Rubber Lip Pleco: Size, Health, Diet, Care, and More

Scientifically known as Chaetostoma milesi
Dr. Mollie Newton
Published by Dr. Mollie Newton PHD| Senior Editor
Last updated: July 15, 2024
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Ever wondered how to take care of your **Rubber Lip Pleco**? This guide has got you covered, providing all the key details about this amazing fish. Learn about its origins, size, health, and what it likes to eat. You’ll also find easy tips on setting up the perfect home for it. With our practical advice, you can ensure your Rubber Lip Pleco stays healthy and happy. **Dive into** the fascinating world of the Rubber Lip Pleco right away. Don’t wait any longer; keep reading to discover more!

Article Summary

  • Originating from South America, the Rubber Lip Pleco is found in the Magdalena River in Colombia and the Apure River in Venezuela.
  • They have an average maximum length of around 7 inches.
  • They are suitable for all experience levels, as they are relatively easy to care for and adapt to various tank setups.

Species Summary: A Freshwater Fish

The Rubber Lip Pleco (Chaetostoma milesi) is a fascinating fish species that belongs in the Loricariidae family. This genus, Chaetostoma, is closely related to other suckermouth armored catfishes renowned for their unique appearance and behavior.

Originating from South America, the Rubber Lip Pleco can be found in two main rivers: the Magdalena River in Colombia and the Apure River in Venezuela. Its natural habitat consists of freshwater environments with rocky substrates where it can thrive.

This particular pleco species has several common names, such as Striped Rubber Nose Pleco…

This particular pleco species has several common names, such as Striped Rubber Nose Pleco, Striped Bulldog Pleco, Chaetostoma sp. L444, or Rubber-lipped pleco. Despite its intriguing characteristics and attractive appearance, the Rubber Lip Pleco remains relatively unknown among aquarists.

One of the reasons why this fish stands out is its hardiness and adaptability. It can tolerate a wide range of water conditions within an aquarium setup.

With proper care and maintenance, these plecos can live an average of 10-12 years. However, it’s important to note that elevated stress levels can significantly impact their overall lifespan.

Rubber Lipped Plecos Appearance

The rubber lip pleco, also known as the Chaetostoma sp., is a fish that exhibits the classic “pleco” appearance. One of its most distinctive features is its prominent rubbery lips, which give it its common name. These lips are specially adapted for scraping algae off surfaces.

Adult Rubber Lip Pleco

Rubber lip plecos are covered in bony plates called scutes. These scutes act as a form of armor, protecting the fish from potential predators. The scutes give them a rough texture and contribute to their rugged appearance.

Rubber lip pleco has an average maximum length of around 7 inches. However, it’s important to note that they have a slower growth rate than other fish species.


To ensure proper development and avoid stunted growth, it’s essential to provide enough space in the tank for them to roam freely.

Color Variation

Coloration variation is another intriguing aspect of this species. While their body coloration typically ranges from dark brown to black, there can be some variations within these shades.

Some individuals may exhibit lighter or darker tones depending on age and environmental conditions. It is fascinating to observe how different individuals can have slightly different shades of brown or black, creating a beautiful mosaic of colors in an aquarium.

One factor that can contribute to their color variation is age. As these fish grow older, their coloration may change and become more pronounced. Juvenile fish tend to have a lighter coloration, while older ones may develop a darker shade. This age-related color change adds to the complexity of their appearance and can make them even more captivating to observe.

Environmental conditions also play a role in the color variation of these plecos. Factors such as lighting, water quality, and diet can influence the intensity and richness of their coloration.

Plecos kept in well-lit aquariums with clean and balanced water exhibit more vibrant colors. On the other hand, those kept in dimly lit tanks or with poor water conditions may have a duller or faded coloration.

Rubber Lipped And Other Plecos

Rubber-lip, bristlenose, and chubby plecos are popular species with similar body structures and feeding habits. However, there are distinct differences among these species that are worth noting.

One key difference is in their coloration patterns. Rubber lip pleco typically has a dark brown or black body with light spots or stripes, while bristlenose pleco often has a mottled pattern with shades of brown and black. On the other hand, Chubby pleco has a lighter coloration with a more uniform pattern.

Another noticeable difference is in their physical attributes. Rubber lip pleco has a relatively more minor body than bristlenose pleco but a larger body compared to chubby pleco. This difference in size can be essential to consider when choosing the right pleco species for your aquarium.

