Gold nugget pleco Care Guide: Diet, Tank Mates, Diseases, Breeding & More

Updated: December 17, 2022

The gold nugget pleco (Baryancistrus sp.) is a beautiful, unique, and popular pleco that makes a great addition to any freshwater aquarium.

Despite their small size, gold nugget plecos are fairly hardy and easy to care for. They are also relatively easy to breed in captivity.

In this guide, we’ll teach you everything you need to know about gold nugget pleco care. You’ll learn about their diet, size, lifespan, tank mates, and more!

Species overview

The gold nugget pleco (scientific name: Baryancistrus xanthellus) is a type of armored catfish that’s native to the rivers of the Amazon basin.

They are most commonly found in Peru, Brazil, and Colombia. These fish prefer slow-moving waters with a lot of vegetation and hiding places.

The gold nugget pleco gets its name from its coloration. These fish are mostly brown with some black spots and a large, yellow-gold spot on their heads.

This pleco is a popular choice for many aquariums because of its unique coloration and hardy nature. They are also relatively easy to care for, which makes them a good choice for beginner aquarium enthusiasts.


Gold nugget pleco

The Gold nugget pleco is a beautiful freshwater fish that is easily recognizable. These plecos have a light brown to golden coloration that is covered in dark spots.

The spots on their body are fairly large and somewhat random in placement. This gives them a very distinct look that is quite eye-catching.

The fins on the Gold nugget pleco are all translucent with a slight yellow tinge. Their dorsal fin is tall and thin, starting at the middle of their back and running the length of their body.

The caudal fin is forked and also extends the length of their body. The anal and pectoral fins are both short and thin.


The average lifespan of a gold nugget pleco is around 10 years. However, there have been reports of them living up to 15 years in captivity.

As with any other fish, the lifespan of a gold nugget pleco can be impacted by a number of factors. Things like water quality, diet, and stress levels can all play a role in how long they live.


The Gold Nugget Pleco can grow to be up to 12 inches long, though they are typically only about 8 inches long. These fish are known for their large size and their unique, pleco-like appearance.


Tank Size

The recommended tank size for gold nugget plecos is 30 gallons. If you want to keep more than one of these fish in the same tank, you’ll need to add at least 10 gallons of extra space for each additional fish.

Gold nugget plecos are one of the few pleco species that can be kept in smaller tanks. They’re a great option for beginner aquarists who are looking for a low-maintenance fish for their first aquarium.

Water Parameters

The Gold Nugget Pleco is a hardy fish that can live in a wide range of water parameters. However, they prefer water that is on the cooler side with a moderate flow.

Here are a few things to keep in mind when it comes to Gold Nugget Pleco care.

  • Water temperature: 60 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit
  • pH levels: 6.5 to 7.5
  • Water hardness: 2 to 12 dGH
  • Alkalinity Levels: 4-8 dKH

What To Put In Their Tank

These fish come from South America and inhabit slow-moving rivers with a sandy substrate.

When setting up an aquarium for them, you should try to replicate this environment as best as possible.

The inside of their tank doesn’t need to be overly complicated. A few pieces of driftwood and some rocks should suffice.

As for the plants, you can go with whatever you want. These fish aren’t known to nibble on vegetation, but they will uproot things if they get in the way while they’re digging.

The substrate should be a nice sandy loam. This will give them the ability to dig and sift through it to their heart’s content.

Common Diseases

Gold nugget plecos are a hardy species of fish, but that doesn’t mean they can’t get sick. There are a few diseases that these fish are particularly susceptible to, so it’s important to be on the lookout.

The most common disease that affects gold nugget plecos is ich. This is a very common freshwater fish disease that is caused by a parasite.

The most obvious symptom of ich is the presence of white spots on the body of your fish. These spots will eventually turn into sores, and if left untreated can be fatal.

Fortunately, ich is relatively easy to treat. There are plenty of products on the market that will quickly eradicate the parasite.

The other disease that you need to be aware of is hole-in-the-head disease. This is another condition that is caused by poor water quality.

It will present itself as pits or holes in the head of your fish. If left untreated, it can be fatal.

As with ich, the best way to treat hole-in-the-head disease is to improve the water quality in your tank. This will usually get rid of the disease completely.

Behavior & Temperament

The Gold Nugget Pleco is a peaceful and shy fish that likes to stay hidden away. They are nocturnal animals, so you will mostly see them at night when they come out to feed.

During the day, they like to hide in caves, behind rocks, or in other dark places. They are very sensitive to light and will become stressed if they are in a brightly lit tank.

The Gold Nugget Pleco is a peaceful fish that gets along with most other fish. They are not aggressive and will not bother other fish in the tank. The only time you might see them being aggressive is if they feel threatened or are trying to establish their territory.

Tank Mates

Gold nugget plecos are peaceful fish that make great tank mates for a variety of species.

These fish are native to South America and prefer warm waters. As a result, they do best with tank mates from the same region.

Gold nugget plecos are also bottom-dwellers. This means they won’t compete with fish that prefer the middle or top of the water column.

Some good gold nugget pleco tank mates include:

  • Tetras
  • Rasboras
  • Danios
  • Hatchetfish
  • Corydoras
  • Loricariids
  • Knifefish
  • Arowanas
  • Silver Dollar Fish


The gold nugget pleco is one of the easier species to breed in captivity. They’re not too picky about their habitat and will readily reproduce in the aquarium.

To start, you’ll need to set up a breeding tank. It should hold at least 20 gallons of water. Then, add some hiding places and a few pieces of driftwood. The plecos will use the driftwood to help them deposit their eggs.

You don’t need to make any changes to the water temperature. Just keep it within the normal range for this species (between 68 and 77 degrees Fahrenheit).

When ready, add two females for every male. Males have the more pronounced bristles on their head.

As long as you provide them with the right environment, the gold nugget plecos will take care of the rest. The females will lay their eggs on the driftwood and the males will fertilize them.

The eggs will hatch in about a week. You can remove the adults at this point and start feeding the fry mashed peas and other vegetables.


The Gold Nugget Pleco is an amazing fish that is perfect for the beginner aquarist. They are easy to care for, and they are a beautiful addition to any tank.

If you are looking for a pleco that is easy to care for, and that will add some beauty to your tank, the Gold Nugget Pleco is the perfect choice for you.