If Your Pleco is Always Hiding – Read This

Written by Randy Martin
Pleco hiding in a cave of rocks

If you have a pleco that is always hiding I understand it can be kind of frustrating, because you want to see your fish and enjoy them.

Let’s look at why your pleco might be hiding and what could be done about it.

Why is my pleco always hiding? Many plecostomus species will hide simply because it is part of their temperament. This could be normal behavior for various pleco species. On top of that, many of them are basically nocturnal and will feel more comfortable when the lights are off.

Essentially some plecostomus are just going to hide, and there isn’t too much that could be done about it. But I will provide some tips that might help and suggest which species that are less prone to hide.

Why pleco hide

It does seem that some pleco species are more prone to hide then others. I have heard of many people stick a new pleco in a bigger tank and they never see the fish again until maybe at some point when they are rearranging ornaments.

So if it is part of their nature, there isn’t a whole lot that can be done about that. You gotta let fish do their thing, but we will get into that in a bit.

A lot of the pleco are more naturally inclined to be nocturnal. You might never see it out during the day, but maybe 10 or 20 minutes after turning off the lights it will come out and start foraging and messing around.

This nocturnal behavior is something I personally kind of enjoy. It’s like having a sleeping monster in the tank—who only comes out at night.

Once again if your pleco doesn’t like light, and prefers to be out when it’s dark, there isn’t much to be done about it and you should try to accept that they are fine just being the way they are.

Jason from prime time aquatics said:

“Some fish are going to be shy, it’s just their very nature.”


So doing your research on a fish before buying is really crucial so you know what you are getting into.

I know some people who have spent $250 on a zebra pleco and only see it once every few months. That can be a bummer, but then again that reclusive behavior that only gives out the occasional spotting here and there, can be kind of fun.

Another factor why pleco hide could be because of an adjustment period. Many times when you add the pleco to your aquarium—it can instantly go into caution and hide mode.

This hiding mode could last for several months even. But lots of fish keepers report that eventually the fish got used to the environment and started coming out of hiding more and more.

Tips to stop your pleco from hiding so much

Now you shouldn’t really try to stop your pleco from hiding. As stated, it could be their nature, and you don’t what to mess with their core nature.

So most pleco need lot’s of hiding places and cover to feel safe. And you should provide a comfortable tank for them where they can get into a safe space and hide out if they need to.

This can be even more crucial for some species. Most readers probably have a Bristlenose pleco, and they are a species that require a cave to make their own; especially if there is more than one male in a tank together.

Also you gotta have driftwood for the Bristlenose pleco so it can get all of it’s nourishment. And by providing a good piece of driftwood you are going to coax the pleco out in the open more.

Giving a treat—like a single piece of zucchini (uncooked), can really coax a pleco out as well. They love this and will often abandon their post for the meal.

If your pleco is new to the tank, then just know it really can take them a few months before they will start displaying their true behavior. The same could be true for all fish species, not just pleco.

Aside from all that, the best thing you can do is really do your research before hand and pick a pleco that will display the qualities you want.

Types of plecos that hide and types that don’t

I will try and suggest which pleco will be more inclined to hide and which won’t hide as much. This is in no way a complete list, and some individual fish might act opposite of their species behavior.

Types of pleco that hide:

  • Zebra pleco
  • Clown pleco
  • Common pleco
  • Queen arabesque pleco

Types of pleco that DON’T hide:

  • Bristlenose pleco
  • Sailfin pleco
  • Royal pleco
  • Blue phantom

Like I said some of these plecos can act opposite of what’s listed. Bristlenose for example are considered to be a pretty active pleco, even during the day. But then people might complain that their Bristlenose is always hiding, so you never know.

The Blue Phantom is very active when you got really good water flow in the aquarium that is pushing in plenty of oxygen, which is what these guys need; otherwise they are reportedly very shy. So you got to know what your fish needs.


So just know pleco are typically nocturnal, it can be part of their nature to be reclusive, and you just might have a pleco who you don’t see out and about that often.

I wrote a lot about many of these pleco in my article called types of plecos that stay small – with pictures, you can take a look at that for a lot of good information on dwarf pleco in general.

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