January 30

Sarah Robertson

Ultimate Care Guide for Rubber Lip Pleco

The Rubber Lip Pleco is a fish that is native to the Magdalena basin in Colombia and the Apure River in Venezuela. Water levels and temperatures in these regions often rise dramatically during the rainy season. So, Rubber Lip Plecos are resilient to water condition changes because they have the ability to adapt. These waters, which are often heavy with vegetation, offer them their food.

Rubber Lip Plecos are part of the Chaetostoma genus, which includes a variety of armored suckermouth catfish. Rubber Lip Plecos have eyes near the top of their head, a huge sucker mouth, and a tapered body. The majority of these fish are grey in color, although they can also be tanned. Rubber Lip Plecos are one of the smallest species of Pleco, reaching only 5-7 inches in length (13-18 cm). Rubber Lip Plecos have spots on their face, which might be confused with freckles. It's possible for these spots to extend down their bodies as well. On their lower body, they may have a striped design as well. In comparison, other species of Plecos are known to grow much larger.

If you're interested in gathering more Rubber Lip Pleco information, continue reading this care guide.

Quick Facts about Rubber Lip Pleco

  • Scientific Name: Chaetostoma milesi (L146)
  • Common Name(s): Rubber Lip pleco, Rubber Lipped pleco, Rubbernose Pleco, Striped Pleco, Spotted Rubbernose Pleco
  • Origin: South America
  • Temperature: 72-78°F (22-26°C)
  • Size: 5-7 inches (13-18 cm)
  • Minimum Tank Size: 25 gallons (95 liters) to 30 gallons
  • Food & Diet: Omnivore with a heavily herbivorous diet.
  • Temperament: Peaceful, but can become slightly territorial as they get older
  • Lifespan: 10-12 years
  • Water pH: 6.5-8
  • Tank Mates: Neon tetras, Honey gourami, Sparkling gourami, and Ember tetra
  • Breeding: Cave spawners
  • Care Level: Easy

Rubber Lip Pleco Care

Because Rubber Lip Plecos are adaptable fish, they are simple to look after. There should be no problems with them living in a group aquarium since they are docile. They spend the majority of their time near the bottom of the aquarium. In reality, they may be hiding in a cave or beneath driftwood during the day. They are nocturnal, and as such, they will most likely be seeking food at night. When they are active, they are extremely inquisitive fish. They can be seen sucking on the tank's surface, ensuring that it is free of debris.

A well-maintained tank with the correct setup is required for Rubber Lip Pleco, but this fish can also be kept by a novice.

Rubber Lip Pleco Size

A Rubber Lip Pleco grows to be about 7 inches in length as an adult. When raised in an aquarium, most rubber lips top out at around 5.5 inches. Some of the factors that affect their size are the water conditions and the quality of food.

Rubber Lip Pleco Lifespan 

Rubber lipped plecos can live for up to 12 years if taken care of properly, but the length of their lives depends on their environment, diet, and upkeep procedures. Stress, which may be caused by a lack of room, erratic feeding, poor hygiene, or changing water conditions, can have a big impact on their lifespan. So, if you want your pleco to live a long and healthy life, it's important to provide him with the best possible care.

Rubber Lip Pleco Appearance

With a huge downward facing (ventral) suckermouth, Rubber Lip Pleco has the typical pleco shape and a broad head. Rubber Lip Plecos are members of a family of 150 armored catfish that have bony plates instead of normal scales. The dorsal fin of this creature is quite distinctive, with eight thin spine-like rays that lie flat against its back when it is still but stands like a sail when it moves.

When swimming, their pectoral fins are relatively short and close to the body, allowing them to maneuver around river bottoms and even support themselves upright on their pectoral fins while resting. Rubber lipped plecos are grey to brown in color, with black or dark brown markings on their heads. The spots tend to change to a striping pattern beyond their gills, although they may still be seen on the pectoral, anal, and adipose fins. Unlike the chubby pleco, rubber lips do not change color as they mature.

Albino Rubber Lip Pleco is a variety of Rubber Lip Pleco. Rubber lipped pleco and the rubber nose pleco are other common names for this fish. These fish are found along the Magdalena River in Columbia and the Apure River in Venezuela. Albino plecos are very popular with fish keepers because of their unique coloring. Despite their beauty, albino plecos are very delicate and require special care.

Rubber Lip Pleco Male Vs Female/ Sexual Dimorphism

The difference in size between male and female Rubber Lip Pleco must be noted to determine which is which. Male plecos are generally larger than female ones. Male Rubber Lip Plecos have a more prominent head, pectoral fins, and an attenuated abdomen than their female counterparts.

