Ultimate Rubber Lip Pleco Care Guide [Size, Diet, Breeding]

Rubber Lip Pleco

Rubber Lip Pleco Care Guide & Species Profile

The following article will help you decide if the Rubber Lip Pleco is the right aquarium fish for you. You will learn about its breeding habits, diet needs, personality and tankmate compatibility with other tank mates, and more.

This information is incredibly valuable when planning to care for Rubber Lip Plecos and makes for an informative read. I will highlight the key aspects of caring for Chaetostoma sp., commonly known as Rubber Lip Plecos. This species is often confused with bristle nose plecos. However, there are distinct differences in their care requirements.

Rubber-lipped Pleco: Care and species guide for beginners.

Rubber Lipped Plecos are a pleco species that can feed on algae and also on tiny larvae. They reach the size of up to 4.7″.

Adult individuals maintain their habit of eating algae, being an excellent addition to the cleaning crew. They are fish with omnivorous eating habits; they will eat algae and small live or frozen food.

They may have some difficulty in accepting processed foods.

A short introduction to the Rubber Lipped Pleco

Chaetostoma is part of the most extensive catfish family (Loricariidae). This fish’s other common names include Black Spotted Bulldog Pleco, Spotted Rubbernose Pleco, or simply L445.

These fish have enlarged gills that are believed to work together to breathe as they rest or feed. Similarly, the Rubber Lip Pleco are frequent algae eaters under some circumstances. It is a freshwater, bottom-dweller fish of the genus Chaetostoma.Rubber Lip Pleco

Rubber-lipped Pleco: Ultimate Species Care Guide.

Small catfish, including rubber-lipped plecos, can be an excellent addition to a tropical freshwater aquarium. They are not very resistant to pollutants in the water and require high levels of O². The aquarium must be well matured; this species is not recommended for beginner aquarists.

Habitat and origins

The Rubber-Lipped pleco is found in the Apuré River and Magdalena Basin in South America. The Rubber Lip Plecos are found in several other South American rivers.

The water in certain parts of its surface drop in temperature, which can sometimes be considered a kind of milder water, somewhere around 68º F. The species is found in Venezuela, Colombia, Brazil, and the United States, where it would probably be an invasive species.

The species were found across the northern region of South America.

Habitat and tank conditions

The Rubber Lip Pleco needs specific requirements, like fast-flowing waters and large tank size; they do not thrive in any home aquarium and require some attention.

They also provide excellent tankmates for fish from fast-flowing waters, like pike cichlid and silver dollars.

Indeed a relatively easy species to find in specialized stores. A challenging pleco for more experienced aquarists, who like fast and transparent water aquaria.

Rubber Lip Pleco Diet & Food

Rubber Lip Pleco feeding

In the natural habitat, Rubber Lip Pleco‘s diet includes all types of things. They will accept and delight in fresh or live food of animal and plant origin, as well as algae and biofilm.

They can be somewhat selective in eating, presenting a particular difficulty to start accepting industrialized feeds. Offer everything the animal needs; that way, you will have a less stressed and healthier animal.

Some of our favorite vegetable options for this fish are algae powder, leafy greens, cucumbers, and peas.

Rubber lip Pleco Care

Rubber Lip Plecos care is not particularly challenging as it seems, and some aquarists may realize it soon enough.

These fish are very hardy (within their specifics) because of the varying habitat they come from. It’s always a good idea to understand the ideal conditions so you can give the most outstanding care possible. Good owners strive for perfection!

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a rubber lip pleco?

The Rubber-Lipped pleco is a bottom-dweller fish and part of the genus Chaetostoma. Plecos are a common addition to all modern home aquarium systems for helping clean the tank’s surface from algae.

Bulldog plecos have extended gills that have evolved to allow the fish to breathe while feeding or are attached to rocks.

The Rubber Lip Pleco can’t grow as big as the Common pleco and can be an excellent choice to keep it; small-sized plecos do not require giant aquariums.

How do I care for my rubber-lipped pleco?

Care for the rubber-lipped pleco is no longer difficult; after all, when we have a designed system to keep it alive and healthy, it is a rewarding and relatively simple experience. Here are their ideal conditions to keep them busy and healthy.

Is rubber lip pleco suitable for an aquarium?

Rubber Lip Pleco cleaning algae off glassRubber Lip Plecos are an excellent choice for more experienced aquarists; they need well-matured aquariums, water with medium hardness, milder temperatures, and a strong water flow.