The teeth of these species vary slightly in shape and size. While all three have teeth adapted for scraping algae off surfaces, rubber lip pleco may have somewhat different tooth structures compared to bristlenose pleco and a chubby pleco.

Rubber Lip Pleco Health

Rubber lip plecos have a diverse diet, primarily eat algae. However, their feeding options expand beyond algae to ensure proper nutrition and health when kept in captivity. While they can still be fed algae-based foods like flakes and wafers, it is essential to introduce other food sources.

In addition to algae-based foods, rubber lipped pleco can consume veggies…

In addition to algae-based foods, rubber lipped pleco can consume veggies such as leafy greens, cucumbers, and peas. These vegetables provide essential nutrients. Offering a mix of different options will prevent them from losing interest in algae due to solely relying on externally-supplied foods.

Consider incorporating additional protein sources into your feeding regimen. High-quality sinking pellets or tablets designed explicitly for bottom-dwelling fish can be given occasionally. This helps mimic their natural diet by providing the necessary protein intake.

One possible consequence of externally-supplied foods for fish is the potential loss of interest in consuming algae. When fish are consistently fed commercially-prepared foods, they may become less inclined to consume algae.

This can be detrimental to their overall health and well-being, as algae offer a variety of nutrients that may not be present in other types of food. Therefore, fish owners must ensure a balanced diet for their pets, incorporating commercially-prepared foods and natural sources such as algae.

Feeding Frequency

Establishing a proper feeding schedule and frequency is crucial for the overall well-being of your rubber lip pleco. Regarding the feeding schedule, feeding your rubber lip pleco once or twice a day is recommended.

However, these fish have a slow metabolism and do not require large amounts of food. Overfeeding can lead to health issues, so monitor their food intake carefully and ensure they receive an adequate amount without excess.

Maintaining a balanced feeding schedule and frequency, along with a varied diet, will help ensure the health and well-being of your rubber lip pleco. By providing them with the right amount of food and monitoring their intake, you can prevent obesity and promote their overall vitality.

Rubber Lip Pleco Care

While rubber-lipped pleco is generally hardy fish and not prone to specific diseases, they may encounter some common ailments. One such condition is ich (Ichthyophthirius multifiliis), which manifests as white spots. Another potential issue is bacterial infections that can cause fin rot or ulcers.

Preventive care plays a vital role in maintaining the health of your rubber lip pleco. Regularly observe their behavior and body for any signs of illness or distress. Take immediate action if you notice abnormalities such as decreased appetite, lethargy, or visible symptoms like white spots or damaged fins.

When treating diseases in rubber-lipped pleco, it is crucial to follow appropriate protocols. Quarantine infected fish to prevent the spread of illness. Consult a veterinarian or knowledgeable aquarium specialist for proper medication and treatment options.

Rubber Lipped Pleco Temperament

The rubber lip pleco is known for its peaceful and non-aggressive nature, making it an excellent addition to community aquariums. These fish have a mellow activity level, often resting or scavenging near the bottom of the tank. They are not prone to causing trouble with other tank inhabitants and generally maintain a calm demeanor.

Rubber lip plecos are not prone to causing trouble with other tank inhabitants…

They use their sucker mouth to latch onto surfaces. They enjoy investigating their environment by attaching themselves to rocks, driftwood, and aquarium walls. This behavior allows them to feel secure while providing an opportunity for observation.

Rubber lip pleco is primarily nocturnal creatures, displaying most of their activity during the night. During these hours, they engage in algae-feeding habits. Their diet mainly consists of algae and biofilm found in freshwater environments.

As rubber lip pleco ages, it become more territorial and antisocial towards other fish species. It is essential to consider this aspect when planning your tank’s inhabitants.

Tank Mates

To ensure a harmonious community fish tank, here are some suitable tank mates for rubber lip plecos:

Bala Shark

The Bala Shark can make a great tank mate with rubber plecos. Both species have similar water temperature and pH requirements, making maintaining a suitable environment for both easier.

Bala sharks are peaceful fish that prefer to swim in schools. They are active swimmers and need plenty of space to move around, so a larger tank is recommended.

Provide hiding spots and ample swimming space for both species. Bala sharks are fast swimmers and may occasionally nip at the fins of slower-moving fish. So, monitoring their behavior and ensuring all tank mates get along is essential.

