Rubber Lip Pleco Care Guide and Suitable Tank Mates

Rubber Lip Pleco Care | Fishkeeping Adventure

Rubber Lip Pleco Care | Fishkeeping Adventure

Hypostomus plecostomus, By Raphaël Covain,
[CC BY-SA 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Species Overview

Common Names: Rubber Lip Pleco, Rubber Lipped Pleco, Rubbernose Pleco

Scientific Name: Chaetostoma milesi (L146)

Adult Size: 5-7 inches

Life Expectancy: 10-12 years


Family: Chaetostoma genus

Origin: South America

Social: Peaceful

Minimum Tank Size: 25 gallons

Diet: Omnivore but leans more to the herbivorous side

Breeding: Cave spawner

Care: Easy

pH: 6.5 to 8

Hardness: 8 to 12 dKH

Temperature: 72 to 78 F

Rubber Lip Pleco is a strong and beautiful aquarium fish. It’s no surprise why they are becoming increasingly popular nowadays. 

This variety of Pleco is low maintenance, hardy, and compatible with tank mates such as Gouramis, Cory Catfish, and Tetras. They are great for novice aquarists as they are not fussy, adaptable, and love to be around humans.

However, it is crucial to give them the right environment. They only will thrive in a tank with plenty of room, rocks, and small plants to hide in.

If you are new to Rubber Lip Pleco care, here’s a helpful guide that will help you keep all of their needs in mind as you set up an ideal home with your new fish.


The Pleco (Chaetostoma milesi) is a species of armored suckermouth catfish, in the Chaetostoma genus.

This fish is native to South America. The Magdalena River in Colombia is known for its high biodiversity and the presence of freshwater fish. It is also home to the Chaetostoma milesi, an armored suckermouth catfish described as a “living fossil.”

The species is found in areas with high rainfall and survive water variations. It is quite hardy and can withstand different water conditions such as temperature changes and low oxygen levels.


Rubber Lip Plecos are relatively small freshwater fish with a body length of about 5 inches (13 cm). They have a narrow head and eyes near the top of their head. Their dorsal fin has eight dorsal spines, which are pretty slender.

It has a distinctive mouth, which is large and capable of producing a large quantity of suction. The coloration of these fish tends to be gray or brown with darker spots, usually on the head and body. It has a striped pattern on the lower half part of its body.

They also have a tapering body that gives them a long shape compared to other Plecos. These fish are often seen in groups, though they can also be seen alone.

The dorsal fin of this fish is long and extends past its anal fin, which makes up about half of the total length of this fish’s body. Its pectoral fins are short compared to other Plecos found in freshwater aquariums; however, they are still long enough to reach below their body when swimming at high speeds or turning around quickly.


The fish can live for 12 years or more if it’s taken care of properly. They are effortless to maintain and do not require any special care.

The only thing that you need to do is make sure that the tank is well-lit and clean. This will help the fish stay healthy and active.

Regular water changes are also recommended for these fish because they are susceptible to diseases and parasites if their water stays too long in one place.

If you want to keep your rubber lips healthy, here are some tips:

● Pick the Right Food

Feed them once every week or two on a pellet or wafer diet made for places. It’s recommended that you give them an algae wafer with 3 parts algae to 1 part fish food.

This ensures that all of their nutritional needs are met without adding extra fish food from time to time.

● Avoid Over Feeding

Do not overfeed your rubber lip by giving them too many pellets at once! Overfeeding can cause stress for the fish and lead to constipation which often leads to death because the fish cannot digest its food efficiently due to stress (this is especially true if you have more than one rubber lip).

● Provide Sufficient Plants and Rocks

This Pleco variety can be a bit sensitive to their environment. This is why you should ensure that there are enough plants and rocks in the tank so your fish can feel secure when it sleeps at night.

● Periodically Check Ammonia Levels

You should also ensure that there is no ammonia in the water; otherwise, it could lead to stress and other problems for your pet.

It would be helpful to be aware of reasons why Ammonia levels increase. For example, Ammonia levels can be high in newer tanks because they lack bacteria that fights against it.

Tank Parameters

This Pleco is a bottom-dwelling fish that will thrive in a planted tank and will spend most of its time in the substrate watching for food.

The Pleco needs a minimum of 25 gallons of water when kept in an aquarium (100 gallons is ideal). You should make sure that your tank is large enough to accommodate your fish and that there is plenty of room for swimming and hiding places for these fish. This will help them feel secure in their tank environment.

The size of the tank, however, depends on the size of the fish. You can keep many juvenile fish in a tank and add more as they age. The greatest concern is to avoid overcrowding your fish since it can result in substantial health problems because of low oxygen concentration. As a result, there will be a high mortality rate.

