Are Rubber Lipped Plecos the Right Choice for Your Aquarium?

Are you considering buying a rubber lipped pleco?


The rubber lip pleco has 5 anal rays, 8 dorsal rays, and 5 hooked cheek spines. The RL pleco has a yellowish-green color covered by black spots.

The RL pleco can grow up to be 7″ long depending on the size of your aquarium.

The RL plecos are about 1-3 inches long when they are young. You can put them in a 10-15 gallon tank at that stage, but later on, your plecos will require a bigger aquarium.

It is true the RL pleco is small in comparison to some other plecos, but it is still nonetheless a big fish. Plecos can get quite bulky at maturation and will need enough space to comfortably maneuver around the aquarium.

Males are larger than females. Male RL plecos have a bigger head and pectoral fins and slimmer abdomen.


The rubber lip pleco is native to the Magdalena and Apuré River basins in South Africa. The RL pleco is best adapted for water temperatures between 70 and 78 F.

To replicate their natural habitat, fishkeepers should use well-rounded stones to replicate the appearance of a river floor (1).

This will also give them a smooth surface to suction.

Like most plecos, the rubber lip pleco can live in a


Your aquarium should be equipped with a biological filter. This will aid in the cycling process which is important for your rubber lip plecos and all other fish.


What do you feed a rubber lip pleco?

The RL pleco is an omnivore. They are one of the most adept algae-eaters.

Fishkeepers should provide RL plecos with other food sources other than aquarium grown algae. This will ensure that the plecos have a balanced diet and are getting all the nutrients they need.

You can feed them vegetables like lettuce, spirulina, spinach, peas, zucchini, cucumber, carrots. You might want to boil these vegetables for a bit

Tank Mates

Rubber lip plecos are shy creatures who like to hide and stay out of trouble.

Like most plecos, RL plecos are most active at night.

The rubber lip pleco is typically non-aggressive and peaceful with other species in the tank. However, plecos are sometimes territorial with other plecos. This happens more often during feeding time and shouldn’t be much of an issue.

Like most plecos, the rubber lip pleco will like to hide in the shade and caves.


Breeding is possible depending on multiple factors like the size of the aquarium, the parameters and diet. Plecos will generally reproduce only when they are healthy.

Common Disease

The RL pleco, like most other plecos, are extremely resilient. In my experience, plecos don’t easily become sick, but they are susceptible to some health issues.

If your pleco is covered in white spots, it is likely that this is caused by ich. This ailment can sometimes be hard to diagnose because other health issues cause white spots. Ich multiplies quickly. If you see that the white spots haven’t multiplied after 1 day, then it’s likely not ich.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do rubber lip plecos eat algae?

Yes, they love to eat algae. Just make sure to supplement their diet with other food sources like vegetables and occasionally meat. Feed frozen protein like bloodworms and brine shrimps. Do not overfeed them with meat since their diet should primarily be vegetarian.

Can rubber lip plecos live with goldfish?

Yes, they are peaceful. They will occasionally show aggression towards other plecos, especially during feeding time. This is normal and shouldn’t be an issue.

How long do rubber lip plecos live?

Plecos live long lives. Typically, plecos can live up to 15 years if they are kept healthy.

Can 2 plecos live together?

Yes. Make sure that your aquarium is big enough for two plecos and also, provide multiple hiding spots. You don’t want your plecos fighting over hiding spots. This will stress them out and create in-fighting.

How big do rubber nose plecos get?
Between 5 to 7 inches depending on the size of the aquarium.

Does pleco eat other fish?
Yes, but this generally happens when the fish has died or is weak.

I’ve had a baby pleco who looked really pale and seemed to be in the process of dying. The other plecos preyed on him while he was weak. I had to remove him from the aquarium in order to keep him safe.

I’ve also seen the plecos eat a guppy that had died overnight.

So while yes, they will eat fish, I’ve only seen that happen when the fish was either weak or had died.

Will plecos eat goldfish?
No, unless the fish is dead.

What fish will clean my tank?
Yes, they are adept algae eaters and can clean an algae-infested aquarium quite quickly.

Can a pleco live in a fishbowl?
No. They are too big for that kind of aquarium.

How long does it take for a pleco to reach full size?
About 1.5 years depending on diet, tank size and a panoply of other factors.

Do plecos eat the poop of other fish in the aquarium?

Will plecos eat live plants?

Does pleco need an air pump?

Index, Forum. “Chaetostoma Milesi • Loricariidae • Cat-Elog”. Planetcatfish.Com, 2020, Accessed 23 Jan 2020.

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