September 2

Sarah Robertson

Sunshine Pleco: the Perfect Playmate for Your Aquarium

The Sunshine Pleco is one of the most colorful members of the Loricariidae family. On first impression, these fish appear to be similar to other spotted pleco species. However, as the fish grows, its distinct appearance becomes more obvious.

The Sunshine pleco (Scobinancistrus aureatus) is a species that lives in the Rio Xingu hot waters in Brazil. The scientific name of Sunshine pleco is Scobinancistrus aureatus. It's also known as the Golden plecos, Sunshine Plecostomus, and L014. The fish in this genus are notable for their vibrant yellow dots on the body from head to tail, giving them an appealing pop of color.

Sunshine Plecos are a hardy fish that is quite popular among aquarium hobbyists. However, it is crucial to have a firm understanding of their basic care requirements before acquiring one. These animals may be sensitive to poor tank conditions and require specialized care.

Sunshine Pleco Quick Guide 

  • Scientific Name: Scobinancistrus aureatus
  • Diet: Omnivorous
  • Care Level: Easy-Moderate
  • Compatibility: Peaceful
  • Ph: 5.8 - 7.2
  • Temperature: 77 to 84 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Water hardness: Up to 30 dKH
  • Minimum Tank Size: 100 Galloons
  • Tankmates: Angelfish, South American cichlids, Oscar, Rainbowfish
  • Breeding: Commercially bred in outdoor ponds
  • Size: 10-12 inches
  • Life expectancy: 8-10 years

Sunshine Pleco Distribution

The Sunshine Pleco (Scobinancistrus aureatus) is a medium-sized freshwater catfish that originates from Rio Xingu in Brazil. It occupies oxygenated waterways, sticking to the bottom of the water column to scavenge for food. In comparison to other types of plecos, sunshine is in huge demand in the fish market.

Sunshine Pleco Size 

The Sunshine Pleco can reach a length of ten to twelve inches, with females usually being larger than males. However, there are several variables that influence the size of an individual fish, including water temperature, nutritional quality, and even tankmates.

Sunshine Pleco Lifespan

The average lifetime of a Sunshine Pleco is between eight and ten years, although they have been reported to live much longer. It's critical to give your fish the ideal care in order to maintain them alive and healthy for a long time.

Sunshine Pleco Appearance

These fish are easily recognizable by their striking yellow coloration, which is a result of unique xanthophores pigments in their skin. The fish is covered in bright yellow dots from head to tail fin. The spots are on a black or dark brown background, creating a striking contrast. When the fish is younger, the spots appear larger and more separated out.

When the fish reaches maturity, the design becomes thicker. The belly and fins are highlighted with a brilliant yellow color palette, adding to the abundance of vibrant hues.

The same pleco profile is found in this species. They have flat bellies, underturned sucker mouths, and a fantastic array of fins. The fins are covered with spiny rays, and the prominent dorsal fin resembles a shark's fin.

On the fins, the color scheme continues, although most fish have yellow or brilliant orange edging. You could also notice a spotless yellow belly.

Sunshine Pleco Gender Differences

Sunshine plecos are distinct from each other in terms of appearance.

  • The Male Sunshine pleco is usually larger and has a "bristled" appearance that glimmers when light falls on the fish's body, as opposed to the female. Males also have a tiny spine-fin ray on their pectoral fins.
  • The head shape of male and female Sunshine plecos is another distinction. The male pleco's head is block-shaped, whereas the female pleco's head has a triangular shape.
  • Additionally, the female Sunshine pleco's body is wider around the midsection area, as compared to the male Sunshine pleco.

Sunshine Pleco Behavior and Temperament

Sunshine plecos are a relatively peaceful species that does not bother other fish and can be kept with other community fish. It is essential to provide them with a tank that is big enough so they can establish their own territory and have room to roam.

The Sunshine Pleco is an active swimmer and will often explore every nook and cranny of the aquarium. They love to play in caves, under driftwood, and in dense vegetation. It is essential to provide them with plenty of hiding places in the tank so they can feel secure.

A beautiful aquarium is necessary for both growth and enjoyment. Sunshine plecos spend the majority of their time swimming at the bottom of the water column, so doing things correctly adds value.

Sunshine plecos are nocturnal creatures and are most active at night. During the day, they rest in their hiding spots and come out to feed.