Rubber Lip Pleco Behavior 

The Rubber Lip Pleco is a peaceful fish that gets along well with other tank mates. It is a bottom dwelling fish that will spend most of its time hiding among the rocks and plants in your aquarium. The Rubber Lip Pleco is an excellent algae eater and will help keep your tank clean. They are nocturnal fish and are most active at night. So, if you are looking for a fish that is active during the day, this is not the fish for you.

Rubber Lip Pleco

Rubber Lip Pleco Food & Diet 

The Rubber Lip pleco is an omnivorous animal, but like other plecos, it prefers a diet that is more vegetarian in nature; they exclusively eat algae in the wild. However, because the algae in your tank do not have the same nutritional profile as that in its natural habitat, the Rubber Lip pleco will not survive solely on it. In certain situations, aquarists have attempted to create an environment in which more long-lasting algae can grow. Unfortunately, this is a difficult task, and even if you do it successfully, there may not be enough food to feed your new pleco. They will happily eat vegetables and other plants, which is something to be grateful for.

Here are some foods that Rubber Lip plecos will enjoy:

  • Peas
  • Algae wafers
  • Spirulina
  • Fresh zucchini
  • Spinach
  • Romaine Lettuce
  • Zucchini (preferably fresh)
  • Cucumber

You may offer your Rubber Lip pleco meat alternatives like freeze-dried bloodworms or brine shrimp, but going with plants is probably the best option. One thing to keep in mind is that these guys have a rather discerning taste. If you give your new pleco a variety of vegetables to eat early on, they may become bored with algae and stop performing their tasks as effectively. At the same time, it is important to feed your Rubber Lip Pleco once or twice a day; only give them food that can be consumed in a couple of minutes.

Rubber Lip Pleco Tank Mates

The Rubber Lip pleco is laid-back and easygoing, making him a suitable companion for a wide range of tank mates. In most cases, they will appreciate fish that have a similar disposition.

Rubber Lip plecos will get along well with the following species:

  • Goldfish
  • Cory catfish
  • Honey gourami
  • Neon tetras
  • Sparkling gourami
  • Ember tetra
  • Shrimp

The Rubber Lip pleco is a peaceful fish, but it may develop aggressive tendencies towards other plecos like the Clown pleco or Bola Pleco. If you have a pleco that is bullying your Rubber Lip, it is best to remove the aggressor from the tank.

The Rubber Lip pleco is not a good match for more aggressive types of fish, such as cichlids and betta fish. They can be harmful to your new catfish. It is critical to understand your fish's personality and evaluate whether they are suitable companions.

Rubber Lip Pleco Vs Bristlenose, Are They Compatible With Each Other?

If you're thinking about adding a fish like the Bristlenose pleco, make sure there's enough room for the Rubber Lip pleco to establish its own territory in the tank. Otherwise, the Bristlenose pleco, which also has an armored body may become aggressive towards the Rubber Lip pleco.

Rubber Lip Pleco Tank Setup

The Rubber Lip pleco is a freshwater fish that originates from the rivers of South America. As such, they require similar water conditions in the home aquarium.

Your Rubber Lip Pleco will feel most comfortable in an aquarium that closely resembles its natural habitat. Here are some tips to help you create the perfect environment for your new pet:

Rubber Lip Pleco Tank Size

While the Rubber Lip pleco is a tiny fish, a tank with at least 25 gallons (95 liters) of water is required. Some people may claim that the fish can live in smaller tanks, but we advise against doing so. A tank of at least 55 gallons is required if you want to keep them alongside other fish, particularly plecos. Always attempt to provide your pleco with the biggest tank feasible if you have the room and resources.

Water Parameters 

The Rubber Lip pleco prefers water that is similar to the water they are accustomed to in their native South America. While they are resilient fish, keep an eye on the water to make sure it meets these requirements.

The Rubber Lip Pleco Water Temperature should be between 72 and 78 degrees Fahrenheit (22 and 26 degrees Celsius), however, they can survive in much colder water due to their natural environments. The Rubber Lip pleco prefers water with a pH of 6.5-8 and a hardness of 8-12kDH, in which the Rubber Lip pleco thrives.


Rubber Lip Plecos, as bottom-feeding scavengers, thrive on a substrate that won't harm their stomachs. On the bottom, avoid using sharp aquarium gravel and instead use a combination of soft sand and round pebbles. Cover the top of the gravel product with a layer of sand for the Rubber Lip Pleco if you need to support your plant's development.

