Hypostomus Plecostomus Care and Breeding Guide

The Hypostomus Plecostomus is a freshwater fish that is preferred by quite a number of aquarium hobbyists all around the world. The fish is native to the South American region although since it was introduced to the hobby, it has been distributed to various parts of Europe, Asia, and Americas. It is also sometimes referred to as the sucker mouth catfish for the way its mouth is uniquely made. Pleco has become popular among some aquarists because of its ornamental appearance. It is highly tolerant to a wide range of habitats and will easily adapt to new waters. It is classified as a highly invasive fish with a potential to cause wide spread invasion when introduced to areas it did not exist before.

There are just so many characteristics that the fish possess that enable them to be invasive and also to survive in a wide range of habitats. Their bodies are well protected, they build nests where they keep their eggs and guard the eggs, and the fish also have the capability to breathe air when conditions get hypoxic. With these characteristics the fish are surely able to get well in varied habitats where most aquarium fish may not even survive.

Appearance of Hypostomus Plecostomus

Hypostomus Plecostomus

Hypostomus Plecostomus has got a unique pattern of spots all over its body making a very attractive fish to look at. The fish has got a disc-shaped mouth which it uses for eating food such as algae growth. It has got rather small eyes that are perfectly placed high on its head. The fish has got structures on its eyes called omega irises that close when it comes into contact with very bright light. Most of the fish that are bought from pet marts or fish stores are usually between 2 – 4 inches long, however, in the wild it can grow to a stunning 12 to 24 inches long.


Hypostomus Plecostomus is a freshwater fish that is native to the South America region typically preferring to inhabit slow moving waters of streams and rivers. Mostly they occupy the lower reaches and falls of the river as well as the estuarine zone. The species is also known to inhibit lakes and swamps where it stays close to driftwood.

The fish also thrives in habitats where it was introduced in such as the upper basin of River Cauca in Colombia. Even though this river is highly polluted due to human industrial actions, the fish was found to be able to survive here better than the native fish that long lived there before their arrival.

Tank Setup

Because the fish can grow exceptionally big if you wish to keep it in a tank you will need to have a large tank. Setting a tank that is at least 50 gallons or even more is preferred. Ensure that your tank water is fresh water and very clean free of any debris that may introduce infection to your fish. For the filtration system, one that moves fast is better to provide the fish with lots of oxygen.

You can have a single Hypostomus Plecostomus in the tank although having pairs of them can help to alleviate boredom for them. Hypostomus Plecostomus likes to hide in dense vegetation in the wild, it is better to replicate its natural habitat with that of the aquarium. This means that you should provide it with stones to act as caves for it, and more plants in the tank.

To better learn how well to setup and keep the fish in a home aquarium, please read the following basic tank requirement:

  • Ph of the tank water should be at least 6.0 to 7.5
  • Temperature ranges of between 20 and 30°C

It is best to keep the top of the tank covered with a firm lid especially if the aquarium is that which is situated outdoors. This will help to avoid the possibility of the fish falling prey to birds of prey such eagles and hawks.


Pleco - Best Algae Eater

Feeding the fish is quite easy as it is omnivorous and will readily eat a wide variety of food it is offered. In the wild the fish is known to feed on algae, plants, invertebrates, insects, and other small fish. It can also be fed fresh or foods that are prepared at home as well. It is best however to provide the fish more plant food and give this in plenty for it to remain healthy and strong.

In order to ensure the cleanliness of the aquarium water, always ensure that you remove any food debris that remains in the tank after a meal. This will help keep the tank water clean and fresh and avoid the possibility of causing any opportunistic infections there.

A sneek peak at some other foods that you can feed the fish in the tank includes:

  • Algae wafers
  • Brine shrimp
  • Shrimp pellets
  • Blood worms (although they only need to be fed this occasionally)
  • Zucchini


In the wild, the Hypostomus Plecostomus inhabits a river mouth and usually spawns in muddy barrows on the side of the riverbanks. In order for you to successfully breed them while they are in captivity you may need to replicate for them the wild conditions for them in the aquarium. You can provide sandy substrate where the female can lay the eggs at the bottom of the tank. Once the female lays her eggs which may number anything from 300 to 400 eggs, the male will then fertilize them.

After the male has fertilized the eggs, he will guard them for a period of around eight days until they hatch. The newly hatched fry will then feed on mucus-like substance secreted by their parents for about a week and after which they will become independent. Please be informed that breeding the fish in aquarium setting is very hard and may be performed by experienced keepers only.

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