Despite their incredibly long and impressive life spans, this can be a daunting task when you first introduce them to an aquarium.

The most important consideration should be the seriousness of your fish care.

Try to keep them away from other large bottom species if possible; this way, the pleco remains calmer, in addition to not having to share hiding places or feeding spots.

If you love freshwater aquarium plants, it might give the tank life too; choose species that adapt to the water parameters required for the fish.

Rubber lips pleco is a species with a long lifespan that can reach 12 years if kept in ideal conditions. A breeding pair can become aggressive towards other plecos during breed season.

Plecos do not eat fish poop; that’s a myth. They are a capable algae eater and easily clean an algae-infested aquarium.

Tank Mates

There is a wide range of freshwater fish who are happy to coexist with these plecos. Here’s a listing of fish living in a tank with a Rubber Lip Pleco, along with helpful information about each species. Bala sharks are peaceful, although they develop an appetite for small fish as they age.

Cory catfish are also bottom-feeder scavengers who are great at cleaning and maintaining the aquarium. Gouramis are wonderful aquarium companions because they enjoy being joined up with slow-moving fish. Plecos prefer to keep it quiet and don’t enjoy bullying. Aggressive Cichlids and Tiger Barbs can’t be tolerated.

Take care

Rubber Lip Plecos are, in general, good fish to keep. They are not particularly vulnerable to sickness, and as long as the tank is clean, you will not be faced with problems.

The periodic water change is also crucial as your tank should maintain a healthy balance to avoid diseases and intoxications. Scaleless fish are sensitive to salt in the water; thus, be careful when adding salt to treatment problems.

Go for soft, smooth pebbles or sand over gravel and sharp sand for protection of fish. Keep plastic plants at a minimum and try to keep as many live plants as possible.


The Rubber Lipped Pleco has an iconic ”pleco” look. Their head is almost identical to those we usually expect with their pleco form.

They have an enormous mouth with a snout that descends to the top of the skull. Their eyes are situated at the top of the head. They present a slightly elevated posture.

This eye positioning allows them to watch for predators while scavenging the substrate. In addition, they also have dark circles covering their body.

Behavior & compatibility

Rubber Lipped plecos don’t like the aggressiveness of other tank mates. They all want to lie alone or sit peacefully in a cave or a hideout.

They also enjoy hiding under smooth-surfaced round rocks which resemble the bottom of a river. Rubber Lipped plecos will not bother other fish unless there are other plecos because they can be territorial.

These animals are usually nocturnal, and it’s easy for them to do little feed before the lighting goes out. They won’t be more active if anything stresses them up and are also shy in general. At night they feed on algae and biofilm.

Behavior & Temperament

Rubber Lip Pleco was peaceful and would not be any problem to other tank habitats. They are one of the most peaceful freshwater species we know of.

You’ll sometimes see them parking at one place or gradually working around a protected spot. In open areas, they use sucker lips to latch on to whatever surface they’re looking at.

It is fun to what when they are attached to aquarium glasses. You shouldn’t expect a regular swimming show, as they are shy fish. If you own a big fish with solid energy and good health, it is a good idea not to put it together with rubber-lipped plecos.

A common misconception about the Rubber Lip Plecos

Fish stores can confuse Rubber Lip Pleco with other types of plecos. What makes the differences between these species unique are their maximum density and color.

A true RL pleco will reach at least 4.5 inches in body length and not experience drastic color change. While sexually maturing, the rubber lining will shift from grey to gold color.

I hadn’t the chance to see mine turn gold like that. But it seems the fish decide when this happens and if and when. Both of these fish have similar care needs (except for tank size and flow).

Summary of species

This species can be found in the Magdalena River in Columbia and the Apure River in Venezuela and spread across the Amazon basin.

These species primarily eat algae in the wild and spends their time around the substrate since it feeds from the bottom.

This information is essential to know because it will affect their keeping in the tank. This species is relatively robust and can tolerate a decent range of water conditions in the wild.

It is also known as the rubber nose pleco, and the rubber lipped pleco is also found in smaller rivers and waters bodies and larger rivers.


Rubber Lip Plco is not too fussy eaters. They will eat almost everything that is in the water. Feeding plecos a rich and varied diet with algae, vegetables, and animal protein is essential.

You can place zucchini, peas, green beans, and spinach in the tank for your fish to chew to ensure a healthy, balanced diet. You may also occasionally offer bloodworms, tubifex, nauplii, and earthworms. Remember that the more you feed it, the more poo it will produce. Slowly try to introduce foods like algae wafers to its diet.