Rubber Lip Pleco

Filtration, Aeration And Lighting 

Rubber Lip Pleco fish are susceptible to ammonia and other pollutants that build up in a dirty aquarium, much like other aquarium species. They like to reside in very clean water that has been cycled through a decent HOB or canister filter. Plecos don't require a strong current, but they do like to swim in your filter outflows.

Plecos are sensitive to Dead Zones and areas of stagnation since they spend the majority of their time at the bottom of your aquarium. Bubblers and air stones can help keep the water's oxygen levels up, and your Rubber Lip Pleco will no doubt enjoy playing in the bubbles as well.

Rubber Lip Plecos, like many other bottom dwellers, dislike strong light and may avoid areas of your tank that are brightly illuminated. If you want your pleco to be more active during the day, you can put floating plants over your tank and they will keep it shaded. However, they may still hide until the lights go out at night.

Plants And Decorations 

Rubber lips dislike a bare tank, and having a minimal or basic set-up may be stressful for them. They like aquariums that are densely planted, include a variety of decorations, and have a combination of rough and smooth rocks as well as wood products such as sticks and branches. They also require numerous hiding spots, such as caves or hollow logs.

Some suitable plants for a Rubber Lip Pleco tank are:

  • Amazon Swords
  • Root Floater
  • Anubias
  • Water Wisteria
  • Java Ferns
  • Hornwort
  • Cabomba
  • Duckweed
  • Water Lettuce

While these are not the only plants that will do well in a Rubber Lip Pleco aquarium, they are all plants that can tolerate lower light conditions and will also help to keep the water quality high by absorbing nutrients.

Rubber Lip Pleco Breeding 

Rubber Lip Pleco breeding in home aquariums has been quite difficult, with almost no instances of success. This is frequently caused by a lack of space for them to breed and may be an ineffective endeavor. These fish require ideal living conditions, as well as a huge tank in order to ‘get in the mood for breeding. It is best to leave breeding to the experts and purchase your Rubber Lip Plecos from a reputable dealer. Rubber lip pleco prefers a tank that is at least 300 gallons in size, which is a far larger capacity than most home aquariums.

During the breeding season, rubber-lipped plecos prefer colder waters with a greater oxygenation level. If you want to set up a suitable, ideal spawning location, make sure the tank bottom is unheated and it has smooth slate and round pebbles. The improper breeding techniques might be very dangerous to your fish. Even if the technique is correct, insufficient information might result in failure with breeding.

We recommend that you do not purchase these fish for the purpose of breeding, since it may be a waste of time and money. If you want to try your hand at breeding them, make sure that you have a very large tank and that the water quality is pristine.

Rubber Lip Pleco Fry 

You can expect anywhere from 20 to 100 eggs if you are successful in breeding your Rubber Lip Pleco. After eight to ten days, the eggs will hatch and the fry will be free-swimming after another week.

You should maintain a separate tank for the fry. Offer them with a variety of hiding locations and a diet of small live foods. The fry will develop swiftly and can be moved to the main tank after a few months.

Rubber Lip Pleco

Rubber Lip Pleco Diseases 

The Rubber lip pleco does not have a specific illness that targets the species, but it is still prudent to check for bacterial infections. They can also have Ich, a disease that causes white spots to appear on the fish's body. It is generally easier to treat it early on, as it can spread quickly and be fatal if left untreated.

Because all scaleless fish are susceptible to the salt levels in their water, you should exercise extreme caution when treating illnesses in a tank with a pleco. Rubber lip plecos are susceptible to medications that include copper, so avoid using them or removing your pleco from the tank while treating other fish.

Look for anything unusual on the body or in the behavior of your fish for a few minutes each day. After some time, you should be familiar with the fish's activity rhythm. If you notice a significant change, it might be an indication that something is wrong.

Other disease indicators include:

  • Lack of appetite
  • Damaged fins
  • Erratic swimming
  • Unsettled behaviors
  • Swimming upside down for extended periods of time
  • Hiding more often than usual
  • Discoloration of the skin or fins

If you see any of the previous symptoms, we advise you to immediately remove the fish from the tank and place it in a hospital tank. This will help you treat the fish more easily and also prevent the spread of disease to other fish in your aquarium.


Are Rubber Lip Plecos Good Algae Eaters? 

Yes, they're a wonderful choice if your tank has algae issues, particularly the difficult-to-kill brown algae. A Rubber Lip Pleco is one of the few fish that like to chow down on brown algae, and they do a wonderful job of keeping your tank clean as well.