Sunshine Pleco Appearance

Sunshine Pleco Fish Tank Setup

Setting up a tank for a Sunshine Pleco entails considering both the size and activity patterns of these nocturnal fish. Always remember, the lifespan of your Sunshine Pleco will be heavily impacted by the quality of their environment.

Here are some ideas for setting up the ideal living environment for your Sunshine Pleco.

Sunshine Pleco Tank Size 

A Sunshine Pleco requires at least 100 gallons of water and will do better in larger aquariums. Some aquarists keep these fish in tanks as little as 20 or 30 gallons, but it's not an option if you want them to live for a long time. The reason a big tank is necessary has to do with the fact that Sunshine Plecos are active swimmers. They need room to move around and establish their own territories. Large tanks not only will aid them in reaching their full potential, but it will also aid you in controlling the building up of ammonia and nitrates.

The majority of Sunshine Pleco owners who have seen their fish live (or surpass) their normal lifespan kept them in tanks with a capacity of 100 gallons or more. We believe that getting the tank size correct is the second most crucial component of Sunshine Pleco care, after ensuring good water quality.

If you want to keep them in a group tank, ensure there is adequate room for competition. This is especially true if you're going to house other bottom-feeders in the tank.

Sunshine Pleco Water Parameters

You'll need to refill these fish's water frequently. Despite their resilience, you'll need to offer them water that they like. The convenience of keeping these fish in such a big tank is that the conditions may be more readily maintained. It's just as essential to maintain consistency as it is to achieve precision!

The ideal water temperature for a Sunshine Pleco is 77 to 84 degrees Fahrenheit. The pH level should be maintained within a range of 5.8 to 7.2, although 6.0 to 8.0 is acceptable. Although the ideal range is between 20 and 30 degrees Celsius, most Sunshine Pleco prefers temperatures of 25 to 30 degrees Celsius. Water hardness Up to 30 dKH is required.

When new aquariums are set up, keep an eye on these variables on a regular basis to ensure that they don't change. Sunshine Pleco life spans are long, and although they can endure some degree of fluctuation (more so than other freshwater species), you want to maintain it as low as possible.

Sunshine Pleco Tank Decor 

The Sunshine Pleco is a retiring fish that prefers to have a lot of escape options. As a result, provide them with as many cave entrances, vegetation, and other decorations to let them feel at ease.

  • Caves: Caves are necessary for the fish's well-being since they like to rest there throughout the day. Bogwood is required for a Sunshine Pleco tank for both dietary and aesthetic reasons, as it appears to be the Sunshine Pleco's favorite hiding place. Aside from this, any sufficiently big dark refuge will be utilized, even if it is bogwood. Rocks, driftwood fragments, and even PVC pipes may all be used to create hiding places. Just make sure whatever you use is secure for your fish and won't fall over and crush them if it does.
  • Plants: Sunshine Plecos have no preferences when it comes to plants. You can either use real or fake plants, as long as they are secure and won't collapse on top of your fish. That being said, real plants are always the better option since they help to oxygenate the water and provide your fish with a place to forage. There are many plants that can live in low-light aquariums, such as Anubias, Java Ferns, and Cryptocoryne. However, make sure that the plants used in the tank are not poisonous to your Sunshine Pleco!
  • Substrate: Another crucial component of the fish's environment is the substrate. A smooth gravel or sand surface is ideal because it won't harm your fish's beautiful barbels. Ensure that the substrate you pick isn't harmful to your fish and doesn't cause them any discomfort.

Sunshine Pleco Tank Maintainance 

The upkeep of a tank is one of the most important aspects of Sunshine Pleco care. These fish are voracious feeders, producing a lot of waste, so you'll need to keep an eye on things in order to maintain water quality.

  • The greatest method to do so is to perform water changes on a regular basis. We propose that you alter at least 20% of the water every week. It's even better if you can do it more often.
  • You'll also need to vacuum and clean the filter on a regular basis, in addition to doing water changes. These fish are hard on equipment, so be prepared to replace things more frequently than normal.

Here are a few more bits of advice: don't be excessively meticulous about cleaning. The tank does not need to be cleaned too harshly since these fish prefer little algae there. Algae is actually beneficial to these fish!

Sunshine Pleco Tankmates 

Because Sunshine plecos are bottom feeders that are nocturnal, it's critical to get tankmates who sit at the middle-to-upper levels of the aquarium as well as those that are more active during the day so that the different species don't compete for space or attention.