Going forward

These are intriguing creatures that are good enough for the proper aquatic enthusiast. If you’re searching for a unique and easy to care fish, which are not particularly popular, this could be for you.

We are dedicated to writing the best fish care guide online. We have always enjoyed the rubber nose pleco and the performance regardless of what it does.


There are no verified reports of successfully breeding rubber lips plecos. The breeding process can be laborious for this fish, whether it’s successful or not.

It best not to try breeding this fish without being confident in the results. We would love to hear from someone who successfully bred this species, as we do wish to feature their tips in this guide.

Very rarely is breeding observed in captive conditions. Usually, a male attaches itself upside out to a flat spot beneath the surface below where the eggs hatch. This way, he can guard the fry against predators.

Mistaken identity

The Rubber Lip Pleco is sometimes confused with Rubber Pleco, Parancistrus aurantiacus. The Rubber pleco is spotless in its nose.

Juveniles can be mistaken; notice if your fish grows slowly until finally, it reaches the proper shape around five inches; around that size, the differences are evident, as the rubber lipped has black dots across the body.

The rubber pleco can transform its grayish color over its aging growth to a length extending up to 7 or 8 inches. On rare occasions, both species of fish are advertised incorrectly.

Life span

The average life span of a rubber-lipped pleco is between 10-12 years with reasonable maintenance. These assumptions assume you have provided them the ideal habitat and a good diet.

High-stress levels can have a detrimental outcome on the longevity of fish. If you pair them with the wrong tankmate, they might feel stressed and become sick or even die.

Tank setup and habitat requirements

If you have basic knowledge of this species, you can easily set up a tank for your pleco. Depending on your current setup, you may not have to make corrections before adding RL to your community tank.

Where can I buy this rare fish?

After some feedback on the site, I realized not everyone was lucky enough to find the Rubber-Lipped pleco at their fishing shop. But you can always buy it online, from reliable fish stores.

If you’re not able to find this pleco in the country you live in, you can also order them online. One place where I have discovered Rubber Lip Plecos is AquaBid, but there are other online markets that you might try.

Visit the link and read the retailers specializing in selling live freshwater fish to increase your chances of finding a live fish.

Common disease

The RL pleco, like many other plecos, is exceptionally resilient. They are susceptible to toxins and contaminants in water.

Plecos do not quickly become sick but are sensitive to specific health problems. When you notice that the white spots don’t multiply after one day, it probably wasn’t ich; if it persists, you fish possibly is a victim of ich. This ailment is often easy to diagnose and also treat.

Final thoughts

Rubber Lip Pleco does not grow as some other pleco species, making it a good choice for the home aquarium.

However, it would help not keep this animal in a tank size of fewer than 25 gallons since they need large amounts of space and water flowing. The Rubber Lip is a peaceful and magnificent algae eater in your tropical aquarium.

Different Pleco Types: Which One Is Right For Your Aquarium Tank?

Types Of Plecos

If you are an aquarist, you know that there is nothing more enjoyable than having a well-kept aquarium. One of the most important aspects of keeping fish in your tank is choosing the right companions for them. Plecos are one type of fish that would be a good fit for any size aquarium and can provide many benefits to your aquatic environment. In this blog post, we will go over 15 different types of plecos so that you can find one perfect for your needs!

To Start – Let’s Talk Minimum Tank Size

For very small pleco species, you will need at least a 20+ gallon aquarium as minimum tank size. If you want to keep your plecos in an aquarium smaller than 30 gallons, you will need to provide extra hiding spots. You will also need the proper filtering system to match that minimum tank size.
A 30+ gallon aquarium is the minimum tank size for most juvenile and small dwarf species of plecos.
65-gallon aquariums are good for medium-sized pleco species, such as some bristle nose pleco or many common plecostomus. Some plecostomus species, however, grow exceptionally big, requiring over 95 gallons as a minimum tank size.
90+ gallon aquariums are generally considered appropriate for most adult-sized plecos. Some very large plecos can reach up to a maximum size of 24 inches long.

Common Pleco

Hypostomus plecostomus, or the common pleco, is one of the popular types of plecos (probably the most common pleco species in the world). Keep in mind that this is a very large species of plecos, growing up to 24 inches long. This is not a good type of plecos for an aquarium with less than 65 gallons of water. This type of pleco really needs its own space!