If the fish are overcrowded, you will notice the following behavior:

  • Erratic swimming
  • Loss of appetite
  • Sluggish movement

If you want to keep more than one Rubber Pleco in one tank, you need at least a 55-gallon aquarium with plenty of room for swimming and hiding places. You can also add some algae-eating plants like Java Fern or Hornwort, which will help keep the water clean while providing shade.

The water temperature should remain between 72-78°F (22-26°C). A pH between 6.5 and 8 will also work well for them, accompanied by water hardiness of 8-12kDH. They can tolerate lower temperatures when the sun is out, as long as the water is not too acidic.

They do not like bright lights, so if you are going to keep these fish in your freshwater aquarium, make sure you have dim lighting. You can use floating plants to provide the needed shade.

This pleco is sensitive to ammonia and other toxins, so they should not be kept in a dirty tank. They also like having plenty of oxygen in their tank, so ensure you have a large enough air stone and powerhead for your aquarium to provide this for them.

The substrate should be soft enough to allow the pleco to dig but not so soft that it gets stuck in the silt. The type of substrate you use will depend on what your tank looks like and how often you feed.

If you have many plants growing in your tank, then using a substrate such as peat moss or coconut coir is recommended. If your tank doesn’t have any plants growing yet, then using some soft sand and round pebbles might work better for you. They are best kept in a tank with sand substrate, rounded pebbles, plants, and live or artificial caves.

A Rubber Lip Pleco needs plenty of space to swim around in its tank while doing its daily nitrate cycle. During this time, they will release waste into the water, which can cause discoloration in your tank if it builds up too much. You can help reduce this by adding a sponge filter or filter sock to your filter intake during this time so that it filters out any solids before they enter your tank.

Food And Diet

These fish are omnivores, which means they eat meaty foods like freeze-dried bloodworms and insect larvae, as well as vegetables and fruits. Rubber Plecos are good algae eaters, so if you give them a choice between live rock and algae, they will pick the algae every time.

Rubber Plecos will also eat food broken down into smaller pieces. This can include crushed pellets or frozen brine shrimp nauplii (immature form of shrimp). They don’t care what food you offer them; make sure you provide it often enough for them to get used to it.

Plecos should be fed twice a day, at least once every 24 hours, if possible. If they’re actively trying to eat their food and eating well within an hour or two after feeding time, then you’re probably doing everything right.

You can feed them in smaller amounts twice a day by offering food in two separate containers for each feeding. This way, you can ensure the fish get all the nutrition they need without overfeeding them.

The Pleco is also a scavenger, which means it will eat any leftovers that are left over after feeding the other fish in your tank.

Lifespan And Diseases

This fish has a lifespan of 10 to 12 years in captivity if fed well with good water conditions. It is not affected by many diseases though it may be susceptible to Ich-parasitic infection. The ich parasite spreads from fish to fish through direct contact and water currents.

Ich-parasitic infection is a common disease in ornamental fish. It is caused by the Ich parasite and affects different species of fish. Ich parasites are found in infected fish’s gills, fins and skin. The disease can be fatal if not treated properly.

The most common symptom of ich-parasitic infection is loss of appetite, which may be accompanied by lethargy. Other symptoms include pale coloration and bumps on the body surface. Ich parasites also cause anorexia, diarrhea, cloudy eyes, and breathing difficulties, among other symptoms in some cases.

Ich parasites also increase the overall ammonia level in the tank, which causes fish to become lethargic and unresponsive.

Stress can also shorten the lifespan of a pleco. Stressful situations include high water temperatures, poor water quality, and overcrowding.

High water temperatures can cause stress for your pleco because it may not be able to regulate its body temperature properly. The fish will become lethargic and stop eating, which will cause its body to lose weight and weaken overall.

Poor water quality can be caused by various things such as algae blooms or other toxins in the water. If you notice your fish isn’t eating properly, it could be due to these problems.

Overcrowding is another thing that can cause stress in your pleco. As more fish are added to an aquarium, it becomes harder for each fish to get its needs met. This can lead to aggression between them and even cannibalism.


This is one of the most challenging species to breed in aquaria. The reason is that it is tough to replicate the natural environment of the wild.

The natural habitat of this species is the tropical rainforest, where they live in small groups in the understory of large trees, primarily epiphytes. They can also be found in rock crevices and caves.

Their diet consists mainly of fruit, but they will also eat smaller fish and invertebrates such as worms and insects. They are omnivorous and opportunistic feeders and eat anything they can catch or find.

While not much information is available about their breeding, some sources assert that they require calm waters during their breeding season. These waters are thought to have more concentration of oxygen.


Rubber Lip Pleco is a nocturnal fish and will feed on them at night. This can be beneficial as it allows them to eat at their leisure without any disturbance from you or your other tank mates.

It’s also beneficial because it means they have access to more fish food than if they were eating during the daytime when there are fewer fish around for them to hunt down. When feeding them at night, it’s essential that you don’t provide them anything offered in the daylight hours as this may make them associate eating with your tank mates.