Bala sharks are omnivorous and will readily accept a variety of foods, including flakes, pellets, and live or frozen foods. The rubber-lipped plecos are primarily herbivorous and rely on algae and vegetable matter for nutrition. A balanced diet for both species is essential to ensure their overall health and well-being.

Cory Catfish

Cory catfish are small, peaceful fish known for their playful and social nature. They are bottom-dwellers and prefer to live in groups. Cory catfish are also known for cleaning up leftover food and debris from the bottom of the tank.

On the other hand, it is advisable to avoid aggressive fish and cichlids when considering tank mates for your rubber lip pleco. When housing them with other pleco species, it is crucial to monitor their interactions closely as some territorial disputes may arise.

Both cory catfish and rubber-lipped plecos have similar care requirements. They prefer similar water conditions, including a 72-78 degrees Fahrenheit temperature range and a pH between 6.5 and 7.5. They also appreciate a well-maintained tank with plenty of hiding spots and plants to mimic their natural environment.

These species are bottom-dwelling fish, so providing enough space and hiding spots for each species to establish their territories is essential, as overcrowding can lead to stress and aggression.

Both species are omnivorous and enjoy a diet that includes high-quality sinking pellets…

Both species are omnivorous and will eat various foods. They enjoy a diet that includes high-quality sinking pellets, freeze-dried or frozen foods, and occasional live foods. It is essential to provide a balanced diet to ensure their overall health and well-being.

Honey And Sparkling Gouramis

Honey and sparkling gouramis and the rubber lip pleco make great tank mates for a peaceful and harmonious aquarium environment. These three species are known for their docile nature and ability to coexist peacefully with each other.

Honey gouramis are small, colorful fish native to Southeast Asia. They are peaceful and can be kept with other peaceful fish species in community tanks.

Sparkling gouramis are another small gourami species suitable for community tanks. Sparkling gouramis are peaceful and can be kept with other peaceful fish species, including honey gouramis and the rubber lip pleco.

Gouramis appreciate the presence of floating plants, which provide shade and cover. The rubber lip pleco will benefit from caves or driftwood in the tank, as they like to hide during the day.

All three species have similar water parameter requirements, preferring slightly acidic to neutral water with a temperature range of 75-82°F (24-28°C). They are also omnivorous, so a varied diet of high-quality pellets, flakes, and occasional live or frozen food can be given to them.

Ember, Neon, And Green Neon Tetras

Ember, neon, and green neon tetras are all small, peaceful fish that can make excellent tank mates for each other. They are compatible with other peaceful fish species, such as the rubber lip pleco.

The ember tetra is a small fish with a bright red-orange coloration. They are known for their peaceful nature and can be kept in groups of six or more.

Neon tetras have a striking blue and red coloration. They are also peaceful and should be kept in groups for the best social behavior.

As the name suggests, green neon tetras have a greenish coloration with a hint of blue. They are slightly larger than the other two tetra species but are equally peaceful.

These tetras prefer a planted aquarium with soft, slightly acidic water conditions. The rubber lip pleco will appreciate caves or driftwood to hide in during the day.


A tank size of at least 20 gallons is recommended to ensure adequate swimming space and to prevent territorial disputes among these tetras and the rubber-lip pleco.

The rubber lip pleco can grow larger than the tetras, so providing enough space for all the fish to thrive is essential.

Zebra Danio

Zebra Danios and Rubber Lip Plecos can make great tank mates in the aquarium. Both species are relatively peaceful and can tolerate various water conditions, making them compatible companions.

Zebra Danios are small, active, and schooling fish native to South Asia. They are known for their striking black and white striped pattern, which gives them their name. They are quite active and enjoy swimming around the tank, providing a lively and dynamic presence.

These species are a good match. They have similar water temperature and pH requirements. They are also compatible regarding temperament, as neither species is known for aggression or territorial behavior.

Provide plenty of hiding spots and open swimming space for both species…

Providing plenty of hiding spots and open swimming space for Zebra Danios and Rubber Lip Plecos is essential. Adding plants, rocks, and driftwood can create a more natural and stimulating environment for these fish.

Overall, these species can be compatible tank mates. Their similar water requirements, peaceful nature, and complementary behaviors make them a good combination for a community aquarium.

Incompatible Tank Mates

Avoid aggressive fish and cichlids when considering tank mates for your rubber lip pleco. When housing them with other pleco species, it is crucial to monitor their interactions closely as some territorial disputes may arise.