Zebra Pleco

Zebra Pleco
These are striped types of plecos that mimic the shape of a zebra (hence the name Zebra Plecos). They grow to around 4 inches. Care is fairly easy. Keep their tank in a tropical heated aquarium with non-aggressive partners. They live between 10 and 15 years, depending on the level of care. They are carnivorous plecos with a low degree of herbivory, requiring lie food and feed for carnivores to maintain good health. These species are shy at first during the day and often want comfortable hiding places to rest. After some time, they tend to become less shy and explore the whole aquarium. They look wonderful in groups and are easy to reproduce.

Sailfin Pleco

Sailfin Pleco
Sailfin plecos are grown to a maximum height of around 14 inches and can live for 20 years. They are pretty fish with a leopard-print pattern covering their body armor. They eat mostly plant food and sometimes largely animal protein. You must make sure that you provide a tank suitable for their size. Because they are big and feed all day, they both keep the tank free of algae and produce huge amounts of excrement.

Leopard Frog Pleco

Leopard Frog Pleco
Leopard frog plecos usually age 8 to 10 years. Their average length is just slightly more than 4 inches. They are omnivores with a strong herbivorous tendency, and they prefer other plant materials to algae. Thus, while great additions to the tank, they do not act as good tank cleaners.

Snowball Pleco

Snowball Pleco
There are three species commonly called Snowball pleco. Together, these three species range in size from 5 to 12 inches (the two from the genus baryancistrus are larger than the other, from the genus hypancistrus)… They derive their name from the patterns of white dots that they have. Depending on water and food quality and general care, these species live about 8 to 10 years. Depending on the species, Snowball plecos may be hungry for biofilm and plant foods, eat algae in the aquarium (baryancistrus), or nearly strictly carnivorous (hypancistrus). For these creatures to thrive, plecos must have heated tropical tanks. They should also have a nice space with hiding places and great water and food quality, as they are sensitive species.

Peppermint Pleco

Peppermint Pleco
There are two species, commonly called Peppermint pleco, that grows to about 7 inches and live about 10 to 12 years. One type, from ancistrus, likes to eat vegetable matter but does not prefer algae, whereas the other, from paracistrus, eats algae ferociously. They typically are peaceful communal species with tropical tankmates. The ancistrus enjoys still waters while the parancistrus prefers fast-moving water channels. They both want warm and heated tanks.

Orange Spot Pleco

Orange Spot Pleco
There are two species under this name, but one of them is quite rare. This section will cover the more common type, lda031.
This type of pleco loves to hide in trees and nibble on the soil. They are timid and like to go out in the total dark. They need to have driftwood in their food. They exhibit orange dots across their fins and body, making them rather interesting to look at. Unfortunately, orange spot plecos (especially males) show more aggressive behavior to other plecos, so it is good to keep them alone in a heated tank with other compatible tropical tankmates. Usually, they live at least for about 12+ years, and their maximum size is about 5 inches.

Royal Pleco

This species of pleco is known for its digestion of various woods. Their bodies and fins are irregularly colored, striped in black and white patterns. They weigh about 22 kilograms and last about 10 years on average. They predominantly eat algae-based foods like sinking pellets or wafers and occasionally enjoy meat-based snacks. Because of their large size, they can perform well in large heated tanks, and they do well with other fish.

Butterfly Pleco

Butterfly plecos are nocturnal and like to hide in the dark at times. Interestingly, these fish change colors very quickly; when on a dark substrate, they will turn nearly black, but they will show a pretty striped pattern during the day on lighter substrates. These fish have an extremely healthy appetite. They live on algae constantly and need supplementary food such as grilled and preserved veggies. They also sometimes like animal protein, like insect larvae. While they do not feed on wood, they like the biofilm that forms on wood. These fish produce tons of waste because of their high consumption, so a healthy filtration system is important.

Otocinclus Catfish

The Otocinclus catfish is an opportunist algae eater that will feed on other things when it does not have algae. It often stays on the tank walls, scraping away biofilm and algae. If you plan on buying one, you should have an existing mature tank. They are susceptible to water parameters while acclimating, so be careful. Once acclimated, they are quite resistant fish. Do some research before buying some other new tank mates for this catfish. In nature, they make giant shoals with more than 100 individuals, so it is good to keep them in shoals in aquaria. However, with large numbers of fish, the algae and biofilm reserves are quickly depleted, and not all otos will be able to convert to artificial feed. So be sure to plan before buying these fish!

