Leopard Frog Pleco (L134): Care, Size, Breeding & Tank Size

Common Name(s)Leopard Frog Pleco, Imperial Tiger Pleco
Scientific NamePeckoltia Compta, L134
OriginBrazil, South America
Temperature78-86°F (26-30°C)
Size3.5-4.2 inches
Minimum Tank Size30 gallons
Food & DietOmnivorous
Lifespan8-10 years
Water pH6.5-7.5
Tank MatesOther small fish such as Tetra, Barb, Angelfish, and Gourami.
BreedingCave spawner
DiseaseIch is one of the most common disease that they are susceptible to.
leopard frog pleco
Leopard Frog Pleco (L134). Christian Dresel http://www.aquaristikfreaks.de, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Leopard Frog Plecos (Peckoltia compta) is a type of pleco with dark colored bodies and yellow stripes that goes along their entire body. As the fish mature, the bright yellow stripes on their body tends to turn into the darker hue. As they mature, the stripe pattern tend to turn into spots as well. Regardless of their pattern formation, a healthy fish should have a vibrant coloration. Fish that appear washed out could indicate that they are stressed or is unhealthy. They have small compact bodies and long fins that are partially translucent at the ends.

Male and Female Leopard Frog Pleco look similar, but it is possible to tell the difference. As they mature, males develop odontodes. These are tooth-like structures, but they do not function as teeth. Females will not develop odontodes. On the other hand, females will have a wider body shape. While identifying the difference between a male and female will be difficult as juveniles, it becomes easier as they mature.

These fish are indigenous to South America. More specifically, they are often found in Rio Tapajos and Rio Tomo of Brazil. Within these rivers, they are often perched on driftwood or rock, with their fins flowing with the current.

While they are small, they have a captivating appearance. This has made them a popular aquarium fish among many fishkeepers. 

Leopard Frog Pleco Care

Leopard Frog Plecos are relatively hardy fish, but proper care is required to keep this fish. These fish originate in rivers with clear water, and an aquarium with poor water quality will not be suitable for these fish. In order to avoid health issues, it is important to maintain good water quality.

These are peaceful fish, but they can become territorial. They will usually pick a spot within the tank, and claim it as their territory. If you intend to keep a group of these fish, be sure to provide enough space for all fish. Providing plenty of cave structures is important as well.

Keep in mind that Leopard Frog Plecos are not algae eating fish. While they do enjoy plant-based food as part of a varied diet, they will not clean up the algae in your aquarium as a dedicated algae eater would.

Tank Setup

Leopard Frog Plecos require a specific tank setup, especially if you intend to keep healthy specimen in the long term. If the tank is set up correctly, they will display their natural behavior and possibly breed as well.

Tank Size

Leopard Frog Plecos need a minimum tank size of 30 gallons. However, a larger tank is better, especially if you intend to keep multiple fish. More specifically a fish tank with a large surface area is important. Typically, each Leopard Frog Pleco will claim a territory of approximately 12 inches by 12 inches. Since they tend to stick to the bottom half of the aquarium, the height of the tank is not too important.


Keep in mind that additional space is required for the aquascape as well. This includes the aquarium substrate, pleco cave, driftwood, and plants.

Aquarium Substrate

The best type of substrate for Leopard Frog Pleco is fine sand. This allows them to graze the bottom of the fish tank as they would in their natural habitat. In addition, it is believed that they ingest a small amount of sand, which aids in their digestion.

Aquarium sand is great for natural aquascapes as well, especially when light color sand is combined with dark driftwood and live plants.

How to Care for Leopard Frog Plecos (L134)
Pleco Cave

In the wild, Leopard Frog Pleco dwell in areas that are full of caves and other hiding places. This allows them to hide for cover whenever they sense danger. These hiding places can be constructed by carefully placing driftwood and other structures together. One of the easiest ways of providing a hiding place for plecos is by using a cave specifically built for plecos. These inexpensive pleco caves ($10-20 USD), can become one of their favorite hiding spots. In fact, they may even breed in the cave if the tank conditions are right.

Aquarium Plants

In addition to caves and other hardscape structures, plants can provide a sense of safety for the plecos as well. Fortunately, since they are plant friendly species, they will not destroy them like others might. For example, Java fern is great because the large leaves can provide a sense of cover and safety. In addition, various floating plants are great as well. Floating plants are great for lowering the light intensity as well. Keep in mind that Leopard Frog Pleco do well in relatively low light environments.


The optimal temperature range for Leopard Frog Pleco is 78-86°F (26-30°C). These fish come from fast flowing waters of Brazil, where the water is warm and highly oxygenated. In an aquarium, the water temperature should be kept at these higher temperatures as well. While they may survive at slightly lower temperatures around 75°F (24°C), this is not recommended in the long term. Ideally, the temperature should be kept near 80°F or above.

