecos

Gold Nugget Pleco breeds in shallow water patches, underwood drifts, or hollow gaps, where minimum sun’s rays enter. Continuous water flow is also necessary for natural breeding. The exact natural breeding process of this fish is still unknown.

When a male Gold Nugget Pleco reaches adulthood, enamel growths are formed on the back. The male species also bear a much-flattened forehead region which is one of the features for distinguishing the sexes. 

These fishes can breed artificially. But, for that, you will require delicate care and a separate unit. Now setting up the tank and making the condition suitable for breeding is the real trick. Remember, these fishes are very shy by nature, and they do not prefer disturbances in their territory. So, plan the breeding tank accordingly.

    First and foremost is maintaining excellent quality control over the tank water. This requires a proper filtration system, and if necessary, an oxygen supply pump can also be installed in the tank.

    You must fill the tank with numerous hiding zones. These hiding spots will help your Gold Nugget Pleco’s spawning process. If you cannot find natural products to install, stick to PVC tubes, or you can also try pipes. Make sure the circumference and length of the tubes give enough space for the male to place its entire body inside the particular tube. Keeping the width six inches and over 1.5 ft long seems more than enough for the fish to get in. Just check there is little room inside when the male enters the piper. As the fish requires constant water flow for caring for the eggs, aiming the pump flow toward the pipe is necessary.

    The male will attract the female individual in the breeding tube. The female will slowly enter the tube and lay its eggs. Once this process gets over, practically there is no more function for the female species. So, removing the female breed will increase the success rate of new hatches.

    The males usually do not come out of the breeding tubes until and unless the eggs are hatched properly and fingerlings start swimming. The whole breeding procedure takes a time span of ten to twelve days.

    Feeding the Fry

    Once the fingerlings start swimming, you need to give them a nutrient supply for attaining the right growth. Feeding crushed flake foods and crushed algae chips or powders seem enough for the fry. Around 200 fries come out once all eggs are hatched.

    Care needed for your Loved Gold Nugget Pleco

     If you want to maintain the good health of your fish mates then, regular caring is necessary.  Gold Nugget Pleco seems to dwell at the bottom layer of your fish tank. The bottom surface of every water body, whether natural or artificial, seems to hold the entire dirt and plant growth formation. And, the most exciting fact about this Pleco is it can happily survive on this substrate. Where these items are less frequent, you will need more care in that region.

    These fishes, whether you keep a male or a female, it is better to keep one pleco in a single tank rather than adding more than one plecos to your aquarium. Multiple plecos can be harmful, and at times they can cause damages to other members of your tank in their territorial fights.

    Plecos favor excellent water quality. So, maintaining good circulation and filtration pump can keep you tension-free about the water getting messy regularly. People often complain that their tanks get too much filled up with algae and reducing the visibility through the tank. But, this algae condition seems a very happy zones for your Gold Nugget Pleco because they love to dwell in areas where hardly sunlight can enter. And, you should not clear the entire water of the tank from the base. On the floor of your aquarium lies this fish, so do not clear the natural food source of this creature.

    Tank Conditions Necessary For Keeping Gold Nugget Pleco

    The healthy living of your Gold Nugget Pleco majorly depends on how you have planned your tank and what type of flora you have used in it. Aquatic plants that supply more oxygen like water hyacinth, etc. or other aquarium plants can safely be kept inside with this species as it does not have a tendency of eating up plants.

    The tank should contain enough hollow areas that can be created with marble stones or other products. These fish lives require a constant ph level, not more than 7 and not less than 6.5. Maintaining a continuous ph keeps your fish away from local bacterial and fungal infections. When the pH level is hampered, your fish can turn sick, and sometimes it may even cause death.

    The hardness of the water in which you are planning to keep this fish should be between 5 degrees to 15 degrees dH.  The capacity of the water in the tank should be 50 gallons or more.  And, you should not install too much light in your aquarium. Still, if you want to make your tank glow in the evening, using low wattage submerged lights with less spectrum are favorable for this shy species.

    The Gold Nugget Pleco seems to get distracted by the light. So, if your tank has too much light installed, it’s better to light it for a certain amount of time. This not only helps the fish’s well-being but also seems sustainable for the installed aquatic plants of your tank.

    It is better that you do not contact the tank water too much. Even frequent contact with the tank water with bare hands makes the tank water prone to more diseases which are directly harmful to not only you Gold Nugget Pleco but other species living there. 

    Overfeeding shall never be tolerated by your aquarium friends. If excess food supplies are there in your water tank at a certain point, the pH level may get hampered by the decomposition of the excess food items. These situations seem very intolerable for Plecos, and often, death occurs due to these conditions.