Some of the most compatible tankmates for Sunshine plecos are:

  • Corydoras catfish
  • Angelfish
  • South American cichlids
  • Oscar
  • Rainbowfish
  • Danios
  • Barbs
  • Tetras
  • Mollies
  • Platies

This list is not exhaustive, but these are some good options to get you started.

It's critical to do your homework before adding any fish to your aquarium and ensure there is plenty of swimming room for them all. Not all species get along, and it's crucial to create a peaceful atmosphere for everyone involved. Keep an eye on your fish make sure they're all content and healthy. If you detect any conflict, remove the agitator immediately.

Sunshine Pleco Diet

Sunshine Pleco Diet

In the wild, the Sunshine Pleco is an omnivorous fish that may consume both meat and plant-based foods. In the wild, everything from tiny insects to algae-based foods to vegetation is consumed by the fish. The following are some of the most common meals for plecos:

  • Algae wafers: Algae wafers are an excellent way to complement your Sunshine Pleco's diet. These wafers fall to the bottom of the aquarium, making them perfect for plecos. Just be sure you're buying from a respectable manufacturer that doesn't include any hazardous chemicals or fillers.
  • Live food: Giving your Sunshine Pleco live foods on occasion is an excellent way to ensure that they get all of the nutrients they require. Brine shrimp, daphnia, and bloodworms are all viable live food options. Only offer live food in modest doses because plecos may spread dangerous diseases by eating it.
  • Frozen food: Frozen foods, such as live organisms, are just as nutritious as fresh ones and can be substituted for them. Frozen brine shrimp, daphnia, bloodworms, and mosquito larvae are excellent options for frozen meals. Despite the fact that frozen dinners may be consumed on a daily basis, it is still critical to offer your fish tiny portions at a time.
  • Vegetables: Vegetables should make up a significant part of your Sunshine Pleco's diet. Cucumbers, zucchini, spinach, and lettuce are all excellent options. You may offer them steamed, boiled, or raw vegetables. Just be sure to clean them thoroughly before feeding them to your fish.
  • Flake food: The Sunshine Pleco fry feeds on flake food as well. Make sure you're using edible flakes appropriate for omnivorous fish. These are available at any pet shop that sells fish food.
  • Pellets: Plecos of all ages enjoy pellets as a dietary supplement. Choose pellets that are made specifically for omnivorous fish and contain all of the nutrients your Sunshine Pleco needs to stay healthy.

Even if the Sunshine Pleco eats a lot of food, it should be fed in small amounts at once. Swimming bladder disease and obesity may result from overfeeding. Feed them three times a day and make sure you only offer them what they can finish in two minutes. To avoid water quality problems, empty the tank of any uneaten fish food to maintain your fish healthy and your water clean.

Sunshine Pleco Diseases

Sunshine Plecos are susceptible to the same illnesses that other fish get, including:

  • Ich: Ich is a common freshwater fish disease caused by a parasite. The symptoms include white spots on the skin, lethargy, and decreased appetite. If you believe your Sunshine Pleco has ich, raise the water temperature to 86 degrees Fahrenheit and add aquarium salt at the rate of one tablespoon per five gallons. Antibiotics may also aid in the treatment of ich.
  • Velvet Disease: Velvet disease is another freshwater fish illness caused by a parasite. It's identified by its gold dust-like appearance on the skin. If you believe your Sunshine Pleco has velvet disease, make sure to quarantine it immediately to prevent the spread of the disease.
  • Swim Bladder Disease: Swim bladder disease is a common ailment in plecos. It's identified by its abnormal swimming patterns, such as floating upside down or having difficulty staying afloat. If you believe your Sunshine Pleco has swim bladder disease, treat it by fasting it for two to three days. After the fasting period, offer your fish small, frequent meals.If caught early enough, medicine may be used to cure it; if left untreated, though, it is deadly.
  • Hole in the Head Disease: The illness is caused by Hexamita, a parasite. It causes holes and sores on the pleco's head. If left untreated, it has the potential to be deadly. Keeping your aquarium clean and maintaining good tank conditions are among the most effective defenses against this disease. This implies performing water changes on a regular basis and keeping your tank neat.
  • Pleco Lice: These are external parasites that attack plecos. The symptoms include incredibly itchy skin and restlessness. If you believe your Sunshine Pleco has pleco lice, you should treat it with an anti-parasitic medication.
  • Dropsy: Dropsy is a condition that causes fish to have an enlarged, swollen belly and protruding scales. Dropsy can be deadly if it isn't treated. To cure dropsy, you may treat it with antibiotics and anti-inflammatory drugs.
  • Columnaris: Sunshine Pleco is susceptible to columnaris, a bacterial infestation that causes white or gray patches on the fish's body. This sickness might induce white or gray marks on the fish's body. Columarias can be treated using a variety of medications, including antibiotics.
  • White Spot Disease: It results in white patches on the pleco's body. It can be deadly if not treated promptly. You may use water changes and proper tank maintenance to prevent this illness from spreading.
  • Fin Rot: Fish fin rot is an illness that affects fish fins and tails. The disease causes the fins to broaden or collapse. Fin rot may be treated with a wide range of antibiotics, including one that attacks the infection.


