Q: Hi there I was wondering if my male betta would be compatible with a sucker fish.  Thank you.

Question submitted by Colin, Huntington Beach - California

A: Once again I must warn you guys about the fact that each fish is an individual and that there is rarely one rule that applies to ALL. Having said that (cause as you know, mothers always have to lecture LOL) I can share with you my experience and observations when it comes to 'sucker fish', (better known as 'plecostomus') and bettas:


plecostomus rarely pick on other fish. But they are scavengers and if given the opportunity, will not mind scrapping the scales off of a dying fish that cannot swim away, or even trying to chew on a fish that is slowly swimming. I have seen one systematically pick on a large goldfish


bettas will pick on things that do not swim around. They are very curious and will immediately come to check out a new  tank mate. When adding a sucker fish to a betta tank, I found that all the bettas would swim down to it and examine it thoroughly. How funny to see all these little faces going:
 "??? Mmmmmmmm. Wonder if it is edible..." They would pick at it for a few moments, but would quickly figure out that it was not comestible. Thanks to a super duper hard skin, the sucker fish is pretty much like a tank, indestructible ;). Bettas quickly gave up and went about their betta business and never again bothered the plecostomus (cause they are smart).

My concerns: Although such cohabitation is possible and may go well, it might also turn sour should your betta become sick or unable to swim away. Also, bettas are very idle at night while plecostomus are active and can pick that vulnerable moment to try to scrape the scales and fins off of your betta. Your betta has long finnage (good target) and the fins are only a few cells deep, so they are easy to damage/eat. This is a concern. Last but not least, such a cohabitation is not possible unless your betta is in a larger tank with filter. Placing a plecostomus in a bowl would be a disaster because that fish will need adequate aeration to survive and such aeration cannot properly be achieved in a bowl. 

My conclusion is that if you have a large heavy planted tank with rocks etc. and have a betta in it, you can try to add a plecostomus on a trial basis and see how it goes. Otherwise, ever heard of something called a 'sponge'? LOL. Your local fish store can sell you a special cleaning sponge, safe for fish, to swiftly scrape algae growth from your betta bowl/tank and you will never need the 'sucker fish'. :)


About me

I am a member of the IBC, founder and President of LABS  (Los Angeles Betta Society) and have been helping the betta community through this website since 1998. 
I have over 
180  spawns and  4000 shipments under my belt and have been featured on national and international television.       
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