Blue-Eyed Plecos

The blue-eyed pleco, native to Colombia, has amazing blue eyes. It likes driftwood to eat (they are voracious biofilm eaters), graze for algae, and hide during their inactive hours. Its body is covered in large, thick, gray armor plates. They can have a lot of light, depending on their conditions. They are probably the biggest plecos in the aquarist community and need rapid water for growth, as well as a massive tank…

Vampire Pleco

The vampire pleco is an interesting fish. Its eyes dilate differently with different light intensities, making it interesting to watch. Vampire plecos make the perfect addition for community tanks. The fish are mostly peaceful, and when fed in a dark place, they are calm. However, they can be aggressive and territorial, and they like to get in trouble with bigger plecos. Their environment must be very oxygenated and fast-flowing, and they have a high carnivorous tendency.

Candy Striped Pleco

Candy Striped Plecos live within the Xingu and Tapajós river basins. They thrive best with a tank heavily coated with rocks and driftwood. They are algae eaters, but that’s not all they need; they are omnivorous with a tendency toward meaty foods with animal proteins, preferring live and fresh products. They are very peaceful fish.

Are there even smaller pleco fish?

The Soromon Pleco is the smallest type of pleco known to date, reaching an overall body size of 1.2 inches. They occur at Soromoni Creek, a clearwater tributary of the upper Orinoco and in the Guiana shield area. This species has been known for some years, but commercial expeditions do not generally encounter these fish due to the geographical isolation of the regions where they live.

Gold Spot Dwarf Pleco

The gold spot dwarf pleco keeps its size small throughout its lifetime and only reaches 2 inches in maximum body size. They prefer to stay in groups, and a 10-gallon tank will hold no more than three of them. Fine gravel or sand is a suitable substrate as the fish sometimes like to bury themselves in it. This species of dwarf pleco is also very timid and does not like being around especially active and fast fish. This fish species is often mislabeled as a Pitbull pleco in fish markets, so remember this when looking for them.

Queen Arabesque Pleco

The queen arabesque pleco is a small, exotic fish that grows to just around 3.5 inches under good care. Like many other plecos in this list, this pleco likes a good deal of driftwood in its tank; it also loves to have its own cave. They have a carnivorous tendency in their diet and love to eat live food. They’re best matched with a planted environment with a moderately strong current. They are sensitive to nitrogen and low oxygen levels in the water. They take some time to adapt to a new aquarium and can get pretty shy.

Pitbull Pleco – Parotocinclus jumbo

This fish reaches about 2.5′′ at maturity and is usually a slow grower. Pitbull plecos are social and should go in groups of at least three, but if you have the necessary space, go with six or more (a 30-gallon tank is recommended for six of them). They are ravenous algae-eaters and love algae wafers. Anything with animal protein should be given very occasionally (a few times a month). They are clumsy and can break plants during feeding.

All in all, the Pleco is a great addition to your aquarium

Why is the pleco a great fish for your aquarium?

Plecos are hardy fish. They can withstand the most extreme water conditions. This makes them very easy to maintain, giving you basic filtration and some algae in return. You even do not have to know exactly how many are there in your tank. Just add food regularly and keep an eye on nitrates and the quality of the water.

Plecos are the best fish for algae eating.

They eat almost any algae in your tank; they’re not picky about food and will eat some algae that other fish will refuse, such as green spot algae.
You can keep more than several plecos in a community aquarium, but be careful with larger and more aggressive species such as the common pleco; they can grow enormous and may eat smaller fish if they are hungry enough. Only get large ones if you plan on keeping them alone or breeding them. Make sure to give a fish the space it will need as an adult at full size.
If you have a problem with algae and can’t find an effective fish to help solve it, then add an algae-eating pleco or two to your aquarium and start enjoying clear water again!

Pleco’s are also great scavenger fish

They love leftovers as much as live food, so make sure you feed them some extra food after you have fed your other fish.
If you want more than one pleco, consider buying a group of 3-4 newborns rather than just buying one adult. Some plecos are known to attack and kill their own kind if hungry enough (massive ones). It’s all about being prepared!
If you are keeping these fish, then always give them plenty of places to hide, such as rock caves, driftwood, and plants. This will make them feel much happier as they are nocturnal fish and sleep during the day. And make sure to have enough algae and biofilm for all the fish.