The Sunshine Pleco is susceptible to a variety of illnesses, some of which are difficult to detect. The following are the most prevalent:

  • Loss of appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Abnormal swimming behavior
  • Lethargy
  • Holes on the head
  • White patches on the body
  • Gasping for air
  • Floating upside down

If any of these symptoms are observed, the fish should be quarantined as soon as possible to avoid spreading the infection to the other fish in the tank.


Prevention is always preferable to treating an illness. As a result, in order for your Sunshine Pleco to live a long, healthy life and avoid illness, you must follow the following preventative measures:

  • Before you add new fish to your tank, quarantine them for a few days.
  • Keep your aquarium clean and healthy.
  • Always double-check the water conditions.
  • Keep your eyes open for signs of sickness before they become serious.
  • On a regular basis, carry out a part tank water change.
  • Remove any uneaten food from the tank.
  • Feed your pleco a varied diet.
  • Give your pleco some place to hide in the tank to reduce stress for him.

The greatest cure is prevention, so make sure you're doing everything you can to keep your Pleco healthy and happy. Tank maintenance, a varied diet, and frequent monitoring will go a long way toward ensuring that your Sunshine Pleco has a long and prosperous life.


If your Sunshine Pleco becomes ill despite your best efforts, there are a number of things you may do to cure it. The following are some of the most common treatment choices:

  • The first action in treating any ailment is to quarantine the sick individuals. This will aid in the prevention of the disease from spreading throughout the aquarium.
  • A water change is a fantastic technique to get rid of pollutants from the water that are making your pleco sick.
  • Adding salt to the tank has been found to help with a variety of ailments, including fin rot, ichthyosis, and columnaris.
  • Antibiotics can be used to cure bacterial infections if the cause is bacterial.
  • Anti-inflammatory medications, such as prednisone, can be used to cure fin rot and Dropsy.
  • A nutritious diet and clean water are required for the treatment of any illness.

This is a list of some of the most common Sunshine Pleco disease treatments. If you're unsure what to do, get advice from an expert before attempting any methods.

Sunshine Pleco Breeding

Sunshine Pleco Breeding

It's nearly impossible to breed Sunshine Pleco in aquariums at home. This is due to the fact that the fry is extremely delicate and must be handled with care. As a result, it's preferable to leave breeding to the professionals.

However, if you are prepared to put in the time, money, and effort, you may be able to succeed. Here are some suggestions that might assist you:

Breeding Tank Setup

The beautiful Sunshine Pleco is a native of the Rio Xingu in Brazil's Mato Grosso state. The young and half-grown live in water depths of 3.28 to 9.8 feet (1 to 3 m), while adults reside in deeper, more darkish water. To replicate their natural environment, keep the Sunshine Pleco in a darkened area where the only source of light is from a single open door.

A 250 gallon aquarium that measure 80 x 32 x 28 inches (200 x 80 x 70 cm) is an ideal size for a breeding tank. The bottom should be lined with a 2-inch (5-cm) layer of gravel, with an undergravel filter positioned beneath. It's also suggested to install a powerful current pump to keep the water moving and guarantee a high oxygen level, which is necessary for successful fertilization.

Caves, woods, plants, and roots should be arranged around the tank to provide hiding places for both parents and fry. A rectangular cave is more appropriate for this species than a round one, as it offers more security.

Breeding Tank Water Parameters 

The water should be kept at a temperature of 82.5°F (28°C). The pH level should be about 7.5, while the hardness should be in the 4°dGH range. Make sure there is no nitrate or ammonia in the water. High oxygen and low nitrogen levels, as well as a warm water temperature, are required for successful breeding. This applies to all loricariid catfishes from the Brazilian Shield's clearwater rivers.

Selecting and Conditioning

Select the fish that are to be used for breeding based on their size and color. The female and male must be of same size and age. This will result in a higher success rate and fewer injuries.