Rubber Lip Pleco Tank

The rubber lip pleco is a popular choice for fish keepers looking to add an exciting and low-maintenance species to their home aquariums.

One of the significant advantages of keeping rubber lip pleco is that they are relatively easy to care for. They are hardy and adaptable, making them suitable for aquarists with minimal experience.

Creating an environment that mimics their natural habitat in South America’s rivers and streams is essential. Adding live plants such as Java ferns or Amazon swords provides hiding places while enhancing the aesthetics of your aquarium.

In addition to plants, incorporating driftwood and rocks into the tank setup is highly recommended. These materials offer ample hiding places with caves or PVC pipes where rubber nose plecos can retreat when stressed or threatened.

Tank Size

It is recommended to have a tank size of at least 25-30 gallons. This will give them enough space to swim around and explore their surroundings. A larger tank also helps maintain stable water parameters.

Water Conditions

Rubber lip plecos thrive in specific water conditions. Monitoring these conditions regularly and performing regular water tests to ensure their well-being is essential.

The ideal water temperature for rubber lip plecos ranges from 72°F to 80°F. Maintaining pH levels between 6.5 and 8 and hardness levels between 8 and 12 KH is crucial.

Breeding Rubber Lip Pleco

Breeding rubber lip plecos can be pretty challenging compared to other pleco species. These unique fish require specific conditions and careful attention to detail to reproduce in captivity successfully.

Breeding Attempt on Rubber Lip Pleco

One main challenge when breeding rubber lip plecos is the need for more sufficient water current in home aquariums. These fish are accustomed to strong currents that aid in the breeding process. This essential element makes it easier for them to spawn and care for their eggs.

Another factor that challenges breeding rubber lip plecos is the need for specific conditions, such as cooler temperatures and pH fluctuations. These fish prefer slightly cooler water temperatures ranging from 72-78°F (22-26°C) and appreciate slight fluctuations in pH.

Using a circulation pump to generate water movement within the tank is recommended. This will mimic the natural currents they are accustomed to and encourage spawning behavior.


Providing a mixture of pebbles and slate as a substrate will offer suitable surfaces for egg attachment and will increase the likelihood of egg hatching and fry survival.

Despite efforts made by experienced aquarists, only some successful reports of breeding rubber lip plecos in captivity have been successful. Therefore, it is best to try breeding if you are confident in providing the necessary conditions and closely monitor their progress.

Frequently Asked Questions

How to take care of rubber nose plecos?

This includes at least a 25-gallon tank with plenty of hiding spots, such as caves, driftwood, and plants. Regular water changes, proper filtration, and ensuring the water parameters are within the range of pH 6.5 to 7.5 and temperature between 72°F to 82°F (22°C to 28°C) are necessary. Rubber lip plecos are omnivores, so sinking pellets, algae wafers, and occasional blanched vegetables will keep them healthy. They prefer a stable and calm environment, so avoid aggressive tank mates.

What is the behavior of a rubber lip pleco?

Rubber lip plecos are generally peaceful and docile creatures. They are naturally active at night. During the day, they hide in caves or crevices, making them a bit elusive to spot. They diligently scour algae off tank surfaces and decorations. Sometimes, you may observe them gently “sucking” on surfaces, typical for plecos. While they are not very social, they usually tolerate other fish in the tank.

What should the water temperature be for a rubber lip pleco?

The ideal water temperature is between 72°F to 82°F (22°C to 28°C) for a rubber lip pleco. This temperature range replicates their natural habitat in South America. Use a reliable aquarium thermometer to monitor and maintain the water temperature within this range. Drastic fluctuations in temperature should be avoided, as they can cause stress and potentially harm the plecos.

Do rubber nose plecos change color?

Yes, rubber lip plecos can change color, but the extent and frequency of color change can vary from fish to fish. Their coloration often depends on several factors, including their mood, age, and the environment they are in. When comfortable and content, rubber lip plecos may display a darker coloration, while stress or illness can lead to a paler appearance.

Do rubber lip plecos eat meat?

Yes, rubber lip plecos are omnivores and will consume meat-based foods. While their primary diet consists of algae and plant matter, they also relish protein-rich foods. In the wild, they might consume small insects and crustaceans. In captivity, you can supplement their diet with high-quality sinking pellets, freeze-dried or frozen foods like bloodworms, brine shrimp, and daphnia. Remember to balance between their herbivorous and carnivorous tendencies to keep them healthy and satisfied.

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