Give them places to hide

If you do not give them places to hide then they may attack your other fish/shrimp & snails, or even bite off their own fins out of stress – especially newly purchased ones who are still stressed from moving into a new aquarium. Always prepare your fish before adding them to your tank by placing them in a plastic bag inside the main aquarium for 15-30 minutes (depending on size), so they get used to the temperature first. Be careful not to add too many at once! This can destabilize the filtration, which leads to ammonia spikes.
They like deep substrates such as river gravel, sand, or clay balls, but it is not required as they will live quite happily in the normal aquarium gravel. Just make sure that the substrate doesn’t have any sharp points that would hurt the plecos’ mouths. Keep in mind that a deep substrate makes cleaning more difficult. Siphoning the bottom of the tank is necessary several times a week to keep it free of residues.
Try not to change the substrate you are using too frequently, as this may stress them out. If you want a different substrate, then prepare their tank by doing a large water change (50%+) before adding the new substrate, and slowly fill the tank up over a couple of days.

The bottom line is, never ever consider your pleco just another “algae eater”

Plecos are an integral part of your aquarium. You should care for them as pets and admire their beauty. Appreciate what they do for you and your other fish because without them, many tanks would be overrun with algae!

For more info, you can check out

Our link to our pleco care article is here.

Wrapping Up

Plecos are amazing fish that come in a variety of shapes and colors to suit every water tank. You can find the perfect pleco for your aquarium with this list, so go out and grab one or two today! We hope you found this blog post helpful; if there’s anything else we can do for you, please don’t hesitate to reach out.

[Detailed] Clown Pleco Fish Care Guide – Size, Diet, Lifespan, And More!

[Detailed] Clown Pleco Fish Care Guide – Size, Diet, Lifespan, And More!

Clown plecos are a well-known freshwater tropical fish found in aquariums around the world. These creatures are relatively low-maintenance fish to keep, and many people find them enjoyable to watch as they wander and nibble on driftwood. In addition to requiring little maintenance, clown pleco fish enjoy being with other catfish and can live in community tanks.

This article will provide information on several important topics pertaining to clown pleco fish, including: the best tank size and diet, how many clown pleco grow each year and where they originate, what water parameters are best, and some other notes and requirements you should consider when keeping one.

Summary of Clown Pleco

 Clown Pleco

Clown pleco fish (scientific name: Panaqolus maccus) are found in the Caroni and Apure basins of Venezuela (where they are found in densest population) as well as much of eastern Colombia, including most of the Orinoco basin, the headwaters of the Venezuelan Llanos, rivers of clear water rapids, and water streaming down from the Andes. Because many of these areas are adjacent to cities and other densely populated areas, these fish often encounter a high degree of turbidity due to pollution; thus, they are good at dealing with less-than-pristine water conditions. (It should be noted that while these fish are often able to survive polluted water, studies affirm the devastating effect of water pollution through the contaminants in fish mean and organs.)

While this species is widely popular and found in tanks all over the USA, Japan, and some places in Europe, it is quite rare in other locations.

Clown Pleco Coloration:

The clown pleco often has light brown or white skin tones. It has between five and twelve fascinating rings distributed along its body, some straight and some wavy. The color of these rings depends on the environment of the fish; they often appears golden yellow, but in darker backgrounds, they tend toward an orange tone. The color intensity of these rings is affected by the clown pleco’s diet, health, tank, water parameters, and age. The vibrant color of a young clown pleco fades as in gets older.

Aside from the rings, these fish are primarily gray in color. Some have brownish patches or spots on their body while others are striped, and some might even show hints of red coloring towards the tail fin area. The wide range of colors comes from population characteristics of different regions and from the crossing of different populations in aquariums, resulting in different phenotypic characteristics.

Clown Pleco Gender differences

Determining the sex of clown pleco often is a challenge, and it is impossible with very young fish. Males often have more whiskers around their mouths as well as long odontodes on both head and dorsum area. Females are bigger and rounder while males are thinner. This difference is especially noticeable when considering the width between pectoral and pelvic areas.

Clown Pleco Life span

These fish typically live six to eight years. The main factors affecting their life span are food quality and water quality; the best way to prolong your fish’s life is to take proper care of it.

Clown Pleco Natural habitat

The clown pleco is native to the waters of Venezuela and Colombia. On the Colombia side, the water is slightly hard and alkaline (somewhere around 7.2) due to the minerals that come from the Andes. On the Venezuelan side, depending on the location, the water tends to be softer and slightly acidic. In basins inhabited by the species on both sides, the pH fluctuates from about 6 to nearly 8. Some areas where clown pleco are found are heavily vegetated, where many places have nothing but rocks and wood.

Clown plecos live primarily in the watersheds of Caroni and Apure ( two main rivers). These rivers’ bottoms are littered with plant matter, rocks and, most importantly, sticks and driftwood thanks to the heavily forested areas where they flow.