In order to condition the fish for breeding, live foods such as bloodworms, tubifex, and daphnia should be offered. The fish must be well-fed but not overweight, as this can lead to difficulties during spawning. The recommended way to feed the fish is once a day, shortly before nightfall. It appears that regular feeding, which is always at the same time of day, is required.

Spawing and Hatching

When the female is ready to spawn, she will start looking for a suitable place to deposit her eggs. The male will then follow and fertilize them. After spawning is complete, the parents must be removed from the tank, as they may eat the fry.

It takes about 10 days for the Sunshine Pleco fry to hatch. They should be fed live foods such as daphnia, brine shrimp, and bloodworms. As they grow older, they can be offered tubifex, chopped earthworms, and finely ground dry foods.

Sunshine Pleco Breeding In Nature

The age of sexual maturity for the Sunshine Pleco is 2 years. Breeding usually takes place in the months of May-June, with water temperatures between 77 and 86°F (25 and 30°C).

The Sunshine Pleco is a species of pleco that may be found in nature digging deep tunnels in muddy water to deposit its eggs. This happens mostly during the rainy season. At night, females lay their eggs. One female can produce up to 120-200 young at once. The adult males then look after the fry.

After around a week, Sunshine Pleco fry hatch out. They dwell at the bottom, where there is silt, and they live for about six days. The yolk sac phase comes to an end after six days. Later on, artemia, cyclops, and daphnia are added to their diet. Their development is quite quick; Sunshine Plecos can grow up to 1.5 inches (4 cm) in just two months.

During the first few weeks, 1014 Sunshine Pleco fry have a brownish coloration. When they reach around 3-4 months old, their final colors start to develop. At this stage, they are already sexually mature.

Frequent Questions 

What do you feed a Sunshine pleco

What do you feed a Sunshine pleco?

The Sunshine pleco is an omnivore and in the wild, it feeds on a variety of foods, including algae, detritus, crustaceans, insects, and small fish. In captivity, it should be offered a varied diet that includes vegetables, sinking pellets or tablets, live/frozen foods such as bloodworms, brine shrimp, and daphnia. As it grows older, it can be offered chopped earthworms and tubifex.

How long do sunshine plecos live?

Sunshine plecos can live for up to 10 years in captivity if they are properly cared for.

How big will a sunshine pleco get?

Sunshine plecos can grow 10-12 inches (25-30 cm) in length. However,this requires a large tank and good water conditions. In a smaller tank, they will reach a maximum size of 8 inches (20 cm).

How many sunshine plecos should be kept together?

Sunshine plecos are generally peaceful fish and can be kept together in a group. However, because of their large size, they should be kept in a tank that is at least 125 gallons (473 L).

How big of a tank does a sunshine pleco need? 

Sunshine plecos need a minimum tank size of 125 gallons (473 L), but because of their large size, they will do better in a larger tank.

What can live with sunshine pleco? 

Sunshine plecos are generally peaceful fish and can be kept with other peaceful fish of a similar size. However, because of their large size, they should only be kept with fish that are at least 8 inches (20 cm) in size.

Can sunshine pleco be kept alone? 

Sunshine plecos can be kept alone or with other fish. They are very peaceful fish and will not bother other fish in the tank.

Are sunshine pleco peaceful?

Yes, sunshine plecos are very peaceful fish and will not bother other fish in the tank. Tank mates such as angels, barbs, loaches, and rainbows make good companions for sunshine plecos.


The Sunshine Pleco is a great way to add some vibrant color and personality to your aquarium. These fish are robust and simple to maintain, making them an excellent choice for beginning aquarists. Sunshine Plecos are long-lived, with a typical lifespan of 10 years in captivity.

This implies that these lovely one-of-a-kind fish may be with you for a long time. Due to this reason, they have become very famous in the aquarium trade.

Although they are robust, they are just as susceptible to illnesses as other fish. Providing your Pleco with a clean tank, a varied diet, and regular monitoring for early symptoms of the disease is the best method to keep it healthy. 

If your pleco becomes ill, you may try one of several options. If you provide your Sunshine Pleco with proper care, you will have a happy and healthy fish for many years to come. Thanks for reading!

Sarah Robertson

I am a passionate blogger who also happens to be a fish keeping enthusiast. Writing about my hobby is something that I absolutely love to do, and it's no secret that my chosen topic is always centered around fish keeping.

Sarah Robertson

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