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Suckermouth catfish - Hypostomus plecostomus

Suckermouth catfish - Hypostomus plecostomus

Scientific name: Hypostomus plecostomus

Common name: Suckermouth catfish

Family: Loricariidae

Usual size in fish tanks: 45 - 52 cm (17.72 - 20.47 inch)


Recommended pH range for the species: 6.4 - 7.6

Recommended water hardness (dGH): 10 - 25°N (178.57 - 446.43ppm)

0°C 32°F30°C 86°F

Recommended temperature: 22 - 28 °C (71.6 - 82.4°F)

The way how these fish reproduce: Spawning

Where the species comes from: South America

Temperament to its own species: peaceful

Temperament toward other fish species: peaceful

Usual place in the tank: Bottom levels


South America, Suckermouth catfish are mostly found in the waterways of the Orinoco River.


The expected life span for Hypostomus plecostomus is 10-15 years.

Short description

Hypostomus plecostomus is often kept in smaller tanks that do not allow for the full size of a mature specimen. Many novice keepers may not realise the full adult size of these fish as they are normally sold as juveniles, if kept in a large enough aquarium they are a great addition though and in milder climates they can even be kept in outside fish ponds but always check before attempting this move. They are often referred to as the common plec which somehow takes away the beauty of these fish but they have been very popular for many years because they are very hardy and can accept many different water parameters but like all species of fish the keeper should maintain as high a water quality as possible. Add rocks or artificial caves to provide hiding places and use subdued lighting. They are high waste producers so make sure that the filtration system is rated for this and perform regular water changes, at least 10% weekly.

Live plants can be added to the aquarium but be prepared for some damage as they may uproot the plants and even nibble leaves away at some species of plants.

As juveniles they are placid and will socialise with each other but as they mature they do become territorial and aggressive to their own species and other bottom dwellers so it is advised to only keep one specimen per aquarium.

Food and feeding

Although Suckermouth catfish will accept anything offered, its diet should be mainly vegetable based. Spirulina flake or pellets along with algae wafers are ideal for the staple diet. Treats of blood worms and brine shrimp will also be accepted. As this is a mostly nocturnal fish, an evening feed should be of more benefit. In the past they were classed as algae eaters and no supplements to their diet was offered but nowadays this practice is becoming more rare and keepers appreciate that these fish need a varied diet as much as the other tank inhabitants.


Mature males will have thicker pectoral fins that will start to show a pinkish colouration. When viewed from above females may appear to have a stockier body shape.


As of yet, there are no reported cases of this fish breeding in the aquarium. In the wild they use holes in the river banks for spawning sites. Like most of the plecs the male assumes the parental duties and once the eggs are fertilised, the female plays no further part in raising the young.


Provided by Mihail of Romania.

Suckermouth catfish picture

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