Water pH

Leopard Frog Plecos prefer water with low pH, ranging from 6.5-7.5. Alkaline water with pH above 7.5 should be avoided. They prefer water with a little tannin and acidity in the water.

In addition to keeping the water parameters within the optimal range, it should be stable as well. While these are relatively hardy fish, they will suffer if the water parameters change suddenly.

Food & Diet

Leopard Frog Plecos are omnivorous, and they are very easy to please during feeding time. Since they are omnivores, they should be given a diet that is rich in protein and plant matter. In captivity they will accept dried, high quality flake food, algae wafers, and pellets. They will also readily eat frozen foods such as bloodworms, and tubifex. Additionally, they can be fed vegetables such as zucchini, or cucumbers. These should be fed to them once or twice a week.

Do Leopard Frog Pleco Eat Algae?

Even though they spend most of their time at the bottom of the aquarium, they will not eat any significant amount of algae in your tank. They will not destroy most plants. It is better to supplement their diet with vegetable matter. They will readily eat algae wafers and vegetables.

Leopard Frog Pleco Size

Leopard Frog Pleco can grow anywhere from 3.5-4.2 inches in length. They are known to be one of the smaller species of plecos.

While they may not fit in a nano tank, they are still a great candidate for mid-sized aquariums that many of the larger species of plecos would not fit in.

Growth Rate

Leopard Frog Plecos do much of their growing in the first year of their life. You can expect your Leopard Frog Pleco to grow out to its full potential up to a year after that. In the wild, this fast growth rate helps ensure their survival so that they are not as easily eaten by larger fish.

Leopard Frog Pleco Lifespan

Leopard Frog Pleco can live up to 8-10 years in a well-maintained aquarium with quality food and clean water. Even though these fish are small in size, they can have a surprisingly long lifespan. While it is rare, there are reports of these fish living over 10 years as well.

Leopard Frog Pleco Tank Mates

Male Leopard Frog Plecos are territorial towards their own species, but peaceful to other species of fish. You can house multiple Leopard Frog Plecos together as long as you are able to provide them with enough space. Keep in mind that each fish will need their own territory to claim.

Good tankmates for Leopard Frog Plecos include small dither fish such as smaller tetras, barbs, angelfish, and gouramis.

In fact, dither fish are very beneficial for Leopard Frog Plecos because it helps them feel safe. If there are small fish swimming above them, they will know that there aren’t any threats in the area. On the other hand, if there are no other fish swimming in the open, they may assume that it is not safe and retreat to their caves.

How Many Leopard Frog Pleco Should Be Kept Together?

Leopard Frog Plecos are territorial and can be aggressive to other Leopard Frog Plecos. If you are planning on housing more than one of these fish together, you will want to make sure that your tank is big enough. In the wild, the Leopard Frog Pleco will find caves to live in, and become territorial of them. To avoid any issues when putting more than one Leopard Frog Pleco in your tank, you will want to give them as many caves, and places to claim territory as possible.

Leopard Frog Pleco and Goldfis

Leopard Frog Plecos should not bother your goldfish, and be safe to house with them. On the opposite end, you will want to make sure that your goldfish is not bothering your Leopard Frog Pleco. It is important to monitor all fish when you are first introducing them in your aquarium. You will be able to notice and prevent any issues before they become a problem.

Leopard Frog Pleco and Betta

Leopard Frog Plecos and Betta fish can be safely housed together. The Leopard Frog Pleco will not bother the Betta, and as long as the Betta fish is not bothering the Leopard Frog they should be ok together. The Betta fish will inhabit the middle level of the tank while the Leopard Frog Pleco inhabits the bottom and will often find a hiding space to settle, or a piece of aquarium decor to perch on. Make sure that you are monitoring your fish when you are introducing new species together to ensure that there are no problems.

Leopard Frog Pleco Breeding

Leopard Frog Plecos are cave spawning fish. This means that they will need plenty of caves, crevices, and rock piles. That way they have plenty of places to lay their eggs, and plenty of places for the fry to hide until they are big enough to fend for themselves. It is the changing of seasons that will trigger breeding for the Leopard Frog Pleco. Frequent and partial water changes with slightly cooler water will help trigger them to spawn.

Male Leopard Frog Plecos will choose a breeding cave, and trap a female in the cave until she lays her eggs. The males can become aggressive during this time, and it may trap the female in the cave for days. In extreme cases, this may be fatal for the female if unsuccessful.

Once the eggs are successfully laid and fertilized, the male will guard the eggs until they hatch and the fry can fend for themselves. The eggs will hatch in about 5 to 7 days, and the fry will become free swimming in about 3 to 5 days after that. You will want to feed the fry some baby brine shrimp and finely crushed flake food.

Leopard Frog Pleco Price

There is a lot of varied pricing for the Leopard Frog Pleco. You will want to make sure to do your research before purchasing so that you are getting a healthy fish from a reputable breeder. They range in pricing from 40 dollars and upwards of 100 dollars.