Seasonal variation affects the ecosystem’s water environment. In Aquarium settings it is important to remember that these triggers are associated with the fish’s breeding cycle. The clown pleco’s life cycle is based around mating in rainy seasons and surviving through the dry seasons.

Feeding Clown Pleco

The primary factors of a clown pleco’s diet are wood and algae. Wood-eating plecos need a lot of fiber to stay healthy and thus are constantly eating. Fresh vegetables can be good for these fish.

Rather than eating large fish larvae, infants eat more algae. You can feed them three or four times a day, once at bedtime and one time at the night. The fish’s digestive tract is ideally always filled with food, so the more times you feed the fish, the better. They love feeding after dark, so it would help them if you could defrost your lamp before feeding. It is quite convenient to use wood tank ornaments that the fish can feed on.

The clown pleco is an omnivore and will eat most any live or frozen foods that are offered to it, including shrimp, worms, bloodworms, beef heart, earthworm etc. Live foods and other animal-based foods are a great complement but should not be offered as a main food. Algae wafers are great to use as a staple for their diet. Generally, they’re not too fussy about food, but it’s worth bearing in mind that they need a varied diet plan to stay healthy.

A clown pleco should be fed more than once a day with fish food for omnivorous-herbivores, no more than two or three times a week with live food or other animal-based food, and daily with fresh vegetables, preferably after lights out.

Breeding Clown Pleco

Fortunately, clown pleco breeding is easily done in small domestic and commercial aquariums. Breeding often occurs among these fish even when it is not intended or planned by the aquarist.

The temperature of the tank must be reduced temporarily by about 2° C to provide the sense of a rainy season, then heated back up to trigger breeding. This breeding tank of clown plecos must have lots of hiding places. These hiding caves may be constructed with very small entrances for entry (considering, of course, the size of the particular fish). These caves allow the male fish to imprison the female.

To breed this type of fish, you must have a mature female and male. They need to be in the same tank with at least 24″ of water surface area. The pH level should be about neutral or just slightly acidic (6.8). More importantly, the water hardness should be low (0 to 5 KH).

It is important that your clown pleco has plenty of plants, rocks, wood, or other ornaments for hiding.

Both clown pleco will try to adapt themselves to nesting place (this is called “conditioning”). The females are oviparous and lay eggs. The male will trap a female in a cave until it lays eggs then will fertilize the eggs. The eggs will hatch in about three days.

Care guide for Clown Pleco

A clown pleco’s lifetime is about six to eight years if properly fed and cared for correctly. Their temperament is calm alone or with other fish. They do not require great expenses for feeding and caretaking. The recommended tank size for a pair of clown plecos is twenty gallons, adding another ten gallons for each fish you add to the aquarium. The tanks must have a temperature of 72° F – 86° F and pH between 6.5 and 7.5. An intense water current should be maintained within the aquarium as well as a natural one for them to enjoy. This will mimic the natural environment of the clown pleco.

Clown Pleco Behavior & Temperament

The general temperaments of clown plecos are very mellow and pleasant. They like to do their own thing below the aquarium. There is only one situation where an honest and friendly temperament changes. The two or more male pleco can get aggressive with each other over territory — for example, if two males want to play with the same pieces of driftwood. If you give them the right space it might decrease the risks, but that’s no guarantee.

Clown Pleco Tank Mates

Avoiding fish with aggressive behavior and excessive size differences is a rule of thumb for clown pleco tankmates. Fish that are prone to aggression and fighting (as the flowerhorn cichlid) need their own custom plans to ensure compatibility. If you have the wrong fish in the same tank, they can become each other’s dinner. If you are keeping your clown pleco with other species, choose other fish that can swim away from it quickly should any aggression occur. This will help prevent injuries to both the clown pleco and the other fish.

It is worth mentioning that you should look for fish with similar water parameters. All in all, the clown pleco is compatible with quite a few different kinds of fish because it an easy-going fish.

This isn’t an exhaustive list, but you can use it to get some ideas!

A few compatible fish for your clown pleco include:

  • Other species of plecos (although they may not be peaceful). It is best to prefer females over males, even if from another species.
  • Discus – as mentioned above, these are both easy to find and easy to keep. These would be great companions for your clown pleco, although they demand a lot of space and generally live at higher temperatures.
  • South American Dwarf Cichlids – Again, these cichlid species are generally peaceful towards other fish and nicely sized for a community aquarium. They can be quite territorial, but otherwise they are perfect tankmates.
  • Other larger bottom-dwelling catfishes – Asian Stone Catfish and Corydoras Catfish make good tank mates for your clown pleco. These fish are generally peaceful and easy to find.
  • Mollies, Platys, Guppies, Swordtails, and other livebearers – Again, these are all small fish that stay relatively small when they’re fully grown (a few inches long). The male swordtails get a little bigger than the females but not by much, so you could keep both sexes in the same tank (either alone or with like sized companions) without too many problems!