Do Rubber Lip Plecos Need Wood? 

While Rubber Lip Plecos do not need wood to survive, they certainly enjoy chewing on it. Wood also provides them with a much-needed source of fiber in their diet. If you do not have any wood in your tank, we recommend that you provide them with a piece of driftwood or bogwood to chew on.

What Fish Can Live With a Rubber Lip Pleco?

This pleco is a peaceful fish that can be kept with most other community fish. They are particularly well-suited for tanks with Cory catfish, Honey gourami, Ember tetra, Shrimp, Sparkling gourami, and Neon tetras.

How Many Rubber Lip Plecos Can You Put in a 20 Gallon Tank? 

While you could technically put two Rubber Lip Plecos in a 20-gallon tank, we recommend only keeping one. These fish grow to be quite large and need plenty of space to swim and hide.

How Long Do Rubber Lip Plecos Live? 

Rubber Lip Plecos can live for 10-12 years with proper care. They are a hardy species that is relatively easy to care for, making them a great choice for beginner aquarists. If you want a pleco that will be around for many years to come, the Rubber Lip Pleco is a great choice.

Do Rubber Lip Plecos Need a Filter? 

Yes, all aquariums need a filter to remove waste and keep the water clean. We recommend using a canister or Hang-on-back filter for your tank. Be sure to choose a filter that is rated for your tank size and stocking level.

Do Rubber Lip Plecos Eat Plants?

While they may nibble on soft, tender plants, they are not typically known to eat plants. If you're concerned about your plants being eaten, we recommend choosing plants that are too tough for them to bite, such as Anubias or Java Fern.

What is the Price of Rubber Lip Pleco?

The Rubber Lip pleco is readily available in most pet shops or fish suppliers, and it's a relatively inexpensive species to add to your aquarium. Their cost can start at around $12 USD. Make sure you do your research to find out where you should buy your pleco and what to anticipate in terms of financial commitment.

Overall, the Rubber Lip Pleco is an excellent choice for a beginning hobbyist seeking for a beautiful, peaceful, and clean machine fish.

Will Rubber Lipped Plecostomus Eat Other Fish?

Yes, they are scavengers that will eat everything that dies in your tank. They'll also grab any eggs or fry they happen to see opportunistically. However, they are not violent and don't usually harm or kill their tank mates. They may become aggressive as they mature, chasing away other bottom feeders from their preferred location. Due to this, they are not ideal tank companions for Bristlenose plecos or other algae-eating bottom feeders unless there isn't enough space in the tank for them or they have their own territory.

What To Feed Your Pleco 

Your Rubber Lip will take advantage of everything you add to your tank, particularly pieces that fall to the bottom. If you're already feeding your other fish live or frozen foods like brine shrimp, bloodworms, and Daphnia eggs, you don't need to feed them additional meaty foods. They do better on a vegetarian diet as well. So, in addition to the algae that naturally grow in your tank, you can supplement their diet with blanched vegetables like zucchini, peas, and sweet potato. You can also give them algae wafers or pellets designed for plecos.

How Often To Feed Rubber Lip Pleco

It is ideal to feed Rubber Lip Pleco 6 days a week, followed by a fast day on the 7th day. This will help keep them healthy and prevent them from getting obese. If you are feeding them live or frozen foods, we recommend only feeding them 2-3 times per week to avoid overfeeding. On alternate days, provide balanced meals by offering regular and nutritious foods. They may also scavenge any leftovers from the other fish.

Final Thoughts

The Rubber Lip Pleco is a great choice for beginner aquarists. They are hardy and relatively easy to care for, and they make a beautiful addition to any aquarium. With proper care, they can live for 10-12 years. It is relatively easy to feed since it is not a picky eater, and it will take advantage of everything you add to your tank. It is best to keep them in a tank with other peaceful fish and provide them with plenty of hiding places. Be sure to do your research before purchasing one to ensure that you are getting a healthy fish.

When it comes to breeding, the Rubber Lip Pleco is not known to be an easy species to breed in captivity. They are difficult to sex, and the fry are very sensitive to changes in water parameters. If you're interested in breeding them, we recommend doing extensive research and consulting with a professional breeder.

If you're looking for a pleco that is peaceful, doesn't require special care, and will help keep your tank clean, the Rubber Lip Pleco is a great choice.

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

{"email":"Email address invalid","url":"Website address invalid","required":"Required field missing"}

Subscribe to our newsletter