The Pleco is a trendy choice for those who want a peaceful pleco that can be kept in an aquarium. These fish have been known to get along well with other species, but they have territorial tendencies that should be considered when choosing your tank mates.

The Lip Pleco can be territorial, but this is not common. They are very protective of their territory and will attack anything that enters it without permission.

They can also be aggressive towards each other if they feel threatened, so it’s best not to keep them with other species as pets. If you want to keep them together, ensure you have plenty of hiding places when they feel threatened.

Tank Mates

The Pleco is a popular fish often recommended as a tankmate for many other fish species. They can be kept in tanks with different types of fish, but they prefer their own company. The Pleco will eat most foods offered and can be housed with other fish similar to them in size and temperament.

Here are the best tank mates for this Pleco:

1. Gouramis

Gouramis are one of the most popular fish for freshwater fish tanks. They are easy to care for and can be found in nearly all aquariums, including reef tanks.

But why would you want to add a Gourami to your tank? There are many reasons.

The first reason is that they are pretty hardy fish, which means they will not die quickly. They can withstand low temperatures, so they make great cold water fish. They will also eat any algae that grows on your plants or corals, and they do not need much space in your tank.

Another reason is that they are very active and love to swim around in your tank. They don’t just sit there like other fish; they swim all over the place! This makes them ideal for new tank owners who want some extra activity in their aquarium.

Gouramis also provide a lot of entertainment and companionship. They are also not aggressive towards other fish, so they don’t cause any harm to them.

2. Cory Catfish

Cory catfish are great for a tank with a a pleco. They are small, peaceful, and can be kept with other fish in the same tank. Corys will eat any food ,feed your pleco and won’t try to take over the tank like other catfish species might.

They are also perfect algae eaters, especially if you have a pleco eating algae off of your walls or rocks.

3. Tetras

Tetras are very easy to care for, provided that you have a good quality aquarium with plenty of room for swimming space. They will also do well in planted aquariums, but they may be territorial towards other fish species if there is already a population.

Regarding tank mates, pleco is one of the best possible choices for your tetra tank. The two species will not only get along well with each other but also with other species that are compatible with them.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are Rubber Lip Plecos good algae eaters?

Yes, they are. They are great algae eaters. The pleco is a very hardy and adaptable fish, surviving in water conditions ranging from very soft to very hard, and living in both fresh and brackish water. They are omnivores, eating both meat and plants.

Do Rubbernose Plecos need wood?

Yes, but the most important part is providing a substrate. These fish also need a substrate that is both soft and hard when it comes to food as well as hiding spots. This can include plastic gravel or slate rock, although plastic sand is more popular with pleco keepers because it does not become slimy with time like gravel does when left wet.

Do Plecos like sand or gravel?

Sand is a good choice for pleco sand castles because it’s soft enough for the fish to dig in without hurting themselves.

You can also use aquarium gravel or plastic pellets as your pleco tank substrates. Make sure the gravel is not sharp or jagged; this could harm your fish if they accidentally step on it or try to swim through it.

Are Rubber Lip Plecos shy?

Rubber Lip Plecos are not as shy as other species of Pleco. They do tend to get into a tank mate’s territory. Plecos are also very active, so they swim back and forth in their tank quite frequently.

Why is my black pleco turning white?

If you notice that your black pleco is turning white, it could signify that you need to clean up their tank more often. This can be due to an accumulation of waste, which will cause the fish to turn white. If this happens, you should immediately change out your water and ensure no residue left behind from previous cleaning sessions.

Do Plecos clean your tank?

Plecos are excellent for cleaning the bottom of your tank. They have a special organ to sift through the sand and find food. It’s called the gizzard, and they can be trained to eat pellets or frozen foods. If you don’t want this to happen, teach them not to eat plants. They will also eat algae and other small plants, but they have a hard time keeping up with fast-growing algae like Caulerpa or Sargassum.

While Plecos may not clean your tank, they will certainly help keep it clean. This can sometimes mean removing algae from your substrate or creating a habitat for other beneficial organisms.

Final Thoughts

This Plecos is easy to maintain as long as you know what you are doing because they can be a bit sensitive to water parameters and need high oxygen content. If you pick up one of these fish, please do a little research before buying, and that you have the appropriate tank for a Rubber Lip Pleco.

Using an under gravel filter is probably the ideal filtration method for this fish because it doesn’t use much energy and provides high, efficient oxygenation levels. Now that you have a general idea of how to care for your pleco, it’s time to pick an appropriate tank mate(s).

In addition, it also would help if you found a community fish that can survive the same water conditions as the pleco. It needs to be big enough to not be eaten by the pleco but small enough not to stress it out.


Edwin is a passionate fishkeeper since he was a kid. He loves caring for the fish and sharing his ideas about fishkeeping with family and friends. He is the owner of Fishkeeping Adventure.

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