    When it seems that your aquarium has more than enough algae supply, you can only give frequent blood worm pellets for your Pleco. Moderate feeding seems more than enough for this type of fishes.

    The Gold Nugget Pleco knows how to survive when you are not giving enough food supplements. Though, for this situation to arrive, you need adequate algae formation in your aquarium. But, remember the tank must bear some wood drifts as these are one of the favorite dietary items for this fish. Even if you stop giving food to your Pleco for weeks, they can survive by feeding on other fish’s fecal matters and of course from wood drifts.

    Diseases that can affect your Gold Nugget Pleco

    If you possess a tank, you will know already that at certain times, your aquatic pets can fall sick. Like all other aquatic living organisms, Gold Nugget Pleco is also prone to certain bacterial and fungal infections. Some of these bacterial diseases may cause shrinkage of the belly portion of your Pleco. Among all other Pleco species, Gold Nugget Pleco requires a bit extra care, and why not? It is the prettiest among the lot.  But by maintaining a proper surrounding condition, health hazards for the fish can be diminished.

    Most aquarium enthusiasts have a habit of treating their tank with a chemical solution before and also after installation of the tank with living creatures. But have you ever imagined where this chemical finally gets absorbed? The algae formation which takes place in your tank absorbs the residues of these chemicals. When your Gold Nugget Pleco feeds on these chemical-rich algae, they seem to suffer from various intestinal disorders. Sometimes it may lead to discoloration and change of body pattern.


    The nocturnal habit of Gold Nugget Pleco makes it harder for the possessor to find the fish during the day when there is an adequate light source. The fishes are more active in dark conditions. The solitary habit of the Gold Nugget Pleco makes it difficult for other Pleco species or fish from the same species to stay together. On the other hand, these fishes are super-friendly with most of the ornamental fishes that are commonly seen in aquariums. 

    The Gold Nugget Pleco can happily survive with species like goldfish, guppies, discus, gouramis, etc. But, when you try to keep another cat family, regular territorial fights can be a common event. And, from these fights, the lives of other fishes residing in the same tank can face issues. So, it is advised that you keep only one member from the Pleco family to be on the safer side.

    Aquarium Mates for your Gold Nugget Pleco

    The Gold Nugget Pleco, in general, is a timid and steady fish that does not seem to interfere in the territorial activity of the other fishes. Neither does this fish cause any harm to the aquatic plants. If you have set a plantation tank, you can safely keep this fish as it will not dig the roots and eat it up. Usually, they dwell in the extreme bottom layer and do not seem to interfere or interact with the other mates present in the same aquarium.

    During the daytime, you will find your Pleco hiding under any hollow space inside your tank. So, when light is present, the fish hardly interacts with other members. But, this species is particular about its territory. So, if you make an addition of a bottom-dweller in your tank where there is Gold Nugget Pleco already present, only the dominant individual will survive.  Otherwise, these fishes are well known for their calm and quiet temperament. They show hardly any aggression towards other species.

    It can well live with other ornamental fishes that are standard favorites of aquarium hobbyists.

    Whether you are keeping a Gold Nugget Pleco or any other aquatic creature, it is highly advised the lesser there is direct human contact with the water, the lesser will your fishes fall sick. Regular care doesn’t mean a thorough change of water. Only monitoring the various necessary parameters regularly and maintaining them accordingly can increase the lifespan of your aquatic friend. 

    Gold Nugget Pleco FAQs

    How big do gold nugget Plecos get?

    Averagely, gold nugget plecos can reach a length of about 15 cm at maturity, but it is not improbable to encounter those that will attain a length of 22 cm while in the home aquarium - though they are even much larger in the wild. That said, a large tank is required to breed them due to their shoaling behaviour.

    What do gold nugget Plecos eat?

    First off, Gold nugget plecos love to feed on algae a lot so, conditions/items that promote the natural growth (of algae) should be established, as well as, providing algae wafers within the tank. Apart from algae, they can also eat meaty foods like bloodworms, brine shrimp, insect larvae, blackworms, and crustaceans. Furthermore, their diet can be supplemented with leafy vegetables.

    How many years do Plecos live?

    The average lifespan of Gold nugget pleco is about 8 years while in captivity. To ensure the preservation of its life, it is expedient that one provides this fish with a lot of shades, as well as, maintain good hygiene and provide nutritious diet necessary for its growth.

    Are gold nuggets aggressive?

    Gold nugget plecos are generally peaceful but do display territoriality in some instances, especially when competing for space. It is also interesting to note that this particular aquarium fish species is bottom-dwelling - gold nugget pleco aid in ridding the tank’s bottom of dead organic matter - and nocturnal.

    That’s all about Gold Nugget Plecos.



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