If you decide to keep a larger variety of fish with your clown pleco, it’s a good idea to do your research one species at a time. Learn about its temperament and what tankmates it can get along with before you buy or add them it to your aquarium. Also remember to check its compatibility with the physical and chemical water parameters.

Lastly, always keep in mind that some fish will just not get along with each other under any circumstances. If you have a very skittish African cichlid (for example) and a large territorial pleco then these two are likely to fight, so the best choice would be to make sure they stay separated!

Clown Pleco Tank setup

Due to the size of this fish, tank size is a crucial part of keeping it happy and healthy. Other things to consider are decorations that simulate the clown pleco’s native habitat and appropriate filtration for waste.

Tank size for Clown Plecos

The recommended capacity for a clown pleco’s tank size is ten gallons per fish. These are small fish  and do not require much space.

Filtration and aeration for Clown Plecos

Clowns, as a freshwater fish, prefer moderate rate of flow on the top floor of their tanks. No part of the aquarium should be without water flow, but that works well with this species since they like intense water flow as they hide in holes and logs.

You can use a canister or HOB filters for your pleco tank. It never hurts to put a stone into that hole to stimulate the flow of water. Clown pleco produce a large amount of waste for their size and need a robust filtration system with replaceable media that both mechanically and chemically separates waste and toxins from the water. The bottom of the bucket should have a moderate flowing supply of water. This helps prevent potentially harmful hypoxias from developing in the tank.

Aquarium plants for Clown Plecos

At times, the aquarium plants provide shade from the aquarium lights. The fish will probably not eat much of the plants, though they may nibble on it occasionally. Given the intense flow that could pull the plant root from the substrate, it is wise to avoid sensitive plants.

Clown Pleco Lighting, plants and decorations

Normally seen as nocturnal fish, clown plecos usually escape from caves or boulders at night. They sometimes snack on plants but usually are not destructive. As such it’s always good to choose between fast and low-growing plants. In terms of decor these fish need a lot of driftwood, sticks and branches to be happy as well as to have a balanced diet. Including rocks also helps develop the proper amount of edible algae that supports the growth of your plecos.

Clown Pleco Decorations

Because clown pleco is a bottom dweller, start with a soft substrate. Sharp stones or sharp substrates can hurt the fish’s whiskers and mouth. Live plants like hornworts or floating plants can provide nice covered islands for the fish. Rocks and caves provide your fish places to stay during the day as well as surfaces on which algae and biofilm can grow. Put an abundance of wood drifts. In nature these fish obtain all their nutrients in driftwood. This design is crucial to the overall health of your clown pleco.

Tank requirements for Clown Plecos

The aquarium should replicate the natural environment of the fish. Natural habitats include many dead forests roots, tree stump bark and vegetation as well as rocks. When you stimulate them, you may not be able to find clown pleco inside the tank. Sometimes the fish will eat the algae inside the tank, so you should encourage its growth around the tank. Add rocks and smooth stones (their surface permits growth of both algae and biofilm). For decorative purposes consider sturdier plants with strong leaves that are similar to Amazon swords.

Clown Pleco Common Diseases

Ich is the most popular disease in clown pleco fish. It is an external parasitic disease. The use of antibiotics may provide the best treatment for bacterial disease. Any red spots that appear on the skin on the eyes and belly indicate that your fish is infected with bacteria. Segregate infected fish into separate tanks. Before adding fish to an aquarium use a hospital tank to quarantine. Avoid any types of copper and potassium products as it is extremely harmful for fish in general. Do not use any medications that contain copper or potassium. It is always important to research symptoms to arrive at a correct diagnosis and treatment.

All in All, the Clown Pleco are a Great Fish

If you are considering adding a new fish to your aquarium but don’t want to take the time and expense of introducing another species for them to eat or compete with, consider getting a clown pleco. These low-maintenance creatures will be happy in many freshwater environments, and they enjoy the company of other types of fish. They also do well as pets that can live inside the home, given that they have access to sunlight when it is available. If you think this might be something for you, make sure to learn about these fascinating animals before taking one home!